WA legislation proposes relocating wolves

http://www.spokesman.com/outdoors/stories/2015/feb/05/kretz-legislation-proposes-relocating-wolves/

THURSDAY, FEB. 5, 2015, MIDNIGHT

Kretz legislation proposes relocating wolves

Washington’s best wolf habitat is in the southern Cascade Mountains, where vast federal lands support more than 20,000 elk in the state’s two largest herds.

State biologists expect wolves to discover this prime territory and thrive there by 2022, after gradually dispersing south along the Cascade range.

But seven years is too long a wait for state Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, whose Northeast Washington legislative district is currently home to 11 of the state’s 14 wolf packs, as well as cattle ranchers and sheep herders.

He’s again sponsoring what he calls a “share the love” bill that would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to try relocating wolves to other parts of Washington.

“Most of the support in the state for wolves … comes from areas where there are no wolves,” said Kretz, who last year sponsored a bill to capture Eastern Washington wolves and transplant them to the districts of West Side legislators opposed to any controls on the predators.

But the current bill, HB 1224, isn’t a jab at Western Washington, Kretz said. Instead, it’s intended to speed up wolves’ colonization of the state, which would hasten the removal of federal and state protections for wolves and allow for more active management.

The legislation is among several wolf-related bills scheduled for hearings today in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Relocating wolves would face steep political hurdles, but some livestock producers and environmental groups think the idea has merit.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to have more options for dealing with wolves that attack livestock, said Jack Field, the association’s executive vice president. That won’t happen until wolf populations recover to the point that federal protections are lifted throughout the state, and relocating wolves would make that happen faster, he said.

According to Washington’s wolf recovery plan, wolves will remain a protected species until at least 15 breeding pairs are documented across the state for three years. The pairs must be geographically dispersed so there are breeding pairs in Eastern Washington, north-central Washington and a zone that includes the south Cascades and Western Washington.

Environmental groups also support faster colonization.

“The South Cascades has the best wolf habitat in the state because of the prey base,” said Mitch Friedman, Conservation Northwest’s executive director. In addition to the Yakima elk herd, with about 10,000 animals, the area contains the St. Helens herd, which is infected with a bacterial hoof disease.

“The state is hiring gunners to mercy-kill some of those elk. Wolves would do a better job,” Friedman said.

But the southern Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula, which also has good wolf habitat, are rural and conservative, much like Northeast Washington. Politically, it would be difficult to get the support to relocate wolves, Friedman said.

“There’s a big difference between wolves coming there on their own paws versus in a state pickup truck,” he said.

That’s one of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s concerns, said Dave Ware, the agency’s policy lead on wolves. In the Northern Rockies, anti-wolf advocates have never forgotten the federal government transplanted Canadian wolves into Yellowstone and Central Idaho.

“There’s that stigma that you brought them here, versus them moving in naturally,” Ware said.

The endeavor also would be costly and time consuming, he added. State biologists figure they would need to trap and transplant about 30 wolves – preferably in packs – to end up with several breeding pairs that would stick around in their new location.

Such an action would require thorough state and federal environmental analysis, which would take two to three years to complete. A wolf relocation pilot project, as outlined in Kretz’s bill, would cost about $1 million, according to state estimates.

In a few years, wolves will be establishing packs in the South Cascades on their own, Ware predicted. Wolf tracks have been documented northwest of Yakima, in the foothills of the Cascades, where credible sightings of multiple wolves also have occurred. Last spring, a photo of a wolf was taken in Klickitat County.

“They are bounding around. They’re looking,” Ware said. “It’s just a matter of time before a male and female find each other and decide to start a pack.”

But Kretz said livestock producers in Northeast Washington need faster action to protect their animals from wolf attacks. He and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, also are sponsoring or co-sponsoring several other wolf bills.

Also on the agenda for today’s hearing are bills that would order the Fish and Wildlife Department to manage wolf problems with “lethal means” under certain circumstances and give the Fish and Wildlife Commission more leeway in changing a state endangered species classification.

Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate, allowing state endangered species to be declassified by region. If adopted, it would allow the state to manage wolves differently in the eastern one-third of Washington than in other parts of the state.

“We’re putting out a number of ideas,” Short said. “We’re saying we just need some relief.”

copyrighted wolf in river

Nt’l Geo: Why Killing Wolves Might Not Save Livestock

[What do they mean “save” livestock. The cows and sheep are all doomed to be sent to the slaughterhouse eventually anyway…]

copyrighted wolf in water

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141203-wolves-hunting-livestock-ranchers-endangered-species-environment/

New study fuels debate over how to reduce attacks on cows and sheep.

Warren Cornwall

for National Geographic

Published December 3, 2014

In late August, a government sharpshooter in a helicopter hovering above a wooded eastern Washington hillside killed the lead female wolf of the Huckleberry Pack. The aim was to end attacks by the wolf pack, which had killed more than two dozen sheep.

But in the long run, a shooting like this could just make matters worse. A new study has found that—paradoxically—killing a wolf can increase the risk that wolves will prey on livestock in the future.

The research, published today in the scientific journal PLOS One, flies in the face of the common idea that the swiftest and surest way to deal with wolves threatening livestock is by shooting the predators. It adds to a growing understanding of how humans influence the complex dynamics driving these pack animals, sometimes with unexpected consequences.

As wolves spread across the West, triggering more encounters with sheep and cattle, and as two states host wolf-hunting seasons, the new research also adds more fuel to an already heated political debate about how to deal with wolves.

“The livestock industry, they’re not going to be happy with this,” said Rob Wielgus, a Washington State University ecologist and the study’s lead author.

Back From the Brink

Shooting wolves is a long-standing practice in the ranching world. It helped lead to the animal’s eradication in the western United States in the 1930s. Since the wolf’s reintroduction in the mid-1990s, government officials and ranchers have frequently reached for a gun to cope with livestock problems—killing more than 2,000 wolves by 2013.

In 2011, wolves were removed from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon, and Utah. (Wyoming got a similar stamp of approval in 2012, but a federal judge recently overturned that decision.) That has made it easier to shoot wolves—Idaho and Montana now even allow recreational hunting.

But there have never been any large-scale studies of whether killing wolves really helps protect livestock.

Enter Wielgus. He has a track record for turning conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to attempts to control predators. In 2008 he made news with research that found shooting cougars led to more attacks on livestock. When mature adults were killed, Wielgus said, less seasoned adolescents moved in and were more likely to prey on cows and sheep.

After wolves arrived in Washington in 2008, growing to 13 packs by 2013, Wielgus turned his attention to the newest carnivore on the block. He examined 25 years of data on killing of wolves and cases where wolves attacked cattle and sheep in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—the first states where wolves were reintroduced.

What the Data Say

Wielgus found that when a wolf was killed, the chances of livestock getting killed increased the following year in that state—by 5 to 6 percent for cattle and 4 percent for sheep. With each additional wolf killed, the chance of livestock attacks rose further. The trend didn’t reverse until more than a quarter of the wolves in the state were killed in a single year. Then livestock losses started to decline.

That level of wolf-killing happened several times even while wolves were federally protected, under rules that allowed shooting of wolves that threatened livestock. And it is happening now in Idaho and Montana. Last year, hunters killed 231 wolves in Montana and 356 in Idaho, helping to reduce the population to slightly more than 600 in each state. The Idaho legislature this year created a Wolf Depredation Control Board, a move critics say is aimed at pushing wolf numbers down to just above 150—a cutoff that could trigger renewed protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Wielgus isn’t certain why more livestock die when smaller numbers of wolves are killed. But he suspects it’s tied to changes in pack behavior. Packs are led by a male and female breeding pair. If one or both of those wolves is killed, the pack can break up, giving rise to several breeding pairs—and thus an uptick in the wolf population. Livestock losses decline only when enough wolves are killed to overwhelm their ability to keep up through reproduction.

The theory fits observations made in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wolf packs inside the park—where wolves aren’t shot—are large and complex, with wolves of a variety of ages living together, said Doug Smith, a lead wolf researcher at Yellowstone. Wolf packs elsewhere tend to be just a breeding pair and pups.

For Wielgus, the upshot of his study is that while killing a wolf might sometimes be necessary, as a routine practice it’s counterproductive and unsustainable. Either livestock losses go up or, if enough wolves are killed to reduce livestock deaths, wolf numbers eventually drop so low that wolves wind up back on the endangered species list. If the killing slows to less than 25 percent of the wolf population per year, his study suggests, depredation rates shoot back up.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22,” Wielgus said. “You can reduce them now, but you can only reduce them so far, and when you stop that heavy harvest, now you’re at maximum livestock depredation.”

Is There Another Way?

Reaction to the new study was split down predictable fault lines. Wolf conservationists pointed to it as evidence that shooting wolves to save livestock usually doesn’t make sense. “You have this very archaic paradigm of kill first, ask questions later,” said Suzanne Stone, senior northwest representative for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife. Overall, people in the livestock industry are “still pretty rigid in their views that the only way to deal with predators is to kill them. And that’s not true. It actually works against them.”

Stone has run a program with sheep growers in one Idaho valley aimed at finding ways for sheep and wolves to coexist. The ranchers there resort to a number of tactics to protect roughly 30,000 sheep: monitoring wolves to avoid grazing the sheep near denning sites, using guard dogs, flashing bright lights to scare off wolves, stringing a wire hung with small strips of fabric around the flock at night, and increasing the number of people herding the animals.

Stone said the program is cheaper than dispatching a gunman in a helicopter. Fewer than 30 sheep have been lost to wolves in seven years, and no wolves have been killed.

Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, said his group works with members to help them deter wolves without shooting the animals. But he still sees guns as critical tools, and he says wolf problems have declined recently as the number of Idaho wolves has gone down.

“Wolves get into livestock, we kill the wolves. And that works well,” Boyd said. “The professor can say whatever he wants. We’re not going to just let wolves run wild.”

In Washington state, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which paid for Wielgus’s research, is waiting for him to complete a broader examination of all options for managing wolves, said John Pierce, the agency’s chief wildlife scientist. “In the long run, we definitely would prefer to do nonlethal removal if we can figure out how it works,” Pierce said.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the Huckleberry Pack. In the aftermath of the shooting of the lead female, will fewer sheep die in wolf attacks—or more?

Simple Solution: Boot Livestock

letter from George Wuerthner

The article in the Casper Star-Tribune titled “Wyoming livestock seeking balance in predator management” (Oct. 27) about the Upper Green River Cattlemen’s Association whining about predator losses deserves a response.
The reporter failed to mention that there is a very simple solution to the problem for our predators created by private livestock grazing our public lands. If these welfare ranchers don’t like the presence of predators there, they can take their cows home. They are not doing us any favors by grazing their cows, at subsidized rates while degrading on our property. Their cattle are creating conflicts with our predators and it is the cows, not our wolves, grizzlies and coyotes that should be removed.
The mere presence of their cattle disrupts and displaces native wildlife like elk. Their cattle trample streams degrading fisheries. Their animal hooves compact soils and destroy biocrusts. Their cattle spread weeds.The cow manure pollutes waterways.The grass going into the bellies of their cows is not available for native wildlife like elk, deer, ground squirrels, or grasshoppers. Worse our predators like wolves, coyotes, grizzlies and cougar are killed to benefit the profit margin of a bunch of ungrateful individuals.
These ingrates seem to have the attitude that their cattle have some special rights to a predator-free environment. In reality, the public should expect and get a livestock-free environment or at the least use that does not degrade the public heritage. Killing predators to benefit the profits of private businesses using our public property does degrade the public’s patrimony.
The Upper Green River Cattlemen’s Association are tenants using our property at fire sale rates, and yet they treat our property and our wildlife with disdain. If tenants in my rental properties acted like these ranchers, destroying my houses and trashing my lawn, and then had the gall to demand that they be allowed to kill wildlife in the yard, I’d send them packing so quick their heads would spin. It’s time to kick these ingrates off our public property so our public wildlife can flourish.
GEORGE WUERTHNER, Bend, Oregon

Special Seattle Cowspiracy screening Wednesday, Nov 5

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If you missed the Seattle screening of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, here’s another chance. They need to secure 55 more tickets to confirm the screening at the SIFF Film Center.
Please buy (secure) your ticket and one for a friend today! If we each bring someone who hasn’t seen it (or two someones), not only will the show go on, but we’ll educate more people around us to the suffering of the planet and how to help stop it.

WDFW officials to discuss wolf

copyrighted wolf in river

OLYMPIA – The public will have an opportunity to discuss wolf management with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) leaders during a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 14, in Lynnwood.

The meeting will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in Room 1EF of the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, Lynnwood.

WDFW officials will provide information on recent wolf attacks on livestock in the state, and on the packs involved in those incidents – the Huckleberry pack in Stevens County and the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County.

WDFW’s actions to protect sheep this summer from the Huckleberry pack are described in a question-and-answer document on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/huckleberry_faq.html .

WDFW officials also confirmed recently that wolves were responsible for killing a cow and calf at a cattle grazing site in Ferry County, within the range of the newly discovered Profanity Peak pack. WDFW wildlife conflict specialists continue to monitor that situation.

In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species in the eastern third of the state, but the species is still protected under Washington state law. The state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and state laws set the parameters for responding to wolf predation on livestock.

The department has also established a Wolf Advisory Group that provides input to the department on wolf plan implementation. More information on that group is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wag/


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Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

10401438_268406586684204_5581115448172125682_n

Directors: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
Starring: Michael Pollan, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, Dr. Will Tuttle, Howard Lyman, Will Potter

COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.
Hosting a screening or wanting to know more? Access the promoter resources here!

10/8 – Austin, TX – tugg.com/events/11087
10/9 – Murrieta, CA – tugg.com/events/11016
10/9 – Eugene, OR – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/11 – San Francisco – bit.ly/10D0As2
10/12 – San Francisco – bit.ly/10D0As2
10/12 – Johannesburg, South Africa – on.fb.me/XYHMCa
10/13 – London, UK – bit.ly/1qlJ6p1
10/13 – Yonkers, NY – tugg.com/events/11062
10/14 – Berlin, Germany – bit.ly/1tRFVeP
10/14 – Arlington, TX – tugg.com/events/11144
10/14 – Columbia, SC – tugg.com/events/11165
10/15 – Drayton, Queensland, Australia – on.fb.me/1v9PPaf
10/15 – Spokane, WA – tugg.com/events/11080
10/15 – Erie, PA – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/15 – Orange, CA – tugg.com/events/11304
10/16 – Rotterdam, Netherlands – bit.ly/1nWh1up
10/16 – Atlanta, GA – *sold out*
10/16 – Metairie, LA – tugg.com/events/11259
10/16 – Hendersonville, TN – tugg.com/events/11053
10/16 – Minneapolis, MN – *sold out*
10/16 – Westminster, CO – tugg.com/events/11234
10/16 – Sausalito, CA – tugg.com/events/11241
10/16 – Pasadena, CA – tugg.com/events/11325
10/16 – Fargo, ND – tugg.com/events/11180
10/18 – Amsterdam, Netherlands (Haarlem)- bit.ly/1uikhOp
10/20 – Dallas, TX – tugg.com/events/11374
10/20 – North Fort Myers, FL – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/20 – Royal Palm Beach, FL – tugg.com/events/11289
10/21 – Berkeley, CA – tugg.com/events/11309
10/21 – Orange Beach, AL – tugg.com/events/11176
10/22 – Salt Lake City, UT – tugg.com/events/11204
10/22 – Shererville, IN – tugg.com/events/11157
10/22 – Hamilton, NJ – tugg.com/events/11308
10/23 – Greensboro, NC – tugg.com/events/11296
10/23 – Deltona, FL – tugg.com/events/11353
10/23 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – tugg.com/events/11347
10/23 – Rockville Centre, NY – *free* -tugg.com/events/11123
10/23 – Spokane, WA – tugg.com/events/11124
10/23 – Millbury, MA – tugg.com/events/11379
10/23 – Middletown, DE – tugg.com/events/11102
10/23 – Ithaca, NY – tugg.com/events/11373
10/27 – Carlsbad, CA – bit.ly/1txaz9m
10/28 – Santa Ana, CA – tugg.com/events/11356
10/28 – Bethesda, MD – tugg.com/events/11422
10/28 – Royal Oak, MI – tugg.com/events/11163
10/28 – Pensacola, FL – tugg.com/events/11178
10/28 – Ann Arbor, MI – tugg.com/events/11143
10/29 – Medford, OR – tugg.com/events/11378
10/29 – West Covina, CA – tugg.com/events/11251
10/30 – San Antonio, TX – .tugg.com/events/11360
10/30 – Boulder, CO – tugg.com/events/11187
11/1 – Charleston, SC – tugg.com/events/11455
11/5 – Medford, OR – tugg.com/events/11378
11/5 – Seattle, WA – tugg.com/events/11319
11/5 – Tacoma, WA – tugg.com/events/11415
11/6 – San Francisco – cowspiracysf.brownpapertickets.com/
11/6 – Sioux Falls, SD – tugg.com/events/11008
11/6 – Santa Cruz, CA – tugg.com/events/11340
11/6 – Santa Rosa, CA – tugg.com/events/11192
11/6 – West Covina, CA – tugg.com/events/11251
11/6 – Alexandria, VA – tugg.com/events/11363
11/6 – Davie, FL – tugg.com/events/11451
11/8 – Dorset, UK – bit.ly/1srdNR4
11/10 – Irvine, CA – tugg.com/events/11274
11/11 – Lanesboro, MA – tugg.com/events/11376
11/13 – Athens, GA – tugg.com/events/11441
11/13 – Jacksonville, FL – tugg.com/events/11527
11/19 – Des Peres, MO – tugg.com/events/11354
11/19 – Las Vegas – tugg.com/events/11365
11/20 – Kailua Kona, HI – tugg.com/events/11183
12/4 – Bainbridge Island, WA – tugg.com/events/11300

If you organized a screening and it’s not listed here, let us know and we’ll add it to the calendar.

If you’d like to see Cowspiracy in a theater near you, it’s easy (and free) to make it happen: tugg.com/titles/cowspiracy.

To purchase a license to host your own screening (anywhere in the world), visit http://cowspiracy.bigcartel.com/product/community-screening-with-admission.

“Hunter-Conservationists:” the Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century

The award for Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century goes collectively to Kit Fischer, sportsmen’s outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation (what the hell kind of environmental/wildlife advocacy group hires an outreach coordinator to attract sport hunters?); Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation; Jim Posewitz, board member of Helena Hunters and Anglers; Casey Hackathorn, president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers; Chris Marchion, board member of Anaconda Sportsmen and Glenn Hockett, president of Gallatin Wildlife Association. These revisionists recently had the insolent audacity to try to boast that “hunter-conservationists saved bison from extinction a century ago” in their article, Enlist Montana Hunters to Manage Bison Numbers.

Let’s not forget that the vast herds that once blackened the plains for hundreds of miles on end were almost completely killed off by hide-hunters, market meat-hunters or by sport-hunters shooting from trains just for a bit of fun.

The only reason hunters stopped the insanity was that the bison were all but completely wiped out. By the time they ended their killing spree, only 18 wild bison remained, holed up like wrongfully-accused outlaws in the upper reaches of the Yellowstone caldera.

Although Yellowstone National Park is now synonymous with the shaggy bovines, bison would prefer to spend their winters much further downriver, on lands now usurped and fenced-in by cowboys to fatten-up their cattle before shipping them off to slaughter.

If today’s ranchers and hunters had their way, bison, along with wolves and grizzly bears, would be forever restricted to the confines of the park. Rancher-hunters already have such a death-grip on Montana’s wildlife that bison are essentially marooned and forced to stay within park borders, battling snow drifts no matter how harsh the winter, despite an instinctual urge to migrate out of the high country during heavy snow winters.

Instead of making amends for the historic mistreatment of these sociable, benevolent souls, twenty-first-century sport hunters want their chance to lay waste to them again–this time in the name of “tradition.”

______________________________________________

Parts of this post were excerpted from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Fire-related cattle deaths could approach 300 head

July 29, 2014

WENATCHEE — Crews Friday began burying many of the approximately 300 head of cattle that died in the Carlton Complex fires.

Local health officials say they need the public’s help to find other cattle carcasses. Ranchers or the public can report carcasses by calling 422-7140.

http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2014/jul/29/fire-related-cattle-deaths-could-approach-300-head/

California Water District Allowing Wildlife to Die

I saw a reservoir at a wildlife area outside Reno, Nevada a few years ago where livestock “growers” had drawn the water down so far that all the fish were left high and dry. The white pelicans were trying to make use of them, but the stranded fish were too big to swallow and the birds were just choking on them…

Action Alert from All-Creatures.org

FROM

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
June 2014

ACTION

NOTE: California’s diary industry is one of the largest in the nation. Producing one gallon of milk uses 1,000 gallons of water! Priorities?!

SCVWD officials have informed PETA that wildlife are not a priority and that the drought is being used as a pond-cleaning opportunity.

wildlife California drought dairyPlease tell Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) officials to allocate water to reservoirs, ponds, and creeks for wildlife immediately and/or relocate animals to areas with sufficient levels, if possible.

Beau Goldie
Chief Executive Officer
Santa Clara Valley Water District
5750 Almaden Expressway
San Jose, CA 95118-3686
fax (408) 266-0271
bgoldie@valleywater.org

Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors
5750 Almaden Expressway
San Jose, CA 95118
fax (408) 266-2897
board@valleywater.org

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

Because of extreme drought conditions, water levels have dropped significantly in many Central California creeks, reservoirs, and ponds, resulting in turtles, fish, and other aquatic animals slowly suffocating. Yet instead of assisting these animals, the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) is reportedly moving water OUT of key reservoirs and allowing numerous percolation ponds to dry up!

SCVWD officials have informed PETA that wildlife are not a priority and that the drought is being used as a pond-cleaning opportunity. Now it’s your turn to weigh in!


Thank you for everything you do for animals!

 

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Puts Contract Renewal With Wildlife Services on Hold

EUREKA, Calif.— One day after a broad coalition of national animal and conservation groups urged the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to terminate its contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the board assented to a citizen request to delay consideration of contract renewal for at least a month in order to reevaluate the issues.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the board had scheduled a vote on the county’s annual renewal of its contract with Wildlife Services, a federal program that kills tens of thousands of native wild animals in California every year. But on a citizens’ request submitted by local wildlife rehabilitator Monte Merrick, the board decided to remove the renewal item from its consent calendar, delaying it at least another month as the county considers the issues raised by Merrick and the coalition.

Photo Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity
Dog caught in trap (Click on image to enlarge) – Photo Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity

“I am elated that the board has agreed to consider whether to renew its contract with Wildlife Services,” said Merrick. “Wildlife Services is increasingly controversial and there are better options to address wildlife conflicts.”

The coalition groups sent a formal letter asking the county to undertake an environmental review and ensure proper protections — as required under California state law — prior to hiring Wildlife Services to kill any additional wildlife. Last year, in response to a similar letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew the county’s contract with Wildlife Services and is now conducting a review of its wildlife policies. Marin County cancelled its contract with Wildlife Services 14 years ago and implemented a nonlethal predator-control program. As a result the county has seen a 62 percent decrease in livestock predation at one-third of the former cost.

Since 2000 Wildlife Services has spent a billion taxpayer dollars to kill a million coyotes and other predators across the nation. The excessive killing continues unchecked despite extensive peer-reviewed science showing that reckless destruction of native predators leads to broad ecological devastation. The indiscriminate methods used by Wildlife Services have killed more than 50,000 “nontarget” animals in the past decade, including endangered condors and bald eagles. The program recently released data showing that it killed over 4 million animals during fiscal year 2013 using a variety of methods, including steel-jaw leghold and body-crushing traps and wire snares. These devices maim and trap animals, who then may take several days to die. In 1998 California voters banned several of these methods, including leghold traps.

Trap - Az Russell files, COurtesy Center for Biological Diversity
Trap (Click to enlarge) – Az Russell files, Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity

“Humboldt County has a chance to be a leader in California wildlife management by eliminating their contract with Wildlife Services,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Nonlethal predator control has proven to be more humane, more cost-efficient, and more effective — it’s simply the right thing to do for the county.”

“We are glad to see that Humboldt County is pushing the ‘pause’ button on its relationship with Wildlife Services,” said Tim Ream of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope that the county will do the wise thing and terminate its relationship with Wildlife Services altogether.”

“Humboldt County has an opportunity to do what’s right here by reviewing their contract with Wildlife Services and shifting towards a nonlethal program that is ecologically, economically and ethically justifiable,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote founder and executive director, who helped develop Marin’s nonlethal program. “We pledge our assistance to the county toward this end and urge the Board of Supervisors to emulate the successful Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program that provides non-lethal assistance to ranchers.”

“The last thing the county that is home to such special places as the Lost Coast and Redwood National Park should be doing is allowing Wildlife Services to trap and kill its native wildlife,” said Elly Pepper, an NRDC wildlife advocate. “Using nonlethal methods to balance its incomparable natural beauty with its critters is a much better use of county residents’ money.”

“It is time to put aside the unchecked assumption that wildlife conflicts can only be solved via Wildlife Services’ draconian, outdated killing methods,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney at the Animal Welfare Institute. “We salute Humboldt County for stepping back to reevaluate its options — a move that will hopefully lead to more humane, less costly and more effective methods of wildlife management.”

http://www.theecoreport.com/green-blogs/area/usa/california/humboldt-county-board-of-supervisors-puts-contract-renewal-with-wildlife-services-on-hold/