Wolves Under Attack

From HSUS.org (it’s good to see the leading the charge on this issue):

There is an all out war on our nation’s wolves — and in Michigan, they just took another hit.

Last week, in a charade of a vote, the Michigan House passed the unconstitutional “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act” — a misleadingly named bill that will allow a group of seven political appointees to open up a hunting season on wolves or any other protected species in the state without citizens having any say whatsoever.

This is a direct attack on citizen lawmaking and another big blow to Michigan’s fragile wolf population.

This is the third time in two years that Michigan lawmakers have voted to authorize a hunting season on Michigan’s small wolf population. It’s a slap in the face to the nearly half a million Michiganders who signed petitions to put two referendums on the ballot, and to all Michigan voters who are being told by the politicians that their votes shouldn’t count when it comes to what animals are hunted.

But we are far from backing down to these politicians. Our coalition partners at Keep Michigan Wolves Protected plan to challenge the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act” in court, and we are confident that Michigan courts will reject this unconstitutional Act and instead respect the voice of the people. And if citizens successfully vote down the two referendums in November, we will block a hunting season this fall and stop dozens or perhaps even hundreds of wolves from being pointlessly killed by trophy hunters.

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Pro-wolf hunt measure passes Michigan Senate

copyrighted wolf in river

http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2014/08/michigan_wolf_hunting.html

By Jonathan Oosting

LANSING, MI — Michigan’s Republican-led Senate on Wednesday approved controversial legislation that could pave the way for future wolf hunting seasons despite two wolf protection proposals set to appear on the November ballot.

The initiated bill was sent to the state Legislature last month by Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management, a hunting and conservation coalition that collected an estimated 297,000 valid signatures in a statewide petition drive.

State senators returned from summer recess to vote on various legislation, including the wolf hunt measure. It was approved in a 23-10 vote, mostly along party lines, and now heads to the House for further consideration.

The measure is similar to — and actually seeks to re-enact — recent laws that first designated the gray wolf as a game animal and gave the Natural Resource Commission the authority to add new species to the list. Both laws were suspended pending outcome of voter referendums this fall.

Supporters say the commission, comprised of seven members appointed by the governor, is best suited to consider scientific rationale for new game species or hunts. The NRC approved the state’s first-ever wolf season last year.

“It’s not about eliminating wolves,” said state Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, whose district includes wolf habitat in the eastern Upper Peninsula. “It’s about a balanced ecosystem, and it’s about providing scientific management.”

The Senate did not have to vote on the pro-hunt bill. Rejection or inaction would send the measure to the statewide ballot, where it would compete with the two anti-wolf hunt proposals.

Approval by the state House, which is set to reconvene for voting on August 27, would render those ballot proposals moot. The initiated legislation also includes a $1 million appropriation to battle invasive species, which may make it immune from future referendum.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, a coalition funded primarily by the Humane Society of the United States, organized two successful petition drives in a bid to prevent wolf hunting. The group’s first effort was rebuffed by the Legislature, which passed a second law when the first was suspended.

Several Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, urged Republican leadership to send the measure to the ballot, arguing that approval would disenfranchise voters who had signed the anti-hunt petitions.

“I’m not going to debate the merits of wolf hunting, because I really shouldn’t have to. There are initiatives supporting both sides of the argument that are intended to let the people decide.” Whitmer said.

“But I do think we should be debating why the desires of people who want to kill wolves outweigh those who do not. Because that’s what this is all about.”

Sen. Tom Casperson, who sponsored both wolf hunt laws facing referendum this fall, questioned why the Humane Society was focused on Michigan and suggested its true aim is to take away all hunting privileges, which the group denies.

“The sportsmen decided to do the initiative, and it’s within their right to do it,” he said, referencing the third petition drive that sent the measure to the Legislature.

Michigan’s wolf population grew dramatically in the 1990s and early 2000s, prompting removal from both state and federal endangered species lists. There are now an estimated 636 wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

Supporters say that wolf hunts are an effective population-control tool for limiting attacks on livestock and pets, arguments bolstered by recent news that wolves had killed five hunting dogs in the span of three days, along with a cow.

Twenty-two wolves were legally killed in a hunt that ran from mid-November through December in three zones of the Upper Peninsula, about half the number that the state had hoped for.

An MLive.com investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt.

Politicians “can’t be trusted on this issue, but the voters can be trusted, and should be allowed to hear the arguments from both sides and make an informed judgment this November,” said Jill Fritz of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

“We call on House members to end this abuse of power, and restore respect for the democratic process by letting the people vote.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources sold 1,200 wolf hunting licenses last year, generating roughly $120,000 for the Game and Fish Protection Fund, according to the non-partisan House Fiscal Agency.

The $1 million appropriation proposed in the new bill would be drawn from the state’s general fund. The measure would also extend a provision of the 2013 law that gave free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses to active military members.

Restore Protection to Michigan Wolves

From Keep Michigan Wolves Protected:

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Keep Michigan Wolves Protected

Great news! Today the Board of State Canvassers certified a second ballot referendum challenging the reckless trophy hunting of Michigan’s small wolf population — on Nov. 4 Michiganders will have the opportunity to vote to restore the people’s right to have a say on wildlife policy.

After we submitted signatures for our first referendum to stop the pointless wolf hunt, politicians hastily passed a second law that was an end-run around the voters, trying to put all new hunting and trapping seasons in the hands of an unelected, politically appointed commission that is aligned with the legislature’s views. But once again, Michigan voters have proven that they simply won’t be silenced, and won’t give up our rights to participate in decision-making when it comes to wildlife policy! And now we need everyone to help us get out the word. Restore protection to our wolves and protect our voting rights — vote NO on both proposals!
We truly couldn’t have gotten here without supporters like you! Every single person that collected signatures, signed a petition, made a donation, shared our messages, or volunteered their time has helped us take one more step toward protecting our majestic wolves.

Incredible Scam to Kill Inedible Wolves

 

 Michael Markarian: Animals & Politics

There is more fallout from the Michigan wolf hunt scandal, in which state legislators relied on and trafficked in exaggerated and even fabricated stories about wolf incidents as they went about authorizing a hunt on the state’s small population of wolves. Nearly two-thirds of all wolf incidents in the Upper Peninsula occurred on a single farm, where the individual farmer baited wolves with cattle and deer carcasses. As John Barnes of MLive.com reported yesterday, that farmer, John Koski, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of neglecting the guard donkeys provided to him by the state and funded by Michigan taxpayers. Two of the donkeys starved to death and a third was removed due to neglect.
As Barnes noted, “Koski received nearly $33,000 in cattle-loss compensation from the state. Taxpayers also footed the bill for more than $200,000 in staff time and other measures to assist the farm against wolf attacks, documents obtained by MLive.com show.” So here we have one farmer who pocketed tens of thousands of dollars, refused to use the fencing provided by the state, allowed guard donkeys to starve to death, and lured wolves to his property with a free buffet of rotting corpses. This was the poster child for Michigan’s “need” for a wolf hunt.
Politicians and state officials continue to point to wolf depredation statistics in the Upper Peninsula to justify their decision to open a wolf hunting season for the first time in four decades. But if Koski’s self-inflicted wolf incidents were removed from the statewide numbers, the true picture of wolf conflicts is miniscule at best. It’s one more example of state officials cooking the case against wolves: lawmakers and DNR staff have admitted that stories they told of wolves stalking daycare centers and staring at people through glass doors were false and never happened.
After voters demanded a say on the issue, state legislators went out of their way to end-run the people, handing off the decision on wolf hunting to seven, unelected members of the Natural Resources Commission whose collective opinion was in line with the state legislature’s view. These seven individuals are political appointees, and not accountable to voters. The sole scientist on the commission proved to be the only dissenting vote against their plan to open a trophy hunting season for wolves.
Graywolfinwild

Photo by MacNeill Lyons/National Park Service/AP
It is reckless to allow trophy hunters to kill wolves from the small, still recovering population of only about 650 wolves in Michigan. Hunters aren’t targeting problem wolves, but randomly killing animals in national forests and other wilderness areas. In fact, it’s already legal to kill problem wolves in the rare instances when livestock, pets, or human safety are or may be perceived to be at risk. This system works and allows for selective control of wolves causing any problems.
Wolves are an economic and ecological boon to the state, promoting tourism to the Upper Peninsula and checking the growth of abundant deer populations. Wolves help maintain a healthy deer population and cull weak and sick animals, preventing the spread of dangerous diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease. Wolves also lower the risk of deer-auto collisions and depredations on crops. This can save humans lives and tens of millions of dollars for the state.
Responsible hunters eat what they kill, and because wolves are inedible, most hunters have no interest in killing them. Responsible hunters also don’t go for the use of painful steel-jawed leghold traps, hunting over bait, and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves—and all of that may be in store if the Natural Resources Commission decides to allow these cruel methods.
Koski’s plea agreement provides one more example of why Michigan’s wolf hunt is based on a pack of lies. The politicians and state officials apparently cannot be trusted, but the voters can. Join Keep Michigan Wolves Protected to help set things right and stop this abuse of power.

 

No wolves to be added to dwindling Isle Royale wolf pack

 

The National Park Service has decided not to transplant any wolves to Isle Royale National Park to address the island’s declining wolf population, MPR News reports.The wolf pack living on the Lake Superior island has been dwindling over the past several years because of inbreeding, disease and a temporary decline in the moose population. There are just nine wolves compared to an average of 23 over the past couple of decades. Some researchers are concerned the wolves might die out if new animals aren’t added to the pack.

But Phyllis Green, the superintendent of Isle Royale National Park, said Wednesday the Park Service doesn’t think that step is necessary yet.

Instead, she says park officials will develop a management plan to assess the wolves’ survival longer term, as well as their interactions with the moose that live on Isle Royale, the Associated Press reports. She said it’ll take about three years to put the plan together.

Map showing the location of Isle Royale in Lake Superior.

“This is an island,” Green told MPR. “Island biogeography is a developing science, and our understanding of how islands react to change is still really being studied in a lot of ways.”

“As long as there’s a breeding population, we’re going to let these animals have a chance to live their lives without us intervening,” Green added, according to the AP.

A long-running research project has been studying the relationship between the wolves and the moose on Isle Royale for more than 50 years.  The scientists who lead that study, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, are among the most vocal advocates for bringing more wolves to the island.

Vucetich declined comment about Green’s decision Wednesday but said he and Peterson would issue a statement next week, according to the Associated Press.

In a 2013 interview, Vucetich said it’s important to keep the island’s ecosystem healthy, with or without human involvement, the AP reports.

“As long as there are moose on Isle Royale there should be wolves on Isle Royale,” Vucetich said.

2013 Wolf Issues

December 29, 2013 in Outdoors

2013 outdoors: Wolf issues
Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

The gray wolf, reintroduced to the Rockies in the mid-1990s, continued to leave its mark across the Northwest in 2013 and into the legislatures. Here are some highlights.

• Idaho and Montana report significantly lower numbers of wolves for the first time since reintroduction, owing to hunting, trapping and wildlife control. But wildlife officials say wolf numbers are still too high.

• Washington estimates up to 100 wolves in the state, double the estimate in 2012.

• The cost of managing wolves in Washington, where they are still protected, is likely to increase by more than 200 percent from the past two years to about $2.3 million in 2013-14, wildlife managers say.

• Wolf hunting and trapping become issues of national attention as a wolf hunter shoots and kills a malamute romping with its owner while cross country skiing near Lolo Pass; a Sandpoint woman’s dog is caught in a snare set along a closed forest road, and a central Idaho predator hunting derby becomes the first modern contest to target wolves in the lower 48.

• Hunting authorized outside of Yellowstone Park results in the killing of wolves popular with tourists as well as radio-collared wolves vital to research.

• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to drop endangered species protections for the gray wolf in most of the country.

• Pro-wolf groups submit a million comments in December to the FWS favoring continued federal protection.

• Washington legislation makes it legal to kill wolves threatening pets and livestock, provides state wildlife managers more resources to prevent wolf-livestock conflict and expands criteria to compensate livestock owners for wolf-related losses.

• Idaho hires a hunter to eliminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to take the pressure off collapsing elk herds.

• Michigan becomes sixth state with a wolf hunting season.

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Michigan Wolf Hunt: Freezing Temperatures Yield Fewer Wolves Than Expected

December 26, 2013

MARQUETTE, Mich. — Michigan authorities say at least 21 wolves have been killed in the Upper Peninsula during the state’s first wolf hunt in decades.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that’s the total as of 6 a.m. Thursday. The department has expressed doubt that the hunt will reach its quota of 43 by year’s end.

The take in the wolf hunt remained at 20 for around three weeks as frigid weather kept the killing down.

The season opened in three sections of the U.P. on Nov. 15.

Before the season, the DNR estimated that Michigan had 658 wolves

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Dogs Enter Wisconsin Wolf Hunt Monday

http://wuwm.com/post/dogs-enter-wisconsin-wolf-hunt-monday

by Susan Bence

Wisconsin’s second wolf hunt reaches a turning point December 2. Licensed hunters can now use up to six dogs to help track wolves. Wisconsin is the only state to allow the practice. Some celebrate the rules and others take to court.

Lucas Withrow started hunting with his dad years ago. Hunting with dogs runs deep in their family tradition. Today, Withrow raises and trains more than a dozen dogs on his property in Brodhead.

“I have a kennel of 15 hounds. Three or four dogs that I use on coyotes, and that’s all I run them on and the rest are pretty much a mix of bear and coon hounds. “

Hunting bear is Withrow’s passion.

Eight years ago, he joined the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and now represents the group on the DNR’s wolf advisory committee. Withrow says dogs will serve a valuable function in helping manage the state’s wolf population.

“The function would be to make sure that we use and utilize all opportunities to harvest the quotas that we are responsible for harvesting to help keep the population stable and healthy,” and Withrow adds, “it’s something else that we can enjoy with our dogs.”

Withrow rebuts criticism that the practice subjects dogs to potential violent injury or death.

“From my perspective, I would tell you a dog introduced into the woods with the intention of chasing of wolf, that’s part of the responsibility of assuming the hunt. When you assume the responsibility for pursuing the wolf, you assume the responsibility for what can happen.”

“Allowing dogs to get torn up by wolves for the enjoyment of their owners, seeking to pursue wolves in this fashion, violates animal cruelty law,” Jodi Habush Sinykin says.

She is a Milwaukee attorney and represents a collection of humane societies, conservation groups and what she calls, “mainstream hunters.” She successfully took the issue to court. Sinykin argued that the DNR failed to write rules to protect hounds used in hunting wolves.

At least during Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf hunt in 2012 – a judge issued an injunction against the use of dogs. The lawsuit now rests in the hands of the state court of appeals. Sinykin has been awaiting a decision for weeks.

“Without intervention from the Court of Appeals starting December 2, dogs will be used by their owners with the known risks of what transpires when dogs who are unleashed and unprotected and at significant distances from their handlers encroach on wolf territory,” explains Sinykin. “And as we know from 25 years of depredation payments is that dogs are maimed and killed by wolves.”

For those years, hunting wolves was illegal in Wisconsin because their numbers were scarce. During that time, if a wolf killed a dog, the state reimbursed the owner.

Now that wolves have shifted to ‘hunt and trap status’, the state will not compensate hunters, if their hounds are killed during the chase.

We may not find out how many dogs are killed during the hunt. The DNR wants hunters to report dog casualties, but they are not required to do so.

The season will end on February 28 or when hunters take the state quota of 251.

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Anti-wolf hunt group hopes to dispel evil fairy tale portrayal

Wolf Hunt Michigan.JPG
                    This file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf.

Tim Skubick: Is the big bad wolf for real? Anti-wolf hunt group hopes to dispel evil fairy tale portrayal

By Tim Skubick | Politics Columnist for MLive.com
on December 03, 2013

If those who want to stop the next wolf hunt in Michigan fail, Walt Disney may be to blame.

One of the leaders of the Protect the Wolves coalition concedes the public’s view of wolves is based on “a lot of misinformation.”

Maybe it started at a tender young age with the reading of the classic, “The Three Little Pigs,” featuring none other than the “Big Bad Wolf.” Talk about a sinister label.

Jill Fritz in her pitch to protect the BBW does use that reference because she claims it’s wrong.

She argues the attitude that “wolves are snarling and stalking people and being very aggressive,” is not accurate. “That’s not consistent” she counters, because they are “shy animals and elusive.”

Hence the need for an image re-do. “There does need to be a lot of public education leading up to the election about wolf behavior,” she asserts.

So can we expect to see the three little pigs in an ad welcoming Mr. Wolf into their brick house via the front door and not the chimney?

The movement probably won’t go there but as they gather petition signatures to place the issue before you, they will have to find a message to soften the image.

It’s not that Michigan voters are unsympathetic to animals. They voted overwhelmingly to stop the killing of doves, but you don’t need to be Mort Neff (anybody remember him?) to realize the difference between a tiny dove and a mean-looking wolf.

The petition drive, of course, resulted when state lawmakers voted to render a previous petition drive null and void, even thought the pro-wolf lobby was this close to blocking a wolf hunting season.

Ms. Fritz contends many citizens were offended by the end-run by legislators, which is providing fuel for the petition drive fires.

“They are upset,” she explains while refusing to disclose how many signatures they have in hand.

Yet here comes another effort to mute this petition drive. The Citizens for Professional Wild Life Management are set to launch their own counter-petition drive to allow the state to control hunting seasons. So it’s possible voters will face dueling ballot questions next year, one to protect the wolves and another to render that amendment useless.

Then perhaps we can identify who is really afraid of the big bad wolf.

Watch “Off the Record with Tim Skubick” online anytime at video.wkar.org

Unfuckingbelievable… New Michigan group seeks to protect future wolf hunts

New Michigan group seeks to protect future wolf hunts with citizen-initiated legislation

copyrighted wolf in riverLANSING, MI — With Michigan’s first-ever wolf hunt well underway, a new coalition of conservationists and sportsmen is seeking to protect future hunts from a planned voter referendum.

A group calling itself Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management on Tuesday announced plans to launch a petition drive for citizen-initiated legislation that would affirm the Michigan Natural Resource Commissions’ ability to designate game species and issue fisheries orders.

Full story: http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/11/new_michigan_group_seeks_to_pr.html