State and federal agencies said Friday there were a minimum of 1,691 wolves at the end of 2013.
That’s virtually unchanged from the prior year even as state wildlife agencies adopted aggressive tactics to drive down wolf numbers.
Under pressure from livestock and hunting groups, Idaho officials have used helicopters to shoot packs. Montana has eased hunting and trapping rules.
Federal wolf recovery coordinator Mike Jimenez says he expects the population to gradually decline over time in the face of the states’ efforts, but to remain healthy.
A pending proposal would lift protections for wolves across much of the remaining Lower 48 states.
By George Wuerthner On March 5, 2014
Many hunter organizations like to promote the idea that hunters were the first and most important conservation advocates. They rest on their laurels of early hunter/wildlife activist like Teddy Roosevelt, and George Bird Grinnell who, among other things, were founding members of the Boone and Crocket Club. But in addition to being hunter advocates, these men were also staunch proponents of national parks and other areas off limits to hunting. Teddy Roosevelt help to establish the first wildlife refuges to protect birds from feather hunters, and he was instrumental in the creation of numerous national parks including the Grand Canyon. Grinnell was equally active in promoting the creation of national parks like Glacier as well as a staunch advocate for protection of wildlife in places like Yellowstone. Other later hunter/wildlands advocates like Aldo Leopold and Olaus Murie helped to promote wilderness designation and a land ethic as well as a more enlightened attitude about predators.
Unfortunately, though there are definitely still hunters and anglers who put conservation and wildlands protection ahead of their own recreational pursuits, far more of the hunter/angler community is increasingly hostile to wildlife protection and wildlands advocacy. Perhaps the majority of hunters were always this way, but at least the philosophical leaders in the past were well known advocates of wildlands and wildlife.
Nowhere is this change in attitude among hunter organizations and leadership more evident than the deafening silence of hunters when it comes to predator management. Throughout the West, state wildlife agencies are increasing their war on predators with the apparent blessings of hunters, without a discouraging word from any identified hunter organization. Rather the charge for killing predators is being led by groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and others who are not only lobbying for more predator killing, but providing funding for such activities to state wildlife agencies.
For instance, in Nebraska which has a fledging population of cougars (an estimated 20) the state wildlife agency has already embarked on a hunting season to “control” cougar numbers. Similarly in South Dakota, where there are no more than 170 cougars, the state has adopted very aggressive and liberal hunting regulations to reduce the state’s cougar population.
But the worst examples of an almost maniacal persecution of predators are related to wolf policies throughout the country. In Alaska, always known for its Neanderthal predator policies, the state continues to promote killing of wolves adjacent to national parks. Just this week the state wiped out a pack of eleven wolves that were part of a long term research project in the Yukon Charley National Preserve. Alaska also regularly shoots wolves from the air, and also sometimes includes grizzly and black bears in its predator slaughter programs.
In the lower 48 states since wolves were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act and management was turned over to the state wildlife agencies more than 2700 wolves have been killed.
This does not include the 3435 additional wolves killed in the past ten years by Wildlife Services, a federal predator control agency, in both the Rockies and Midwest. Most of this killing was done while wolves were listed as endangered.
As an example of the persecutory mentality of state wildlife agencies, one need not look any further than Idaho, where hunters/trappers, along with federal and state agencies killed 67 wolves this past year in the Lolo Pass area on the Montana/Idaho border, including some 23 from a Wildlife Service’s helicopter gun ship. The goal of the predator persecution program is to reduce predation on elk. However, even the agency’s own analysis shows that the major factor in elk number decline has been habitat quality declines due to forest recovery after major wildfires which has reduced the availability of shrubs and grasses central to elk diet. In other word, with or without predators the Lolo Pass area would not be supporting the number of elk that the area once supported after the fires. Idaho also hired a trapper to kill wolves in the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness to increase elk numbers there.
Idaho hunters are permitted to obtain five hunting and five trapping tags a year, and few parts of the state have any quota or limits. Idaho Governor Butch Otter recently outlined a new state budget allotting $2 million dollars for the killing of wolves—even though the same budget cuts funding for state schools.
Other states are no better than Idaho. Montana has a generous wolf six month long season. Recent legislation in the Montana legislature increased the number of wolves a hunter can kill to five and allows for the use of electronic predator calls and removes any requirement to wear hunter orange outside of the regular elk and deer seasons. And lest you think that only right wing Republican politicians’ support more killing, this legislation was not opposed by one Democratic Montana legislator, and it was signed into law by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock because he said Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks supported the bill.
Wyoming has wolves listed as a predator with no closed season or limit nor even a requirement for a license outside of a “trophy” wolf zone in Northwest Wyoming.
The Rocky Mountain West is known for its backward politics and lack of ethics when it comes to hunting, but even more “progressive” states like Minnesota and Wisconsin have cow-towed to the hunter anti predator hostility. Minnesota allows the use of snares, traps, and other barbaric methods to capture and kill wolves. At the end of the first trapping/hunting season in 2012/2013, the state’s hunters had killed more than 400 wolves.
Though wolves are the target species that gets the most attention, nearly all states have rabid attitudes towards predators in general. So in the eastern United States where wolves are still absent, state wildlife agencies aggressively allow the killing of coyotes, bears and other predators. For instance, Vermont, a state that in my view has undeserved reputation for progressive policies, coyotes can be killed throughout the year without any limits.
These policies are promoted for a very small segment of society. About six percent of Americans hunt, yet state wildlife agencies routinely ignore the desires of the non-hunting public. Hunting is permitted on a majority of US Public lands including 50% of wildlife “refuges as well as nearly all national forests, all Bureau of Land Management lands, and even a few national parks. In other words, the hunting minority dominates public lands wildlife policies.
Most state agencies have a mandate to manage wildlife as a public trust for all citizens, yet they clearly serve only a small minority. Part of this is tradition, hunters and anglers have controlled state wildlife management for decades. Part of it is that most funding for these state agencies comes from the sale of licenses and tags. And part is the worldview that dominates these agencies which sees their role as “managers” of wildlife, and in their view, improving upon nature.
None of these states manage predators for their ecological role in ecosystem health. Despite a growing evidence that top predators are critical to maintaining ecosystem function due to their influence upon prey behavior, distribution and numbers, I know of no state that even recognizes this ecological role, much less expends much effort to educate hunters and the public about it. (I hasten to add that many of the biologists working for these state agencies, particularly those with an expertise about predators, do not necessarily support the predator killing policies and are equally appalled and dismayed as I am by their agency practices.)
Worse yet for predators, there is new research that suggests that killing predators actually can increase conflicts between humans and these species. One cougar study in Washington has documented that as predator populations were declining, complaints rose. There are good reasons for this observation. Hunting and trapping is indiscriminate. These activities remove many animals from the population which are adjusted to the human presence and avoid, for instance, preying on livestock. But hunting and trapping not only opens up productive territories to animals who may not be familiar with the local prey distribution thus more likely to attack livestock, but hunting/trapping tends to skew predator populations to younger age classes. Younger animals are less skillful at capturing prey, and again more likely to attack livestock. A population of young animals can also result in larger litter size and survival requiring more food to feed hungry growing youngsters—and may even lead to an increase in predation on wild prey—having the exact opposite effect that hunters desire.
Yet these findings are routinely ignored by state wildlife agencies. For instance, despite the fact that elk numbers in Montana have risen from 89,000 animals in 1992 several years before wolf reintroductions to an estimated 140,000-150,000 animals today, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks does almost nothing to counter the impression and regular misinformation put forth by hunter advocacy groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife that wolves are “destroying” Montana’s elk herds.
I have attended public hearings on wolves and other predator issues, and I have yet to see a single hunter group support less carnivore killing. So where are the conservation hunters? Why are they so silent in the face of outrage? Where is the courage to stand up and say current state wildlife agencies policies are a throw-back to the last century and do not represent anything approaching a modern understanding of the important role of predators in our ecosystems?
As I watch state after state adopting archaic policies, I am convinced that state agencies are incapable of managing predators as a legitimate and valued member of the ecological community. Their persecutory policies reflect an unethical and out of date attitude that is not in keeping with modern scientific understanding of the important role that predators play in our world.
It is apparent from evidence across the country that state wildlife agencies are incapable of managing predators for ecosystem health or even with apparent ethical considerations. Bowing to the pressure from many hunter organizations and individual hunters, state wildlife agencies have become killing machines and predator killing advocates.
Most people at least tolerant the killing of animals that eaten for food, though almost everyone believes that unnecessary suffering should be avoided. But few people actually eat the predators they kill, and often the animals are merely killed and left on the killing fields. Yet though many state agencies and some hunter organizations promote the idea that wanton waste of wildlife and unnecessary killing and suffering of animals is ethically wrong, they conveniently ignore such ideas when it comes to predators, allowing them to be wounded and left to die in the field, as well as permitted to suffer in traps. Is this ethical treatment of wildlife? I think not.
Unfortunately unless conservation minded hunters speak up, these state agencies as well as federal agencies like Wildlife Services will continue their killing agenda uninhibited. I’m waiting for the next generation of Teddy Roosevelts, Aldo Leopolds and Olaus Muries to come out of the wood work. Unless they do, I’m afraid that ignorance and intolerant attitudes will prevail and our lands and the predators that are an important part of the evolutionary processes that created our wildlife heritage will continue to be eroded.
…The bad news? The aerial coyote-killers on board survived.
[True to form, the anthropocentric media makes no mention that while "conducting aerial operations" the Wildlife "Services" agents were shooting coyotes from their plane.]
Two crew members with the USDA-Wildlife Services escaped with only bumps and bruises Wednesday, February 12, when their plane, a government owned “Super Cub” crashed south of Gordon.
The pair were returning from western Box Butte County where they had been conducting aerial operations. Approximately nine miles out the plane’s engine started acting up and losing power. They coaxed the plane along until at five miles out the engine quit.
The pilot, Gregg Alan, from Ray, Colorado, was able to land the plane on the highway at which time it was hit with a gust of wind which caused the plane to skid off the road, hitting a power pole and two fence posts before coming to a stop.
Area rancher Paul Simmons saw the accident and gave the two a ride to town. Crew member Randy Benben, of Gordon, was treated at Gordon Memorial for back and hip pain. The plane sustained major damage and the accident is still being investigated by the Aviation Training and Operation Center (ATOC) of Cedar City Utah and the FAA.
[If not safe there, where?]
MOOSE, WY — A gray wolf was shot and killed at a private inholding within Grand Teton National Park on Monday, January 20, 2014. The person who fired the lethal shot notified Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens and they reported the situation to park rangers at approximately 10:30 a.m.
Grand Teton National Park rangers and a park biologist responded to the area to investigate the incident. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is conducting a concurrent investigation.
The wolf was a two-year-old male and was not radio-collared; its pack affiliation is unknown. At the time of the shooting, this wolf was in the company of three to four pack mates.
The incident is under investigation by the National Park Service in consultation with United States Attorney’s Office, District of Wyoming, and no further information will be released until the investigation is concluded.
This blog site is a haven for wildlife and animal advocates, a wildlife refuge of sorts, that’s posted “No Hunting,” as any true sanctuary should be. Just as a refuge is patrolled to keep hunters and poachers from harassing the wildlife, this blog site is monitored to keep hunters from disturbing other people’s quiet enjoyment of the natural world.
It is not a message board or a chat room for those wanting to argue the supposed merits of animal exploitation or to defend the act of hunting or trapping in any way, shape or form. There are plenty of other sites available for that sort of thing.
Hunters and trappers: For your sake, I urge you not to bother wasting your time posting your opinions in the comments section. This blog is moderated, and pro-hunting statements will not be tolerated or approved. Consider this fair warning—if you’re a hunter, sorry but your comments are going straight to the trash can. This is not a public forum for animal exploiters to discuss the pros and cons of hunting.
We’ve heard all the rationalizations for killing wildlife so many times before; there’s no point in wasting everyone’s time with more of that old, tired hunter PR drivel. Any attempt to justify the murder of our fellow animals will hereby be jettisoned into cyberspace…
That statement appears on the “About” page of this blog for all to see. Yet every so often I still get comments from hunters desperately wanting to rationalize their murderous deeds. I received two over the past two days, including one from a Danish hunter who stated, “I take pride in my education and my gear, in which I have invested a lot of money, and I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. But that does not make me a serial killer! I am a friendly young man, with so many other hobbies…”
Sorry to say, but a lot of serial killers would come across as “friendly young” men. Though he may not technically be a serial killer by standard definition, anyone who lumps the “thrill” of the hunt in with his other “hobbies” certainly shares some of the characteristics, like rationalization, justification, depersonalization, compartmentalization, as well as a sense of entitlement, lack of remorse, guilt or empathy, with the average serial killer.
The other pro-hunting comment came from none other than Laramie’s city councilman Erik Molvar, the Wild Earth Guardians’ new in-house hunter-on-staff, described on their website as “an avid fan of the outdoors, and enjoys hiking, flyfishing, skiing, antelope hunting, and renovating historic homes.” He doesn’t sound like someone who needs to feed his family on pronghorn flesh any more than any other suburban Wyomingite (who number in the 100s of thousands). Erik wrote at great length in defense of himself and about the relative morality of killing and eating a pronghorn vs. a loaf of bread. Yet he didn’t tell us anything we haven’t heard before time and again from other hunters. Once again, this is an anti-hunting blog site, with a longstanding policy of not approving comments from hunters and I see no reason to start now. We’ve heard them all before—ad nauseam.
Mr. Molvar, as your comment is directed to Marc, the author of the article “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing,” please send it to him at his website: http://foranimals.org/ (If you no longer have the text, I can retrieve it for you from my trash can.)
I appreciate your concern for wolves and Wild Earth Guardian’s hard work to stop wolf hunting. I love wolves the same as any advocate. But I also care about pronghorn, elk and prairie dogs just as much. If we wait until wolf hunting is ended before acknowledging the rights of any other species, hunting will only become more embedded, like a festering thorn in need of surgical removal.
Published November 26, 2013/
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is looking for information about a cow moose that was poached on state land north of Buford.
Laramie Game Warden Kelly Todd says the cow moose was shot sometime around the weekend of Nov. 9-10.
The cow was shot through the back legs and eventually died in South Crow Creek. A bull moose calf was spotted hanging around the cow’s body.
It is illegal to shoot a cow moose with a calf at its side that hunting area.
Todd says a hunter may have mistaken the moose for an elk. He says hunters need to be aware of what they’re shooting at. [Always good advice!]
The game department is asking anyone with information about the crime to come forward.
(Or did they mean to say, “overfed”?) Who do these people remind you of? (Hint: 3 letters, starting with K and ending with K.) Look at them hiding behind their Halloween masks. Sorry kids, we’re all out of candy; time to grow up. Note to wolf lovers: before you put a bead on the next childish bully wearing a white sheet over his face, you might want to wait until after the children’s holiday promoting that kind of thing is over. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=564330240283396