Spring 2016 newsletter from Predator Defense
It hurts tremendously to have to report ever-increasing kill numbers for gray wolves. But these indefensible losses are the natural and predictable result of the political gamesman-ship that occurred five years ago when wolves were stripped of federal endangered species protection and management was turned over to state wildlife agencies. Since 2011 over 4,200 wolves have been senselessly slaughtered by sport hunters and trappers alone. Nowhere is the killing worse than Idaho, but Oregon recently took a very bad turn, removing protections for their fledgling population of around 100 wolves (see pg. 2).
Thankfully, we also have good news to report—a legal victory for wolves in Washington state, as well as two wolf protection lawsuits we’re part of in Idaho and Oregon. In April we returned to Idaho for the fourth time in 12 months, meeting with attorneys and other activists to strategize a way to stop Idaho Fish and Game’s out-of-control killing program. We also rallied against the wolf slaughter at the Idaho state capitol in February. (See feature on pgs. 2-3.)
Speaking Out for Imperiled Grizzly Bears in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
As we went to press, the public comment period closed on a proposal to delist grizzly bears in the area around Yellowstone National Park. Hunters are now chomping at the bit to buy a $50 license to kill a bear to adorn their wall and floor.
The delisting debate has been heated, but opposi-tion has been strong, with the majority
of the public and scientists against removing protections. Over 63,000 people submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). We signed on to an official comment letter with 80 other environmental organizations urging USFWS to keep grizzly bears protected, and 58 top scientists joined Jane Goodall in an anti-delisting campaign. We have all forcefully stated that grizzlies have not recovered, and the decision to …Hunting and livestock interests control 99% of wildlife policy.
The Wolf Wars
Over 4,200 gray wolves have been killed since federal protections were removed in April 2011. The slaughter won’t stop until wildlife “management” policies reﬂect science and the public will, rather than the tiny minority— hunting and livestock interests. Our work to raise awareness and demand change continues.
PREDATOR DEFENSE | Spring 2016 | page 2
Oregon Takes Giant Step Backward, Delisting Wolves
Until recently, Oregon was thought of as a progressive state in terms of wolf “man-agement.” While wolves were driven out over 50 years ago and never reintroduced, those who migrated to Oregon from Idaho in recent years were allowed to coexist. As of March 2016 Oregon’s wolf population numbered around 100, a recovery that was considered a great start. And contrary to what the agricultural interests expected, depredation on livestock decreased during the time the wolf population increased.
But Oregon’s “honeymoon with wolves” appears officially over. When the population reached the benchmark established by the Oregon Wolf Plan, classifying it as Phase 2, hunting and livestock interests won the day. Circumventing both best-available science and public will, the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission removed state endangered species protection in November 2015. In March 2016 Governor Kate Brown caved to special interests and signed the delisting bill (HB 4040) into law. This delisting decision makes the future for Oregon wolves look increasingly grim. If the current trend continues, Oregon could soon look a lot like Idaho and Montana, which have been wolf-slaughtering fields since 2011, with grisly sport hunting and trapping seasons.
While Oregon’s current wolf management plan does not permit hunting or trap-ping seasons, wolves can be killed if seen predating on livestock and in recent years ranchers have pushed their political clout. The ink had barely dried on the Governor’s signature when wildlife agents in a helicopter gunned down a family of four from Oregon’s first established pack, the Imnaha. They killed legendary 10-year old alpha male, OR-4, his mate, and two yearling pups for allegedly preying on livestock on a rancher’s land. Contrary to what the media and state wildlife officials say, nonlethal methods were not used correctly, nor were all the appropriate methods attempted.
The existing Oregon Wolf Management Plan is in early stages of being rewritten. We will comment on the new draft as soon as the comment period opens. We are also co-plaintiffs in the wolf protection lawsuit described below.
Wolves Win Legal Victory in Washington State
Wolves in Washington state were given reason to celebrate in December 2015, when a federal judge put a hold on a plan to kill more wolves to reduce livestock predation. The judge found that the federal agency proposing the killings (Wildlife Services) violated the law, which requires an Environmental Impact Statement. He also found their plan to be highly controversial and unlikely to work.
So Washington state is actually requiring that science be considered. This is fab-ulous news! We’re proud to have been co-plaintiffs in this important case, and we’d like to thank our friends John Mellgren and Andrea Rodgers at the Western Environ-mental Law Center for handling it so expertly.
Oregon Wolf Protection Lawsuit Filed; Idaho Soon to Follow
We have reason to hope that two new lawsuits in Oregon and Idaho will produce similarly positive results to Washington’s. We are co-plaintiffs in a suit filed in February that challenges Wildlife Services’ authority to kill any of Oregon’s fledgling population of around 100 wolves. We are contending that Wildlife Services failed to explain why killing wolves on behalf of livestock interests should replace common-sense, proactive and nonlethal alternatives, such as those already reflected in the Oregon Wolf Management Plan. We have joined a similar lawsuit against Wildlife Services that will be filed in Idaho shortly.
As you likely know, Idaho is the nation’s biggest wolf-killing state. Over 1,500 wolves have been slaughtered there by hunters and trappers alone since the 2011 delisting. This does not include the scores slaughtered by state and federal predator control agencies. Adding insult to this outrage, early this year federal agents secretly aerial gunned 20 wolves from helicopters in the Lolo Zone of Clearwater National Forest, one of the most pristine native predator habitats in the country.
Since Idaho is a state run amok in brutality against wildlife and denial of sci-entific reality, they can only be stopped if enough of us speak out and demand wholesale change incessantly, from now until we succeed.
We rallied in protest of Idaho’s ongoing slaughter at the state capitol build-ing in Boise on Feb. 15, 2016. Our numbers were not huge, but our voices were loud. Over 70 people showed up during the course of the rally to demand an end to Idaho’s wasteful Wolf Control Board and the termination of the USDA Wildlife Services aerial gunning program. We will also bring legal action soon, along the same lines as the wolf protection lawsuits described on pg. 2.