Gray Wolf ‘Killfest’ Sparks Controversy

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/10481/20141119/gray-wolf-killfest-sparks-controversy.htm#ixzz3JdMpSFCT

By Jenna Iacurci

Along with coyotes, weasels, skunks, jackrabbits, raccoons and European starlings, the endangered gray wolf should be weary after the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) granted permits for up to 500 hunters – some even as young as 10 years old – to compete on 3 million acres of land for three days beginning in January 2015 in a bid to see who can kill the most prey.

The competition, officially called the “predator derby,” prompted two lawsuits by environmental groups including Defenders of Wildlife and Wildearth Guardians, asking federal judges to put an end to this killing spree before it even has a chance to start.

“They’re treated like grass that needs to be mowed down,” Suzanne Stone, Idaho spokeswoman for Defenders of Wildlife who has been studying wolves for more than 30 years, told The Guardian.

“This has gone so far above and beyond what most people consider ethical, even hunters,” she added.

Are Wolves More Harmful Than Helpful?

The dispute between western ranchers and wildlife advocates has been an ongoing one the last several years, with little hope in sight of a compromise.

“The whole issue became very polarized,” added Mike Keckler, a spokesman for the Idaho department of fish and game.

Ranchers, particularly those a part of Idaho’s 240,000-head sheep industry, believe that taking out gray wolves is in their right to protect their livestock, as well as prevent competition with humans.

“[They are] a bunch of urbanites who don’t have any clue, don’t have the knowledge and wisdom and experience that we do,” Steve Alder, executive director of Idaho for Wildlife, which organized the derby, said of those opposed to the killings. “They don’t understand our lives, they don’t understand where meat comes from.”

Just last month ranchers in Catron County, N.M. were outraged to find that wolves are setting a record as the main killers of cattle this year. Catron County, which borders eastern Arizona, was one of the first areas where Mexican gray wolves – a subspecies numbering at a mere 83 individuals – were released as part of a recovery effort.

And while that’s all well and good for the wolves, ranchers are a little less than pleased.

“The negative effects to livestock producers caused by Mexican Wolves are a wide spectrum not addressed and/or ignored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service,” wrote Jess Carey, lead author behind a report on the impact of wolves in the area.

Carey also pointed out that over the course of the study, five ranches lost a total of 651 head of cattle valued at more than $382,000.

In another instance, a pack of six wolves roaming in Canada’s Elk Island National Park were killed after cows were “ripped open from one end to the other,” the National Post reported.

Such measures are deemed necessary by livestock owners are others who are trying desperately to protect their animals.

“If something isn’t done in the off-season, there will be next to nobody willing to put cattle back in there next summer, including myself,” added hunter Dan Brown, president of the Blackfoot Grazing Association.

It is pressure from hunters such as Brown that makes the situation of the endangered gray wolves especially prickly. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in recent years has lifted protections for the animals in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies, only to have them reinstated after backlash from wildlife advocates.

Why They Matter

Though they once nearly disappeared from the lower 48 states, today wolves including the gray wolf (Canis lupis) have returned to the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Southwestern United States.

There are an estimated 7,000 to 11,200 gray wolves in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes region and 1,675 in the Northern Rockies, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

A wolf pack bedded down in Yellowstone National Park in March 2007.

(Photo : Reuters/Doug Smith/National Park Service) A wolf pack bedded down in Yellowstone National Park in March 2007.

But they weren’t always on an upsurge. These predators may have once spanned a whopping two-thirds of the United States, but by the mid 1930s their numbers dwindled due to hunting and trapping by humans. Not until just recently have they shown signs of recovery, with a lone gray wolf recently spotted at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the first of its kind seen at the park in decades, offering conservationists a glimmer of hope for this beautiful species.

The comeback can be credited in part to the reintroduction program created in 1995 by the federal government.

Gray wolves actually play a key role in maintaining ecosystems, and aren’t always such a nuisance as many ranchers think. They help keep deer and elk populations in check, which can benefit many other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers.

For now, gray wolves can be found roaming in the states of Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, with the population in Wyoming recently restored to the endangered species list. In the remaining states, gray wolves are monitored, but federal protection is seen as non-essential, according to the FWS.

Not to Worry

But environmentalists may not even need to worry for the wolves’ wellbeing since Alder doesn’t even expect the derby to encounter wolves. C. lupis like to roam from the tundra to woodlands, forests, grasslands and deserts, so the fact that they travel across long distances may make these elusive animals difficult to catch.

What’s more, these animals aren’t even highest on hunters’ kill list.

“There are very limited numbers of people who go out looking specifically for wolves,” Keckler explained to The Guardian. “A lot of folks are concerned about the hunting of big predators like that, but we also have a very healthy mountain lion population in Idaho. We have a very healthy black bear population and they have been classified as big game just like wolves for many, many years.”

Regardless of this reassurance, environmental groups show no sign of letting up. The BLM has already received more than 56,000 comments after opening the derby plan to the public, only 10 of which were in support of the competition.

Read more: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/10481/20141119/gray-wolf-killfest-sparks-controversy.htm#ixzz3JdMItTPA

POLL: Should the wolf hunting contest in Idaho be stopped?

In what has to be the one of the most bloodthirsty post-Christmas festivities yet, Idaho’s announced a wolf and coyote slaughter contest for all the family.

And it really does mean “all the family” – children as young as ten can enter the competition being held on the weekend of 28-29 December.

In this celebration of tastelessness and death, prizes will be awarded for such “achievements” as most female coyotes killed, biggest wolf and so on.

Both wolves and coyotes play essential roles in the ecosystem – they are not pests. Wolves actually need increased protection. Even if numbers did need to be reduced, which they don’t, shooting these beautiful animals should only ever be done by professionals.  Treating it as family entertainment is ridiculous.

We invite you to vote whether the wolf hunting contest in Idaho be stopped. Please vote and also leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should the wolf hunting contest in Idaho be stopped?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don’t Know

  http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/poll-should-the-wolf-hunting-contest-in-idaho-be-stopped/

On hunting predators

1453351_1488724231352782_186999841_n

We hunt predators but we can’t say why

The New West / By Todd Wilkinson | Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Consider this loaded question: Should grizzly bears, wolves and cougars be hunted for sport? Worldwide, given their rarity and declining numbers, should lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars and tigers?

If so, why?

Across North America we find ourselves in another big game hunting season. For many the harvest is as much about putting meat in the freezer — a form of modern subsistence — as it is about the profoundly personal act of communing with nature.

From an early age, a lot of us were taught two guiding ethical principles: Don’t take the life of an animal unless you intend to eat it, and, if you do kill, there ought to be a good reason.

As states sanction hunts of iconic predators (grizzlies and black bears, wolves, mountain lions and coyotes), there remains a fact: People will eat little of those animals that they kill.

The search for a rationale in targeting predators must necessarily speak to reasoning beyond the simplistic argument advanced by fish and game departments that selling hunting tags generates revenue.

The issue of whether there’s an underlying moral — and compelling biological — justification for killing predators is taken up by two university professors in a new thought-provoking scientific analysis, “Wolf Hunting and the Ethics of Predator Control,” soon to be included in a new book, “The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies.”

Author John Vucetich is a well-known Midwest wolf researcher and conservation biologist at Michigan Tech University; Michael P. Nelson is on the faculty at Oregon State University. In their paper they examine why large carnivores — which possess undeniable ecological value — are hunted.

Before we proceed let it be clear that Vucetich and Nelson did not write the paper to advance an anti-hunting agenda. They wanted to determine if any “good reason” for hunting predators exists.

“What counts as an adequate reason to kill a sentient creature?” they ask. “The hunting community has long recognized the value of this question to understanding the conditions under which various kinds of hunting is appropriate.”

Vucetich and Nelson consider the spectrum of societal attitudes toward predator hunting as expressed by trophy hunters, government wildlife managers, those who hunt for food, those who eat no meat and animal rights advocates.

They dissect the premise that predators must be controlled to ensure healthy populations of elk, deer, moose and pronghorn — and even, as is sometimes asserted, to protect people. They test the assertion that the best way of promoting conservation of a species is to place a value on its head and hunt it.

They also scrutinize the attitudes of so-called “wolf haters,” pointing out that unlike hunters of edible big game, whose pursuit seems to make humans more respectful of the animal, many who kill wolves are actually driven by a lack of empathy.

In a statement certain to spark debate, they charge: “Many instances of wolf poaching … are wrong because they are primarily motivated by a hatred of wolves. These instances of poaching qualify as wrongful deaths, if not hate crimes.

“To legalize such killing does not make them any less wrong. Moreover, people who threaten to poach wolves unless wolf killing is legalized are engaging in a kind of ecological blackmail … .”

Vucetich and Nelson also share thoughts about trapping: “A trophy is a kind of prize, memento or symbol of some kind of success. To kill a sentient creature for the purpose of using its body or part of it as a trophy is essentially killing it for fun or as a celebration of violence.

“And although there was once a time when trapping wolves for their pelts might have been a respectable means of making a living because wolf pelts were then a reasonable way to make warm clothing,” they state, “we no longer live in that time.”

Ultimately Vucetich and Nelson conclude that killing predators for sport isn’t justified biologically or on moral and ethical grounds.

They take government agencies and universities to task for not brokering honest discussions about such controversial issues as wolf management and predator control with citizens and students.

So often we do things in our society, they suggest, without bothering to provide the “good reason” for why.

Readers can judge for themselves. A copy of the analysis is attached to the online version of this story.

Wolves: Hunting Affects Stress, Reproduction, and Sociality

Harassed wolves show elevated levels of stress and reproductive hormones

Group demands return of federal wolf protections at Capitol protest

http://helenair.com/news/local/group-demands-return-of-federal-wolf-protections-at-capitol-today/article_f26cfaea-576b-5185-a950-0da100a42bd5.html

October 20, 2014 6:52 pm  • 

Saying that Montana’s wolf management policy violates the United Nations Charter for Nature, members of the Wolf and Wildlife Action Group delivered a “violation notice” to Gov. Steve Bullock’s office at the Capitol Monday.

Montana’s wolf policy allows for a landowner to kill up to 100 wolves, using what WWAG called cruel and barbaric methods such as aerial gunning and trapping, the violation notice said.

The policy is an attempt to exterminate the gray wolf, and WWAG demanded that wolves return to federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, said member Jeanne Rasmussen.

Bullock was not at his office at the time WWAG delivered the violation notice.

“They are being shot and trapped and gut shot, and they burn baby pups out of their dens,” Rasmussen said. “Hunters just want them eliminated.”

WWAG described itself as an “international grassroots organization” at the Capitol on behalf of 80 percent of Americans who want wolves protected.

Madison County resident Diane Nelson-Steiner spoke passionately about wolves killed near her home along the Big Hole River. She recalled an entire pack shot by government officials flying a USDA plane, and seeing the animals left to rot.

“To see those wolves killed and laying in a field is horrible,” Nelson-Steiner said. “They killed most of the Big Hole pack, and since then we’ve been overrun with elk and deer. It’s getting absolutely ridiculous with the herds getting to be overly large.”

Wolves also kept coyote numbers in check, which have increased dramatically since elimination of the wolf pack, she said.

Nelson-Steiner and her husband, Tim Steiner, brought several foothold traps they said were found illegally set on their property by trappers after wolves. They have found or heard of multiple animals caught in traps including domestic cats and dogs, an eagle, a badger and coyotes, but no wolves, Steiner said.

Yes that’s cruel and inhumane,” Steiner said while holding a trap. “Animal cruelty is against the law in all 50 states. It’s not just wolves they’re catching; it’s everything else.”

“Why are these psychopaths allowed to torture animals in this country, yet 86 other countries have banned trapping?” asked WWAG member Michelle Domeier.

The group held posters showing wolves dead in both foothold traps and snares identified as legal means of killing wolves in Montana. More than 2,600 wolves had been killed since being stripped from federal protections, they said.

After speaking on the Capitol steps, WWAG member Karen Wells delivered the violation notice to the governor’s office, which was taken by staff in Bullock’s absence.

“Montana has a highly-effective wolf management plan, developed through collaboration with stakeholders and based on scientific principles and thorough research,” said Kevin O’Brien, Bullock’s deputy chief of staff, in an email. “While some on the far left and far right may take issue with the management plan, it has resulted in healthy wolf populations in Montana.”

Within the violation notice, WAGG made the following statement:

“One Montana landowner deems a wolf a ‘problem’ wolf (and) they can legally kill it, and may ‘legally’ kill up to 100 Wolves in any cruel method, including cruel and barbaric leg hold traps and snares, poisoning, gassing and burning alive pups in their dens, stomping, clubbing, gut shooting, chasing down and shooting from the air, with no restrictions or quotas. In addition, wolf ‘hunting’ and trapping is allowed from Oct. to May.”

That statement contains several inaccuracies in reference to seasons and new regulations for landowners, said FWP spokesman Tom Palmer. Hunting and foothold traps are legal methods of take, while other methods are prohibited by hunters or trappers, he said.

Montana’s general wolf hunting season runs from Sept. 15 to March 15. The archery only season runs from Sept. 6 to Sept. 14. The trapping season runs from Dec. 15 to Feb. 28, according to regulations. Landowners can kill wolves threatening livestock or people out of season and without a permit under FWP rules.

“Most of this isn’t allowed,” he said. “Snares aren’t allowed. You can’t bait or poison them. You can’t burn them alive. Gut shooting isn’t allowed.”

Landowners also do not have special regulations allowing aerial shooting, he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved rules that allow up to 100 wolves per landowner, authorized at 25 at a time, he said. Landowners have harvested four wolves under the rules, he said, and baiting is not allowed either in hunting or trapping.

“They (wolves) have to be actively threatening you or your livestock,” Palmer said. “The chances of a landowner seeing a threat and setting out a trap immediately is almost nill.”

When told of FWP’s response, Nelson-Steiner insisted that the regulations allow landowners to use “any” means of killing wolves.

Violations of existing regulations have run rampant, and FWP and the sheriff’s office have failed to enforce state laws in her area, Nelson-Steiner said.

On the issue of international law, Bullock was in direct violation of several items within the UN’s charter, Wells said.

“We demand that these violations be corrected forthwith or these violations will be brought before the International Court of Justice,” the violation notice said.

copyrighted wolf in water

ALERT ~ COMMENTS ON CONTEST HUNTS DUE OCTOBER 16th ~ SPEAK OUT NOW!

logohome
http://www.projectcoyote.org/

In response to an application submitted by Idaho for Wildlife to host a Predator Hunt Derby on public land, the BLM is accepting public comments on an Environmental Assessment (EA) through October 16th.

Idaho for Wildlife is seeking to repeat their highly controversial killing contest targeting wolves, coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other predators  — offering prizes to those who kill the most and largest animals —   in a multi-year “predator derby” scheduled for the next five winters (with the next one scheduled for January 2-4, 2015).

The EA comment period comes following a scoping period that resulted in approximately 56,500 public comments of which a mere 10 were in support of the permit being issued. Thank you for making your voices heard during the scoping process! Your input is needed again!

Express your support for Alternative B- the “No Action Alternative” – which would deny Idaho for Wildlife’s request for a special recreation permit that would allow contestants to kill predators on over 3 million acres of public lands in Idaho for the next five years. This event would be damaging to the affected ecosystem, harmful to ecologically vital species, incompatible with scientific principles of wildlife management, and offensive to the concept of fair chase.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to voice your opposition (you do not have to be an Idaho resident to comment as this is federal BLM land- YOUR land!). 
You can read the EA here.

Please act now! Comments are due no later than October 16th and can be emailed to:

Liz Townley
Outdoor Recreation Planner
BLM Idaho Field Office
1206 S. Challis Street
Salmon, Idaho 83467
blm_id_predatorhuntderby@blm.gov

Please cc Project Coyote as we are tracking letters sent (info@projectcoyote.org) & remember to include your full contact info. in your signature block to ensure your comments are included in the official record.

Please include in your subject line Re: Predator Hunt Derby EA- Support for Alt. B

Talking Points:

Express your support for Alternative B – the “No Action Alternative” (please use your own words).

1.  Killing contests have nothing in common with fair chase, ethical hunting. Technology, baiting, and “calling” place wildlife at an even greater and unfair disadvantage. Hunting in winter, when species can be easily tracked in snow and when most animals are working hard to survive contravenes the notion of fair chase. Killing predators, or any wild animal, as part of a ‘contest’ or ‘derby’ is ethically indefensible and ecologically reckless.

2.  Bloodsport contests are conducted for profit, entertainment, prizes and, simply, for the “fun” of killing. No evidence exists showing that predator 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 overall coyote populations through defense of territory and the suppression of breeding by subordinate female members of the family group.

3. The importance of wolves, coyotes and other predators in maintaining order, stability, and productivity in ecosystems has been well documented in peer- reviewed scientific literature. Coyotes provide myriad ecosystem services that benefit humans including their control of rodents and rabbits, which compete with domestic livestock for available forage. As apex predators wolves increase biodiversity and ecological integrity.

4.  With fewer than 700 wolves in Idaho and poaching a common problem, allowing a killing contest of a species just off the endangered species list is reckless, indefensible and counter to sound science.

5. Economically, a live wolf is worth far more than a dead one. Wolf watching has brought in millions of dollars into Idaho and tourism is a major economic revenue source. Furthermore, issuing the permit is likely to affect tourism in Idaho as those who value wildlife decide not to visit due to the state’s draconian predator management policies.

6.  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.

7.  Wildlife killing contests put non-target animals, companion animals, and people at risk. Domestic dogs are sometimes mistaken for coyotes and wolves.

As wolves return, so do tensions with ranchers

As wolves return, so do tensions with ranchers

Wolves are making a comeback in Eastern Washington’s timbered mountains and dry-grass lowlands, with their population growing 38 percent in the last six years. The price of success, though, includes growing conflicts with ranchers.

Seattle Times environment reporter

When the cougar trackers finally figured out it wasn’t a big cat that was wiping out Dave Dashiell’s livestock, the wolves already were on their way to killing or wounding 33 sheep.

By then even dogs, traps and specialists armed with lights, paintball guns and rubber bullets couldn’t keep the wolves and livestock apart.

“There were days when I walked down a drainage and when I came back two hours later there was a dead lamb where I walked,” Dashiell’s tearful wife, Julie, told a state wildlife panel last weekend.

And by the time a government aerial hunter aboard a helicopter unintentionally shot and killed a breeding female wolf amid the cedar, grand fir and thick underbrush of Dashiell’s Stevens County grazing land, the outrage had reached almost everyone.

Less than a decade after the state’s first wolf pack in 70 years returned to Eastern Washington’s timbered mountains and dry-grass lowlands, tempers have returned to a boil. But with the state’s wolf packs now numbering 15 and wolf populations growing 38 percent in six years, these conflicts, in some ways, are the price of success.

For the last six weeks, it seems, no side has been happy. Ranchers are furious that the state backed off in September without killing more of northeast Washington’s Huckleberry wolf pack. Conservationists are furious that the lone wolf killed after conflicts with livestock was the one government officials implied they would not target.

Tens of thousand of emails flooded the state, most opposed to killing wolves at all. One county adopted a resolution proclaiming its citizens free to kill the predators themselves. Another county declared a state of emergency.

Trappers just this weekend started trying to catch or dart a wolf so habituated to people she’s aggravating rural residents and playing with nearby sheep dogs. A legislator told wildlife officials that ranchers were getting death threats. One reported his cows being shot.

The tensions highlight a reality that wolf experts have known Washington would face eventually: The chief barrier to the return of healthy populations of Canis lupus is rarely habitat or disease, but maintaining a healthy degree of social tolerance.

“Yes, wolves are recovering, and their population is increasing and naturally dispersing,” said Nate Pamplin, who oversees the wolf program for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We’ll do everything we can to minimize conflicts. But it will be necessary at times for the department to lethally remove wolves.”

Yet with a wildlife issue that touches hearts and pocketbooks, and salts festering wounds left by decades of land-use battles, details matter.

While wolf recovery enjoys overwhelming support in Washington, how well recovery will proceed in coming years depends in part on how all sides navigate these budding skirmishes.

Because nobody thinks they are going away.

Trouble on the rise

Aside from the Methow Valley cattle rancher who killed a wolf and tried to mail its pelt to Canada in a bloody FedEx box in 2008, Washington wolf recovery had, for the most part, been relatively smooth. Until two years ago.

In 2012, wildlife officials killed seven wolves in northeast Washington after several were caught killing cattle owned by a rancher very public about his disdain for wolves.

After a quiet grazing season in 2013, the conflicts blew in like a tornado again this summer.

When some of the sheep Dave and Julie Dashiell turned out on their private allotment on Hancock Timber land in June went missing, they attributed it at first to the cost of doing business. When more died, they thought they had a hungry cougar, but experts determined the culprit was canine.

Then the Dashiells’ losses mounted through August, and state teams sent to haze the wolves weren’t effective. The state contracted with a federal government hunter to shoot up to four younger wolves. But the terrain is so thick, dense and steep, and the helicopter had only a brief window to work, so the hunter killed a single wolf, which turned out to be the pack’s breeding female.

“It was less than ideal for us to learn that,” Pamplin said. But the state pointed to studies suggesting packs in Alaska often stay together even when a different female assumes mating duties.

With Labor Day coming and grouse season starting up, state officials decided hunting or trapping had to end.

The Dashiells moved their sheep to new rangeland, which proved difficult to find, and discovered several hundred sheep were missing. The losses may have nothing to do with wolves, but for many the link was clear.

“My husband and I came from nothing,” a clearly shaken Julie Dashiell said last weekend. “We came from nothing to watch it all go down the drain in a matter of minutes. Our losses probably total over $100,000.”

While the move and the lone wolf-kill appeared to halt livestock deaths for the moment, Eastern Washington ranchers were livid the state didn’t keep reducing the pack.

“If we’re going to have livestock and wolves on the environment, something is going to die,” Stevens County Commissioner Wes McCart told the commission that oversees WDFW. “And right now it seems like that’s a one-way street.”

Len McIrvin, who lost two cows on different rangeland and was the cattleman who lost the livestock in 2012, was more blunt: “Our ancestors knew what had to happen — you get poison and you kill the wolves,” he said.

McIrvin said he’s been harassed by wolf lovers. A Ferry County sheriff’s deputy confirmed last week that a cow was shot on McIrvin’s land. But he pointed out that the cow was butchered, which made it more likely an act of someone stealing meat rather than a political protest.

As the tensions deepened during the last two months, environmentalists held a conference call with the governor, and the Dashiells’ summer conflict quickly become the center of a major dispute that has simmered since 2012:

When, precisely, should the state start killing wolves? How much did this rancher — and should others — do proactively to avoid potential conflict? And who decides, before the wolf-killing starts, whether or not ranchers’ efforts have been enough?

Wildlife officials maintain these issues are largely settled, with some steps outlined in the state’s wolf recovery plan.

And the Dashiells certainly had taken steps to avoid wolf-livestock conflicts. They helpfully put off grazing until late June, after deer and moose have given birth, which offers wolves an alternate source of food. Dashiell and his wife ran sheep using guard dogs, which can deter predators.

And he moved quickly when necessary to remove carcasses of dead livestock so they wouldn’t attract more wolves.

Dashiell, however, didn’t enter into a cooperative agreement with the state to take proactive measures, such as using range riders, which the department would help pay for.

Before wolves are killed, “we need a referee in real time that people trust who could judge whether a rancher has shown due diligence,” said Mitch Friedman of Conservation Northwest.

Calls to Dashiell’s cellphone were returned by Jamie Henneman, a spokeswoman for Stevens County’s local ranching group. Henneman said ranchers already are doing everything they could possibly do.

“The rancher is running a private business,” she said. “He needs to have the latitude to run his business any way he thinks is best.”

Finding what works

While the state’s wolf population still hovers in the low 50s, a dozen of the 15 packs are located in northeast Washington, with conflicts mostly stemming from just two — the Huckleberry and Profanity packs.

So some ranchers there are trying to be pragmatic.

For the last several years, John and Melva Dawson and their son Jeff, outside Colville, have used money from outside groups to hire their daughter to work as a professional range rider.

“The wolves are here to stay — haven’t got a choice about that,” said John Dawson. “We can’t just go out like a wild man and start shooting them all. So I’m trying to do whatever I can to just stay in business.”

His daughter puts in up to 12 hours a day for five months, circling the cattle, preventing contact by wolves. And when a wolf with a radio collar is near, she tracks the animal on her laptop and goes out with her four-wheeler to drive it away.

“Sometimes they just circle around and get out of sight,” Dawson said. “But we’re putting the message to them that they don’t want to eat here.”

The Dawsons haven’t lost a cow to a wolf in years, and if they did, some environmentalists say they would react without suspicion.

“If a pack started eating Dawson’s cattle, I’d say, kill those buggers,” Friedman, the environmentalist, said. “We know sometimes wolves have to go. The debate occurs when ranchers are being less than diligent or when pro-wolf people suspect anti-wolf people are manipulating them.”

No one believes range riders are the solution to every wolf conflict. The terrain in Eastern Washington is often too rough and brushy. And managing sheep can be more complex than running cattle.

But state officials said they know this corner of the state hasn’t seen its last conflict. State officials are hosting a meeting in Colville on Tuesday to talk with ranchers and others about wolves — and to encourage more people to consider precautionary steps.

“I remain very concerned about this pack coming into the next grazing season,” Pamplin, with WDFW, said of Huckleberry. “We’re going to work very hard with this rancher and others to figure out what preventive measures can be deployed. Are there other things that can be considered?”

But if conflicts resurface, some wolves again may have to go, he said, “but not at a level that hinders recovery in Washington.”

Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or cwelch@seattletimes.com.

copyrighted wolf in river

FWP Ends I-90 Wolf-Kill Investigation

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks ended its investigation today into a Facebook posting from Missoula resident Toby Bridges, where he claimed to have killed a wolf and injured another with his vehicle on Interstate 90 just east of the Idaho border. After having the Mineral County Attorney’s office review the investigation, FWP will not be filing any charges in this case.

FWP was first notified of the Facebook posting on September 17, and game wardens initiated an investigation the next day.

“In Montana, harassing or intentionally killing wildlife with a motor vehicle is illegal, and we take reports of such incidents very seriously,” said FWP Warden Captain, Joe Jaquith.

On September 18, wardens investigated the area described in Bridges’ online account, and found a wolf carcass off the shoulder of the road that was consistent in size and color with the online photo. The carcass, however, was far more decomposed than typical for a wolf killed at the time Bridges reported to have struck the wolf.  Wardens found no physical evidence of a collision on or near the Interstate.

Wardens also searched surrounding hillsides for signs of the second wolf that Bridges claimed to have hit and injured.  They could not locate any signs of a carcass or injured wolf, including evidence of blood, tracks, hair, odors, or scavengers.

Wardens interviewed Bridges and used his photographs from the scene for further investigation by other law enforcement officials and wildlife specialists.

A Montana Highway Patrol crash scene investigator analyzed Bridges’ photograph from the scene and concluded that based on the photograph, the vehicle had not been involved in an accident. No accident report had been filed.

Wardens searched for potential witnesses and worked with the Montana Department of Transportation as part of the investigation, but no witnesses came forward.

“In typical cases involving harassment or killing of wildlife with a vehicle, there has always been either a witness to the event, and/or fresh physical evidence that could be directly tied to the violation,” Jaquith said. “In this particular case the only witness appears to be Mr. Bridges, the vehicle shows no evidence of having been in an accident, and the lack of any other physical evidence supporting the claim precludes the filing of criminal charges.”

Brooks Fahy Executive Director

PREDATOR DEFENSE

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

Idaho wolf/coyote killing derby wants double the area for hunt

Sep 29, 2014
Salmon – Salmon, Idaho may be a small town by anyone’s standards, with a little over 3,000 people, but they have big ideas. Located in the middle of the state along the banks of the Salmon River, it is famous for fishing, rafting, and now, wolf hunting.

Last year, Salmon, Idaho held their first annual Predator Derby on December 28-29. The news of the derby was condemned by people all over the world. Threatening letters and emails poured in, many with threats of bodily harm. But one Salmon resident, Billijo Beck defended the hunt, saying it was just the way they lived. “If you look up the definition of murder, it’s defined in human terms. Not in animal terms,” said Beck.

After winning a court challenge allowing them to hold their hunt last year, the group is holding their 2nd Annual Predator Derby on Jan. 2-3. 2015. There is one difference though. They want to expand the killing zone to almost double the size it was last year. They have petitioned the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for approval.

Today the BLM said they would issue an environmental analysis on Thursday, and then take public comment for 15 days before issuing an answer. The contested area involves around 1,500 square miles. Environmental groups are saying they will protest the permit.

The group behind the killing derby, Idaho for Wildlife, is the same group that hosted the derby last year. At that derby, a number of activists and a journalist, Christopher Ketcham infiltrated the hunt. Ketcham wrote a scathing story, “How to kill a wolf,” for Vice. In the story, Ketcham describes a “good old boy” local who bought his group a round of drinks at a local bar. Cal Black then told the “supposed hunters” to “Gut-shoot every goddamn last one of them wolves.”

For those of you who wonder why a gut-shot is recommended, it’s the best way to kill a wolf, but the death is prolonged. Sick, yes. But that’s what these guys like to do. The only thing killed last year, besides a lot of hot air and liquor, was 21 coyotes, but no wolves. No one claimed the $1,000 prize.

Idaho for Wildlife is a supposedly patriotic organization, wrapped in the flag10171053_10152319527762440_4831074600876870909_n and espousing American ideals. Dedicated to the preservation of Idaho’s wildlife.The group also states they will “fight against all legal and legislative attempts by animal-rights and anti-gun organizations who are attempting to take away our rights and freedoms under the Constitution of the United States of America.” Interestingly, the group says they believe that wildlife management should be governed by science.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/op-ed-idaho-wolf-coyote-killing-derby-wants-double-the-area-for-hunt/article/405980#ixzz3F1CGPs87