Four draconian wolf killing bills are incredibly close to becoming law in Montana. The bills would allow trappers to snare wolves, extend the wolf trapping season, place a bounty on wolves, and allow every individual with a wolf hunting or trapping license to kill an unlimited number of wolves, allow the use of bait while hunting or trapping wolves, permit the hunting of wolves at night on private land with the use of artificial lights or night vision scopes.
Whether you’re a Montana resident or a Montana visitor who values wolves in the wild, please sign this petition urging Montana Governor Greg Gianforte—who violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot a collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park in February—to veto these backward, disgraceful, and outrageous bills.
338,125 SUPPORTERS 340,000 GOAL Gray wolves will be thrust back onto the brink of extinction if the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposition is allowed to stand.
The Department intends to delist gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states from the Endangered Species Act, removing the crucial protections they currently have under the law.
This political move jeopardizes wolves nationwide and would pave the way for trophy hunting of wolves in states where the ESA currently protects them, such as Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Oregon. Further, it hinders the possibility of wolves returning to other states where there is suitable habitat.
The last time wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin lost federal ESA protections, nearly 1,500 of them were killed in just three seasons — many were pups. This proposed rule is scientifically unsound and politically motivated. Will you sit by while another species goes extinct?
We need your voice to oppose this misguided proposal. Without opposition, legislators will push this through and put the nation’s gray wolf population at critical risk.
Please join the fight using the form below, and tell the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service that you oppose their proposal to delist gray wolves from the ESA.read petition letter ▾Subject: Please keep gray wolves listed under the ESA
Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
I oppose the proposed rule to delist gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states from the Endangered Species Act. Removing ESA protections now would jeopardize the fragile recovery that wolves have only just begun after having been hunted to near-extinction. It would also expose imperiled populations to the horrors of trophy hunting and trapping.
Montana’s newly elected Republican governor violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot a collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park in February, according to documents obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau.
While wolves are protected inside Yellowstone National Park, it’s legal to hunt and trap wolves in Montana – including wolves that wander beyond the park’s boundaries – in accordance with state regulations.
Gianforte violated Montana regulations by harvesting the wolf without first completing a state-mandated wolf trapping certification course. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued the governor a written warning, and he promised to take the three-hour online course March 24.
According to Montana’s wolf hunting regulations, “A person must attend and complete a wolf-trapping certification class before setting any trap for a wolf,” and the state-issued certificate “must be in possession of any person setting wolf traps and/or harvesting a wolf by trap.”
The course gives would-be wolf trappers “the background and rules to do so ethically, humanely, and lawfully,” the course’s student manual states.
John Sullivan, Montana chapter chair for the sportsmen’s group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said the governor should’ve known about the certification requirements.
“He has been hunting and trapping for a long time and I would be surprised to learn that he didn’t know better than to complete that education,” Sullivan said. “We hope that he apologizes to the citizens of the state for circumventing the process that we all have to go through.”
“It’s difficult to fathom accidentally not taking that class,” he added. “When you go to buy your wolf trapping license online it clearly states that trapper education is required.”
The governor’s spokesperson, Brooke Stroyke, said in an emailed statement that “after learning he had not completed the wolf-trapping certification, Governor Gianforte immediately rectified the mistake and enrolled in the wolf-trapping certification course.”
The governor did have all the necessary hunting licenses to harvest a wolf, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon.
“Typically, we approach this sort of incident as an educational opportunity, particularly when the person in question is forthright in what happened and honest about the circumstances,” Lemon said in an email. “That was the case here with Gov. Gianforte.”
Lemon said the warning was a “typical operation procedure” and the governor was allowed to keep the skull and hide. As governor, Gianforte oversees Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and appointed its director earlier this year.
Word of Gianforte’s wolf-kill violation comes as the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature appears poised to send to his desk bills aimed at aggressively reducing the state’s wolf population through hunting and trapping. One would reimburse wolf trappers for the costs they incur, which critics call a “bounty.”
The incident highlights the polarized and overlapping debates in the West over how to manage growing wolf populations and trapping’s role – if it has one at all – in wildlife management. A decade after wolves were stripped of Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are asserting aggressive wolf management policies, while Colorado voters recently decided to reintroduce wolves to the Western Slope.
Meanwhile, the New Mexico Legislature last week approved a bill banning the use of wildlife traps, snares and poison on public lands across the state, likely joining the growing number of Western states that have outlawed the practice increasingly viewed as cruel.
“It’s clearly not an ethical chase,” said Mike Garrity, executive director for the nonprofit environmental group Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Ethical hunters try to have a clean shot so they kill the animal instantly. Trapping obviously doesn’t do that. They suffer for a long time and who knows how long that wolf was trapped before the governor went out and killed it.”
Wolf 1155 was born in Yellowstone National Park and was issued a radio collar by wildlife biologists in 2018, according to park spokesperson Morgan Warthin. Collars allow scientists to track the movements – and deaths – of wolves. 1155 was initially a member of the Wapiti Lake pack but is now considered a “dispersed male,” which means it had wandered away from the pack to find a mate elsewhere.
Yellowstone wolves hold a special place in the nation’s heart, according to Jonathan Proctor, director of the Rockies and Plains program for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife.
“People from all over the world come to Yellowstone specifically to see these wolves,” he said. “The fact that they can be killed so easily, right on the edge of the park in the state of Montana, for only a few dollars for a permit to trap a wolf – it makes no sense, either ecologically or economically.”
There are about 94 wolves living within the park, according to data from last year. Warthin said this was the first Yellowstone-collared wolf to be killed by a hunter or trapper this year.
Gianforte killed 1155 on Feb. 15. It’s unclear when Gianforte first laid the traps. State regulations require that trappers check their traps every 48 hours and report wolf kills to FWP within 24 hours. Trappers also have the option of releasing a collared wolf.
This is the second time Gianforte’s personal actions sparked controversy. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault after he body-slammed a reporter from the British newspaper The Guardian. He was sentenced to community service and anger management.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
It is with a heavy heart that I share devastating news about a beloved matriarch. Red wolf Veronica, also known as F1858, passed away earlier today from a closed pyometra. She was nine years old.
Veronica joined the Wolf Conservation Center pack in 2017 when she and her family arrived from the Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina. Unbeknownst to them, the endangered group quickly burst into the hearts and minds of a global audience thanks to the WCC’s live-streaming webcams. Viewers exclaimed with joy and delight watching Veronica guide her rambunctious pups through their developmental years, and celebrated from afar when the experienced mother of four became a mother of ten – she gave birth to six pups in 2018!
As the family grew in size, so did Veronica’s influence. She taught her children the importance of love, teamwork, and family – and that there’s always time for a quick romp in the snow or a harmonious howl. Red wolf Veronica and her daughter SkyRae enjoying the snow.
We can be better and do better because she lived. Her loving and tenacious spirit will empower us to continue the fight to safeguard the wild legacy she leaves behind.
Our hearts go out to her family (mate Sam and children Tom, Notch, Gilda, Penny, Martha, SkyRae, Rich, Max, Hunter, and Shane) and the many people who she had unknowingly touched. Thanks to her, millions of people are connected to the plight of red wolves and are dedicated to their recovery.
RIP, Veronica. We miss your nurturing soul already.
AnimalsWisconsin has approved 200 wolves to be killed in a February hunt. Michael Cummings / Getty Images
As the former and current administration’s endangered species policies battle for prominence, Wisconsin’s wolves are caught in the crosshairs, literally.
When the Trump administration delisted gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, it triggered a Wisconsin law requiring the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to hold a wolf hunt from mid-October through February, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The DNR originally said it would wait until November 2021 to prepare a hunt, but hunting advocates sued to speed up the process, and last week a judge ordered the board to prepare a February hunt. This prompted the DNR to set a quota on Monday of 200 gray wolves that can be killed before the end of the month.
Wildlife advocates oppose the move, pointing out that the rushed hunt will take place during the wolves’ breeding season.
“You remove one, you’re essentially destabilizing and killing the entire pack,” Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife Executive Director Melissa Smith told Public News Service. “So, we expect this to be pretty detrimental to our wolf population.”
The federal delisting of wolves officially went into effect in January. In December, the DNR said it would wait until November to set a hunting quota, arguing that it needed more time to make a scientifically sound plan and consult with tribes and the public, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. In late January, the state’s Natural Resources Board rejected a push from Republican lawmakers to speed up the quota, Wisconsin Public Radio reported at the time.
However, Kansas-based group Hunter Nation sued the state to start the hunt this winter. It argued that delaying the hunt violated hunters’ constitutional rights, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Circuit Judge Bennett Brantmeier ruled in the group’s favor. While Wisconsin is appealing this decision, the Natural Resources Board still voted Monday to authorize a February hunt.
The hunt will allow the killing of 200 wolves that aren’t on tribal reservations, according to the DNR website. The hunt will last from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28, and hunters can apply for a permit between Feb. 16 and Feb. 20. The state will issue 4,000 permits, the Wisconsin State Journal reported, which is twice the number that staff recommended.
The department said it based the quota on the best available science, without intending to increase or decrease the state’s wolf population. However, DNR members said they would have made a more accurate decision given more time. They also did not have a chance to fully consult with tribes or gather public input.
“Was there more we would like to do? Yes,” Keith Warnke, administrator of fish, wildlife and parks for the DNR, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “Are we confident and comfortable with the quota recommendation we made? I think… we would have been more confident and more comfortable had we taken more time.”null
There are currently 1,195 wolves in Wisconsin, according to DNR. The last time the state managed the population, it set a quota of 350 wolves in 1999 and last updated it in 2007, wildlife advocates point out. Indigenous groups also argue that wolves are sacred to their communities, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. On the other side, those who support hunting argue that wolves are a threat to livestock and rural residents. But wildlife advocates counter that hunting is not the solution to human and wolf conflicts.
“Indiscriminate killing of wolves actually increases conflicts and spreads deer disease like CWD, so the special interests like the farm bureau and sportsmen’s groups are not only doing a disservice to themselves pushing an early wolf hunt but may cause the wolf to be relisted again,” Northern Wisconsin resident Britt Ricci said in a Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife statement.
Fear of new federal protections are partly behind the push for a hunt this winter, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The Biden administration has called for a review of the Trump administration’s agency rules, including the delisting of wolves.
“And so, they want to rush and try to kill as many as they can in a short time as possible during a sensitive breeding season,” Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf’s Smith told Public News Service.
Gray wolves lost federal Endangered Species Act protections on January 4, 2021. The reckless decision by the Trump administration applies to all gray wolves in the lower 48 states despite the lack of scientific evidence showing true recovery across gray wolves’ historic range.
WildEarth Guardians and our partners filed a legal challenge to reverse this heinous decision on January 14. For now, management of wolf populations has returned to individual state wildlife agencies, some of which are notoriously anti-wolf and are already planning hunting and trapping season on wolves.
We can’t abandon fragile wolf-recovery efforts and allow anti-wolf states, hunters, and trappers to push these iconic species back to the brink of extinction. Sign this petition urging the Biden administration to take action to halt the impending slaughter and begin the process of restoring Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves.
Dear President Biden, Personalize your message As you know, the Trump administration stripped Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from gray wolves across the entire lower 48 on January 4, 2021. If allowed to remain in place, states can expand wolf trophy hunting, trapping, and decimate this still unrecovered species as soon as January 2021. The most recent data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and its state partners show only an estimated 108 wolves in Washington state, 158 in Oregon, and a scant 15 in California. Nevada, Utah, and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain functionally extinct in these states. In delisting wolves, USFWS ignores the science showing they are not recovered in the West. Wolves only occupy a small portion of available, suitable habitat in Oregon and Washington, and remain absent across vast swaths of their historical habitat in the West, including in Colorado and the southern Rockies. The restoration of gray wolves could be a heroic success story, but it will be cut tragically short if wolves lose further protection under the ESA now. We can’t let fragile wolf-recovery efforts to be stalled and allow states, hunters, and trappers to push the species back to the brink of extinction. Please ensure gray wolves have a future by taking immediate action to halt the impending slaughter and begin the process of restoring ESA protections for gray wolves.
WildEarth Guardians protects and restores the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.
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The Trump administration issued a significant number of rules and deregulations that will disastrously impact immigration, the environment, endangered species habitat, and employment, among other issues.
These rules do not have to be permanently enacted, however. Congress can fast-track reversal of rulemakings from the Trump administration under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
Under the CRA, agencies are required to submit to Congress notice of a finalized rule. Once notified, Congress has the option of passing a joint resolution of disapproval to overturn the rule. If that passes both chambers of Congress and is signed into law by the President, the rule is immediately overturned and has no effect both proactively and retroactively. Importantly, a joint resolution of disapproval need only pass by a simple majority in both chambers.
This means that Congress has the power to negate Trump’s harmful rules!
There is a time limit: the CRA only encompasses Trump’s rules created since August 2020 and the new Congress has 60 days to act. That is why we must press them to act immediately.
There are MANY Trump rules and deregulations that fall under the scope of the CRA. We must demand Congress and President Biden act swiftly to undo so much damage that Trump has done to our country.
Sign the petition: Demand Congress reverse the damage done by Trump and remove his rules under the CRA.
Sign our petition calling on the U.S. Department of the Interior to end trapping in the National Wildlife Refuge System!
There is no place for cruel and unnecessary traps – snares, Conibear traps, or steel-jaw leghold traps – on public lands, which include national parks, national preserves, and national wildlife refuges. Instead of areas of safety, these sacred places have been transformed into killing fields. Each year, millions of animals who call these public lands home languish in cruel traps for hours, and even days, before they are brutally killed. Even iconic North American species such as bald eagles, black bears, grey wolves, bobcats, and other sensitive species have been found in leghold traps and snares. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the corresponding agencies should immediately and publicly announce their support for ending cruel and unnecessary trapping on public lands. Email Address* First Name* Last Name* I would like to join Born Free USA’s email list. SIGN THE PETITION 9055 Signatures 91% Goal: 10000
Are the wolves of Yellowstone National Park the first line of defense against a terrible disease that preys on herds of wildlife?
That’s the question for a research project underway in the park, and preliminary results suggest that the answer is yes. Researchers are studying what is known as the predator cleansing effect, which occurs when a predator sustains the health of a prey population by killing the sickest animals. If the idea holds, it could mean that wolves have a role to play in limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease, which is infecting deer and similar animals across the country and around the world. Experts fear that it could one day jump to humans.
“There is no management tool that is effective” for controlling the disease, said Ellen Brandell, a doctoral student in wildlife ecology at Penn State University who is leading the project in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. “There is no vaccine. Can predators potentially be the solution?”
Many biologists and conservationists say that more research would strengthen the case that reintroducing more wolves in certain parts of the United States could help manage wildlife diseases, although the idea is sure to face pushback from hunters, ranchers and others concerned about competition from wolves.
Chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological disease, is so unusual that some experts call it a “disease from outer space.” First discovered among wild deer in 1981, it leads to deterioration of brain tissue in cervids, mostly deer but also elk, moose and caribou, with symptoms such as listlessness, drooling, staggering, emaciation and death.
It is caused by an abnormal version of a cell protein called a prion, which functions very differently than bacteria or viruses. The disease has spread across wild cervid populations and is now found in 26 states and several Canadian provinces, as well as South Korea and Scandinavia.
The disease is part of a group called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, the most famous of which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. Mad cow in humans causes a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and there was an outbreak among people in the 1990s in Britain from eating tainted meat.
Cooking does not kill the prions, and experts fear that chronic wasting disease could spread to humans who hunt and consume deer or other animals that are infected with it.
The disease has infected many deer herds in Wyoming, and it spread to Montana in 2017. Both states are adjacent to Yellowstone, so experts are concerned that the deadly disease could soon make its way into the park’s vast herds of elk and deer.
Unless, perhaps, the park’s 10 packs of wolves, which altogether contain about 100 individuals, preyed on and consumed diseased animals that were easier to pick off because of their illness (the disease does not appear to infect wolves).Coronavirus Briefing: An informed guide to the global outbreak, with the latest developments and expert advice.
“Wolves have really been touted as the best type of animal to remove infected deer, because they are cursorial — they chase their prey and they look for the weak ones,” said Ms. Brandell. By this logic, diseased deer and other animals would be the most likely to be eliminated by wolves.
Preliminary results in Yellowstone have shown that wolves can delay outbreaks of chronic wasting disease in their prey species and can decrease outbreak size, Ms. Brandell said. There is little published research on “predator cleansing,” and this study aims to add support for the use of predators to manage disease.
A prime concern about the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Yellowstone region is the fact that Wyoming maintains 22 state-sponsored feeding grounds that concentrate large numbers of elk unnaturally in the Yellowstone region. And just south of Grand Teton National Park lies the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of animals, displaced by cattle ranches, are fed each winter to satisfy elk hunters and tourists. Many wildlife biologists say concentrating the animals in such small areas is a recipe for the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease.
When cases of the disease among deer ranged from 5 to 50 percent in Wisconsin and Colorado, those states were considered hot spots. But if the disease gets into game farms like the ones in Wyoming, “prevalence rates skyrocket to 90 or 100 percent,” said Mark Zabel, associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University.
Prions are especially deadly. Unlike bacteria and viruses, prions can persist in soil for 10 years or more and endure on vegetation. Even if a herd dies out or is culled, new animals moving in can become infected.
The origin of the disease is unknown. Andrew P. Dobson, a professor of ecology and epidemiology at Princeton who has studied predator cleansing, believes the illness is largely the result of ecosystems with too few predators and scavengers.
He speculates that the disease may have come from deer living in proximity to sheep in Colorado or Wyoming, where it was first identified. Sheep have carried scrapie — effectively mad cow disease for sheep — for centuries. Dr. Dobson has theorized that after a contaminated animal died, it may have lain on the ground for a while in the absence of predators and scavengers, which would usually clean up carcasses.
Elk and deer must have calcium, he said, and they may have eaten the bones of a contaminated animal and spread the disease.
The absence of wolves throughout much of the West may also have allowed the disease to take off. “Taking the sick and weak removes chronic wasting disease from the population, because any animal showing any signs of it will get killed and eaten by the wolves,” Dr. Dobson said. “The rest of the carcass gets cleaned up by the coyotes, the bald eagles, ravens and bears.”
“Without predators and scavengers on the landscape, animal components last much longer, and that can definitely have an impact on the spread of disease,” Ms. Brandell said.
Restoring the population of predators in national parks and wild lands would go a long way toward healthier ecosystems with less disease, Dr. Dobson said.
Ken McDonald, chief of the wildlife division of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, expressed doubts that wolves would prevent chronic wasting disease.
“Wolves help remove sick animals, but animals don’t get visibly ill for about 2 years,” he said. “So they are carriers and spreaders but don’t get the classic symptoms.”
Mr. McDonald said that maintaining a large enough wolf population outside of Yellowstone to control chronic wasting disease would require so many wolves that it would be socially unacceptable, especially to ranchers and hunters.
The state’s approach to controlling the disease, he said, is to increase the number of deer that can be killed in places where the disease is growing.
Ms. Brandell, however, said that wolves may detect the disease long before it becomes apparent to people, through smell or a slight change in the movement of prey, which could be beneficial.
Trespassing bull on the Canyon del Buey allotment, June 12, 2020. Photo: G. Anderson/WWP
Thiessen appealed the loss of his permit all the way up to the regional director, who affirmed the District Ranger’s decision and ordered the cows off Canyon del Buey allotment by the end of August 2019. As you can probably guess, Thiessen defied this direction and his cows are still in trespass on the Gila National Forest. There’s been some legal back and forth between Theissen and the feds and that process is ongoing (more on that here soon), but there’s something else for the taxpaying public to be enraged about:
Canyon del Buey LLC was the largest recipient of Farm Bill livestock subsidies in Catron County in 2019, raking in $135,683 dollars of federal funding. Of that, $119,029 came under the “Livestock Indemnity Program” which is designated for livestock losses in excess than usual due to extreme weather or due to animals reintroduced by the federal government, i.e. wolves. It’s impossible (so far) to determine whether the Thiessens got money for extreme weather or livestock depredations, but at about $1,000K per head (see page 6 at link), that’s a whole lot of dead cows we taxpayers are paying for. (And it’s not the first time: Craig Thiessen has also received almost $400,000since he whacked Mia Tuk.)
This was in addition to the $9,550.50 Craig Thiessen got for claimed wolf depredations in 2019. Not clear which livestock were his, but as we’ve shown, many of the Catron County wolf depredation reports are a little more than fishy. At least that $9,550.50 came out of a privately-established compensation fund (the “Groves Estate”) and not taxpayer pockets, but it’s kind of offensive that someone who admitted to bludgeoning a wolf pup to death with a shovel can turn around and get money for his dead cows. It’s almost as if the game is rigged to benefit wolf-hating ranchers.
Cattlemen Tell EnviroNews Ranchers Want Mexican Wolves Killed, Despite Being Paid for Livestock Losses
14 – 17 minutes
(EnviroNews Arizona) — Parts of eastern Arizona are a conflict zone, as a 100-year war between ranchers, conservation groups, government agencies, and the endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) rages on. The rarest subspecies of gray wolf, also known as “el lobo,” is doing what wolves have always done in their native territories: they hunt and eat animals weakened by misfortune, time and nature itself. But ranchers who sell their cows, sometimes for $1200-$1500 per animal, aren’t happy when someone’s future hamburger becomes a wolf’s dinner.
Even though the government will compensate ranchers for cows killed by wolves, a new survey reveals most cattle farmers feel el lobo’s reintroduction into the area is a threat to ranching – and their livelihoods.
“[Ranchers] realize that [wolves are] there and they’re there to stay now,” Jerome Rosa, Executive Director of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, which funded the survey, told EnviroNews in a phone interview. “They just have to do the best they can to try and manage the situation and try to do what they can to be able to live, you know, cohesively. But if they had a preference, [absolutely they] would like to not have that apex predator out there.”
Back From the Brink of Extinction
When Rosa said, “out there,” he is referring to the southwestern United States – part of the Mexican wolf’s indigenous turf. Early in the 1900s when the livestock industry began booming, the federal government hired trappers to eradicate all wolves – and they were nearly successful in that task with el lobo.
“This genetically [and] morphologically unique animal came about as close to extinction as any creature can get without actually going over the brink,” Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told EnviroNews.
And how close is “close?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) official Stephen Guertin told a congressional subcommittee “the Mexican wolf was all but eliminated from the wild by the 1970s due to extensive predator control initiatives.” According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AGFD) website, Mexican wolves had once disappeared completely from Arizona and New Mexico.
But when the Endangered Species Act (ESA/the Act) passed in 1973, these critters finally received some appreciation. USFWS hired trappers again — this time to capture live wolves that could still be found in Mexico, in an effort to save the species from total annihilation. The agency was only able to find and capture five wild wolves; four males and one female. With time running out, USFWS took those specimens and launched a captive breeding program.
In 1998 el lobo caught a break and received an invitation to return home to the Southwest and 11 were released into the Blue Range Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Area in Arizona.
“They’re part of the natural ecosystem,” Robinson said. “They’re a beautiful, intelligent social animal that helps maintain balance, and they deserve to be there.”
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
The USFWS’ website hails the breeding program as a victory: “Missing from the landscape for more than 30 years, the howl of the Mexican wolf can once again be heard in the mountains of the southwestern United States.” Despite the agency’s victory dance, ranchers certainly were not out holding “welcome home” signs. The conflict zone reemerged — as did the wolf killings.
Money Can’t Buy Wolves Love
To help ease concerns, ranchers have been compensated for depredations since the wolves were first reintroduced in 1998 and in 2015 the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board was formed. Ranchers can submit claims to the board for depredations when they can prove Mexican wolves most likely killed their animals. According to the agency’s most recent annual report ranchers have been paid more than $143,000 over the last few years.
But Rosa told EnviroNews these reimbursements still can’t buy the wolves love. He said the number of cattle they kill exceeds what ranchers claim as a loss:
Some [ranchers] just don’t want to deal with the red tape. They don’t want to deal with the paperwork. Or, when they find these carcasses, they’re too far gone. And remember: these cattle are out there in these vast, vast landscapes in really, really rugged terrain, and so often, when they do find a depredation, there’s nothing there to investigate. You know, there’s not enough to be able to prove it was a depredation. So, [ranchers] just don’t say anything. It’s like, “Well, you know, we took a hit on that.”
Rosa added that there’s no way for cattlemen to calculate losses for livestock that die from exhaustion and dehydration after being chased by wolves, or cows that get stressed out, thin, and don’t reproduce.
David Parsons, the wildlife biologist who led USFWS’ effort to reintroduce the Mexican wolf into the Southwest, told EnviroNews he’s heard those claims, but not the veracity of them. “Open range cattle die for many reasons other than predation or harassment by predators, such as weather extremes, disease, toxic plants, and even lightning strikes,” he refuted.
Hawk’s Nest Pack Released into Pre-Release Pen in 1998 — Photo: Dave Parsons
Parsons is now a science advisor for the conservation group Project Coyote. He said figuring out an exact cause of a cow’s death is arduous. “It would be very difficult to tease out the significance of mortality caused by predator harassment compared to all other causes of mortality.”
Natural Born Killers?
No one disputes that wolves are natural born killers. But Rosa claimed there are far more wolves out there than official counts reflect. “As the wolf populations increase, the cattle populations will decrease. I think that’s tragic,” he said.
Rosa added the more the packs grow, the more food they will need. “And unfortunately, the realism of wolves is they don’t just kill when they’re hungry. They kill for sport,” he said. “That’s what they do. You know, they are… that’s what they do. I mean, they’re killers.” But many experts dispute that and say wolves do not kill for the fun of it.
Greta Anderson — Deputy Director, Western Watersheds Project
“They kill to eat,” Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of the Western Watersheds Project told EnviroNews. “When humans find animals that have been killed by wolves but are uneaten, they should assume the carcasses haven’t been consumed yet, as animals will routinely return to kill sites and continue to feed off a carcass as long as they can.”
Regarding the numbers of wolves, federal and state officials have boots on the ground, the AGFD even pays five full-time biologists to help manage and tabulate the numbers. Currently, there’s a minimum of 76 Mexican gray wolves in the state and about 163 total in the Southwest. So, even after over two decades of “recovery” in the wild, the current number of lobos is far from the estimated 3000-4000 that roamed the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Currently, wolf tracking is done in many ways: about half the estimated population wears radio collars, others are counted on the ground, in the air, and even by conducting howl surveys where biologists listen for wolves return howls.
“I don’t think the cattle growers have a basis for contending that the numbers are substantially higher than announced,” Robinson said. “If there were significantly more wolves on the landscape than the interagency field team now contends, wouldn’t those wolves be breeding with each other, and wouldn’t their numbers grow to the point that their presences couldn’t be denied by anyone?”
Wolf Depredation Prevention
What about just deploying measures to keep wolves away from cows, so fewer end up getting eaten? According to the cattle association’s survey, some feel “spending on preventative practices can be large relative to returns.” And ranchers’ willingness to pay to avoid depredations may be an area they’ll study in the future.
Jerome Rosa — Executive Director, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association
Rosa said prevention can be challenging, expensive and more assistance is welcome, adding, “I think the ranchers would like to have all the available tools in their toolbox to be able to manage the situation.”
But in addition to reimbursements for depredations, there’s also money out there to help ranchers pay for prevention. One example: the State of Arizona Livestock Loss Board slated $110,000 to develop effective methods of preventing wolf and cattle interactions.
At present, preventative tools like tracking collars, that help to alert ranchers when wolves are in the area, are being used along with blinking lights, electric fences, and range riders. The downside, Rosa said, is that batteries burn out, and some prevention is burdensome.
“All of these non-lethal measures just work for a short period of time,” he contended. “These wolves are extremely, extremely intelligent, and they get immune to those systems, and so then you constantly have to be changing.”
Mexican Wolf With Radio Collar — Photo: Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team
One solution Rosa offered is to limit the wolf population to a “manageable number” and kill problem wolves. “In areas where we’re having problems, then we need to go to lethal take on those packs,” Rosa told EnviroNews.
“You mean kill the wolves?” EnviroNews reiterated for clarity. “Yes. Yes,” Rosa asserted. And sometimes ranchers ask for just that and the federal government obliges.
Mexican Gray Wolf — Photo: KTAR Pheonix
Experts tallied reports for EnviroNews and found that since Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the Southwest the feds have killed about 21 lobos. The most common reason was for livestock depredations.
Dave Parsons Conducts Health Check on Captive-Born Mexican Wolf Pup
Conservationists insist killing this already beleaguered species is not the answer. Instead, they say regulators should require ranchers to use more preventative measures and remove the remains of dead cattle immediately, so the scent doesn’t attract predators. Furthermore, they insist there’s plenty of money out there to help ranchers outsmart even the craftiest of wolves.
“The government has asked nothing of the ranchers — at least required nothing,” Robinson continued. “They have asked nicely at times, you know, ‘Would you mind doing this?’ And sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ and sometimes the answer is ‘no.’”
Parsons claimed some wolves are being killed in “cryptic poaching” — meaning poaching that goes undetected. “Uncollared wolves killed in remote areas are rarely discovered by agency biologists, and the same is true for collared wolves when the poacher immediately disables the collar,” he added.
What’s at Stake?
Rosa told EnviroNews that if something isn’t done to curb Mexican wolf numbers, more ranchers will hang up their hats. Fewer cattle, he said, means less meat at the grocery store and more wildfires because ungrazed pastures provide fuel for flames to spread. “Killing wolves will allow [for] cattle, [and for] more people to be able to continue having cattle, out there to graze these spots,” he asserted.
Mexican Wolf — Photo: Columbus Zoo
But in addition to the many tangible issues, palpable on the ground between ranchers and conservationists, the more esoteric factor of global warming looms. Scientists say the rising trend of massive wildfires in the West is fueled in part by methane emissions from livestock and the agricultural sector at large.
Robinson told EnviroNews responsible, proactive ranchers should tap into the resources available to help keep afloat, but pulled no punches when emphasizing the free marketplace should determine the better mousetrap:
As for whether ranchers will go out of business due to depredations in the absence of wolf killing, that very much depends. Not all business ventures in the United States are destined to succeed, even when subsidized. The fact that some ranchers refuse to take measures to protect their stock would seem to make them less likely to stay in business.
Parsons agreed. “If a heavily subsidized livestock production business cannot afford to protect its primary asset (cows) by methods such as confining cows to pens for calving and hiring range riders to monitor and control their whereabouts on the landscape, then perhaps it is not a viable or appropriate business enterprise,” he said.
This Land is Not Your Land
Finally, EnviroNews asked Rosa, “Do you see the Mexican wolf as a vital part of the ecosystem? Should the species be there [at all]?” His answer: Nope. He concluded:
I don’t see it as a vital part. It wasn’t here for many, many years after they had been hunted down in the past. Now, some will say, “OK, they take care of, you know, sick animals, they’ll put them down.” They’re non-discriminatory. So, they’re not just taking [out] the weakness of a species. They take these animals down just for sport. I mean, it’s just what they do. And so, I understand, you know, the wolf advocates reasoning that they use — that they try to use. But, [it’s] not logical, and it’s not realistic. But, you know, I understand that that’s their position.
That’s something that enrages conservationists who say the wolves aren’t into sport killing and were there first. “The livestock industry has sought to transform the entire ecosystem of the Southwest… they see the wolves as the worst part of the ecosystem that they want to eliminate,” Robinson said.
Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
So, the 100-year war between ranchers, cattle, wolves, conservationists and government agencies continues. Many battles ensue, no side declares any winners, but all have the instinct to keep fighting.
OTHER GREAT REPORTS ABOUT MEXICAN WOLVES FROM ENVIRONEWS
The coastal wolves have an extraordinary ability to swim across miles between islands.
Sea wolves are a unique breed of wolf found in the Great Bear Rainforest along the Pacific Coast of Canada. Swimming between islands like fish, they are genetically distinct from their inland cousins, or from wolves in any other part of the world.
British Columbia has a relatively low human population where sea wolves enjoy an isolated wilderness – an area of 21-million acres, often described as a “bastion of biodiversity”. There are 25 native species of conifers and grizzly bears, black bears and spirit bears living together.
In the water, whales, sea lions, seals, seabirds and salmon make the sea extraordinarily richer than anywhere else along the coast.
For thousands of years, wolves have lived in peace. They had a unique relationship with the coastal First Nations peoples, for whom the wolf was considered as a revered animal treated with admiration and respect.
However, they’re being threatened on all sides by hunting, trapping and industry. Road building and clear cut logging have appeared to be harmful to wolves, not only destroying the forests they live in but making it easier for hunters to gain access to coast wolves.
The Northern Gateway Pipelines project is a new threat. Huge oil tankers will transport oil in this pristine region with the potential for devastating consequences. If an oil tanker ran aground, spilling its content or sinking, it will have long-term harmful impacts on the environment similar as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.
Chris Darimont from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, developed the Rainforest Wolf Project in order to show these wolves as fragile symbols and gain scientific understanding about coastal wolves called “Canada’s newest marine mammal”.
In the early 2000s, devoted nature photographer and conservationist Ian McAllister, and Canadian wolf biologist Paul Paquet started to conduct research about these coast mainland wolves eating salmon from the wild grey Pacific Ocean. They discovered a remarkable fact that locals already knew: 25 percent of the wolves’ diet was made of fish. Most extraordinary is the coastal wolves’ swimming ability, often swimming across miles between islands.
These photos are part of a magnificent series from a book entitled “The Sea Wolves, Living Wild in the Great Bear Rainforest”, created by authors Ian Mc Allister and Nicholas Read. The book reveals the importance of preserving the Great Bear Rainforest for every unique creature that lives on the British Columbia’s remote coast.
The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America; only 163 remain in the wild in the United States.
Despite numerous threats that menace this single, fragile population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the very agency charged by federal law to recover endangered species, has been managing the wild population via egregious measures that undermine Mexican gray wolf recovery.
The Service’s current Mexican wolf 10(j) management rule:
increases allowable killing,
fails to provide adequate protection for the loss of genetically valuable wolves,
sets a scientifically unsound population cap of 300-325 wolves and allows the killing of any wolves beyond this arbitrary number,
arbitrarily prevents wolves from finding essential native habitat by restricting wolf dispersal north of Interstate 40,
and fails to consider the wild population as “essential” to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves in the wild.
A coalition of conservation groups filed suit to challenge the management provisions, and in 2018, a federal court ruled in their favor. The judge found that the 10(j) management rule further imperiled the species, and directed USFWS to revise the way it manages Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.
Now is our opportunity to convince USFWS to comply with the court order and make the necessary management changes to ensure the long-term recovery of this unique wolf.
The USFWS is accepting public input on the proposed changes to the 10(j) Management Rule – Comments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 15, 2020.
Consider using additional talking points to guide your comments, but please personalize your message. Nothing is as effective as speaking from the heart.Talking Points
The Wolf Conservation Center will submit all written comments via the federal register. Your confirmation email will also include a copy of your comments and guidance on how to submit them yourself.
United States Fish & Wildlife Service
Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2020-0007 – Revise Mexican gray wolf management to ensure recovery
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a lifelong supporter of Endangered Species Act (ESA) and someone who cares deeply for our nation’s wildlife, I’m writing to ask you to revise the 10(j) rule governing the management of endangered Mexican gray wolves to provide for the long-term survival of this unique species.
The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America; only 163 remain in the wild in the United States.
A federal court rejected several provisions of the current Mexican wolf 10(j) management rule for failing to further the conservation of the Mexican wolf, and ruled that imposing these measures would be a violation of the ESA.
The judge particularly faulted the 10(j) rule for its:
– failure to consider the only wild Mexican gray wolf population as “essential” to the recovery of the species
– scientifically unsound population cap of 300-325 wolves, and allowing the killing of any wolves beyond this arbitrary number
– relaxed rules on the killing of Mexican wolves due to livestock conflicts or impacts on their natural prey
– failure to provide adequate protection for the loss of genetically valuable wolves
– arbitrary boundary restricting wolf dispersal north of Interstate 40
The management of this endangered gray wolf subspecies must follow the law and the science on Mexican wolf recovery. Please incorporate the following elements into the final rule to ensure Mexican gray wolf recovery.
* Personalize your message ESSENTIAL DESIGNATION Mexican gray wolves need greater protection under the Endangered Species Act with a designation of “essential” for the wild population. GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES The new rule must eliminate artificial boundaries that prevent dispersal. The Mexican Wolf Recovery Team’s Science and Planning Subgroup (SPS), scientists appointed by USFWS for their recognized expertise in scientific disciplines relevant to Mexican wolf recovery, emphasize that the Mexican gray wolf’s long-term survival requires connected habitats north of the Interstate 40, including the Grand Canyon region and portions of southern Utah and Colorado. POPULATION CAP The new rule must not include a population cap. Scientists recommend a minimum of three, naturally connected sub-populations of at least 200 individuals each, collectively comprising a meta-population of at least 750 wolves in the US Southwest. WOLF REMOVAL ORDERS Every Mexican gray wolf on the ground is essential. Lethal control must be restricted to cases in which they pose a likely threat to human health or safety. The new rule must also include higher thresholds for initiating wolf removals. Wolves must not be removed from the wild for their predation on wildlife such as elk or deer. Public land grazing permittees must practice basic animal husbandry and remove livestock carcasses or render the carcasses inedible to prevent savaging by wolves. If livestock carcasses on public land attract wolves who subsequently prey on livestock in the vicinity, those wolves shall not be removed from the wild. Public land grazing permittees must also be required to take non-lethal measures to prevent conflicts to protect livestock. If wolves prey on livestock when the permittee is cognizant of the nearby presence of wolves but fails to take measures to protect the livestock, wolves shall not be removed from the wild. Any permittee found guilty of the illegal killing or injuring of a Mexican wolf shall have their livestock grazing permits revoked. GENETIC HEALTH Mexican wolf’s genetic imperilment requires an active program of releasing more genetically diverse wolves into the wild to capitalize on the remaining genetic potential available in the captive population. While we applaud the agency’s dedication to cross-fostering, this should not be the only strategy used to increase genetic diversity in the wild population. Given the severity of the wild Mexican gray wolf population’s genetic crisis, USFWS should also resume releasing pair-bonded adult male and female Mexican gray wolves with pups into the wild — the means by which reintroduction was initiated in 1998 and successfully undertaken until abandoned under political pressure in 2007. The final rule should also include a “Replacement Release Objective”, which would allow USFWS to release wolves from the captive breeding population into the existing wild wolf population to replace wolves that have been removed from the wild population due to illegal killings or mortality caused by USFWS management activity. Replacement wolves from the more genetically diverse captive population would maximize genetic diversity of the wild wolf population. BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE Lastly, the new rule must contain provisions based on the best available science. The judge particularly faulted government officials for disregarding the advice of expert scientists who warned that the new management rule would hinder the Mexican wolf’s recovery.
The new management rule must follow the law and the science on Mexican gray wolf recovery. Now is our opportunity right our wrongs from the past by taking the necessary steps to ensure the long-term recovery of this unique and essential species.
WOLF CONSERVATION CENTER
7 Buck Run, South Salem, NY 10590 Mailing address: P.O. Box 421 South Salem, NY 10590 Phone: 914-763-2373
FILE – This Jan. 30, 2020, file photo, shows members of the Mexican gray wolf recovery team preparing to load a wolf into a helicopter in Reserve, N.M., so it can be released after being processed during an annual survey. One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that have died so far this year in New Mexico and Arizona. Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that died in the first four months of the year in New Mexico and Arizona.
Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species.
But ranchers say they face constant pressure from the wolves, pointing to the more than two dozen cattle that were killed just last month.
The latest wolf and livestock deaths come as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins wading through the process of revamping a rule that guides management of wolves in the Southwest.
The public has until June 15 to comment on the issues to be considered by officials. So far, nearly 800 comments have been submitted.
Some say it’s shaping up to be a deadly year for the wolf following an encouraging survey that found more wolves in the wild last year than at any time since efforts began more than two decades ago to reintroduce wolves along the New Mexico-Arizona border.
At least 163 wolves were counted during the survey that wrapped up in February. That marks a nearly 25% jump in the population from the previous year and puts wildlife managers about halfway to meeting the goal set for declaring the species recovered.
Monthly reports show 10 wolves have died in the first four months of 2020. That doesn’t include the alpha female of the Prieto Pack of wolves in New Mexico that died after being trapped in late April and four others that were killed in March due to livestock issues.
“It demonstrates the vagaries of the program and how quickly things can turn bad for the wolves,” Bryan Bird, the southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said Tuesday.
He said changes to the management rule now under revision could address these ups and downs by limiting the circumstances in which wolves can be lethally or non-lethally removed from the wild and addressing trapping on public lands in the wolf recovery area.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity said one problem that has been ongoing for years is the wolves feeding on live cattle after being drawn in by the carcasses of cows that die from other causes. He’s among those who have been pushing for a requirement for ranchers to remove carcasses as one way to avoid conflict.
“Though the feds claim they’re looking at the population as a whole, this recurring mismanagement is precisely why the Mexican wolf is in worse genetic shape now than when reintroduction began more than two decades ago,” he said.
Some ranchers say they have tried everything from hiring cowboys on horseback to installing flagging and other devices to scare away the wolves. But they are still having problems.
Last year marked a record year for livestock kills. Several dozen kills have been reported so far this year.
The Arizona House last week passed a Senate-approved measure that would allow a board set up to reimburse ranchers for livestock losses to also compensate ranchers for things like range riders to keep wolves away from their herds.The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.
Federal officials say they conducted 24 days of hazing efforts in April, removed two carcasses, set up several food caches in hopes of diverting the wolves and talked with dozens of ranchers via phone, text and email in an effort to reduce the conflicts.
Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico Wolf Pack Destroyed After Alpha Female Killed, Yearling Flees
Wolf Mother’s Undisclosed Death in April Follows March Killing of Mate, Pup
SILVER CITY, N.M.— A pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves has been eliminated in the Gila National Forest through a combination of private trapping and federal shooting on behalf of the livestock industry.
Conservationists learned today that the Prieto pack’s nine-year-old alpha female died in federal custody on April 25 and that a yearling has fled dozens of miles from his natal range. These events follow the federal shooting in March of the alpha male and a pup, and the trapping, maiming and/or deaths of seven other pack members during 2018 and 2019.
“This latest incident is the cruel final blow to the Prieto pack, which struggled for two years to survive the Fish and Wildlife Service and avowed wolf-haters in the livestock industry,” said Michael Robinson at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll do everything in our power to end the policy of looking the other way on so-called ‘accidental trapping’ of wolves. It’s crucial to stop the federal government’s sickening program of wolf trapping and shooting.”
The alpha female was caught in a privately set trap on April 24. When notified of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to take the wolf into captivity because the pack was deplored by local ranchers, even though she showed no significant injuries and no removal order was issued for her. The wolf died the next day of apparent capture myopathy, a stress response in which the body overheats.
The alpha female was the granddaughter of one of the first wolves released in 1998, who also died of capture myopathy after federal capture in 2005.
A male and a female wolf of the Prieto Pack were trapped in December 2018, resulting in the death of the female and causing the male to lose a leg and his freedom.
Following those losses, the pack began preying on livestock. In February 2019 another pack member was found dead, and in March 2019 the government trapped and removed two more; one was later released and is now a lone wolf in the wild.
In November two more wolves were trapped by private parties. One wolf was taken into federal custody, and the other was seen dragging a trap on its paw. This wolf was later seen with the trap gone but part of its paw missing, and has not been located in recent months. And in March federal agents shot the alpha male and a pup.
“The government is supposed to be recovering these endangered animals but is far too cavalier with their lives,” said Robinson. “Though the feds claim they’re looking at the population as a whole, this recurring mismanagement is precisely why the Mexican wolf is in worse genetic shape now than when reintroduction began more than two decades ago.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service currently has an open comment period through June 15, to determine the scope of issues to be considered in the course of a court-ordered revision in its 2015 Mexican wolf management rule that must conclude next May.
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.
Legislation was introduced on a party-line vote in the Senate Resources Committee to allow any Idahoan with a hunting license and a wolf tag to shoot wolves year-round in designated “wolf free zones” in the state.
Please sign the petition by deadline February 10th 2020
Wolves have been demonized and misunderstood for much of human history. Because wolves are highly politicized animals, common misconceptions about wolves can cause real harm. Helping to correct misinformation is an effective way to help wolves. pic.twitter.com/kCKlDNwuao
Mexican gray wolf pup over the summer, the Trump administration unveiled its final changes to the rules that implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA) — a series of disastrous regulatory changes best characterized as an “Extinction Plan”. The rule rollbacks represent a fundamental attack on this cornerstone of conservation law, making it harder to protect wildlife from multiple threats, including habitat loss and those posed by climate change.
In an effort to fight this latest step to cripple the nation’s best tool for helping to prevent extinction, members of the House and Senate introduced “Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Protection Act of 2019” or the “PAW and FIN Act of 2019” legislation aimed to repeal all three final rule changes to the ESA.
Given that science has concluded that we have entered an unprecedented period of human-caused Sixth Mass extinction, we need to make every effort to help imperiled species heal and flourish.
Ask your Congressional representatives to support the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019 (H.B. 4348 and S. 2491) to protect the world’s “gold standard” for conservation and protection of imperiled species.
Use the message below as talking points to guide your comments, but please personalize your message. Nothing is as effective as speaking from the heart.
Please support the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019 H.B. 4348 and S. 2491 to protect the ESA
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a lifelong supporter of the Endangered Species Act and someone who cares deeply for our nation’s wildlife, I am writing to request that you oppose legislation taking aim at the ESA – the world’s “gold standard” for conservation and protection of imperiled species.
* Personalize your message
While Congressional leaders and lobbyists have spoken for major corporations and special interests, my individual voice as a voting American counts just as much. I’m counting on you to protect and preserve one of our nation’s most effective environmental laws.
Finnish photographer Lassi Rautiainen captured the amazing sight of a female grey wolf and a male brown bear. The unlikely friendship was documented over the course of ten days in 2013. The duo was captured walking everywhere together, hunting as a team and sharing their spoils.
Each evening after a hard of hunting the pair shared a convivial deer carcass meal together at the dusk in the wilderness.
Image Credit & More Info: kesava | wildfinland.org.
They hung out together for at least 10 days.
“It’s very unusual to see a bear and a wolf getting on like this” Finnish photographer Lassi Rautiainen, told the Daily Mail in 2013 when he took these surprising photos. “From what I could find, it’s actually the first time, at least in Europe, where such a friendship was developed.”
“No-one can know exactly why or how the young wolf and bear became friends,” Lassi continued. “I think that perhaps they were both alone and they were young and a bit unsure of how to survive alone…It is nice to share rare events in the wild that you would never expect to see.”
Lassi’s guess is as good as any, as there are no scientific studies on the matter, and it is very hard to find such cases – especially in the wild.
“It seems to me that they feel safe being together,” Lassi adds.
The duo comes from two species that are meant to scare everything the meet. However, this male bear and female wolf clearly see each other as friends, focusing on the softer side in one another and eat dinner together.
The two friends were also seeing playing!
The heart touching pictures of the unusual duo was captured by nature photographer Lassi Rautiainen, in the wilderness of northern Finland.
Rare pictures depict the bear and the wolf sharing a meal in leisure!
The friendship looks like something straight out of a Disney movie.
Nature never ceases to amaze us. While scientists are baffled by the unusual friendship, the pair seems to be enjoying each other’s company.
“No one can know exactly why or how the young wolf and bear became friends,” said Lassi. “I think that perhaps they were both alone and they were young and a bit unsure of how to survive alone”.
The friends were seen meeting up every night for 10 days straight.
The fate of the last wolf from that pack will be determined at trial.
A King County Superior Court judge ordered state officials on Friday morning to temporarily stop killing members of a wolf pack in the Colville National Forest, in northeastern Washington — but their fate had already been decided.
Hours earlier, state officials had already killed most of the pack, known as the Old Profanity Territory pack.
They had killed four of them early Friday morning — before the 9:30 a.m. court hearing started. And they’d already killed four others between July 31 and August 13.
That left only one wolf still alive when the restraining order was issued. That animal’s fate will be decided at a trial.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was killing the wolves because the pack had killed or injured 14 cattle over the past 10 months.
“Lethal removal” of wolves that attack livestock is part of the state’s strategy for managing wolves in the eastern third of the state, where the animals are not federally listed as an endangered species.
It costs the state about $20,000 to kill one wolf.
Before the state kills wolves, ranchers have to prove they took reasonable steps to protect their livestock, such as employing cowboys known as range riders, using light and noise to scare wolves away from cattle, and removing sick and injured animals from the range.
The Center for a Humane Economy, the organization that sued the state to stop killing the wolf pack, said the rancher did not take adequate steps.
In fact, the rancher asked those state range riders – meant to scare the wolves – to leave his range on July 8. Nine of the 14 wolf attacks on cattle occurred that day and in the following month.
The judge ruled that there was enough of a question about whether or not the rancher had taken adequate preventative steps to allow the case to go to trial.
By killing four of the wolves in the early morning hours the day of the hearing, the state was acting in “tremendously bad faith,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy.
“It’s like, ‘Okay, we’ve got to get these wolves now, in case the judge stops us,’” he said.
Staci Lehman, a spokesperson for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it was just a matter of “unfortunate timing.”
“It’s always unfortunate whenever we have to remove wolves,” Lehman said. “It’s never taken lightly by anybody at the department.”
This is the second wolf pack state officials have eliminated from the same territory in less than three years. State agents killed seven members of the pack that previously occupied the area, known as the Profanity Peak pack, in 2016.
The area has lots of elk and deer and potential den sites, so both environmentalists and the state agree that a new pack is likely to form there soon.
But, Lehman said, a new pack wouldn’t necessarily attack livestock.
“If we start off with a new pack using preventative measures” that teach wolves not to prey on livestock, she says — measures such as range riders and light and noise — “then hopefully we can prevent that.”
But Pacelle said he’d rather that the Forest Service end grazing allotments in wolf habitat such as this. He says that would be the best way to minimize conflict between wolves and livestock.
The eight wolves from the Old Profanity Territory pack are unlikely to be the last ones state wildlife officials kill this year.
State agents have a current lethal removal order for one to two members of the Togo Pack, another northeast Washington wolf pack accused of attacking livestock.
That would bring the number of wolves killed by state agents this year to nine or 10 — seven to eight percent of Washington’s total wolf population.
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Emergency: Take Action to Save Our Wolves
This is it. Trump has declared a nationwide war on wolves. His administration has rolled out plans to strip Endangered Species Act protection from nearly every wolf in the lower 48.
We know what will happen next: It will be a return to the days when wolves were shot on sight, killed in traps and relentlessly persecuted to the brink of extinction. Worse yet, it will end 40 years’ of wolf recovery in the United States.
The big lie pushed by the Trump administration is that wolves have recovered. But the truth is that wolves occupy less than 10 percent of their historic habitat and face persecution from coast to coast.
Trump’s plan takes us in exactly the wrong direction.
Wolves and other wildlife are crucial to America’s natural heritage. Over the past 40 years, wolves have been returning and recovering in places like the Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes states and the West Coast. It’s an important conservation success — but this work is not complete.
Sign the petition right now and tell Trump to call off his war on wolves.
SIGN THE PETITION
I’m urging you to drop your plans to end wolf protection across the country.
Wolves and other wildlife are important to me and crucial to America’s natural heritage. Over the past 40 years, wolves have been returning and recovering in places like the Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes states and the West Coast. It’s an important conservation success — but this work is not complete.
The plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to end protection for nearly every wolf in the lower 48 states will be a devastating blow to wolf recovery. It will be a return to the days when wolves were shot on sight, killed in traps and relentlessly persecuted to the brink of extinction.
Wolves deserve better, and I urge you to halt these plans right away.
Keep vital protections for gray wolves
Gray wolves in the United States stand at a pivotal point in their history. After hunting them to near extinction in the first half of the 20th century, the American people had a change of heart and gray wolves have begun a modest recovery under varying degrees of protection under the Endangered Species Act. Now, just as they’re starting to return to their former homes in places like northern California, the Trump administration is proposing to strip wolves of these crucial federal protections.
Earthjustice has been instrumental in protecting gray wolves for more than two decades, and we will continue that fight — but we need your help. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon its plan to remove much-needed protections for wolves across the lower 48 states.
Today, wolves are still functionally extinct across the vast majority of their former range. These cherished keystone predators cannot be considered fully recovered until they are found in wild forests across the country. And yet in states where wolves have already lost federal protections, they’ve been shot and trapped in staggering numbers — nearly 3,500 killed in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming since 2011.
The U.S. Department of the Interior, under newly confirmed Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, is finalizing plans to significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act itself — part of a series of efforts by the Trump administration to slash protections for our most vulnerable wildlife and which amounts to a virtual extinction plan.
Interior Secretary Bernhardt wants to stop wolf recovery before it’s complete. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep federal protections in place so wolves can return to the wild places where they used to roam.
Important Notices and Resources
All information submitted with your comment (name, address, etc.) may be placed in the public record for this proceeding. Do NOT submit confidential or sensitive information.
Sierra ClubOfficial Campaign
Stop Attacks On Endangered Gray Wolves
U.S. Fish and Wildlife just announced their plans to start a process to strip Endangered Species protections from all gray wolves in the lower 48. Tell USFWS: don’t delist!
Why This Matters
Republican leadership will go to any lengths to undercut still-needed protections for struggling wildlife. This fall, House Republicans tried to pass legislation that would remove all gray wolves from the Endangered Species List while gutting the public’s ability to defend wildlife in court — first in a standalone bill, then hidden as riders in the House spending bill.
Thanks to the over 46,000 of you who wrote letters and made phone calls in opposition to these Congressional attacks on gray wolves, the riders were removed from the must-pass spending bill. So now, U.S. Fish and Wildlife is seeking to remove gray wolves’ Endangered Species protections through an administrative delisting process.
Gray wolves are just starting to recover after human persecution brought them to the brink of extinction. In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where wolves have already lost Endangered Species protections, trophy hunters, trappers, and others have killed more than 3,200 of them just since 2011. We already know what horrors will occur if we let the Trump administration get its way — we must push back to save the future of this magnificent, struggling species.
Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Principal Deputy Director Everson: Gray wolves need Endangered Species protections to survive — don’t delist!
Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Gray wolves still need Endangered Species protection — don’t delist!
To: USFWS Deputy Director Margaret Everson
Gray wolves need Endangered Species Act protections to survive — don’t delist!
Read entire petition
Dear Principal Deputy Director Everson,
I am strongly opposed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the continental U.S. at once.
Wolves have just begun to recover in some areas of the country. Since the effort to restore wolf populations began in the 1980’s, we have had some great successes, and we now have wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and the Midwest. But it is too soon to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list, as several courts have confirmed. Continued federal protections are critical to securing the fragile recovery of existing wolf populations and allowing wolves to expand into other suitable habitats.
In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where wolves have already lost federal protections, trophy hunters, trappers, and others have killed more than 3,200 of them since 2011. Endangered Species Act protections are still essential to help wolves return to remaining suitable lands where they used to roam, just as the bald eagle was allowed to expand before its federal protections were removed.
Wolves are the wild ancestors of all the domestic dogs we know and love today. Polls and studies show that a majority of the public highly value wolves. These remarkable creatures are icons of our landscape and their presence is vital to maintaining the balance of their native ecosystems.
I urge you to uphold protections for vulnerable gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act to allow for continued recovery of this majestic, misunderstood species. Please, stop the delisting process.
The Trump administration is proposing to remove the remaining federal protections for wolves, just as it attempted to do with grizzlies in late 2018. In March, acting interior secretary David Bernhardt announced that the US Fish and Wildlife Service would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Lower 48. The move by the federal government is the latest in a long-standing battle among conservationists, hunters, and ranchers.
Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Principal Deputy Director Everson: Gray wolves need Endangered Species protections to survive.
Since 1978, the FWS has actively managed three regional wolf populations for recovery: in the Northern Rockies, the Great Lakes region, and the Southwest, where the Mexican gray wolf subspecies resides. In 2003, the FWS deemed wolf populations healthy enough to change their ESA status from endangered to threatened, which sparked a 15-year-long legal battle between the agency and wildlife conservation groups. In 2011, Congress took the unusual step of delisting a nationally protected species in a single region—the gray wolves in the Northern Rockies—when it tacked a controversial rider on to the budget bill. That allowed states like Idaho and Montana to begin preparing their own management plans.
But almost every time the FWS has moved to drop wolves from the ESA, federal courts have struck down the proposals. For example, in 2013, the Obama administration proposed removing gray wolves’ endangered status across the contiguous United States, in all areas outside of designated Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes protected regions. A federal court reversed that decision in 2014. The ruling argued that the FWS failed to account for the impact of historical range loss, and also for how a partial delisting would impact the species nationwide. Then in 2017, the FWS stripped protections for Wyoming’s wolves, leading the state to adopt a notoriously lethal “predator management” plan, which has already resulted in a 25 percent decrease in the state’s wolf population.
In Montana and Idaho, wolf hunting has been on the rise in accordance with the new state management plans, although to a lesser degree than in Wyoming. According to Earthjustice, around 3,500 wolves have been killed since 2011 in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming following the loss of federal protections. Currently, gray wolves have been delisted in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, north central Utah, eastern Washington, and Wyoming, while retaining threatened status in Minnesota.
In its latest proposal, the Trump administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service argues that, based on the best available science and commercial information, gray wolves have sufficiently recovered. “Thanks to the partnerships involving states, tribes, conservation organizations, and private landowners galvanized under the ESA, the service is now able to propose turning management of all gray wolves back to the states and tribes who have been so central to the species’ recovery,” reads a FWS statement.
The proposal argues that under the ESA, the FWS is not required to restore a species to its entire historical range but rather to establish the species viability in the wild; the agency states, “there is no uniform definition for recovery and how recovery must be achieved.” The proposal acknowledges that a rise in legal human-caused mortality will follow the delisting but argues that “the high reproductive potential of wolves, and the innate behavior of wolves to disperse and locate social openings, allows wolf populations to withstand relatively high rates of human-caused mortality.”
That claim is one that wildlife advocates fiercely dispute, and they will likely continue to do so in the coming weeks when, per departmental regulations, scientific peer review and public comment periods are underway.
The FWS declined to be interviewed or respond to questions via email for this story. David Bernhardt, the former oil lobbyist currently leading the Interior Department and under fire for ties to industry, said in a press release, “The facts are clear and indisputable—the gray wolf no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species. Today the wolf is thriving on its vast range, and it is reasonable to conclude it will continue to do so in the future.”
Conservation groups have balked at the Trump administration proposal, which, they say, would reverse wolves’ hard-won gains. Sylvia Fallon, senior director of the wildlife division at the National Resources Defense Council, says that the FWS has long resisted calls to implement a nationwide recovery plan, instead favoring piecemeal, regional management, even though the conservation community provided a road map to national recovery and management.
“I think [FWS wolf management] is a real truncated version of recovery and does not really bring the species to its full potential of recovery,” Fallon says. “For wolves to be recovered nationally, we would like to see them occupying the remaining available habitat in their historic range.” Fallon points to areas like Colorado, the Northeast, and parts of California as having ample suitable habitat for wolf rehabilitation.
At the time of European contact, there may have been as many as 2 million wolves inhabiting North America. After a centuries-long extermination campaign, wolf populations hit a nadir of around 1,000 animals, mostly living in the north woods of Minnesota, in the early 20th century. Today, an estimated 6,000 wolves are spread across the Lower 48. There are as many as 11,000 wolves in Alaska, where the species has never had ESA protection. According to Alaska Fish and Game, about 1,300 wolves are killed by hunters and trappers annually in the state, with up to 200 more taken by wildlife managers each year. Today, wolves occupy somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of their historical range across the Lower 48.
Colette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, agrees that more historical range could support wolves. Adkins sees this latest delisting effort as largely political, characteristic of a distinctly antiscience administration.
“We know from experience that states can’t be trusted to sustainably manage wolves,” Adkins says. “When they lose their federal protections, they get subjected to aggressive trophy hunting, trapping, killing at the behest of the agricultural [livestock] industry.” Adkins points to Wisconsin, where the predator management plan aims for 350 wolves, or less than half of the population of roughly 900. She acknowledges that some states offer strong protections, but that those tend to be in areas where the animal is scarce, such as California and Colorado.
To a large extent, wolves will always be a highly contentious issue. Many cattle ranchers and sheep herders have long opposed the presence of wolves on the landscape. Fallon has seen some encouraging dialogue between ranchers and wolf advocates and is hopeful that people and wolves can coexist. “We’ve actually seen a lot of progress in the Northern Rockies in the last couple of years with ranchers making some changes to their practices,” Fallon says. “I think there’s huge potential there—particularly if we can help provide resources to help ranchers implement these nonlethal practices, to prevent conflicts from happening in the first place.”
In some areas, compensation programs provide cash payments to ranchers if it’s confirmed that wolves killed their livestock. By providing reimbursement, conservationists and managers are hoping to ease the pressure from industry and help assuage vitriol against wolves. But while some programs have been hailed as successful, not everyone in pleased. In Oregon, critics fear that the program is being abused by ranchers, while ranchers counter that livestock kills and wolf populations are undercounted.
Adkins is skeptical about the prospect for reaching consensus with the livestock industry. She emphasizes that there’s ample public support for wolf conservation. “The first step is to try to make sure that this proposal is never finalized at all,” she says. “But if the Fish and Wildlife Service does go ahead with the final rule, absolutely we will bring them to court.”
Earthjustice has a useful timeline of the wolf saga here.
A wolf, first thought to be a dog, is warming hearts everywhere after being rescued this morning from a freezing river in Estonia, a country in Northern Europe.
The heroic rescuers, reportedly named Robin Sillamae and Rando Kartsepp, were working nearby when they noticed the distressed animal in the Parnu River.
After pulling the wolf, who was described as exhausted, hypothermic, and frozen,” from the icy water, the kind-hearted men covered the animal in a blanket and placed it in their car to warm up.
The Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals (EUPA), which received the call for “help with a dog that might be a wolf,” shared the news on its Facebook page; admitting that the situation presented a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately, the young men who saved the wolf were able to drive the animal to a clinic where he received immediate treatment that was funded by the EUPA.
The organization shared an update from the clinic which confirmed that the wolf, believed to be born last year, is slowly recovering and sustained no other injuries.
“We have been contacted by the head of the environment agency’s Wildlife Department, Marko Hat, who confirmed that if the wolf is in top-notch health, then they will put a collar on him and release him into the wild,” noted the organization.
The EUPA shared their appreciation for the young men who saved the struggling young wolf, as well as the staff of the clinic, and Marko Hat, who gave them peace of mind, ensuring that the animal would be released to freedom.
The Estonian Union For The Protection Of Animals is a donation-based organization. Please consider making a contribution to the work that they do to save animals in their region.
Despite global opposition, the survival of Norway’s endangered population of wolves is once again being threatened. Plans to allow the mass killing of the country’s 60 remaining wolves spells out certain extinction for the species. Please urge Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment to end wolf hunts once and for all.
In 2016, the Norwegian government halted its plans to kill off nearly two-thirds of the wolves in the county of Hedmark, thanks in part to the 7,000 emails sent by our supporters from around the world and also to a petition with 70,000 signatures. Despite this recent victory, protests and demonstrations are taking to the streets in response to plans of yet another wolf hunt targeting the estimated 60 wolves found within its borders, including the killing of wolves in designated wolf zones that “were supposed to be set aside as conservation zones to protect Norway’s wolf population.”
Animal rights activists and conservationists strongly oppose the hunt due to the potentially catastrophic effect mass killings would have on the small wolf population, most likely resulting in the complete annihilation of the already critically endangered species.
Anti-wolf ranchers incorrectly blame wolves for the loss of sheep, yet the vast majority of free-grazing sheep are killed due to the negligence of the ranchers, and the small remaining percentage die due to attacks by other predators.
Those in favor of killing off wolves are fueled by greed and myths of the “big bad wolf,” and have no interest in the well-being of the animals in their “care” or the conservation of endangered wolves. Paradoxically, individuals who support the wolf hunt because they claim the animals pose a major threat “have never actually encountered a wolf” and those who have done so have called it a “memorable” and even “fantastic” experience, indicating wolves are tragically the “victim(s) of an undeservedly bad reputation.”
What YOU Can Do:
Norway’s wolves must be protected from the disastrous and misguided plans to hunt them. Please urge Ola Elvestuen, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, to put an end to wolf hunting once and for all. Please sign our letter to Minister of Climate Change and Environment Ola Elvestuen, by filling out the form on this page.
It’s unlikely that a senate version of the House H.R. 6784 will make into the senate. It barely passed the House, but could now be added to spending bills as a rider.
During a town hall meeting in Rhinelander Friday, Congressman Sean Duffy was asked about the bill which he authored which would return wolf management to the states.
The bill passed the U.S. House, but Duffy said it is unlikely to make it through the Senate…
“…I can’t get a stand-alone bill out of the (U.S.) Senate. A lot of Senators, Democrats and Republicans who say they support it don’t want to work for it. You can look at who that is yourself. I’m trying to get it into the end of the year Omnibus package to pass with this big spending bill….”
This bill will go in to large ominous spending bills as riders and would return Gray…
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