WTF HSUS?

You could say that I am more than a bit peeved at the HSUS these days. Their shameless promotion of meat-eating—especially their sponsoring the hedonistic “Hoofin’ It” event—has me downright pissed off. 

I have to wonder if they can even see above the bullshit they’ve sunk into this time. 

For years I was an ardent supporter of their policies—until they went out of their way to join Whole Foods in perpetuating the myth of “humane” meat. Instead of sticking to their guns and helping to usher in an era of evolution that takes us beyond animal agriculture, they’re bent on reviving the “Old McDonald’s Farm” fantasy.

I live next door to Old McDonald, and I’ve seen how he treats his farm animals. It isn’t pretty.

One of the flesh food purveyors featured in the “Hoofin’ It” event (the ranch that raises bison) waxes poetic about their “product” as though it were a hand-crafted ale or fine wine: “Our bulls are…finished with a natural diet of whole corn, sunflower pellets…” and “are harvested and processed at the prime age of 24-30 months, weighing approximately 1,100 pounds.” 

 

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Prime age for whom? Certainly not for the Bison! Bison don’t even reach maturity until 3 years of age and can live well over 30 years in the wild when allowed to. The bison whose flesh they’re selling are still babies. In the wild, male bison remain with their mothers for at least 3 years before joining in with groups of other bulls. It’s like eating a lamb who is never allowed to grow up to be a sheep. And who the fuck eats a lamb anyway, HSUS? 

The big question is, how does one “humanely” kill (“harvest” or “process”) a 1000 pound, gregarious, empathetic herd animal who relates enough to others to make a habit of mourning over their dead? “Processing” day must be a real sad, morbid, not to mention horrifying day for those waiting in line for their turn to get slaughtered. 

This whole alternative “humane” meat issue reminds me of the popular new micro-brewery that cropped up in the small town of Twisp, WA, where I used to live. Their menu featured grass-fed, organic beef from a local rancher who turned out to be none other than wolf-hater/poacher Bill White. White, along with his son, was responsible for baiting and killing off most of Washington State’s first wolves, the Lookout Pack. (Yes, they’re the same folks who got caught trying to send a bloody wolf hide through the mail to Canada.) 

Is the HSUS being led down the garden path by other (possibly wolf-hater/poacher) ranchers who are eager to sell a higher-priced product to a new generation of starry-eyed foodies who think the sentient animals they’re eating were happy to know they were “sustainably” harvested? 

It was partly because of the wisdom of a few friends working for the HSUS on wildlife issues that my wife and I went vegan 16 years ago. Those friends are still as dedicated to the animal rights cause as ever, but somehow the HSUS as a group must have lost its nerve, its soul and now, its ever-loving mind.

1173835_594069293967592_2141908188_n

Why the NRDC’s Montana “Wolf Stamp” Must Be Stopped

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/08/14/why-the-nrdcs-montana-wolf-stamp-must-be-stopped/

By Brooks Fahy, Executive Director, Predator Defense

Recently one of our county’s most highly respected environmental organizations, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), proposed that wildlife advocates improve the plight of wolves in Montana by purchasing a special wolf “conservation” stamp for $20. The money raised would allegedly be used to resolve wolf conflicts nonlethally, as well as for public education, habitat improvement and procurement, and law enforcement.

Sounds great, right?

WRONG.

The problem is the money will go directly to the state agency in charge of managing wolves—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). If you’ve been following our work at Predator Defense for any length of time you’ll know that, for the state of Montana, “managing” means “killing.” It is also worth noting that the state has renamed what the NRDC calls a wolf “conservation” stamp a wolf “management” stamp.

We believe we must speak out against the NRDC’s wolf stamp, and here’s why. The best available science tells us that territorial, apex predators like wolves do not need to be managed.

Asking wildlife advocates to donate funds to a government wildlife management agency is an endorsement of sorts that implies that agency is deserving of and will use your donation in the best interest of wildlife, in this case wolves. Such an endorsement promotes what we would like to call “The Myth,” which is that wildlife management agencies are using current science and conservation biology, as well as ethical principles, to create responsible programs to benefit wildlife, primarily predators. The truth is they are not.

Instead, generous hunting and trapping quotas are the backbone of all agency predator management. The quotas cannot be supported scientifically or ethically. Most hunters and trappers see wolves as competition and “the enemy” and their license fees pay the salaries of wildlife agency staff.

Unquestioning belief in The Myth by lawmakers and the public is precisely how and why wolves lost federal Endangered Species Act protection in Montana and why those protections are now on the chopping block in the remaining lower 48 states. It is also why wolves are at grave risk.

So how is providing additional funding to state agencies going to benefit wolves? Regardless of whether the money is earmarked for killing wolves, it is supporting an agency that is perpetrating The Myth that is leading toward wolves’ demise.

We find the NRDC’s wolf stamp to be unethical, irresponsible, and downright dangerous. It would:

  • Legitimize state wildlife agencies’ methods of managing wolves in Montana and of predator species in general nationwide.
  • Betray the trust wildlife advocates have in conservation organizations to guide their members to support programs designed primarily to benefit wildlife, and to oppose those that are not in wildlife’s best interest.

Based on past experience, it is utterly ridiculous to trust an agency like Montana FWP to actually do what the proponents of this stamp are suggesting—to value and advocate for a predator species.

As an example, let’s look at state management of coyotes. While the Navahos called these predators “God’s dog,” Montana and most states consider coyotes to be “vermin” and grant them no status, no value, and no protection. Most state wildlife laws dictate no limit to the number of coyotes to be killed. But the pesky fact is that, when under attack, coyotes’ predation and reproduction activities increase. This means that state coyote management has actually increased the probability of conflicts—all because they have ignored science. (Learn more at www.predatordefense.org/coyotes.htm.)

Now just for fun, let’s imagine Montana FWP was asked to create a coyote stamp like the wolf stamp. Do you think FWP personnel would be responsible and educate the public about how critically important coyotes are to a healthy ecosystem? Do you think they would invest in improving coyote habitat?

You can easily see it’s pretty unlikely that a coyote stamp would have much value to coyotes. But, how ‘bout that wolf stamp? Keeping in mind that the attitude state agencies have towards coyotes is more or less the same as their attitude towards wolves and other predators, the wolf stamp does not look promising, to put it mildly.

The stamp question begs the following larger and more important questions regarding predators and the role of conservation organization advocating for them:

  • Do wildlife management agencies use sound and current science to create and implement predator management plans, and to educate the public, ranchers and hunters?
  • Do wildlife management agencies protect and procure habitat to benefit predators and ensure their populations occupy their natural and historic ranges?
  • Do wildlife management agencies create and support wildlife laws to protect predator species?

If the answer is NO to these questions—and it most certainly is—then a different approach to predator protection and advocacy is long overdue. It’s time the conservation, wildlife advocacy and environmental community admits and acknowledges that today’s wildlife management agencies are not our friends.

Rather than working within the agency system by promoting stamps and providing other means of supporting marginal improvements for certain species, organizations should apply themselves to an overhaul of the system, starting with state commissions which oversee fish and game agencies.

Commissions should reflect the current attitudes of the majority of the state’s populace and truly represent the demographics of the state. Currently, the majority, if not all, of the commissions are composed of hunters and ranchers, or people in some way tied to those interests. While commissions may have a token individual who holds a moderate stance on these issues, such a person is largely marginalized and doesn’t last long.

The governor of Montana and most other states appoints commissioners. If all advocacy organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), and others concerned about wildlife and habitat used their resources to lobby governors to appoint commissioners that truly represent current demographics—which are dominated by non-consumptive users of wildlife—we could make a difference. We could change the paradigm from policies for hunters and ranchers, to policies for wildlife and wild lands.

Influencing governors is nothing new. It’s all about financial and campaign support. Candidates need to know they’ll get support for their campaign when they appoint non-hunters to the critical commissions. Agriculture and hunting interests have made their influence known to candidates, but conservationists represent a lot more votes and can get a lot better at this game. Some NGO’s might be limited to donating money directly, but they are not limited in making suggestions to their membership; many operate sister organizations that are not nonprofit tax exempt and hence not restricted in campaigning.

If science and ethics are to be the foundation of sound wildlife policies, then conservation organizations need to bring the real hardcore message home: NO HUNTING OF PREDATORS.

If we are successful in populating decision-making bodies with people who represent today’s demographics, cultures and attitudes, and provide them with current sound science, we’ll have a chance at success in making critical changes that will benefit entire ecosystems and their inhabitants, starting with changing how wildlife agencies are funded.

Again, the best available science tells us that territorial, apex predators do not need to be managed. On the other hand, habitats need to be managed. Non-native invasive species need to be managed. And last, but not least, people need to be managed.
This message needs to be delivered to wildlife management agencies, their commissioners, and politicians. We, the people, need to stop Montana’s wolf stamp.

SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE WOLF STAMP: ATTEND A HEARING & SUBMIT A COMMENT
Communities around the state will hold hearings on August 14 at 6 p.m. Comments on the proposal will be taken through Friday, Aug. 22.

Scroll down for details on hearings and comments below.

ATTEND A HEARING – August 14, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

Helena
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Headquarters, 1420 East 6th Avenue, Helena, MT

Kalispell
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1 Office, 490 North Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT

Missoula
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 Office, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT

Bozeman
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 Office, 1400 South 19th Avenue, Bozeman, MT

Great Falls
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 4 Office, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, MT

Billings
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 5 Office, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings, MT

Glasgow
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 6 Office, 54078 US Highway 2 West, Glasgow, MT

Miles City
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 7 Office, 352 I-94 Business Loop, Miles City, MT

Additional details at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/newsReleases/fishAndWildlife/nr_0681.html

SUMBIT A WRITTEN COMMENT AGAINGST THE WOLF STAMP

View the proposed wolf stamp rule and make your comment on the Montana FWP website at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/armRules/pn_0177.html

Comments may be also be submitted by mail, email, or fax to:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Communication Education Division
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

Email: fwpwld@mt.gov
Fax: 406-444-4952

What’s a Minnisota Wolf’s Life Worth? $4.00

From: Increase in wolf hunting permits, higher harvest level set for 2014

The DNR said it will make 3,800 hunting and trapping licenses available for the coming season, up from 3,500 last year, and will allow up to 250 wolves to be killed, up from 220 last year.

…the increase in permits also has angered wolf supporters who have been working to overturn the state’s recreational wolf hunt since it began in 2012, shortly after federal Endangered Species Act protections were removed.

“People need to know that no matter what they say, the DNR and the governor clearly don’t have the best interest of wolves in mind, to be having another season, with more wolves killed, so quickly after they were on the endangered species list,” said Maureen Hackett, a founder of Howling for Wolves. “The DNR has no idea what kind of mortality wolves are seeing for poaching and vehicles or other problems… so they really don’t know how many wolves are out there.”

Hackett said shooting or trapping individual wolves out of packs disrupts the pack social order and may end up causing more conflicts by dispersing the individual members.

“More than 60 percent of the wolves killed the first year were 2 years old or younger. They’re killing puppies,” Hackett added.

Last year, 3,434 hunters and trappers killed 237 wolves for a 6.9 percent success rate. In 2012, the state’s first ever wolf hunt, 6,127 hunters and trappers killed 413 wolves for a 6.7 percent success rate.

The first 2014 hunting season will run Nov. 8-23, the same as the northern deer hunting season. A second hunting season is set for Nov. 29 to Jan. 31, the same dates for the wolf trapping season. The seasons will close early if harvest quotas are reached.

Hunters and trappers can apply for 2014 wolf licenses, which are awarded in a lottery, starting Aug. 1.

To apply, applicants need to pay a $4 fee…

copyrighted wolf in water

Idaho Suspends Wilderness Wolf-Killing Plan In Face of Court Challenge

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/07/29/idaho-suspends-wilderness-wolf-killing-plan-in-face-of-court-challenge/

By On July 29, 2014

POCATELLO, Idaho – Faced with a legal challenge by conservationists and an imminent hearing before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (“IDFG”) has abandoned its plan to resume a professional wolf-killing program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the coming winter.

In a sworn statement submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on July 24, 2014, IDFG Wildlife Bureau Chief Jeff Gould stated that IDFG “will not conduct any agency control actions for wolves within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness before November 1, 2015.” IDFG had previously advised the court that the program could resume as early as December 1, 2014.

A professional hunter-trapper hired by IDFG killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness last winter and state officials in February announced plans to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork section of the wilderness over a period of several years in an effort to inflate wilderness elk populations for the benefit of commercial outfitters and recreational hunters.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this September, we are relieved that the Frank Church Wilderness will be managed as a wild place, rather than an elk farm, for at least the coming year,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso, who is representing conservationists challenging the wilderness wolf-killing program. “Now we must make sure that wilderness values prevail for the long term.”

Earthjustice is representing long-time Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with four conservation groups—Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity—in the lawsuit challenging the wolf-killing program. The conservationists argue that the U.S. Forest Service, which is charged by Congress with managing and protecting the Frank Church Wilderness, violated the Wilderness Act and other laws by allowing and assisting the state wolf-killing program in the largest forest wilderness in the lower-48 states.

In a separate sworn statement filed with the Ninth Circuit on July 24, the Forest Service committed to providing the conservationists with notice by August 5, 2015 of any plans by IDFG to resume professional wolf-killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the 2015-16 winter, as well as “a final determination by the Forest Service as to whether it concurs with or objects to such plans.”

“IDFG’s announcement now gives the Forest Service the chance to play out its mission—its obligation to protect our irreplaceable Frank Church Wilderness for the American people and for all its wildlife against an effort to turn it into a mere elk farming operation on infertile soil,” said Maughan, a retired Idaho State University professor who was a member of the citizens’ group that drew up the boundaries of the Frank Church Wilderness 35 years ago.

“We are pleased to see this truce in Idaho’s wolf reduction efforts in the Frank Church for a full year,” said Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ regional representative who has worked nearly three decades to restore wolves in Idaho. “The Frank Church is both the largest forested wilderness area and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. Wolves belong here as they have made the ‘Frank’ truly wild again. Ensuring healthy wolf populations here is critical for the recovery of wolves throughout the entire northwestern region.”

“It is hard to imagine a decision more inconsistent with wilderness protection than to allow the hired killing of wolves,” added Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Today, some relief for wild places flows from the news that IDFG will not continue that odious operation this year. Next we will see whether the Forest Service will take action to protect the Frank Church Wilderness from such atrocities in the future.”

“It’s time for the Forest Service to stand with the vast majority of the American people by taking the necessary steps to protect wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for the long-term, not just the next 15 months,” stated George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “Wolves are the epitome of wildness. Their protection is key to preserving the area’s wilderness character.”

“We’re glad Idaho’s wolves are rightly getting a reprieve from the state’s ill-conceived predator-killing plan, at least for a year,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.  “We’re also happy to see the Forest Service agree to be more transparent about any future decision to allow Idaho to kill wolves in the Frank Church.”

BACKGROUND: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had scheduled an August 25, 2014 court hearing to address the conservationists’ request for an injunction to prevent IDFG from resuming its program of professional wolf killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the coming winter. IDFG commenced the program in December 2013 without public notice but abruptly suspended the program on January 28, 2014 amidst emergency injunction proceedings before the Ninth Circuit. Since then, the conservationists have continued to press their case for an injunction before the Ninth Circuit, which led to the scheduled August 25 court hearing.

Because IDFG has abandoned the 2014-15 professional wolf-killing program in the wilderness, the conservationists have agreed to forego the scheduled court hearing, but they renewed their call for the Forest Service to fulfill its legal duty to protect the Frank Church Wilderness.

copyrighted wolf in river

What do Wolves, Hunting Accidents and Trophy Hunter Kendall Jones have in Common?

Answer: Well, nothing really, yet. They just happen to be three of the more popularHNTSTK_1_2__66133_1314490481_1280_1280 keywords, and I hoped that if I used them in a title I’d tempt more of you to read some of the recent posts that have been overlooked according to this blog’s stats.

Why, for instance, did an article about Kendall Jones’ trophy hunting pictures receive over 22,000 reads here, whereas posts about climate change, elk or mute swans have only been looked at by a few dozen?

I’m trying to figure out what makes people tick.

Maybe there just aren’t enough hunting accidents involving trophy hunters to keep people reading, so here’s one that someone made up:

10387568_1513182575562779_9083453157424128149_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

War on wolves has reached new a low


 

By LYNNE STONE

Since early July, Idaho’s war on wolves has another chapter—once again in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). This time, it involves the Casino Pack in the Sawtooth Valley near Fisher Creek.
It works like this: A rancher has a hurt or dead calf or sheep, calls the misnamed federal agency Wildlife Services, who will say it’s a wolf kill. Wildlife Services calls the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and Fish and Game rubber-stamps whatever Wildlife Services wants—usually to “kill all offending wolves.” In the summer months, there are thousands of sheep and cattle on the SNRA. Some are going to be sick or hurt every day. If wolves come around, they are blamed.
The Casino Pack alpha male was B450. I had first seen him as a yearling in 2009 with his three younger sisters and brothers in the Stanley Basin. His family, the Basin Butte wolves, were killed on Thanksgiving week 2009 because cattle ranchers would not adapt to living with wolves.
B450 survived five more years and had his own family before he was trapped on July 9 near Fisher Creek. Although Fish and Game had told Wildlife Services to release any collared wolves, B450 was so mortally injured from being in the leg-hold trap in hot weather that he was shot. The same with his yearling son, B647—caught in a trap on July 1, and in such bad shape when the Wildlife Services agent finally checked the trap, the wolf would not live if released. This is not the first time wolves have suffered in the SNRA due to trapping. A collared yearling died in a trap on Decker Flat last May.
Another Casino Pack wolf, a subadult female, has also been killed by Wildlife Services, leaving only the pack’s mother, pups and one other sibling. The kill order is out for them, too. All because one rancher lost one calf, maybe to wolves.


The town of Stanley struggles in winter to survive. Wildlife viewing, especially for wolves, could change that.


Fish and Game in Salmon told me this week that they were sorry that the collared wolves were killed. Fish and Game seems to have no control over the actions of Wildlife Services, nor do they seem to care in a state where our cowboy governor Butch Otter has made it clear he doesn’t want wolves here.
On the SNRA since 2000, the Stanley Pack, Whitehawk Pack, Galena Pack and Basin Butte Pack have been eradicated because of a handful of cattle and sheepmen. When people claim that the SNRA protects wildlife, it’s simply not true when it comes to wolves and other animals that ranchers don’t like. They call the shots, literally.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Ranchers could be proactive and learn about nonlethal methods of deterrence. A few are doing this in the Wood River Valley. Landowners who lease pasture to cattlemen could stop—that would help wolves. The SNRA could be a place like Yellowstone Park’s Lamar Valley—where people come from all over the world to see wolves and nearby communities benefit—receiving millions of dollars from tourists. The town of Stanley struggles in winter to survive. Wildlife viewing, especially for wolves could change that.

    Lynne Stone is the director of the Boulder-White Clouds Council, an environmental group. She has been a longtime advocate for wolves in central Idaho.

http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2007152960#.U8_dOGdOVy0

Alaskan wolf pups rescued from fire heading to Minnesota Zoo

The zoo plans to ‘spay and neuter them because they are no longer and endangered species’ — WTF?

http://www.startribune.com/local/266956601.html

by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune

 July 14, 2014 – 11:22 AM

Rescued from wildfire, the pups will replace older wolves and are expected to draw visitors.

wolf pups

A revived and lively litter of wolves is expected Tuesday at the Minnesota Zoo, just weeks after being plucked from the smoldering aftermath of an Alaskan wildfire.

Officials at the Apple Valley zoo said the five gray wolf pups have rebounded nicely after being abandoned by their parents during the May fire and then losing a sibling to a porcupine attack.

Four firefighters discovered the 2-week-old pups in their den, dehydrated and stuck with quills. A porcupine apparently had wandered into the den to escape the smoke and flames of the massive Funny River wildfire in the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Refuge.

Such a wildfire rescue of pups is rare, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website. Officials believe the pups’ parents fled the den because of the fire and firefighter activity in the area.

The five survivors — three males and two females; three gray, two light-colored — were taken to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage on May 27, where staff tended and bottle-fed them. One pup is named X-Ray, after the fire crew that saved them. The others were named after the four rescuers’ hometowns: Gannett, Hooper, Huslia and Stebbins, said Minnesota Zoo spokesman Josh Le.

Now eight weeks old, the pups have tripled in size and can be seen playing on video taken at the Alaska Zoo. Visitors were invited to view wolf feedings five times a day at the zoo, and as they grew, watched them romp and roll outside.

“So far they are really healthy and that is why they are coming Tuesday to the Minnesota Zoo,” Le said. “They are growing but still adorable.”

But don’t expect to see the Alaskan canines in person until mid-August. The pups will be in quarantine for a month while they are monitored and blood and fecal tests are done to ensure they carry no disease or parasites to the zoo, Le said.

The furry five will replace the zoo’s adult pair of gray wolves, Kaskapahtew and Wazi, who have never bred successfully, Le said. He said the pair will be sent to another accredited zoo in the U.S., and had no chance of being euthanized.

The five siblings likely will boost attendance by creating the wolf pack the zoo has long sought. They will have free run of the spacious wolf enclosure on the Medtronic Minnesota Trail. They will be spayed and neutered because they are not an endangered species and the zoo avoids inbreeding, Le said.

Le said the pups will be escorted by Alaska Zoo staff on a flight donated by Delta Air Lines. Two Minnesota Zoo managers will greet the Alaskans at the Minneapolis airport.

Did the Hunters Get your Wolves’ Elk?

In one of Edward Abbey’s many epic books he mentions seeing a bumper sticker on the back of a gas hog, redneck rig that went something like, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” It was an unabashed show of narcissistic entitlement which spelled out just how the driver felt about nature and the need for a diverse ecosystem.

Although his type doubtless have no qualms about supporting factory farming by buying a nightly meal of meat from the local “Western Family” grocery store, when hunting season rolls around they are right there to lay claim to the wildlife as well, in the form of deer, elk, moose or pronghorn.

It don’t mean shit that apex predators such as wolves, cougars, bobcats and coyotes have nothing else to eat and have evolved over eons to live in harmony with their wild prey. Hunters think of themselves as apex predators, decked out in their best Cabella’s camouflage outfit, tearing up the land on their trusty 4-bys or 4-wheelers, hoping a deer steps out in front of them.

But as a faithful reader pointed out this morning, human hunters aren’t apex predators, they’re apex parasites (Homo parasiticus).

Personally, I’d rather “my” deer went to the coyotes and “my” elk went to the wolves, as nature intended.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

RMEF Opposes Congressman’s Call for Yellowstone Wolf Buffer Zone

 http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/newshound/2014/07/rmef-opposes-congressman%E2%80%99s-call-yellowstone-wolf-buffer-zone

In the latest move to curtail wolf hunting across the country, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio–one of the most vocal, influential, and persistent critics of Western wolf management–called for federal intervention to protect gray wolves that range beyond Yellowstone National Park.

DeFazio claims hunters who harvest wolves outside park boundaries are directly responsible for the recent decline in Yellowstone’s wolf population. To help solve this “problem,” he penned a letter to the Department of the Interior requesting the agency coordinate among states to establish a “wolf safety zone” around Yellowstone National Park. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation responded to DeFazio with a letter of their own.

 

RMEF described the request for a no-hunting buffer zone “unfounded by any science,” noting that it also “contradicts what the entire wolf reintroduction and ESA listing represent.” The organization goes on to point out scientific studies that account for the decline in wolf numbers in Yellowstone Park.

First, the availability of elk–the primary prey of northern range wolves–has declined significantly. Yellowstone’s northern elk herd has fallen from 17,000 animals in 1995 to roughly 4,000 in 2013. Second, a recent study demonstrated wolves will kill one another when an area’s population becomes too large for the available prey and habitat.

DeFazio has overlooked such evidence, and instead finds fault in state management of wolf numbers.

“…Gray wolves do not respect invisible park boundaries and once the wolves cross out of the park and onto bordering lands,” DeFazio wrote. “…There are myriad inconsistent state regulations that allow hunters to kill wolves on sight; in some instances without limit.”

Both Wyoming and Montana maintain strict management quotas that apply to wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2013 Montana limited its combined hunting/trapping sub-quota (unit 316) to four just four wolves near Gardiner. Wyoming biologists indicate its harvest quotas near the park are deliberately small to provide proper management. Additionally, Yellowstone officials support RMEF’s position that hunting wolves outside the park does not contribute to the park’s overall downward trend in wolf numbers.

Finally, RMEF notes gray wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains met minimum recovery goals nearly 15 years ago, and has since exceeded the mutually-agreed upon population by 500 percent. M. David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, concludes his letter: “The continuing drumbeat of individuals and organizations to halt any form of state based management of wolves shows a total disregard for the state based management system, the originally agreed upon [wolf] recovery goals and the 10th Amendment which delegates such matters to the states.”

DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House National Resources Committee and has previously opposed the USFWS proposal to lift ESA protections for gray wolves in the lower 48.

Wolf hunt limits set for 2014-2015; landowners may kill up to 100 threatening wolves per year

Private land | Owners can kill wolves they believe are a threat without it counting toward hunting season

MISSOULA — Private landowners may kill up to 100 wolves a year they believe are threatening livestock, dogs or people under a new state law that doesn’t count toward Montana’s wolf-hunting season.

But Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners opted to monitor those landowner killings in blocks of 25 instead of an earlier plan to allow 50 kills before review. The decision came during the commission’s meeting in Missoula on Thursday.

The landowner quota is separate from the state’s annual wolf hunt. Hunters must have a wolf license and operate during an annual season, while landowners or their agents can kill wolves “that are a potential threat to human safety, livestock or domestic dogs” at any time of year. That option comes from Senate Bill 200, passed in the last Legislature.

Landowners may also kill wolves in the act of attacking livestock without affecting the 100-animal quota.

But they can only use that privilege on private land — not on public-land grazing allotments. And while landowners may allow private hunters to kill threatening wolves on their property under the quota, the landowner (not the hunter) would be responsible for any illegal wolf kill.

So, for example, if a rancher told elk hunters on his land they had his permission to shoot wolves near his cattle, they could do so under the landowner quota without using their hunting licenses. But if a hunter killed a wolf after the quota was exceeded or somewhere that the wolf posed no believable threat, the landowner could be liable for the violation.

On Thursday, the commissioners also set rules for the 2014-15 wolf hunting season, which remained generally the same as last year. The coming rifle season will run from Sept. 15 to March 15, with a bag limit of five wolves per hunter. Two hunting districts near Yellowstone National Park have quotas of three wolves, to protect packs popular with wildlife watchers in the park.

Hunters have no quota on wolves except in those areas close to Yellowstone and Glacier National parks. Last year, hunters killed 128 wolves while trappers took another 97.

Landowners have killed far fewer wolves under previous shoot-on-sight rules for livestock protection. FWP wildlife manager Quentin Kujula said the past several years averaged less than 10.

“Landowners want the opportunity to deal with the situation themselves,” FWP director Jeff Hagener said after the unanimous approval of the quota. “They don’t want to wait for compensation for wolf depredation or for (federal) Wildlife Services to arrive. This way, they don’t have additional costs, and we the taxpayers don’t have additional costs.”

That prompted commissioners Matthew Tourtlotte and Gary Wolfe to amend the landowner rule. The original version required commission review after the first 50 wolves were killed. Tourtlotte and Wolfe proposed making checks in 25-kill blocks.

“I’m really concerned about a perception there’s open season on wolves on private land in Montana,” Wolfe said. “This is to give landowners the ability to address legitimate perceived threats, not to create an open season on private land. It’s easier to become more liberal than try and back off in the future.”

Commission chairman Dan Vermillion said estimates of the state’s wolf population show it has been able to absorb the impact of no-quota hunting seasons. Montana has around 600 wolves.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

“I think this is the kind of program that helps foster more tolerance for wolves on the landscape,” Vermillion said.

When wolves were protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, Montanans felt powerless to deal with the predators’ impact, and that fostered intolerance for their presence, he argued.