California Delays Decision on Protecting Gray Wolf

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

FRESNO (AP) – Advocates for the gray wolf in California will have to wait 90 days before learning if the animal will be listed as endangered, a state board decided Wednesday. Ranchers and state wildlife officials oppose granting the species legal protections.

The five members of the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to delay a decision so they can gather more public comments on protecting the species, which is showing signs of a comeback after being killed off in the 1920s.

State wildlife officials say they don’t support the listing because wolves haven’t roamed in California for decades and there’s no scientific basis to consider them endangered.

Wolves have been absent from California, so researchers have no way of measuring threats or the viability of the animal in the state, said Eric Loft, chief of wildlife programs for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Yet, the animal is iconic of the western landscape and California could easily become the home to functioning wolf packs within a decade, said Chuck Bonham, director of the wildlife agency.

He said he supports wolf conservation efforts but not listing it as endangered.

“You may hear we actually hate wolves,” he said, maintaining that wasn’t true. “We’re committed to the long-term prospect of the wolf.”

Advocates’ renewed interest in protecting the species started in 2011, when a lone wolf from Oregon – called OR-7 – was tracked crossing into California. The decision to list it or not has been under review for the last year.

The commission gathered in Ventura and heard from more than 60 members of the public, most of them in support of wolves but others in opposition.

Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen’s Association, which is fighting wolf protections, said the state’s endangered species act is designed to help species at risk of going extinct. The wolf is experiencing the reverse, he said.

“The species is not at risk of disappearing in the state of California,” he said. “It is, rather, reappearing.”

Mike Williams, a cattle rancher in Ventura County, said wolves cause high stress on cattle, increase illness and weight loss, and kill valuable livestock.

“Wolves are beautiful animals,” he said. “But they’re also vicious, brutal and efficient killing machines and a threat to people, livestock and pets.”

The action in California stands in sharp contrast to the approach taken by other Western states that have successfully reintroduced the wolf to the point they are allowing hunts to reduce their numbers.

Nationally, wolves were near extinction not long ago. They were reintroduced with federal protections in the 1980s and ’90s.

Wolves now occupy large parts of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and the Great Lakes.

Federal protections have ended in those two regions, and there is a pending proposal to lift protections across much of the remaining Lower 48 states.

Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity led the effort to protect California’s wolves.

She accused state wildlife officials of violating state law by attempting to keep wolves off the California endangered species list.

“The wolf should be on the list,” Weiss said. “And it should stay on the list.”


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Rally to Save California Wolves, Wildlife Set for Wednesday in Ventura

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Event Precedes State Fish and Game Commission Meeting

VENTURA, Calif.— Dozens of local residents and activists from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies will rally Wednesday morning in Ventura to voice their support for protecting gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act and for banning all wildlife-killing contests in California. Both issues are on the agenda for the California Fish and Game Commission meeting that will take place in Ventura later that morning.

And on Tuesday night, the Center’s Amaroq Weiss, one of the nation’s leading wolf conservation advocates, who has been at the forefront of wolf recovery efforts in the United States for the past 17 years, will give a public presentation on wolf conservation in California and beyond.

Wednesday, April 16 Rally:

WHAT: Citizens, including members of the Center for Biological Diversity, will rally on the sidewalk in front of the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel to send a loud message to the California Fish and Game Commission that Californians support full protections for wolves under the California Endangered Species Act and support banning all wildlife-killing contests in the state.

WHEN: 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., Wednesday, April 16 (Note: The public hearing starts 15 minutes after the rally ends, at 8:30 a.m., at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel.)

WHERE: The sidewalk in front of the main entrance to the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, at 450 E. Harbor Boulevard in Ventura.

VISUALS and INTERVIEWS: Attendees will hoist posters and banners with messages in support of full state protections for wolves and banning wildlife-killing contests. Speakers (also available for interviews) will include Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity; Keli Hendricks, a California rancher who supports coexisting with native predators; Camilla Fox and Grant McComb, executive director and youth outreach coordinator for Project Coyote; Damon Nagami, senior attorney with the National Resources Defense Council; and Jim Hines, conservation chair for the Sierra Club – Los Padres Chapter.

Wolf Presentation, April 15:

WHAT: Biologist and former attorney Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity, will give a presentation about wolves and wolf conservation challenges.

WHEN: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 15

WHERE: City Corps Building, 77 N. California St., Ventura

The public and media are welcome to attend.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Animal traps that grip or snare are banned in L.A. as ‘inhumane’

Jim Robertson-wolf-copyright

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ban traps that snare or grip coyotes, bears, foxes and other animals in the city, deeming such traps inhumane.

Under the new rules, commercial trappers cannot use traps that grip or snare any part of the animal, with the exception of traps set for rats, mice and other small rodents. Angelenos are banned from using any trap “that maims or causes the inhumane death or suffering of any animal,” the rules state.

Commercial trappers can still do business using other kinds of traps, which can include cage traps that involve a locking door.

However, the Department of Animal Services will also put forward regulations to ensure that such traps are not used inhumanely — for instance, by leaving an animal caged for a long time in the summer heat.

All traps “can be inhumane through negligent care or use, but snares, bodycrushing and body-gripping traps are inherently inhumane,” a council committee focused on animal welfare wrote in a report. Besides banning snare traps, “the Department is requesting the authority to establish reasonable rules and regulations regarding the use of humane traps and the treatment of the trapped animals.”

Wildlife protection groups say banning snare traps will prevent needless suffering and keep other animals safe. Trapping sounds “safe” to people, but there’s no guarantee that the targeted animal is the one trapped and killed, said Randi Feilich, the Southern California representative for Project Coyote. Pets can also fall victim to the snares, she added.

“If you’ve ever seen an animal trapped in one of these traps, you would never, ever allow them to be used,” said Skip Haynes of the wildlife protection group Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife.

Animal trapping groups did not speak at the Wednesday meeting, but Dan Fox, president of Animal Pest Management Services Inc., argued in an earlier letter to the council that cage traps were not effective in catching coyotes and that snare traps could be a humane option if used correctly. Experienced trappers consider whether other animals are in the area before setting traps, he wrote.

The new rules “will remove any efficient methods of trapping predator animals, and increase costs for residents without addressing the true issue” — people ignoring the existing rules, Fox wrote.

The ban was first proposed by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and seconded by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge.

“Mahatma Gandhi once said … a society can be judged by the way it treats its animals,” O’Farrell said before the Wednesday vote. “Colleagues, banning these cruel and sadistic torture devices to deal with our wildlife is the way to go.”,0,5874191.story#ixzz2yWoFGogR

Recreational hog hunting popularity soaring

LINDSEY SHELTO, Associated Press

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A quick tap on the roof of the electric hunting cart and the pop of two rifle shots and Jody Greene and Jeff Goeggle have taken down their first hog of the night.

It’s one of hundreds they will kill this year; they bagged 420 last year.

Goeggle’s tap on the roof of the cart signals he has spotted a hog, and he and Greene both shoot to ensure one of them hits the animal. It’s a routine they’ll repeat during approximately 200 hunts in 2014.

Majority of California’s House Democrats Want Wolves Protected


March 20, 2014

Unlikely to be able to register to vote any time soon | Photo: USFWS/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Political wonks have long talked about “blue dog” and “yellow dog” Democrats, but now California has a new Democratic dog political tendency: the Gray Wolf Democrat. A majority of California’s Congressional House Democrats have signed on to a strongly worded letter urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon attempts to strip the gray wolf of protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, written by Oregon Democrat Peter De Fazio, slams USFWS for its ongoing proposal to remove the gray wolf from ESA protection, charging that the proposed delisting is “not based on the best available science.” DeFazio, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, writes that USFWS “should rescind the proposed rule immediately,” charging that the agency tried to stack the scientific deck against the wolves in its rulemaking.

And of the 73 Representatives that co-signed DeFazio’s letter to Jewell, 19 were California Democrats. That’s just over half the Democratic delegation and more than a third of the state’s total representation in the House, and yet another sign that there’s significant pro-wolf sentiment in California.

The California Representatives signing the DeFazio letter were Julia Brownley, Lois Capps, Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Mike Honda, Jared Huffman, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Jerry McNerney, George Miller, Grace Napolitano, Raul Ruiz, Adam Schiff, Jackie Speier, Mark Takano, and Henry Waxman.

With the exception of Huffman, Ruiz and McNerney, the California signers hail from relatively liberal coastal urban districts. Ruiz represents the Coachella Valley and Riverside County desert; McNerney took over arch-conservative Richard Pombo’s district in San Joaquin County in 2007. Huffman represents the north coast’s expansive Second District, which runs along the coast from the Golden Gate to the Oregon state line. (Alone among the letter’s California signers, Huffman actually stands a chance of seeing wolves move into his district in the next decade or two.)

None of California’s Republican Representatives signed on to the DeFazio letter.

In the letter, DeFazio pretty much rakes USFWS over the coals for its conduct during the wolf delisting proposal. “The ESA does not charge [USFWS] with restoring only as much of the endangered species as it deems politically convenient,” writes DeFazio, charging that he and his co-signers “have serious concerns regarding the initial attempts to exclude top wolf experts from this process, and the resurrection of a long-dormant government journal to ‘publish’ the study… used to justify the rule.”

The letter charges that delisting would interfere with the gray wolf’s recovery, saying that “recovery has yet to begin in California, Colorado, Utah, and the Northeast, where scientists have identified a significant amount of suitable habitat that would support wolf populations.”

Neither Interior nor USFWS have responded publicly to the letter, but the presence of so many California Representatives on the roster of co-signers should provide a bit of moral support for the state’s wolf advocates, not to mention political cover as the state’s Fish and Game Commission determines whether to protect gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.

Help Ban Wildlife Killing Contests in CA

“A society that condones unlimited killing of wildlife for fun and prizes is morally bankrupt.”  ~ Dave Parsons, Project Coyote Science Advisory Board

Dear Friend of Wildlife,

We need your help to prohibit wildlife killing contests in California! At the request of Project Coyote, the California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously on February 5th to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests. Project Coyote representatives made the case for a ban, after which newly elected Commission Vice President Jack Baylis put forth the motion to move forward on a formal rule-making process to consider prohibiting wildlife-killing contests statewide. Commission President Michael Sutton supported the motion stating, “I’ve been concerned about these killing contests for some time. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.” Read more here and in the articles in the sidebar. Watch our video:
Wildlife Killing contest Video Play Button Still

As a result of the Commission’s vote, a formal rule-making process will commence and the issue will be agendized at the April 16th Fish and Game Commission meeting in Ventura; public testimonies will be heard before the Commission votes on whether to permanently ban wildlife killing contests statewide (the vote on the proposed ban will not take place until June or August).

Now is the time to write- email or snail mail- favoring the ban! (please see talking points below).
California Fish and Game Commission P.O. Box 944209 Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Please cc your letters to California Department of Fish & Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham at and to Project Coyote at  as we are tracking the letters sent.

Join us in Ventura on the 16th to express your support before the Commission. Details/agenda will be posted here.
Please also sign our petition on this issue here.

Wildlife killing contests are ethically indefensible events allowing participants to kill wildlife to win prizes. They are ecologically reckless, not only harming individual animals, but also altering predator-prey dynamics, disrupting the social dynamics of predatory species, and increasing threats to public safety, all for fun and prizes. They have no beneficial management purpose but, rather, promote gratuitous violence against wildlife. They demean the immense ecological and economic value of predators in an ecosystem while teaching children to hate and trivialize the lives of predators.

Additional talking Points (please personalize your letter):

1. Commend the California Fish and Game Commission and the Wildlife Resources Committee for prioritizing the issue of modernizing predator conservation and stewardship statewide. California has the opportunity to set the trend for the nation by moving this great state toward more responsible, science-based, and ethical wildlife stewardship. These regulations and policies should reflect current science, conservation biology, and the ecological principles of ecosystem-based management as well as proven coexistence practices which will yield better outcomes for wildlife and people. The first logical step toward this goal is to end those practices that violate these standards; we must outlaw wildlife killing contests.
2. Wildlife killing contests, “derbies” and “drives” are conducted for profit, entertainment, prizes and, simply, for the “fun” of killing. Such thrill kill events perpetuate the wanton waste of wildlife. Prizes and awards are given to those who kill the most individuals and the largest (and sometimes the most females). This is not about sport or fair-chase; predators are often baited and lured in with distress calls of wounded young placing wildlife at an even greater and unfair disadvantage.
3. No evidence exists showing that indiscriminate killing contests control problem animals or serve any beneficial management function. Coyote populations that are not exploited (that is hunted, trapped, or controlled by other means) form stable “extended family” social structures that naturally limit coyote populations through defense of territory and the suppression of breeding by subordinate female members of the family group. Indiscriminate killing of coyotes disrupts this social stability resulting in increased reproduction and greater pup survival.

4. The importance of predators in maintaining order, stability, and productivity in ecosystems has been documented in scientific literature. Coyotes and other native carnivores provide myriad ecosystem services that benefit humans; these include control of rodents and rabbits which compete with domestic livestock for forage and which are associated with plague and lyme disease.   5.  Wildlife killing contests perpetuate a culture of violence and send the message to children that life has little value and that an entire species of animals is disposable.   6.  Wildlife killing contests put non-target animals, companion animals, and people at risk.

********** Thank you for speaking up for wildlife!

Mendocino County supervisors back hunting with hounds


Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson


March 11, 2014

Mendocino County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to support a bill that would overturn a year-old state ban on hunting bears and bobcats with hounds.

Assembly Bill 2205 would allow individual counties to decide whether to ban the use of hunting dogs to chase down and kill those animals.

“I think you guys should have the authority,” not somebody from Los Angeles or San Francisco, said Daniel Davis, a local member of California Houndsmen for Conservation, the bill’s sponsor.

The bill was introduced late last month by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican candidate for governor and gun-rights advocate. Supervisor John Pinches asked that a letter of support for the bill be placed on the board’s agenda.

“This is an issue where we can basically take control,” he said Tuesday.

California’s ban on hounds for sports hunting has been in effect since January 2013. It continues to allow the use of hounds to hunt errant bears that cause property damage.

The ban was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.

No one at Tuesday’s meeting spoke in opposition to the newly proposed bill but national Humane Society officials said they are dismayed by the attempt to revive hound hunts. They called it “unsporting, cruel and unnecessary.”

Four Mendocino County residents, including Davis, his mother and father, and Steve Johnson spoke in favor of overturning the ban.

Johnson, a winemaker, said he moved to a rural area because “I want to have my dogs, I want to hunt bears,” he said. “It’s what I like to do.”

“Me and my dad, this is our passion,” Davis said.

Supervisor Carre Brown said allowing houndsmen to hunt bears reduces the number of bears that get into trouble and must be killed by federal trappers.

“Management of marauding wildlife I think is very important,” she said.

Pinches said hound hunting also draws tourism dollars.

“You’ve got to give people things to do,” he said.

The other three supervisors did not comment.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or

Banning Wildlife Killing Contests

Earlier this month in a remote northeastern corner of California, residents in Modoc County slaughtered at least 40 coyotes in an annual killing contest known as the Adin “Coyote Drive.” In Crane, Oregon last month, the “Eight Annual JMK Coyote Hunting Contest ” advertised no geographic restrictions for its killing contest that resulted in the death of close to 150 coyotes last year. (The number of animals killed were not disclosed this year.)  In Salmon, Idaho coyotes and wolves were targeted in the “1st Annual 2 Day Coyote & Wolf Derby” where 21 coyotes were gunned down on the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) - our nation’s safety net for wildlife that brought wolves back from the brink of extinction.
What do all of these killing contests have in common? They award prizes to those who kill the most individuals and the largest (and sometimes the most females) perpetuating a culture of violence that sends a message to children that life has little value and that an entire species of animals is disposable.   Despite the incomprehensible cruelty and predictable ecological destruction, hundreds of wildlife killing contests, many encouraging youth participation, take place throughout the country, resulting in countless deaths of vital predators.     Project Coyote brought international attention to this issue generating thousands of emails and letters to federal and state agencies and to killing contest sponsors. In addition to exposing the brutality, Project Coyote and allies challenged the legality of the contests in court and were instrumental in ensuring that some of the events did not take place on public lands.   Most significantly, at the request of Project Coyote, the California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests. Project Coyote Executive Director Camilla Fox requested a ban at the February 5th Commission meeting. “We urge you to use your authority to regulate and restrict take by initiating a rule-making process to prohibit wildlife killing contests — thus modernizing predator management, conservation and stewardship statewide- and setting the trend for the rest of the nation — as we do so well here in California.” Watch Project Coyote in action here:

FHC Video Play Button Still
Newly elected Commission Vice President, Jack Baylis put forth the motion to move forward on the formal rule-making process to consider prohibiting wildlife-killing contests. Commission President, Michael Sutton showed his support for the motion stating, “I’ve been concerned about these killing contests for some time. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.” Read more in Project Coyote’s press release here.   As a result of the Commission’s vote, a formal rule-making process will begin and the issue will be on the agenda at the April 16th Fish and Game Commission meeting in Ventura. Public testimony will be heard before the Commission votes on whether to permanently ban wildlife killing contests statewide. If you live in California, please join us in this effort.   Project Coyote and eight conservation organizations, led by the Southwest Environmental Center, urged New Mexico Governor Martinez to remove two members of the New Mexico Game Commission, Chairman Scott Bidegain and Commissioner Robert Espinosa, for competing in and organizing coyote-killing contests, respectively.   Conservationists in New Mexico have reason to be hopeful. Chairman Scott Bidegain, charged as an accessory to killing a cougar on his family’s ranch and facing pressure for his participation in the coyote-killing contest, recently resigned from the Commission. And in an unprecedented stand, the Las Cruces City Council voted unanimously in support of a resolution opposing wildlife killing events that “encourage the wanton and unnecessary killing of New Mexico’s wildlife. On February 18th, city councilors opposed the Predator Masters Hunt & Convention, which takes place in and around Las Cruces.   Banning barbaric killing contests is a part of Project Coyote’s vision to change the way predators are perceived and “managed.” We are hopeful that like dog and cock fighting, which are now banned nationwide, we can make wildlife killing contests a shameful relic of our past.



Meanwhile in CA, Gray wolf doesn’t warrant endangered status, official says

by Melody Gutierrez Wednesday, February 5, 2014copyrighted wolf in water

Sacramento —

The gray wolf should not be listed as an endangered species in California, according to staff at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, much to the chagrin of wildlife conservation advocates who petitioned for the designation.

Following a yearlong review, the department’s director, Chuck Bonham, told the California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday that there is scientific evidence to support some protections for the gray wolf, but not for listing the animal on the endangered species list. The commission will consider his recommendation and may act on it this spring.

“Look, this decision has been weighing on me for weeks,” Bonham said. “It’s possible I may lose friends over this, which is why I ask everyone to read the documents before passing judgment.”

The recommendation was in response to a petition filed by conservationists in 2012 seeking protections for the species after a gray wolf from Oregon, known as OR-7, entered California. It was the first wild gray wolf in the state in almost 90 years. The wolf has since gone back to Oregon but has made some short excursions to the Golden State.

Bonham said his department’s recommendation is to designate the gray wolf as a species of special concern, prohibit the killing of OR-7 or other gray wolves and consider recommendations for placing the gray wolf on the state’s endangered species list at a later date.

Bonham said the recommendation documents will be posted on the department’s website by Thursday. Bonham’s announcement comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the gray wolf from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

Nearly all of the public comments at Wednesday’s meeting in Sacramento on the gray wolf petition favored listing the animal as endangered.

“Wolves deserve a chance to recover in California, so it’s disappointing to see the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recommendation against protections,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that petitioned the state to have the gray wolf listed as an endangered.

In other developments at the Fish and Game Commission meeting, commissioners agreed to take up a possible ban on killing contests, a response to a controversial annual coyote killing contest held in Modoc County.

The annual event, scheduled for this weekend, triggered outrage last year after Project Coyote and several other conservation groups started a statewide campaign to stop the killings.

Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, said wildlife killing contests are more common than the public realizes. Organizers of the event have attempted to hide the contest from public view due to criticism and media attention.

One supporter of the event, Perry St. John, said the coyote hunt is held this time of year to help reduce the coyote population before spring calf births.

“It’s not killing for fun,” St. John told the commission during public comments. “It’s a chance for people to come together.”

State May Ban Hunting Contests For Coyotes And Other Wildlife

Jim Robertson-wolf-copyright

by Chris Clarke on February 5, 2014

California’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to consider a ban on hunting contests such as this weekend’s secretive coyote drive in Modoc County, with one Commissioner suggesting such contests are unethical.

The 4-0 vote launches a formal rule-making process, during which public comment will be solicited as the Commission considers a ban on such contests in California.

“This is obviously not about sport or fair-chase,” said Camilla Fox, whose wildlife group Project Coyote proposed the ban to the Commission on Wednesday. “Wildlife killing contests are conducted for profit, entertainment, prizes and, simply, for the ‘fun’ of killing. No evidence exists showing that such indiscriminate killing contests control problem animals or serve any beneficial management function.”

Fish and Game Commission President Michael Sutton spoke in favor of the motion before the vote. “I’ve been concerned about these killing contests for some time,” said Sutton. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.”

Though the focus of the discussion was on coyotes, given the looming Modoc County contest, a broad ban on wildlife hunting contests would conceivably bar events where other species are the targets as well.

Advocates contend that contests such as Modoc County’s or the others we described last month are important to keep predator populations under control.

But research into the dynamics of coyote reproduction and lifestyles over the last several decades undermines such claims. Though there will likely always be a role for direct culls in management of problem coyotes, the science indicates that more indiscriminate hunting serves only to disrupt coyote family groups in which only the “alpha” adults breed. Killing one or both of the alphas in a mid-sized family group may mean two or three times as many pairs of coyotes will be actively breeding shortly thereafter.

“Killing random predators is about as effective at protecting livestock as bailing harder is at saving a sinking boat,” said Sonoma County rancher Keli Hendricks, who testified in support of a ban before the Commission. “It might help for a short time, but the only real solution is to fix the hole in the boat. The way to fix that hole is to implement one or more of the many non-lethal livestock protection methods available to ranchers today.”

The possibility of banning wildlife hunting contests will now be placed on the agenda for a Fish and Game Commission meeting, at which public comment will be solicited. That won’t happen before Modoc County’s coyote drive this weekend, but it will almost certainly happen before next year’s.