Huckleberry pack alpha female shot aerially by WDFW contract sharpshooter

by Anonymous for Wolves

On September 4th, WDFW posted a News Release under the Latest News link on their website (wdfw.wa.gov) with this heading, Sheep moved from scene of wolf attacks. The release reads that rancher Dave Dashiell worked over the Labor Day weekend collecting his flock of 1800 sheep to eventually truck them, somewhat prematurely, to their winter pasture area.

This is good news for Stevens County Huckleberry wolf pack as it acts as a stay of execution after a WDFW contract sharpshooter from USDA Wildlife Services, shot dead the breeding female from a helicopter on August 23rd. The pack had been preying on Dashiell’s sheep with WDFW determining the need for lethal action. “If non-lethal tools fail, lethal actions can be taken. It is a process,” WDFW’s Wildlife Conflict Manager Stephanie Simek said.

Wolves are on Washington’s landscape and ranchers now need to put in place the new best practices for ranging livestock. These practices include quickly removing injured, sick or dead livestock, all of which help attract wolves and other large carnivores. Consistent human presence in non-fenced range situations to “babysit” herds is imperative. Such models are being taken from Western Idaho and Montana ranchers: range-riders go out on foot, 4-wheeler or horseback, attending to the herds.

“This may not be accomplished 24/7,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW’s Carnivore Manager, “but they go out as much as they can.” Wolves can also be hazed by shooting overhead and with rubber bullets, as well as by being chased off. Spotlights, flashing lights and fladry may also be employed.

Was Stevens County rancher Dashiell timely and diligent in his non-lethal tactics? Reports have been mixed. WDFW had claimed that Dashiell was out every day and night, along with four guard dogs, a range rider, and eventually with the department adding a second rider and a greater human presence during the night. West Coast Wolf Organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity, Amaroq Weiss, believes otherwise.

Weiss spoke with David Ware, WDFW’s game division manager who also oversees wolf management for the department. While WDFW had released statements that on August 15th Dashiell’s range rider was on task and the sheep were being moved, “Ware confirmed that these actions were not happening and that (Dashiell’s) range rider had quit a month ago. The following week the sheep still had not been moved and a range rider did not show up until August 20th,” said Weiss.

WDFW observed prey switching within the Huckleberry pack: the switch from preying on wild to domestic animals. This switch can be determined by energetics, ease in taking, and by abundance, what is most often being seen.

“Sheep are such easy prey and so abundant, it’s hard to get wolves to stop preying on them,” said Marearello. Dashiell’s range allotment is also rugged, brushy and sprawling; it can be difficult to protect livestock on this type of landscape.

The GPS collar on the Huckleberry pack’s alpha male collects data every 6 hours. It was observed that by the 3rd or 4th depredation, with the wolf traveling back and forth from the rendezvous site to the sheep, the animal had begun solely preying on the domestic sheep. This behavioral pattern can also be passed on to pups.

WDFW’s original goal was to remove four animals from the Huckleberry pack as a means to reduce their numbers on the landscape. This reduction would lower the food requirements and nutritional needs of the pack. In this case, the removal of the breeding female may have broken the Huckleberry pack’s pattern of sheep depredation. Said Martorello, “Removal of a single animal may have been enough to break the pack’s cycle. The animal was removed on August 23rd and the collared male has not been back to the vicinity of the sheep since the 27th. The sheep were not moved until September 1st or 2nd.”

WDFW claims that killing the breeding female was not the department’s intention. Their goal was to not take the breeding pair, but to remove yearlings and two year olds from the pack. The litter had a mix of colors with the pack’s collared adult male being black. The sharpshooter was to look for color (the breeding or alpha female’s color has yet to be released at the time of this writing), look for smaller–younger– wolves to shoot, and to only shoot when multiple wolves were under the helicopter to use for size comparison.

When the breeding female was shot by Wildlife Services, she was the sole animal under the under helicopter and weighed only 66lbs; small but not uncommon for an adult female wolf. “We were certainly disappointed in this outcome but, there was no way to sort from the air in this circumstance,” said Martorello .

When asked why take the risk of shooting the wrong wolf if there is no means of comparison, Marearello explained that the department was trying to achieve an objective and the only instructions were that if the opportunity to sort existed, to try and not remove the collared male. “You know going into it you get what you get. We did not have the opportunity to sort in this case,” said Martorello.

The helicopter had been up on multiple occasions and had been unable to spot animals due to weather conditions and visibility limits. And as we learned from the aerial shooting of the Wedge pack in 2012, time in the air translates to tens of thousands of dollars ($76,500 in 2012 to kill the Wedge). Per Martorello, at some point a wolf, or wolves, must simply be killed.

The Huckleberry pack is a relatively young pack, having only been formed in the last 3 years and with a young breeding female. It would not be uncommon then, for another female next in the hierarchy to step in and care for the pups, pups approaching full grown and traveling with the pack. She may also become the new breeding female. With the Huckleberry pack WDFW finds science, in these early stages, that pack cohesiveness remains and that there may not be a loss in pack structure.

Hope for the Huckleberry pack.

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Aerial Gunner Shot Washington Alpha Female Wolf

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2014/09/04/losing-alpha-female-threatens-pack-survival/15102151/

Washington state accidentally shoots alpha wolf

STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. — When a sharpshooter took out a member of a problem wolf pack last month, it looked like a small female, but it wasn’t just any female. A necropsy determined it was the breeding female of the Huckleberry Pack, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDF&W) officials said today.

The Huckleberry Pack has been feeding on sheep being raised on private forest lands in northern Stevens County.

State decides to kill, not scare, wolves

WDF&W biologists tried non-lethal means to keep the wolves away from the 1,800 head sheep herd. But when they found five dead sheep and three injured on August 23, they issued the order to kill up to four wolves in the pack.

The only wolf killed was the female shot from a helicopter by a federal contractor.

WDF&W was hoping to keep the breeding pair alive so that if the pack learned to leave the sheep alone, it could rebuild and return to hunting wild animals.

“Obviously, this is an unfortunate development and one we hoped to avoid,” said Nate Pamplin, WDF&W’s Assistant Wildlife Program Director. “We provided direction for individuals involved in aerial removals or trapping/euthanasia to try to remove smaller bodied animals.”

He added the alpha wolf weighed 66 pounds and was 3 years old. Pamplin said they couldn’t determine it was the alpha female from the air.

Biologists say losing the alpha female harms the survival of a wolf pack, but other females in the pack may fill that role.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

View From the Other Side: Rancher left ‘high and dry’ by canceled wolf hunt

http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20140903/rancher-left-high-and-dry-by-canceled-wolf-hunt#.VAi8TDwQuxQ.facebook

Matthew Weaver

Published:September 3, 2014 2:45PM

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The Stevens County sheep rancher said he was left “high and dry” when state wildlife officials called off a wolf hunt, forcing him to move his flock to keep it from being attacked.

 

A Washington state rancher says he was left “high and dry” when state wildlife managers called off a wolf hunt to protect his 1,800 sheep.

The cancellation forced Dave Dashiell of Hunters, Wash., to move his flock or risk more attacks by the wolves, which had already killed 24 animals.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers had planned to kill four wolves from the Huckleberry pack but called off the helicopter hunt after one wolf was killed and pulled out trappers shortly after.

“We’re on pause right now, if something new develops — another series of depredations, perhaps even with a different producer and the same pack in neighboring areas — then we’ll reassess at that point,” department carnivore section manager Donny Martorello said.

A federal wildlife agent contracted by the state killed one adult female Aug. 23 from a helicopter. The helicopter hunt wasn’t as efficient as the department expected, Martorello said. The wolves were screened by thick trees or were on the Spokane Tribe of Indians reservation, where they couldn’t be killed. The department continued trapping until the start of the Labor Day weekend, then removed the traps because of the increase in recreational activities like camping and hunting in the area, he said.

The department still has the authority to kill more wolves in the vicinity of the sheep, Martorello said.

“Our ranch was left high and dry to try and handle the situation ourselves while at the same time having our hands tied due to the wolves’ state endangered species status,” Dashiell said in a Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association press release. Wolves in the area are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Dashiell moved the sheep to a friend’s pasture, where they will stay until he can move them to a new grazing location far from the current site.

The department is working with Dashiell to determine his strategies for managing straggling sheep and will keep a range rider on the site, Martorello said.

The department is also communicating with other producers in the area.

“Having to make this kind of change in the middle of the summer has caused considerable stress, expense and hardship to our operation,” Dashiell said. “The grazing lease we had arranged with the private timber company was good until the middle of October and now we have to move our animals and try to find an alternate spot at the last minute.”

Martorello said there are no requirements in the department’s wolf management plan and protocols that producers move their livestock to alternate grazing sites to reduce conflict. It was an opportunity to break the pattern of repeated behavior, he said.

“In this particular case, with the producer nearing that period of time where they were moving sheep to a winter range, we wanted to work with the producer to see if we could expedite that process at all,” Martorello said. “We weren’t asking the producer to necessarily take a step he wasn’t going to take, but maybe to do that a little bit sooner.”

Dashiell has represented the Cattle Producers of Washington on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf advisory group.

“But in the end all of the talk did very little to help a person in my situation,” he stated. “The Huckleberry wolf pack needs to be removed, not our sheep. By making us leave we are only passing the problem along to others in the area when the wolf finds their pets, animals and livestock.”
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1,800 WA Sheep Moved, Wolves’ Fate Still Uncertain

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/sep/02/stevens-county-ranchers-move-sheep-after-wolves/
September 2, 2014

Stevens County ranchers move sheep after wolves kill 24

By The Spokesman-Review

A Stevens County family moved 1,800 sheep off private grazing land over the weekend to protect their flock from wolves that have killed at least two dozen of the animals this summer.

Dave and Julie Dashiell decided to get their sheep to safety rather than wait for state wildlife officials to track down and kill up to four wolves from the Huckleberry Pack, which is at least six strong and hunts north of the Spokane Tribe reservation.

The ranchers tried everything to thwart the attacks, said Jamie Henneman, spokeswoman for the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, which is working on behalf of the Dashiells. They had a full-time herder, four guard dogs, range riders and extra help from state employees, but confirmed wolf kills kept mounting, Henneman said Monday.

“There’s a point where you’ve got to decide, do you leave and hopefully stay in business, or do you stick around until there’s just nothing left,” she said.

The Dashiells know of 24 sheep they lost to wolf attacks the past few weeks and fear the actual toll could be twice that number.

On Sunday they pulled their remaining sheep off rangeland they leased from Hancock Timber Co. northeast of Hunters in southern Stevens County. The animals were moved, with assistance from state employees, to a temporary pasture and soon will be trucked to their winter range, about six weeks earlier than planned, Henneman said.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department shot one of the wolves, an adult female, from a helicopter on Aug. 23 and set out traps in hopes of removing up to three others from the pack. But the agency pulled its traps before the Labor Day weekend to avoid conflicts with recreationists and grouse hunters.

The state responded quickly to assist the Dashiells once it was clear wolves were attacking the flock, said Donny Martorello, carnivore section manager for Fish and Wildlife.

When wolves start preying on domestic sheep, losses can add up quickly, Martorello said Monday. “The alarm bells went off for us,” he said, and the agency worked with the rancher daily on preventing more attacks.

Now that the Dashiells have removed the sheep, the state will re-evaluate what to do next, Martorello said.

“We’re certainly concerned about the behavior, the repeated depredations,” he said. “We did remove one wolf; we don’t know if we’ve broken that pattern of depredation, that prey-switching from natural prey to sheep.”

Henneman said the cattlemen’s association sees this as a case of the state falling short of protecting livestock producers.

“If this is the precedent – that Fish and Wildlife refuses to control their animals, that the rancher has to leave – we have a private property rights crisis here,” she said. “That means anyone that owns land out here … it means you’re going to get kicked out, the predator has precedence.”

Henneman also noted that other land and livestock owners in that area may be at risk from the Huckleberry Pack.

“As soon as that pack figures out that their 1,800 sheep are gone, they’re going to move on to the next site,” she said. “This is not the end to these troubles.”

Until recently the pack had spent most of its time on the Spokane reservation but now is more active north of the reservation. The Dashiells did not know the pack was that close until the attacks began, Henneman said.

Fish and Wildlife plans to reach out to neighboring livestock owners to discuss the pack and offer help to try to prevent more attacks. The agency also is evaluating compensation for the Dashiells for the sheep injured and killed by wolves.

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At this time WDFW is not certain if lethal action will continue to be pursued. WDFW and stakeholders are meeting this afternoon and information from this meeting will be posted by WDFW Public affairs office under “Latest News” on their website’s homepage.    http://wdfw.wa.gov/index.html

WA Suspends Huckleberry Wolf Slaugher, but Only For the Weekend Grouse Hunt

Priorities. The state wolf trappers must have wanted the weekend off to hunt grouse… They can trap wolves anytime, but this weekend is opening day of grouse hunting!
August 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM

State suspends wolf hunt this weekend

SPOKANE  — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) will suspend its hunt for three more members of the Huckleberry wolf pack until after the Labor Day weekend.

Hunters contracted by the state for the past week have been trying to kill a total of four members of the pack in order to protect a herd of 1,800 sheep the wolves have been preying upon. One wolf was shot and killed by a hunter in a helicopter on Aug. 22.

The state says at least 24 sheep have been killed in eight confirmed wolf attacks on the herd in southern Stevens County since Aug. 14.

Officials for DFW say they have suspended efforts to hunt or trap the wolves in order to avoid conflicts with Labor Day recreationists and grouse hunters.

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Action Alert: Contact Washington Governor to End the Slaugter of the Huckleberry Pack Wolves

copyrighted wolf in water

 

From another list:

Having killed one Huckleberry pup, WDFW continues aerial gunning: http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/aug2514a/

Below is an example of a letter to WA Governor Inslee. You can contact him at governor@gov.wa.gov and/or 360-902-4111. The points elucidated in the letter make it clear that WDFW is repeating the dishonest and secretive behavior that led to the slaughter of 7 Wedge Pack wolves in 2012.

The bulleted points in the letter were provide by Amaroq Weiss at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Let’s see if we can make enough noise to stop this killing…

Thanks, W

Dear Governor Inslee -

Please intervene and prevent further slaughter of Huckleberry pack wolves. The WDFW has been dishonest and misleading in its handling of this issue and it is by no means apparent, due to WDFW’s secretive behavior, that nonlethal deterrents and techniques were properly employed or even if they were used in good conscience and with serious intent. Below are points which make it very clear that lethal removal at this juncture is unjustified and unwarranted.

  • This wolf pack has denned 3-4 miles from this location – on reservation land, but still that close – for the last 3 years and WDFW knew it.

     

  • The terrain the sheep were being grazed in should not have been used for sheep grazing; it’s rugged terrain, there are 1800 sheep spread out all over the place; the sheep owner had his shepherd quit a month ago so the sheep had only 4 guard dogs out there with them and no human presence and even then, 1 shepherd for 1800 sheep is not enough; there should be more shepherds out there.

     

  • The Dept said a week ago the sheep were being moved right then to a new location; but the sheep still haven’t been moved.

     

  • The Dept said a  range rider would be on site on Aug 15 – he did not get out there until late the night of Aug 20 and so was not out monitoring until Aug 21, 6 days later.

     

  • The dept said they had staff on site – but staff went home 1-2 nights in the midst of all this.

     

  • The dept did not accept an offer from a conservation group early on of special lights that help deter predators.

     

  • The dept did not accept an offer from WA State Univ researchers early on to come help with nonlethal measures and help sheep carcasses out that would be drawing in wolves.

     

  • The Dept showcased only their limited nonlethal efforts on the tv news, not giving any hint to the public they would carry out a secret kill operation on a weekend morning while the public slept unaware.

     

  • They have betrayed the public trust in their lack of transparency and misleading assertions of having used all nonlethal possible before resorting to lethal control.

     

  • The sheep rancher himself had signed up this spring to participate in WSU’s nonlethal research project which would have given him assistance on the front end but then he pulled out.

     

  • The sheep rancher cannot expect the public to think he can reasonably monitor 1800 sheep with no shepherds present; in fact when he first discovered sheep losses the bodies were too decomposed to determine how they died, which demonstrates it had been awhile since anyone checked on them.

     

These sheep need to be moved. Now.

Respectfully,

Washington OKs hunt to kill wolves attacking sheep

[Wolf killing is another by-product of lamb and wool.]

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Washington-OKs-hunt-to-kill-wolves-attacking-sheep-272481111.html

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Hunters aboard a helicopter took aim at wolves that have been killing sheep in Stevens County in northeast Washington.

The Spokesman-Review reports state officials have OK’d the hunt for a portion of a wolf pack that’s killed at least 22 sheep this month.

The announcement comes after the state authorized a rancher to shoot the same wolves approaching his flock of 1,800 sheep.

But the state Fish and Wildlife Department says efforts to deter the pack have failed. So agency Director Phil Anderson says he authorized the killing of four wolves from the pack, which is estimated at up to 12 members.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, the newspaper reported that no wolves had been killed.

Conservation groups are opposed, saying killing wolves is not an effective way to protect livestock.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

WDFW adopts new tactics to stop wolves

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

http://wdfw.wa.gov/  

August 20, 2014
Contact: Craig Bartlett, (360) 902-2259
WDFW adopts new tactics to stop wolves
from preying on flock of sheep
OLYMPIA – A rancher and state wildlife officials working to herd a flock of 1,800 sheep away from the site of recent wolf attacks in southern Stevens County today received authorization to shoot wolves that approach the flock.
Phil Anderson, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), today authorized livestock owner Dave Dashiell, of Hunters, and agency field staff to use limited lethal measures and preventative steps to avoid additional attacks on the flock.
Since Aug. 14, WDFW has confirmed that wolves killed 16 sheep in four separate incidents on leased forest land near Hunters, a small community about 48 miles northwest of Spokane. The latest attack occurred the night of Aug. 18.
Nine other sheep found prior to Aug. 14 had decomposed to the point where the cause of death could not be determined.
Signals from a radio collar attached to a male wolf in the Huckleberry Pack show the animal was at the site, likely with other pack members, when the attacks occurred, said Nate Pamplin, WDFW wildlife program director.
Necropsies of the carcasses confirmed the sheep were killed by wolves, he said.
“The rancher has four large guard dogs and camps alongside his flock at night,” Pamplin said. “Yet, the attacks have continued, even after the department sent four members of our wildlife-conflict staff and an experienced range-rider to help guard the sheep and begin moving them out of the area.”
To further protect his sheep, the livestock owner has removed the carcasses of dead animals where possible to do so and kept his flock on the move around the grazing areas, Pamplin said.
“Dave Dashiell has worked closely with WDFW field staff to find solutions to this situation,” Pamplin said. “We really appreciate his efforts and his cooperation in working toward a shared goal.”
To support those efforts, Anderson directed WDFW wildlife staff to:
  • Help the livestock owner find an alternative grazing area away from the Huckleberry Pack.
  • Capture and collar additional wolves in the pack to provide additional information on their movements.
  • Be prepared to shoot wolves in the vicinity of the livestock owner’s sheep. Neither WDFW staff, nor the livestock owner, who was also authorized to shoot wolves in the vicinity, will actively hunt the wolves or attempt to draw them into range.
“Observing a wolf in the wild is a fairly rare thing,” Pamplin said. “Given the escalating pattern of attacks on this flock of sheep, it’s safe to assume in this situation that any wolves in the vicinity of that flock pose a direct risk to those animals.”
In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species in the eastern third of the state, but the species is still protected under Washington state law. The state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and state laws set the parameters for responding to wolf predation on livestock.
“Our preferred option is to help the livestock owner move the sheep to another area, but finding a place to graze 1,800 animals presents a challenge,” Pamplin said. “We’ll continue to do everything we can to avoid further conflict.”
The Huckleberry Pack, confirmed as the state’s seventh wolf pack in June 2012, is known to have at least six members and perhaps as many as a dozen. There is no documented evidence that the pack, named after nearby Huckleberry Mountain, has preyed on livestock until now.

This message has been sent to the Gray Wolf Pack Updates and Information mailing list.
Visit the WDFW News Release Archive at:
http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/

Montana’s Wolf “conservation” Stamp A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

 http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/06/02/mdfwp-wolf-conservation-stamp-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/

By On June 2, 2014 · 4 Comments · In Wildlife News

Recently the Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP) commission approved a new “Wolf Conservation Stamp”. The purpose of the stamp is ostensibly to get non hunters to pay for wildlife “management”, especially the “management” of wolves.  The stamp would be voluntary.  Despite the fact that I support the idea of non-hunters/anglers paying to support wildlife agencies, I do so only with the caveat that the agency changes their entire philosophical approach to wildlife.

The details of this wolf stamp proposal demonstrates to me that MDFWP still has the same unscientific and unethical attitude towards predators as it has always demonstrated. Without a change in its overall philosophy, all this stamp will do is help the Department perpetuate the same old myths and misinformation about predators that it currently dishes out—only wolf supporters will be helping to fund it. According to MDFWP, funding from the stamp would cover the following three areas.

  1.  One third would be made available to Montana livestock owners to help pay for nonlethal ways to protect their animals from predators like wolves, bears and mountain lions.  By keeping both livestock and large carnivores alive, this would be a good deal for ranchers and wolves alike.
  2. Another third would be used to pay for studying wolves, educating the public about wolves, and improving or purchasing suitable wolf habitat.  This would benefit everyone, by increasing our knowledge about wolves, ensuring the public has access to accurate information about wolves, and securing habitat in which wolves and other wildlife can thrive.

3.  The final third would be used to hire additional MDFWP wardens—essentially, wildlife police—in occupied wolf habitat.  This would enhance enforcement of our wildlife management laws as they pertain to wolves and other species, and reduce incidents of poaching, trespassing, wasting animals, unlawful use of or failure to check traps, and other violations.  This is something every Montanan and every American—hunters, non-hunters, property owners, public land users, agency officials, recreationists, and wildlife enthusiasts alike—should encourage and support.

RESPONSE TO PAYING FOR NON-LETHAL MEANS OF LIVESTOCK PROTECTION

One has to ask what is MDFWP thinking. Let’s see we will help ranchers with non-lethal means of protecting livestock so we can allow hunters and trappers to blow away more wolves? That is essentially what they are suggesting. As long as MDFWP has a vindictive and unethical attitude towards predators, there is no reason to “save” any of them—just so someone else can shoot them. Asking predator supporters to pay ranchers to adopt non-lethal means of protecting livestock is analogous to asking those who cherish clean air to pay for air pollution devices on coal fired power plants.

Ranchers have EXTERNALIZED the cost of their operations through predator control.

Ranchers should pay to protect their own herds—it is part of the cost of doing business—a cost that they have successfully avoided for a century because they were able to get the government to kill off most predators from the landscape. Just as the coal power plants must install pollution control devices or get out of business, ranchers must practice better animal husbandry. It is not the responsibility of wildlife supporters to subsidize their business. Ultimately the additional costs should be borne by those who want to eat beef, just as the users of electricity from coal-fired power plants should pay more per Kilowatt Hour to reduce air pollution from power generation.

The last part of this is that wolves are simply not a big deal for ranchers. Last year in Montana fewer than 60 cattle out of 2.5 million in the state  were killed by wolves. If MDFWP were truly interested in educating the public it would be countering the myth that wolves are “destroying” the livestock industry.

Basically livestock depredation is a non-issue and even giving it credibility by pretending that wolves are somehow a significant cost for ranchers is nothing less than deceptive. I think the real reason MDFWP wants non-hunters to pay for non-lethal livestock protection is to reduce ranchers’ hostility towards the department so that more ranches are left open to hunting, not because MDFWP has any goal of helping wolves.

Worse the livestock industry has many negative impacts on predators besides simply lethal killing. Every blade of grass consumed by cows is that much less for elk, deer, and other wildlife.  Not to mention that the mere presence of cattle, often socially displaces other wildlife like elk. In effect, there are numerous “costs” to livestock that the ranching industry externalizes.

RESPONSE TO FUNDING WOLF STUDIES AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC

The second part of the proposal to use stamp funds to study wolves, educate the public about wolves, and purchase suitable wolf habitat I seriously object to the way MDFWP has “educated’ the public about wolves already.

The problem is that MDFWP doesn’t even use the existing scientific information it has available to ecologically and ethically treat predators. So why should I or anyone else believe more studies would result in “better” outcomes.

Indeed, I fear giving MDFWP more funds to “educate” the public about wolves. They have repeatedly demonstrated that they are unwilling to counter mythology and misinformation. And they will promote the idea that we “need” to “manage” predators. Predators do not “need” management. They need to be left alone. They are perfectly capable of self regulating, primarily because of social intolerance among packs helps to reduce and limit wolf numbers.

Paying MDFWP to “educate” the public about wolves is like handing over more money to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to educate the public about wolves. For those of you who are unfamiliar with RMEF, they promote the idea that wolves are “destroying” elk herds, and “need to be managed like other wildlife.”

If MDFWP were using science, it would be “educating” the public that wolves pose little threat to big game herds as proven by their statistics. For instance, elk numbers have risen in Montana from 89,000 just prior to wolf restoration to 150,000 animals now. Most elk management units are “over objectives”.

They would manage for social stability rather than having kill quotas based on nothing more than the idea that fewer wolves will mean more elk and deer—as if that should be the goal of wildlife management. MDFWP like all agencies has a mission to promote all wildlife not just the ones that hunters like to kill. But the philosophical bias of the agency, like all state wildlife agencies, is grossly skewed towards promoting animals that hunters like to shoot.

Furthermore, MDFWP when it does discuss wolves sees them only as a “problem” instead of educating the public on the many benefits associated with wolves and other predators like a reduction in disease spread in ungulates, reduction in some herbivory pressure in some places due to a reduction in elk numbers and/or changes in habitat use, and changes in predator effects on other species like a reduction in coyotes that in some cases has lead to an increase survival of pronghorn. And these are only a few of the benefits that the department could be extolling.

As far as buying wolf habitat, there is nothing special about wolf habitat. It’s basically anyplace where there is sufficient prey for wolves to eat. You don’t buy “wolf habitat”, you buy wildlife habitat. I have no problem with buying wildlife habitat, and if this stamp only did that, I would support it. But I fear this will be a minor effect of the stamp.

RESPONSE TO HIRING MORE WARDENS AND MANAGEMENT

Finally, the third part of the stamp receipts would go to fund more wardens to enforce wildlife management laws. The problem isn’t with poaching or any other illegal activities. The problem is what is legal. MDFWP legal actions towards predators are archaic, vindictive and unethical. The agency says its new wolf stamp will prevent, among other things suggested, the “wasting” of wildlife? Huh? What is more wasteful than shooting predators just for fun or worse out of vengeance?

If the Department were truly interested in avoiding “waste” it would call for the ethical treatment of wildlife and outlaw the killing of all predators except for very special situations like an animal that is habituated to humans.

As for poaching, much of the poaching of predators is done because hunters and others believe that wolves are “destroying” hunting opportunities—a perceptive that MDFWP does little to counter. If MDFWP were doing its job, and using scientific findings to educate hunters, it would at least be saying to hunters that wolves haven’t caused the sky to fall.

DON’T SUPPORT MORE ‘MANAGEMENT” OF WOLVES AND OTHER PREDATORS

We don’t need more management of wolves and other predators. What we need is to leave them alone. There is simply no reason to “manage” predators. The science is clear on this—they have many ecological benefits to ecosystems. The idea that we should manage predators is a throwback to the early days of wildlife management—it’s time for MDFWP and other wildlife agencies to enter the 21st Century and start treating predators as a valued member of the ecological community instead of a “problem” that needs to be solved—usually by killing them.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

WDFW asks public’s help to generate leads

WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

http://wdfw.wa.gov/

March 17, 2014 copyrighted wolf in river

Contact: Sgt. Pam Taylor, 509-892-1001
Wildlife Program, 360-902-2515

WDFW asks public’s help to generate leads
in shooting of radio-collared wolf

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WFDW) is seeking the public’s help to identify the person or persons responsible for shooting and killing a gray wolf last month in Stevens County.

A 2-year-old black female wolf from the Smackout Pack was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County. The condition of the carcass indicated it had died between Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, and a veterinarian’s examination confirmed it had been shot.

Wildlife managers had captured the wolf about a year ago and fitted it with a radio collar so they could track its movements and those of her pack members.

WDFW, with the help of three non-profit organizations, is offering a reward of up to $22,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Conservation Northwest, the Center for Biological Diversity, and The Humane Society of the United States, have each pledged $7,500 to create the reward.

Gray wolves are protected throughout the state. WDFW is responsible for management of wolves and enforcement of laws to protect them. The illegal killing of a wolf or other endangered fish or wildlife species is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Sergeant Pam Taylor of the WDFW Northeast Washington Region is leading the investigation. She urged people with knowledge of the crime to report it confidentially by calling WDFW’s poaching hotline, 877-933-9847 , or by texting a tip to 847411.