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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
When a rancher claims to have lost livestock due to Mexican wolf predation, there are several ways that they can seek compensation. One of those ways is a program run by the U.S.D.A Farm Services Agency (FSA) known as the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which provides compensation for livestock lost due to attack by animals reintroduced to the wild by the Federal Government. To get this compensation: “Owners or contract growers who suffer livestock losses due to an eligible cause of loss must submit a notice of loss and an application for payment to the local FSA office that serves the physical location county where the livestock losses occurred. All of the owner’s or contract grower’s interest in inventory of eligible livestock in that county for the calendar year must be accounted for and summarized when determining eligibility.” In short, the ranchers’ say so is all they really need for proof.
In 2020, the FSA paid out $588,940.19 under the LIP for livestock lost in 2019 in Catron County, New Mexico because of Mexican wolves. This money went to just eleven livestock owners, for 1130 head. Yes, 1,130 head of “beef.” I confirmed twice that there were only wolf payments in 2019 and no weather-related claims.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service there were just 87 wolves in New Mexico in 2019. If all the wolves in New Mexico in 2019 were responsible for the loss or injury of 1130 head of livestock on these 11 ranches in Catron County, it would mean that each wolf was responsible for the death or injury of nearly 13 head of cattle in 2019, and that cattle were being killed or injured at the rate of three a day on just these ranches.
So, let’s game that out: The second highest paid recipient of LIP funds in Catron County in 2019 was Canyon del Buey (yes, that Canyon del Buey) and it raked in $89,395 for lost livestock. Using the average rate of payment per head ($521.18) – which is just a best guess of how to calculate this – Canyon del Buey claimed to have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 head in 2019. (Mind you, this permit was revoked in August 2019, and so the claim reflects ~170 head in just 8 months.) The Canyon del Buey allotment’s Forest Service annual operating instructions only authorized a max of 286 cow/calf pairs that year. Like I said, that 170 is just an estimate and my best guess based on the information available. Maybe Canyon del Buey lost a bunch of $1,191 bulls instead – but it would have had to lose 75 bulls in 8 months to qualify for nearly $90K in 2019.
That’s a lot of bull.
About The Author
Greta Anderson is a plant nerd, a desert rat, and a fan of wildness. She is the Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project.
Ken Canning Wolves across the US are again being persecuted under state management. The State of Idaho has adopted legislation that allows for the killing of 90% of the wolves statewide including newborn pups and nursing mothers in their dens. The State of Montana has adopted a bounty system similar to the one that led to the eradication of wolves from the West. The State of Wisconsin opened a hunting season without adequate regulations in place and hundreds of wolves were destroyed within days. Wolves need to regain the protection of the Endangered Species Act NOW! Please take action to restore vital protections to prevent the eradication of wolves from states that are unable or unwilling to manage wolves responsibly.
To: US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland From: [Your Name]
Please Act Now to Save America’s Wolves!
I’m writing to ask you to help save our wolves in the United States. I care deeply about the plight of wolves in our country and wolves across the US are again being persecuted under state authority. The State of Idaho has adopted legislation that allows for the killing of 90% of the wolves statewide including newborn pups and nursing mothers in their dens. The State of Montana has adopted a bounty system similar to the one led to the eradication of wolves from the West. The State of Wisconsin opened a hunting season without adequate regulations in place and hundreds of wolves were destroyed in days. Wolves need to regain the protection of the Endangered Species Act now! Please take action to restore vital protections to prevent the eradication of wolves from states that are unable or unwilling to manage wolves responsibly.
There is no excuse for the persecution of wolves in our country. Wolves are an essential species in helping to maintain healthy elk and deer herds by culling diseased animals and encouraging dispersal of large herds into smaller herds that are more sustainable to their habitat. Livestock losses to wolves remain low – less than 1 percent of cattle in wolf range are lost to wolves – and there are highly effective nonlethal deterrents that can better protect sheep, cattle, and wolves.
These states are changing their state wolf legislation to the point they are no longer sufficient to protect wolves from eradication. You have the ability to restore their protection under the Endangered Species Act before it’s too late. Please take action now. Our nation’s wolves must be protected from this Old West approach that is nothing more than an archaic and brutal campaign to eradicate their numbers.
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.
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.
Wolf trapping has long been illegal in the Wood River Valley—and it will stay that way, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decided in a season-setting meeting last week.
Since Jan. 28, the commission had been weighing a proposal from two sportsmen’s groups seeking to reinstate wolf trapping in Blaine County. The groups—the Idaho Trappers Association and the Foundation for Wildlife Management—also asked to expand private-land wolf hunting in the Wood River Valley from 11 months to year-round, opening up the month of July to hunters.
While the groups’ first request was denied, its second was granted Thursday. The commission had previously expanded wolf hunting from 11 to 12 months across much of the state last spring, and it continued that trajectory last week in 28 game units.
In Blaine County’s Game Units 48 and 49, located on either side of state Highway 75, the commission upheld the current 11-month public-land wolf hunt while moving to a year-round private-land hunt. Twenty-four game units, including Unit 36—which encompasses Galena Summit, Stanley and much of the Sawtooth Mountains—moved to year-round wolf hunts on both public and private land.
Local public discourse leading up to last week’s meeting was largely focused on the trapping aspect of the sportsmen’s groups’ proposal. Over 300 comments were sent to Fish and Game opposing trapping in the Wood River Valley, according to Sarah Michael, chairwoman of the Wood River Wolf Project. Several local representatives traveled to Nampa to give in-person testimony before the commission on March 17, including Rep. Muffy Davis, D-Ketchum, and Blaine County Commissioner Dick Fosbury.
“Wolf trapping is not coexistence, and is not welcome on lands surrounding our community,” Hailey Mayor Martha Burke wrote in a February letter to the commission.
On March 9, the Blaine County commissioners passed a resolution asking the commission to keep wolf trapping out of the Wood River Valley, citing its threat to trail users and the overall recreational economy. The resolution also asked Fish and Game not to expand wolf hunting locally and to “work cooperatively” with the Wolf Project, an organization that collaborates with ranchers in Blaine County to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts using nonlethal means.
Wolf Project anticipates sheep migration
With its 14th season drawing closer, the Wolf Project met over Zoom last Friday to discuss two new spring and summer programs.
Starting next month—provided that it raises the remaining half of its funding goal of $3,500—the project will partner with high school students to place wildlife cameras throughout remote sections of Blaine County. The camera footage will provide real-time information on the movement of wolves throughout the region, giving nearby livestock producers the chance to prepare for and avoid potential conflicts with the predators.
Kurt Holtzen, a project volunteer who spent years tracking wolves in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, will train students on proper camera placement and assist them with footage retrieval. As time allows, participants will be introduced to wolf biologists and meet with Idaho Department of Fish and Game representatives, Michael said.
“We’ll be getting kids involved in wildlife issues out in the backcountry, gathering intelligence and locating wolves before the sheep come on. It will be a hands-on predator-wildlife coexistence program,” she said.
The Wolf Project is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring on a nighttime range rider as additional backup this summer as bands of sheep begin their migration into the mountains, she said. The hope is that the camera project will determine where the night rider is most needed.
In April, Michael added, the project will assess whether it has enough funding to hire a second field technician, who would join Logan Miller in monitoring wolves and providing sheepherders with nonlethal tools to reduce conflict.
“I think we’re at a point in time—talking about night riders, working with Wildlife Services and other agencies—where we can feel optimistic,” project member Larry Schoen said. “I really appreciate the fact that Sarah’s 50-mile-an-hour level of energy is breathing new life into this effort.”
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.
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, or lobo, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. After lobos were nearly wiped out, reintroduction began in 1998 in remote areas of New Mexico and Arizona. Since then, recovery has been slow and turbulent.
In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided that the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. was not essential to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves as a species. Guardians and our allies sued, and in 2018, a U.S. district judge told USFWS to go back to the drawing board to write a new management rule for the lobo.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently seeking comments on that new Mexican wolf management rule. This is our chance to make sure the agency gets recovery right, so please raise your voice!
Want to do even more for lobos? After you sign the petition, check out our wolf tool kit for ready-to-go social media posts and tips on writing a letter to the editor.
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.
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.
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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.
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