Opinion: High Noon for the Gray Wolf

The return of these animals to the homes of their ancestors — however fleeting — was a result of their 40-year protection under the Endangered Species Act.

OR-7, or “Journey,” as schoolchildren named the first wolf, had been born to the Imnaha pack, the first one in Oregon for many decades. When he wandered south, his brother, OR-9, wandered east. Shortly after he crossed into Idaho (where wolves are not protected), he was shot dead. OR-7 lived on, after his repeated incursions into California (where wolves are protected), to sire a litter of pups just north of the state line. He became the subject of a documentary — in California, even a wolf can be a star.

The story of the Grand Canyon wolf, though, may be over: Three days after Christmas, it appears, she was shot and killed in Utah by a man media outlets have called a “coyote hunter.” (A DNA test is pending.)

For almost two centuries, American gray wolves, vilified in fact as well as fiction, were the victims of vicious government extermination programs. By the time the Endangered Species Act was passed, in 1973, only a few hundred of these once-great predators were left in the lower 48 states. After numerous generations of people dedicated to killing wolves on the North American continent, one generation devoted itself to letting wolves live. The animals’ number has now risen to almost 5,500, thanks to their legal protection, but they still occupy less than 5 percent of their ancient home range.

Since 1995, the act has guided efforts to raise wolves in captivity, release them, and follow them in the wild. Twenty years ago this month, the first gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park.

But this fragile progress has been undermined. Since 2011, the federal government has moved to remove federal protection for gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) and in the western Great Lakes (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan), the two population centers. Management of the species was turned over to these states, which responded with a zeal that looks like blood lust.

Relying on the greatly exaggerated excuse that wolves threaten cattle and sheep, the states opened their doors to the killing of wolves. (In some states, bait can be used to lure the animals to their deaths; in Montana, private landowners can each kill 100 wolves each year; in Wisconsin, up to six hunting dogs on a single wolf is considered fair play.) Legions of wolf killers rose to the challenge, and the toll has been devastating: In just three and a half years, at least 3,500 wolves have been mowed down.

There’s been an outcry from conservationists, ecologists and people who simply like wolves, but this has not stopped the killers. Some say wolves are a threat to their livestock investments (despite the existence of generous rancher-compensation programs in all wolf states save Alaska); others invoke fear of wolves; still others appear to revel in killing. Online, you can find pictures of wolf carcasses held up proudly as trophies and men boasting of running over wolves with their cars. Judges have started to step in. In September, a federal court decided that wolf management in Wyoming — which had allowed people to kill as many wolves as they wanted, throughout 84 percent of the state — should be returned to the federal government. In December, also in response to a lawsuit, another federal court reinstated protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes. These decisions should make clear that the states alone simply can’t be entrusted with the future of our wolves.

In Washington, the threats persist. The Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a proposal that would strip federal protection from almost all gray wolves in the lower 48 states, not just the ones in the Rockies and the Midwest. Meanwhile, right-wing Republicans in the new Congress are champing at the bit to remove the wolves from protection under the act — politics trumping science.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/opinion/high-noon-for-the-gray-wolf.html?_r=0

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

14 thoughts on “Opinion: High Noon for the Gray Wolf

  1. Since wolf delisting the status of the wolf is imperiled with Wolf Jihad: What does it say about the wildlife wildlife agencies when conservationists have to fight against those very agencies to protect wildlife that is threatened like the gray wolf. When USFWS delisted wolves on the west and midwest (2012) wolves were turned over to a killing management strategy that was surely expected at the state level, a wolf killing jihad approach. A federal judge ruled Friday 12/19/14 ruled that wolves in the midwest be put back on the protected list saying that removing them was and “capricious and capricious” violating the ESA. Protesters of the decision, including USFWS will consult about an appeal to Justice Department (https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/some-gray-wolves-to-be-returned-to-endangered-list/ ) A federal judge ruled, September 23, 2014, that Wyoming wolves have to be re-listed and Wyoming must come up with a conservation plan which is not a wolf killing plan and that hunting is ceased immediately. He stated that Wyoming is too hostile toward wolves to manage them. The same can be said of Montana and Idaho and Wisconsin and elsewhere. These wolf jihad states should be relieved of wolf management They are run by traditional wolf hating elements
    (https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/opinion-high-noon-for-the-gray-wolf/). Wyoming had wolves classified as varmints and eligible for shoot on sight and allowed only a narrow corridor outside Yellowstone where they could exist and even there hunted in season. In Montana last year (2013) “sportsmen” got 5 wolves for one $19.00 ticket. Since then landowners have been given permission to kill up to 100 “threatening” wolves, which really amounts to an open season year around for landowners and their designated “agents”. Montana hunts or traps wolves 6 months of the year. This year Montana has no quotas for any areas except outside Yellowstone and Glacier. Idaho intends to get their wolf numbers down to as little as 150. Who was it, Ed Bangs (?), that pulled that out of their arse for number of wolves as target numbers for delisting, 150, 30 breeding pairs. ID, MT, WY can easily support 700 wolves. Actually, the wolf numbers seem stabilized in in the 600’s in MT and ID, but both states want much more killing. But these states, sportsmen and yokels have latched onto those numbers as a rationale for liberal kill policies. Wolves will manage their own populations relative to wolf pack elbow room and prey. General killing called “management” is asinine. The hunting, trapping season starts in Montana in September and goes to February 2015. Matters for wolves seem to be getting worse each year with the traditional enemies of ranchers, sportsmen, and yokels with their folklore, lies and myths and parochial ignorance, mostly about elk predation and stock predation, wolves as threatening, wanton killing of wolves, wolf size (giant, alien, Canadian wolf), and degree of wolf predation, numbers of wolves. State management of wolves is wolf jihad, not science, a hunter-rancher-wildlife agency led war on wildlife.

  2. Fire the Wildlife Agencies (USFWS, Interior, state agencies, USDA Wildlife Services, BLM)
    The US government has long been in the wildlife killing business. It offered bounties on predators, poisoned and gassed prairie dogs, allowed the near extinction of bison, prairie dogs, black footed ferret, the wolf (wolf bounties), wolverine, and marginalized the grizzly, lion, and many others. The war on coyotes has been unrelenting. Hunters and ranchers, bedfellows of the wildlife agencies nearly wiped out most wildlife. With the advent of wildlife agency hunting regulations, the hunter has been somewhat contained; and now even count themselves as “conservationists” because they have essentially farmed game sport (recreational killing opportunities) animals and marginalized predators on the erroneous rationale of less predators to share game with the more game (recreational killing opportunities). Instead of an emphasis on wilderness and wildlife ecology, USDA Wildlife Services kills nearly 4 million animals a year and state agencies millions more in recreational killing opportunities and “management”. State wildlife agencies use hunters to “manage” (“sporting”) game and predators. Ranchers may tolerate big bird and other sport game birds, elk, bison and deer and antelope; but are very hostile to predators. Wildlife agencies, state and federal, are not friendly to predators and defer to hunters, ranchers, conservative state legislatures, and their ilk and their interests in development and extraction and leases. Ranchers and farmers destroy wildlife habitat with the plow and grazing not only on private land but ever more and more on public land facilitated by the US government in leased grazing, leased farming, and leases to extraction industries avenues. Encroachers on public land often, in turn, adding insult added to injury, asks the federal government, such as Wildlife Services, to kill animals that are “encroaching” on their leased public land. Conservation efforts and new agencies such as ESA and EPA and private conservation agencies have and are battling for balanced ecologies, the predators, and many animals of no concern to sportsmen, ranchers and farmers, and extraction industries and development interests. Agencies, like the USFWS often cave into ranchers hunters, state wildlife agencies, conservative state legislatures, a government tradition of really prioritizing those interests. The arguments that threatens remaining wilderness and wildlife is as old as civilization, making a buck by the traditional enemies of wildlife. What is not appreciated enough is what little is left: In the US roughly 2.6 % in the lower 48 and another 2.5 % in Alaska; and this is under continuing and unremitting pressure from, guess where, the traditional enemies of wilderness and wildlife, still too often facilitated by the wildlife agencies. Private conservation agencies often find themselves in conflict with wildlife agencies who should be on their side and the side of preserving wilderness, balanced wildlife ecology, and the predators who are essential to the balanced wildlife ecology. The wildlife agencies, state and federal, need firing and revamping to emphasize wildlife preservation, wildlife viewing, and a heritage of wilderness and wildlife in what is left of the available habitat. There is something terribly wrong when we see wildlife agencies aligning with ranchers, farmers, “sportsmen”, conservative state legislatures. It is time for major upheavals of them, their agendas, their protocols, their heads and replacing them with priorities on preserving, recovering, protecting what is left of wilderness and wildlife, not siding with the traditional enemies of wildlife and wilderness (ranching, hunters, conservative state legislatures and populace, extraction industries, and development and such parochial ilk that echoes their sentiments).

    • I so agree with your comments, Roger. Here we are, staring at the Faces of Extinction, while, so-called “wildlife groups” grovel, hat in hand, to these agencies, and to the ranchers and hunters, offering yet another “collaboration” or “compromise” so we “can all work together.” I am sickened as to how many of these groups make no apology about having hunters/ranchers on their boards and on their staff. An all out War against these special interests, and their agencies does not seem to be on group’s agenda. So much has already been lost. As you stated, so little is left: the massive slaughter of native wild animals & wild habitats since the 1800’s is criminal, yet there seems to be little passion about it.


  3. The most frustrating thing is that very few people actually stand up and protest against what is being done to wolves.

    People seem to protest over every other issue but in the case of wolves, they just sign petitions and write letters or take a ho hum attitude.

    There is definitely prejudice when it comes to wolves.

    We have crooked members of congress passing legislation to take wolves off of The ESA and block court challenges so wolves can be exterminated and where is anyone to speak out against it?

    This specieism is even found with animal rights advocates and groups. They will march on so many different issues but when it comes to helping wolves, very few actually try to do anything.

    • We have seen a few protests in this area. Unfortunately, so few people showed up that the demonstrations were probably counterproductive, showing that the numbers and the passion were behind the hunters. Sad.

  4. Management by death has been the style of the US FWS for many animals, often designated as “nuisance” or “varmints.” So the trapping, poisoning, shooting has been a steady fact. I find it hard to believe that a government agency can be so boldfaced in its backing of special interest groups, such as ranchers, hunters, gun organizations, and extraction industries over the desires of the American public not to have wildlife exterminated.

    As for the wolves, I get it that they have a role as apex predators. However, considering the long history of wolf hatred, their torture and death at the hands of the above groups, it would have been better for the animals to not be introduced. Why bring them in just to put them at risk of suffering and death. Until people are tired of the carnage and take to the streets, this will not change.

  5. The Livestock Industry, along with their hunting connections, is behind these slaughters. Millions of beautiful coyotes are also maimed, tortured and killed. The Livestock Industry wants to rid the public lands of so-called “predators.” This is a long-standing hatred for them, because they want these lands (the last refuge for coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, foxes, bobcats, lynx, etc.) so they can maintain public lands as Domesticated Feed Lots, “Managed for Livestock.” Nature is nothing to them. Take a good look out here in the West: Our National Forests, wilderness areas, National Wildlife “Refuges,” state lands, National Grasslands, are all grazed to the bone, with riparian areas, soils, native grasses denuded and obliterated, wildlife populations in severe decline. Do not believe for one moment that coyotes are the problem or that they are “overpopulated.” It is another lie perpetrated by Game Agencies and The Livestock Industry. Please, do not believe the so-called “statistics” from The Enemies of the Wild.

  6. Pingback: Loving life unreservedly! | Learning from Dogs

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