Political shots fired as American lawmakers renew war on wolves



by Wayne Pacelle     January 19, 2017

Just days after the newly constituted Congress commenced its work in the new year, some legislators from the West and the Great Lakes region showed that they have their fangs out for wolves and other animals. They are threatening not just to enable a massive kill of the ecologically and economically beneficial native carnivores, but also to open the floodgates for a host of bills and riders to target other endangered species in the crosshairs of special interests. These legislators have introduced two bills, H.R. 424 and S. 164, dubbed the “War on Wolves Act,” designed to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the northern Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and to prevent federal courts from intervening to ensure wolf management is consistent with principles of sound conservation science. They will almost certainly deliver on that promise if Congress passes them and President Donald Trump signs a final bill.

The War on Wolves Act strips the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of its management authority over wolves and hands it off to state agencies whose past actions have shown a bias toward the bloodthirsty. These agencies have treated non-lethal co-existence measures as a sort of management oddity rather than the core of a sound strategy that balances the needs of wolves with the interests of wolf-country residents.

Lawmakers, quick to cater to the vocal minority that wants to hunt and trap wolves, are ignoring the best available science, which reveals that these apex carnivores occupy just a fraction of their original range and number only 5,000 across the entire lower 48 states. That science also shows that random killing of wolves – by trophy hunters and trappers – may actually lead to conflicts between wolves and livestock by disrupting and dispersing stable packs.

When the federal government delisted wolves in 2012 — and before federal lawsuits from The HSUS restored protections — trophy hunters and trappers, along with other causes of mortality, killed nearly a quarter of Minnesota’s wolves. Humans killed nearly one in every five wolves in Wisconsin that same year, including 17 entire family units, and half of the wolves killed in that state’s first season were pups. Michigan also conducted an ill-advised hunt, over the objections of the state’s own voters, in areas where common-sense measures would have prevented the few conflicts that had occurred with livestock and hunting dogs. In fact, between 2012 and 2014, 500 wolves had been killed in the Great Lakes states alone. Wyoming declared that over 80 percent of the state was a wolf “predator zone” — meaning that trophy hunters, trappers, and wildlife services agents had no restrictions on the manner of take, season for the killing, or even the age of pups or yearling animals. That policy is a prescription for local extinction.

This is not a sensible or conservation-minded plan and most definitely not a humane one – it is an all-out, barbaric assault on the forebears of the domesticated dog.

In 2014, two separate federal court decisions returned wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming to protections afforded to them under the ESA. Because of this, the sponsors of the War on Wolves Act included an insidious provision that would prevent citizens from challenging wolf protections through the courts, removing judicial review and putting Congress squarely in charge of making a listing decision. As the Chicago Tribune pointedly remarked when this same attempt was made in 2016: “The only reason to bar court challenges, of course, is to avoid having the legal weakness of your case exposed.”

A study last year showed that most Americans hold positive or even “very positive” associations with wolves. A 2014 statewide survey of nearly 9,000 Wisconsin residents showed most residents believe that wolves are important members of the ecological community who keep deer in balance and should be enjoyed by future generations. Wisconsinites surveyed said they were proud they were “one of the few places in the United States with wolves” and most did not want to see their wolves hunted or trapped.

Upon their reintroduction to Yellowstone, wolves moderated elk from congregating and stripping away vegetation from life-bearing riparian areas. These effects are documented in a popular video called “How Wolves Change Rivers,” based on a lecture by journalist and environmental advocate George Monbiot. The video has attracted more than 31 million views on YouTube. Wolves are also an enormous draw in the Upper Great Lakes, generating millions in commerce, while providing ecological benefits that are incalculable.

If Democrats in Congress, such as Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Amy Klobuchar, continue to align with Republicans on this issue, they will not only destroy wolf families and produce enormous pain and suffering for individual wolves, but they will also cripple defensive efforts to protect other endangered species targeted by special interests who want to remove federal protections for them. This is dangerous stuff, at a time when the ESA is likely to face its most serious and sustained assault ever because of Republican majorities in both chambers and now with Trump in the White House.

Democrats should come to their senses, embrace active management of the occasional problem wolf, and defend both the decisions by scientists and judges to honor the provisions of the ESA. If they do not, we’ll see an emptying of the ark in the United States in this Congress, starting with wolves. We need to send a signal that the American public won’t go for this species-by-species gutting of our nation’s most important wildlife protection law.


14 thoughts on “Political shots fired as American lawmakers renew war on wolves

  1. War on Environment & Wildlife & Environment
    Republicans have voted against the environment and wildlife 92-99 % of the time the past 15 years They want to gut and undermine EPA, ESA, and relegate them to state control and turn over public lands to corporate interests, ranchers, extraction industries, damaging recreational activities, essentially to state management.

    The parties or candidates are nowhere near equivalent, again: are nowhere near equivalent, again nowhere near equivalent. So aside from the candidates, consider the vast differences in party platform, policies, attitudes toward environment, and socioeconomic policies. Republicans are from the dark side of the force on animal rights, animal farming, recreational wildlife killing (aka hunting,trapping), the environment, public land, management of national forests, keeping public land public, wilderness protection, wildlife protection, as social and economic issues.

    They, the conservatives, want state control of wolf management, grizzly management, predator management in general, endangered species, ESA, EPA, so that they can marginalize, or wipe out wolves, other predators, favor economic special interests, I.e. hunters, ranchers, extraction industries, “rural interests” (ranching, extraction industries, commercial use of public land).

    The alternative universe party (GOP) that denies science, logic, facts, is also the anti environment, anti wildlife, anti public lands party. Don’t vote republican if you care much about wildlife, wilderness, public lands, wildlife refuges, or parks, if you care much about the environment. Republicans are generally anti-environment and anti-wilderness and anti-wildlife, not always openly so,of course, but by the way they vote, their attitudes and behaviors, their emphasis on extraction industries, business over any other value, need for income in rural America which is extraction industries, farming and ranching, hunting, recreational. Now, there is a growing effort to turn public lands over to state and local “management” and demonstration projects of that nature, a Pandora’s Box.

    The republicans are generally anti-science, anti-logic, arti-fact, alternative universe party, make believe what -they-want party. They are the the party of climate change denial, the only free world major party this obtuse and paranoid (believing climate change a leftist conspiracy). The GOP has voted against the environment and wildlife 90%-99%the time in the past 15 years. Examples: MT Senator Steve Daines ® has voted against the environment 99% of the time, Congressman Ryan Zinke ® of MT 97% of the time. GOP capitalistic, self-centered greed is no doubt a major factor. But many on the GOP far right believe in creationism. It is basically a party that is anti-logic, anti-science, anti-facts when it conflicts with capitalistic short-term, self-centered greed (no concern for the environment, let’s make a buck now). It is the Anthropocene Extinction Party.

    Saber rattling, war mongering, meddlesomeness, law and order (profiling, stop and frisk, over policing, police militarization, fill up prisons), privatization of social security, Medicare, and healthcare, corporate tax deductions even more than its current low, all this is the Republican Party. “Trumped up” trickle down as Hillary said, and she is right.

    The republican brain thinking may have a genetic basis. It is somewhat of a worldwide manifestation of conservative thinking. They staunchly resist change and progress. They stubbornly stand by failed economic-political theories (trickle down economics, unfettered/unregulated capitalism, states’ rights over federal general public rights, neoconservative militaristic meddlesomeness). They are the party of “No”. This 2016 election cycle will naturally tighten up in the final weeks despite the unpopularity of the candidates as the polarized opposites come home to roost no matter what.

    The conservatives repeatedly, annually, try to sneak through their anti-environment, anti-wilderness agendas on riders to must pass bills, like the Defence bills or Interior bills. They are the Grand Obstructionist & Paranoid Party. They are the party that wants to divvy up what is left of public lands and wilderness to corporate interests, rancher, extraction industries, development. They keep trying trying end runs, flank attacks, on public land, and ESA and EPA. Watch out for forest “management” tactics or other attempts at opening up Pandora’s Box on local/state management of forest or other public land. They are the unfettered commerce party of let’s have it now now wanton greed. Sit down republicans when little thoughts start rumbling, round them up, sit down before you hurt yourselves or the rest of us.






    Secretary of Federal Imperialism – WSJ
    Wall Street Journal › articles › secretary-…
    21 hours ago – Trump’s Interior choice is too deferential to Washington land grabs. … Further evidence is his choice of Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke for secretary of Interior. … The Interior Department is responsible for managing 640 million acres of federal land—28% of the U.S.http://www.wsj.com/articles/secretary-of-federal-imperialism-1482099268 Zinke appointment to Interior

    Researchers say it matters that Trump is assembling the wealthiest cabinet in modern American history Read the full story https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/15/what-happens-to-the-working-class-when-millionaires-and-billionaires-are-in-charge/



    Trump taps Montana congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary The Washington Post 12/13/2016

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/09/politics/kfile-scott-pruitt-role-of-epa/ Trump pick for EPA Scott Pruitt climate change denier

    “Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will make good on Trump’s promise to expand drilling on our public lands.” Sierra Club 12/10/2016 http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/trump-name-drilling-mining-enthusiast-rep-cathy-mcmorris-rodgers-for-interior

    Republican Attorneys General File Lawsuit to Weaken Protections for Endangered Species’ Critical Habitat














    Trade Agreements Trump Loves to Hate Actually Have Small Positive Effects
    Bloomberg 10/01/2016
    A Congressional Budget Office report shows that trade agreements have benefits, albeit uneven ones Read the full story




    missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/republicans-can-t-be-concerned about the environment










    http://sacb.ee/6jz0 Who are the good peoplehttp:








    20 years to mass extinction


    • But in this case, a Democrat is not only a supporter, but an active author of this bill! And it will prohibit any judicial review, same as in 2011 when Democrat Jon Tester co-authored a similar bill. I think she’s trying to make an appeal to the rural voters, but I don’t think it will help her. I cannot support that, ever.

    • I’m actually willing to take a chance on Ryan Zinke. Sally Jewell did absolutely nothing, and what she did was solely about people. And let’s not kid ourselves that Obama did anything until the designations of monument at the end, which I think is great, and which is what most presidents do. I can’t think of who was worse – Salazar or Jewell. Salazar is the worst by a small margin, but in her own way Jewell was pretty bad, because I don’t think she had a good grasp of what the Dept. of the Interior is all about. They certainly had an ‘all of the above’ energy policy – and I don’t think once did she ever stand up for wildlife. Jetting around the nation about climate change? Yeah we know that already. It just painfully underscores how environmentally clueless this administration was, and it certainly set the scene and precedent for what we’ve got now. Wolf delistings with an unconstitutional prohibition of judicial review, and coddling the ranching, hunting and extraction industries. Now the administration has been practically canonized, and I don’t think we’d have much better if Hillary had won.


      Yay! And don’t let the doorknob….

      • I don’t know what it means to “take a chance” on Zinke. Unless you believe in alternative facts, he will be the Interior Secy whether we like it or not.
        The problem, which the Democrats seem to have forgotten, is the Senate. Neither Clinton nor Sanders would have been able to do any better with a Senate which not only has a Republican majority, but a Democratic minority including Tester, Baldwin, Heitkamp et. al. And you can forget about lawsuits, as any temporary victories will be overturned by the son of a Gorsuch.

  2. The Democrats and Jon Tester already tried this, to get votes – and we can see how much good it did. That’s all these two parties really care about, getting back power. The Democrats are so furious that they lost, that’s all they care about. The Democrats are not the majority now, and these two traitors from MN and WI have gone over to the other side. The farmers seem to have Tammy Baldwin in their pocket.

  3. “I’m actually willing to take a chance on Ryan Zinke”– (Recent statement on this blog)

    My question is, but are the innocent wild animals willing to “take a chance” on this terrible anti-wildlife politician???? They have their lives to lose, you don”t.


    “Ryan Zinke has a dismal 3 percent lifetime environmental voting record. His brief political career has been substantially devoted to attacking endangered species and the Endangered Species Act. He led efforts to strip federal protections for endangered wolves, lynx and sage grouse, voted to exempt massive agribusiness and water developers from Endangered Species Act limitations, and opposed efforts to crack down on the international black market ivory trade.”

    • So did President Obama, strip federal protections from endangered wolves and judicial review (something that even Republicans could not do), simply because his loyal Democratic followers would not oppose him as they would a Republican president, and did not protect the sage grouse. He gave the states control of wolf management, and they inevitably screwed it up. He was going to ‘improve upon’ the ESA, redefining what range means, and weakening it to appease its detractors, instead of standing up for it. Democrats of old may have been environmental allies, but not today. Today there is only a marginal difference between them. Climate change only means human energy use and nothing else, and that protest has been put off until April 29. It isn’t that important to anyone, it seems.

      If by crying wolf and boo hoo hoo, you mean that I will continue to call out hypocritical Democrats who trade wolves for senate seats to regain control, then yes, I will.

  4. Instead of regressing to the previous administrations, isn’t it about time we took a serious look, and study at just what this current regime is about–who the players are, what their motives are, and their horrendous records, whether it be women’s reproductive rights, endangered species, oil and gas development, destruction of the EPA, and the ESA, & civil liberties. The reality is this: we now have an administration which is lead by very dangerous Right Wing extremists whose agenda is to take us back to the good ol’ days of the 50’s or maybe even earlier–perhaps the 1930’s in Germany?

  5. We’re doing that – what I meant by taking a chance was we don’t know what he will do until he actually takes office, when and if he is confirmed, and not to condemn until we get all the facts. Instead of flat out opposing him because he is not a Democrat. I’m not going to ‘fall in line’ with the party until I make the decisions myself. No party, Democrat or Republican these days, cares about the environment and wildlife. After the last eight years, precedent has been set for what we have today. Hillary seemed completely uninformed, despite the liberal press trying to make her look like an elusive Ivory-Billed Woodpecker out in the forest!

    There’s been a lot of game playing by the liberal media – at least Zinke is flat out against selling off of the public lands, which another Trump candidate under consideration, Cathy McMorris-Rogers, has sponsored legislation to do. But since she was a woman, the liberal press was going to overlook the fact that she would like to exploit the public lands in favor of identity politics, as in Sally Jewell. He’s an outdoorsman. Zinke also is not a climate change denier, although I understand that he is treading carefully among the flat-earthers. What it really comes down to is that people individually need to do something.

    The link to the Politico story on his response about climate change at a confirmation hearing, where he said “I don’t believe it’s a hoax” – the search link cuts off at “I don’t believe it”, then the rest of it is only shown after you click on the link. Disingenuous game playing. I read entire spectrum of news, not just one side.

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