What’s to Stop Them?

I attended the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf hearing last week to find out how far the WDFW ultimately plans to go with wolf hunting, once wolves are inevitably removed from the state endangered species list, and when Washington residents can expect to hear that hunting groups are holding contest hunts on wolves like our neighbors in Idaho have already done.

It turns out the department wasn’t ready to come clean on their ultimate plans to implement hunting seasons on wolves (starting in Eastern Washington). They were only willing to talk about the few cases of sheep predation (a few dozen out of a flock of 1,800 animals grazing on public forest land), and the WDFW’s collusion with areal snipers from the federal Wildlife “Services” for some good old fashioned lethal removal. Here are some notes on what I was planning to say, had it been on topic:

Over the years spent living in rural Eastern Washington, I’ve gotten to know how ranchers think and feel, and what they’re capable of. For over twenty years I lived in a cabin outside the Okanogan County town of Twisp, where rancher/convicted poacher Bill White is currently under house arrest. Exploiting his then-good standing and local influence to get permission from the WDFW to gather road-killed deer, under the guise of distributing them as meat to members of the Colville tribe, he used some of the deer as bait to lure wolves from the Lookout pack to within shooting distance. He and his son are credited with killing nearly every member of that pack—the first wolves to make it back into Washington. Their sense of entitlement was so overblown they thought they could get away with sending a blood-dripping wolf hide across the Canadian border.

On the plus side, I also have a lot of experiences with wolves themselves. As a wildlife photographer I’ve photographed them in Alaska and Canada as well as in Montana, where I lived a mile away from Yellowstone National Park. I got to know the real nature and behavior of wolves. I’d like to think that if ranchers knew the wolves the way I do, they wouldn’t be so quick to want to kill them off again. I shouldn’t have to remind folks that wolves were exterminated once already in all of the lower 48 states, except Minnesota, which had only six wolves remaining before the species was finally protected as endangered.

Although I personally believe that wolves belong to no one but themselves, to use game department jargon, wolves and other wildlife belong to everyone in the state equally—not just the squeakist-wheel ranchers and hunters. By far most of Washington’s residents want to see wolves allowed to live here and don’t agree with the department’s lethal wolf removal measures (that no doubt include plans for future wolf hunting seasons, which are currently being downplayed by the WDFW).

What’s to stop Washington from becoming just like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming in implementing reckless wolf-kill programs that eventually lead to things like contest hunts (as in Idaho) and the subsequent decimation of entire packs? Or year-round predator seasons that ultimately result in federal re-listing (as in Wyoming)? What guarantee do we have that Washington’s wolves will be treated any differently?

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wyoming fights wolf decision, files emergency rule to allow hunting season

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking
September 25, 2014 6:00 am  • 
 

Wyoming filed an emergency rule Wednesday with the Secretary of State’s Office, hoping to still begin its wolf hunting season Oct. 1.

The move came a day after a Washington, D.C., judge placed wolves back on the endangered species list, which immediately stopped all wolf hunting in Wyoming.

The emergency regulation would place a Wyoming Game and Fish Commission wolf management plan into effect in an attempt to address the judge’s concerns.

 

There are no guarantees it will work, said Brian Nesvik, head of the wildlife division of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

A coalition of conservation groups argued three points in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012. They said Wyoming’s plan did not ensure a viable population of wolves, that there was not enough genetic exchange with other populations and that the gray wolf is still endangered in some of its range.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in her ruling that while wolves had recovered with sufficient genetic exchange, Wyoming’s plan to have a viable population was not binding.

“It’s just another page in the saga of this whole issue,” said Budd Betts, owner of Absaroka Ranch, a guest ranch and outfitting business near Dubois. “I thought this very well could have happened. This is going to be a recipe for an exploding population.”

At issue in the judge’s ruling is Wyoming’s promise to maintain more than the required 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside the national parks, said Nesvik.

Wyoming put an addendum in its management plan that it would maintain a buffer of wolves above the required number. It did not specify how many or make the buffer binding by law.

The emergency rule the state filed Wednesday changes that addendum and turns it into a regulation, Nesvik said.

“This is a formality is all it is,” he said. “Two-thirds of this decision affirmed the merits of Wyoming’s wolf management plan.”

Gov. Matt Mead signed the emergency rule Wednesday, he said.

Wyoming needs to do more than add a regulation to its plan resolving the buffer to assure wolves’ continued survival in the state, said Mike Senatore, vice president of conservation law and general counsel for Defenders of Wildlife, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit.

“What we hope Wyoming does is they go back and put in place a plan that will actually ensure the long-term recovery and survival of wolves in the state,” he said. “We continue to have major problems with the two-tiered status of wolves in the state.”

Wyoming has a hunting season on wolves in the northwest corner, but outside the area they can be shot on sight in what is called the predator zone. Senatore would like to see the predator zone eliminated or greatly restricted, he said.

Nesvik believes the plan Wyoming implemented is adequate to maintain the required number of wolves. Wyoming had at least 178 wolves and 15 breeding pairs in its trophy management area at the end of hunting season in 2013.

That number does not include wolves living in Yellowstone National Park, the Wind River Indian Reservation or the predator zone.

About 85 percent of the state’s wolf population is in the trophy management area. Nesvik did not have an estimate for the number of wolves in the rest of the state.

In 2012, 42 wolves were killed in the trophy area, and 25 were hunted in the rest of the state, according to Game and Fish. In 2013, 24 wolves were killed in the trophy area and 39 in the rest of the state. Hunters did not kill the quota of wolves allowed during either hunting season.

Wyoming’s attorney general will work with attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice to bring the case before the judge again.

In the meantime, no more wolf licenses will be sold. The department is working on a system to refund money to the hundreds of hunters who already purchased a 2014 license.

Victory for Wolves in Wyoming!

http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2014/victory-for-wolves-in-wyoming

Victory: Federal Judge Reinstates Federal Protections Statewide

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

September 23, 2014
Washington, D.C. —Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated today after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 statewide Endangered Species Act delisting of the species. The ruling from the U.S. District Court halts the management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies.

“The court has ruled and Wyoming’s kill-on-sight approach to wolf management throughout much of the state must stop,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso. “Today’s ruling restores much-needed federal protection to wolves throughout Wyoming, which allowed killing along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout national forest lands south of Jackson Hole where wolves were treated as vermin under state management. If Wyoming wants to resume management of wolves, it must develop a legitimate conservation plan that ensures a vibrant wolf population in the Northern Rockies.”

Earthjustice represented Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity in challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s September 2012 decision to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in Wyoming. The conservation groups challenged the 2012 decision on grounds that Wyoming law authorized unlimited wolf killing in a “predator” zone that extended throughout most of the state, and provided inadequate protection for wolves even where killing was regulated.

“Today the court affirmed that delisting gray wolves in Wyoming by the Obama administration was premature and a violation of federal law,” said Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark. “Any state that has a wolf management plan that allows for unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state should not be allowed to manage wolves. Wolves need to remain protected under the Endangered Species Act until the species is fully recovered. State laws and policies that treat wolves like vermin are as outdated and discredited today as they were a century ago.”

“The decision makes clear that ‘shoot-on-sight’ is not an acceptable management plan for wolves across the majority of the state,” said Dr. Sylvia Fallon, senior scientist and wildlife conservation director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s time for Wyoming to step back and develop a more science-based approach to managing wolves.”

“The court has rightly recognized the deep flaws in Wyoming’s wolf management plan. Wolves in Wyoming must have federal protection until the state gets it right. That means developing a science-based management plan that recognizes the many benefits wolves bring to the region instead of vermin that can be shot on sight in the majority of the state,” said Bonnie Rice of the Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone Our Wild America Campaign. 

“We’re thrilled that protections for Wyoming’s fragile population of wolves have been restored,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With Wyoming allowing wolves to be shot on sight across more than 80 percent of the state, there is no way protections for wolves should have ever been removed.”

The 2012 delisting of wolves in Wyoming turned wolf management over to the state, which opened up over 80 percent of its land to unlimited wolf killing and provided weak protections for wolves in the remainder. Since the delisting, 219 wolves have been killed under Wyoming’s management. Prior to the 2012 reversal of its position, the Fish and Wildlife Service denied Wyoming the authority to manage wolves in the state due to its extremely hostile anti-wolf laws and policies.

Background: There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals were driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States — a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently proposing to remove Endangered Species Act protection for most gray wolves across the United States, a proposal that the groups strongly oppose; a final decision could be made later this year.

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.

Stop the killing of 16,000 prairie dogs

http://www.all-creatures.org/alert/alert-20140519-2.html

Tell U.S. Forest Service: DO NOT Poison 16,000 Prairie Dogs
Action Alert from All-Creatures.org

FROM

National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
May 2014

ACTION

The U.S. Forest Service is considering a plan to poison as many as 16,000 prairie dogs in Wyoming’s Thunder Basin National Grassland. Prairie dogs are a keystone species and vital to the survival of many other animals. Tell the Forest Service to reject this heartless plan.

prairie dogs prairie poison
Image by Jim Robertson /
Animals in the Wild

Sign an online petition here

And/Or better yet, make direct contact:

Thomas Whitford
District Ranger, Douglas Ranger district
Thunder Basin National Grassland
c/o US Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Region
740 Simms Street
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 275-5350 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (303) 275-5350 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

In Wyoming, prairie dogs are slowly recovering from decades of hunting and disease, and Thunder Basin National Grassland contains some of their last protected habitat. But the U.S. Forest Service is considering a plan to poison any prairie dog colonies on the Grassland within a quarter-mile of private or state land. They could kill an estimated 16,000 prairie dogs, which are essential to the survival of many other species. Urge the Forest Service to reject this heartless and misguided plan.

SAMPLE LETTER:

I am outraged at the plan your agency is considering — to kill an estimated 16,000 prairie dogs in Thunder Basin National Grassland. This would be inhumane to the animals and environmentally disastrous for the Thunder Basin ecosystem.

In 2009, in an exemplary decision, you set aside 85,000 acres of grasslands to provide a safe haven for prairie dogs from being shot, poisoned or gassed. Today, the Thunder Basin National Grassland is part of the remaining two percent of America’s untouched prairie grasslands, and contains the best prairie dog habitat in the country. Prairie dogs are essential to the health of our grasslands but are victimized by misinformation and widely extirpated from their former range.

Furthermore, I understand the plan may call for anticoagulant poisons such as Rozol. Rozol, a barbaric poison, can take one to three weeks to kill prairie dogs. After being poisoned, they will bleed internally and externally, wandering more and more disoriented and vulnerable to predators. Animals that feed off of this keystone species — including golden eagles, ferruginous hawks, swift foxes, turkey vultures, badgers, raccoons and coyotes — will also fall victim to the poison and may die.

As a federal agency charged with protecting our nation’s unspoiled flora and fauna, the Forest Service must turn down this plan to poison prairie dogs in the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Please find alternative methods for managing this species and the wildlife which depend on them.

Sincerely….


or, send pre-written message here:

https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=D636E670A5DE23260DC829166A1266FA.app338a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=3461&s_src=EMOBGNPETNON0514PD&autologin=true&utm_source=nl&utm_medium=articalert&utm_campaign=maybgn

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

Proposed wolf hunting quotas in Wyoming nearly double

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/proposed-wolf-hunting-quotas-in-wyoming-nearly-double/article_4faeb151-ec8f-5dc2-9677-2ac311b50d2e.html

This fall, hunters in Wyoming may be able to shoot almost twice as many wolves as they could in 2013, according to proposed regulations by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Proposed hunting quotas would allow 46 wolves to be hunted in the trophy game area, 20 more than in 2013, but still less than the 2012 harvest of 52 wolves.

“Our quotas are based adaptively on where the wolf population is at, and we ended up with more wolves than we thought this year,” said Dan Thompson, large carnivore section supervisor for the department. “We’re managing for the same number as last year, but we’re increasing quotas because we had more wolves at the end of the year.”

Game and Fish officials estimated that about 160 wolves would be in Wyoming’s trophy hunting area, which is roughly the northwest corner of the state outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Estimates from December placed the number of wolves roaming the trophy area at 179, he said.

Thompson credits the rise in the wolf population to greater restraint by agencies in hunting and killing wolves, and to a rise in the number of cubs born.

“If you have a population that is growing or at carrying capacity and you remove individuals … they respond by producing more (cubs),” he said.

Increased quotas are the only changes to wolf regulations this year. No hunting area boundaries or hunting dates will be changed. Wolves in Wyoming and outside the trophy hunt area can still be shot on sight.

Lawsuits are pending in Wyoming and Washington D.C. over Wyoming’s hunting regulations. A decision from a federal judge in Washington D.C. is pending, according to the Associated Press.

The department is holding public meetings across the state about the new quotas. The Game and Fish Commission will vote on the changes during its meeting in July in Dubois.

 

  

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Wolf populations in Northern Rockies states Down 6%

April 5, 2014 by 

Associated Press

Gray wolf numbers in the Northern Rockies have declined about 6 percent from 2011, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Congress removed the wolves from the federal endangered species list in 2011. A state-by-state breakdown of year-end 2013 minimum wolf count and percentage change over two years:

–Idaho: 659 wolves; down 14 percent

–Montana: 627 wolves, down 4 percent

–Oregon: 61 wolves; up 110 percent(asterisk)

–Utah: 0 wolves; no change

–Washington: 38 wolves; up 46 percent(asterisk)

–Wyoming: 306 wolves, down 7 percent

–NORTHERN ROCKIES TOTAL: 1,691 wolves; down 6 percent

(asterisk)includes wolves only in eastern portion of state

Source

copyrighted wolf in river

Rockies Gray Wolf Numbers Steady Despite Hunting

BILLINGS, Mont. April 4, 2014 (AP)

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.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/rockies-gray-wolf-numbers-steady-hunting-23193709

copyrighted wolf in river

Whither the Hunter/Conservationist?

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.

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/03/05/whither-the-hunterconservationist/

copyrighted wolf in river

First the Good News: Wildlife Services’ Plane Crashes

…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.]

http://www.sheridancountyjournalstar.net/news/item/2259-crew-members-okay-after-plane-crash

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.

Jim Robertson-wolf-copyright