Delisting wolves was a mistake (OPINION)

http://www.projectcoyote.org/delisting-wolves-was-a-mistake/

by | Nov 24, 2015 | Notes From the Field |

The decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to delist wolves from the state’s Endangered Species Act protection was based on faulty science and political expediency. The biggest problem is with the department’s criteria for delisting — more than four breeding pairs of wolves for three years in a row— is that it fails to ensure full restoration of the wolf across the state. Many outside scientists, including myself, feel the small population of 80 to perhaps as many as 100 wolves statewide is hardily sufficient to guarantee a robust and speedy restoration of the species.

A hundred or fewer wolves may preclude the extinction of the species, but it does not restore the ecological function of the wolf. And restoring the ecological function of the species should be the prime goal of any conservation effort. Precluding extinction is a very low bar and does not serve the people of Oregon, the wolf or our ecosystems.

I did an analysis of the potential for wolf restoration in Oregon back in the 1990s and concluded that the state could easily support 1,500 to 2,000 wolves. Others have reached similar conclusions. Restoring wolves across the state so that they are functional members of the wildlife community should be the goal of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If, hypothetically, elk were the species under consideration and were protected under the state’s Endangered Species Act, I can almost guarantee you ODFW would want way more than 100 individuals before they would recommend delisting. They would want to see elk restored across the state.

Wolves are in a sense a “keystone” species that influences ecosystem health. Having a token population of wolves is not the same as having a functioning ecosystem member. Wolves not only eliminate weaker prey individuals but can shift habitat use; for instance they can reduce elk and deer foraging on aspen, willows and other browse species in riparian areas. Wolves can also affect the distribution and numbers of other species. Where wolves are present, there are often fewer coyotes. Coyotes kill the smaller Sierra Nevada red fox that is just hanging on in the Cascades. Restoration of wolves could thus assist the recovery of the red fox.

The rush to delist wolves is driven by false perceptions of wolf impacts on livestock and big game populations. Out of 1.3 million cattle and 195,000 sheep in the state, only 114 domestic livestock have been confirmed killed by wolves since the first wolves appeared in the early 2000s. Comparisons between Montana and Oregon are often made by ODFW. Using Montana, in 2014, the state’s 600 or so wolves killed 35 cattle and six sheep out of a total of 2.5 million cattle and 220,000 sheep respectively, By comparison, non-wolf losses accounted for 89,000 deaths. And though six sheep were killed by wolves, some 7,800 sheep died from other causes, like weather.

Wolves are simply not a threat, or even barely a factor, in the economic viability of the livestock industry.

The idea that hunting will be negatively affected across any significant portion of the state is also unlikely. Between 2009 and 2014, all wildlife management units (WMUs) of northeastern Oregon with established wolf packs had increasing elk populations, and two of the four (Imnaha and Snake River) were above the established management objectives for elk since wolves became established (ODFW data).

A similar situation exists in Montana, where elk numbers grew from an estimated 89,000 animals in 1992 (Montana Elk Plan) to 167,000 elk today (Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 2015). If this is what you get with wolf predation, I think most reasonable hunters would agree we could use more wolves in Oregon!

In the end, ODFW capitulated to mythology and false fears of hunters and ranchers without providing context and did not meet its wildlife responsibilities under the public trust doctrine to work diligently for full restoration of the ecological function of the wolf.

George Wuerthner lives in Bend.

Comments regarding the proposed delisting of gray wolves in Oregon from Adrian TrevesProject Coyote Science Advisory Board member

News from Project Coyote

The news was shocking – a coyote in Los Angeles, gunned down by a sniper on a residential street. As reported on July 1st in the Los Angeles Times, the gunman shot the coyote in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood, in what the Times called an act of “coyotecide.”

As Los Angeles’s Animal Cruelty Task Force looks into the shooting, and the Department of Animal Services investigates, Project Coyote is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible.
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Our reward offer is helping to generate news coverage about this act of barbarity, while exposing the stark reality that coyotes are the target of so much hatred and violence and have no protections as afforded their domestic cousins.

Had the killer shot a domestic dog, it would be considered a felony under state anti-cruelty laws. 

Ironically, just last week Project Coyote’s Southern California Representative, Randi Feilich testified before the Los Angeles City Animal Welfare Committee in support of a proposed non-lethal coyote management plan being considered by the Committee. The plan emphasizes public education and coexistence. At the meeting, Feilich offered the support of our Coyote Friendly Communities program, which provides tools and expertise to peacefully live with coyotes and other wildlife.

Since the shooting, media coverage has increased public awarness of the cruelty suffered by coyotes and other wildlife, as well as the threat this poses to human safety.

Please help us prevent such senseless acts and help us change laws so that coyotes are no longer treated as vermin that can be killed in unlimited numbers. 

With your support we can continue to equip communities across the country with the information, support and tools they need to live peacefully with wild animals who also call this planet home.

donate now

Howling Coyote Mom Killed in Seattle

 


A Seattle neighborhood is divided over a coyote pack that was recently killed.

According to USDA APHIS, someone asked for them to remove the coyotes. Other neighbors are horrified.

“It was howling. It was crying. It was moaning. It was horrible,” Nancy Bagnulo said.

Early Tuesday morning, several people woke up to gunshots near the Talaris conference center in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

Bozena Jakubik left her house to see what happened, noticing a white truck driving off. Daylight revealed more of what she’d heard overnight.

“I saw this huge stain of blood coming from the exit of her den,” she said.

According to USDA, three coyotes were killed.

“Wildlife services received a request to assist in the management of several coyotes near the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Seattle. The coyotes had become increasingly aggressive toward people and pets in the area,” Jeanine Neskey said.

The coyotes were killed on the Talaris conference center property. The center did not return phone calls asking for comment.

Neighbors said the coyote had pups, and by simply leaving her alone, they never had an issue.

“I’m bothered by the fact we weren’t given the notice or chance to weigh in on this decision,” Janice Sutter said.

According to USDA, someone requested their services. They worked for 3-nights, and used a call box, which is a device that mimics animal distress sounds and attracts coyotes.

“The thing that bothers me mostly is that they’re baiting them. I just don’t think that’s right,” Linn Blakeney said.

“I like the coyotes and it just makes me sick,” David Barnes added.

Wildlife officials believe there are no more coyotes left in this spot, but neighbors worry there may be a pup remaining.

“I’ve seen him running frantically out on the property and calling and crying and looking for his family,” Jakubik said.

Nancy Bagnulo and others say, they like living here because it’s a little bit of wild in the heart of a city, and that means learning to live together.

“If not, there’s not going to be any wildlife left. It’s just going to be people. And who wants that, really?” Bagnulo said.

Copyright 2016 KING

Take Action to Protect Our Nation’s Wildlife

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HUMANE ALERT
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Take Action to Protect Our Nation’s Wildlife
Dear Jim,

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is still collecting public comments on a proposed rule to limit predator control activities on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges. At stake is an opportunity to stop:

• brown and black bear trapping
• brown bear baiting
• the killing of black bears, wolves and coyotes in their dens
• the aerial gunning of bears

Please send a message to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of the proposal.

Coyote Chronicles

FEBRUARY 2016

Yesterday Project Coyote and allies filed suit in Oregon challenging the authority of the USDA Wildlife Services program to kill any of the approximately 81 remaining gray wolves in Oregon. The legal challenge comes just weeks after a federal court ruled that Wildlife Services’ controversial wolf killing program in Washington is illegal.

Earlier this week Project Coyote NH/VT Representative Chris Schadler testified before the NH Fish and Game Commission challenging a proposal to open a season on bobcats in New Hampshire which would allow hunting, trapping, baiting and hounding of a species that has been protected statewide since 1989.

Also on Monday evening, on the opposite coast, Project Coyote representatives and supporters testified at a Wolf Conservation Planning meeting in Sacramento, California pressing for a science-based approach to wolf recovery in California and a plan that recognizes the ecological importance of these apex predators.

Across the country we continue to press for better protections for our important apex predators while we work with communities to promote coexistence through our Coyote Friendly Communities and Ranching With Wildlife Programs. Read more about these efforts below. And please join us in celebrating our first honoree for Project Coyote’s Wildlife Stewardship Award – former President of the California Fish and Game Commission – Michael Sutton.

For the Wild,
Camilla H. Fox
Founder & Executive Director


Lawsuit Challenges Wildlife Services’ Authority to Kill Wolves in Oregon

As states take over management of wolves, USDA Wildlife Services is the go-to federal agency for lethal wolf control. Project Coyote and allies challenged the authority Wildlife Services to kill any of the approximately 81 remaining gray wolves in Oregon. Represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, our complaint contends 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 reflected in the Oregon Gray Wolf Management Plan. The National Environmental Policy Act requires both this analysis and public disclosure. In Oregon and Washington, Wildlife Services completed vague plans to target wolves for livestock depredations but failed to justify why nonlethal alternatives would be inadequate.

Read More


Grant McComb rallies youth to support wolves in California

Protecting Wolves in California

Now that wolves are protected under the CA Endangered Species Act and the first breeding pair has been established in the state since their extirpation in the 1920s, the state is developing a state Wolf Conservation Plan that will guide management decisions as gray wolves recolonize their native home. However, the current plan could lead to the removal of vital protections for wolves before the state’s wolf population is stable. As a member of the CA Wolf Coalition, Project Coyote has joined with our allies in pressing for a strong plan that emphasizes proactive recovery, best available science and innovative approaches to conflict mitigation. CA residents: if you’ve not already commented, please take a moment to submit an online comment to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife urging them to follow through with strong safeguards that will protect wolves across California for generations to come (comments accepted until Feb. 15th).

Comment


Bobcat © Daniel Dietrich

The bobcat is the most widespread wildcat in North America. But by the 1980s, their numbers throughout much of their historic range had dwindled due to bounties, hunting and trapping. In 1989, the bobcat became a fully protected species in New Hampshire. In October of 2015, pressure from the hunting and trapping lobby resulted in a NH Fish and Game Commission vote in favor of initiating rule-making to establish a bobcat hunting, trapping, baiting and hounding season, to include the issuance of 50 permits (for NH residents only) via a lottery system. In her testimony before the Commission, Project Coyote’s Chis Schadler stated “As a conservation biologist I can state that there is no biological reason to hunt the bobcat, or any other predator; predators regulate themselves,” as reported by NH Public Radio.

Read More


Marilyn McGee leads a presentation on coexistence.

Through our Coyote Friendly Communities and our Ranching with Wildlife programs Project Coyote works with communities across America to promote coexistence and reduce negative encounters between people and wildlife both in urban and rural landscapes. Our representatives provide presentations and workshops on topics from Living with Coyotes to Understanding Native Carnivores, Ranching with Wildlife and Hazing Coyotes. In San Francisco, Project Coyote’s Gina Farr recently provided a workshop about coyote hazing for city residents. Camilla Fox will provide a free presentation – Wild Things: Co-Existing With North America’s Native Carnivores – at the Presidio’s Officers Club on Feb. 4th (more info. here). Project Coyote NM Rep. and East Coast Representatives Chris Shadler, John Maguranis, Stacey Evans and Marilyn McGee are providing presentations across the Eastern Seaboard, promoting Project Coyote’s mission and message of compassionate coexistence..

Find an event near you


Camilla Fox presents Michael Sutton with Project Coyote's Wildlife Stewardship of the Year Award

Project Coyote’s Wildlife Stewardship of the Year Award

Michael Sutton, former President of the California Fish and Game Commission, was honored with Project Coyote’s 2015 Wildlife Stewardship of the Year Award for his exemplary leadership in promoting compassionate conservation, stewardship and peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife in California and beyond. Sutton is a social entrepreneur and internationally respected conservation leader who has worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Audubon Society, World Wildlife Fund, and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation. Governor Schwarzenegger twice appointed Sutton to the California Fish & Game Commission, where he served from 2007-2015. He was instrumental in creating the nation’s largest network of marine protected areas. He was elected President for two years and presided over the Commission’s action to list the Gray Wolf as endangered in California, ban wildlife-killing contests statewide, and implement legislation prohibiting the use of toxic lead ammunition for all hunting.

See Sutton in Action

OTHER NEWS

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Inside the US agency charged with killing a ‘mindboggling’ number of animals

After anti-government protesters took over Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month to support two ranchers convicted of arson, it emerged that the convicts, Steven and Dwight Hammonds, had received thousands of dollars in financial support from the federal government. Read More

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How cruelty killed the bobcat

You’ve probably never seen a bobcat. It’s an elusive creature that’s about two to three times the size of a house cat – a feline with distinctive spotted fur that’s coveted around the world. Read more

Oregonion who shot wolf faces criminal charges

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20151116/oregon-man-who-shot-wolf-faces-criminal-charges

Eric Mortenson

Capital Press

Published:November 16, 2015 3:15PM

Courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
OR 22, a male wolf that separated from the Umatilla River Pack in February, is pictured walking through a Northeast Oregon forest on Jan. 26. A Baker City, Ore., man who reported he shot the wolf now faces criminal charges.
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Although not a factor in the criminal case, the shooting happened as Oregon wildlife officials were deciding to take wolves off the state endangered species list.

 

A Baker City, Ore., man who told state police and wildlife officials that he’d shot a wolf while hunting coyotes on private property has been charged with killing an endangered species.

Brennon D. Witty, 25, also was charged with hunting with a centerfire rifle without a big game tag, Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan said Monday. Both charges are Class A misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine. Witty will be arraigned Dec. 2 in Grant County Justice Court, Canyon City.

The shooting happened in Grant County; the neighboring Harney County DA handled it as a courtesy because his Grant County counterpart was acquainted with the hunter’s family and wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The incident happened Oct. 6, when Witty voluntarily notified ODFW and Oregon State Police that he’d shot a wolf while hunting coyotes on private property south of Prairie City. Police recovered a wolf’s body on the property.

Oregon’s action to remove wolves from the state endangered species list has no apparent bearing on the case. Wolves were listed under the state Endangered Species Act at the time of the shooting; the ODFW Commission on Nov. 9 removed wolves from the state list. Regardless, they remained on the federal endangered species list in the western two-thirds of the state.

The wolf was identified as OR-22, a male that has worn a GPS tracking collar since October 2013 and dispersed from the Umatilla Pack in February 2015. He was in Malheur County for awhile, then traveled into Grant County. Wildlife biologists don’t believe he had a mate of pups. Young or sub-dominant wolves often leave their home packs to establish their own territory and find mates.

OR-22 was the third Oregon wolf known to have died since August, when the Sled Springs pair in Northeast Oregon were found dead of unknown cause. The state now has a minimum of 82 wolves.

Ranchers mourn wildlife employees killed in plane crash

3 hours ago  • 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The single-engine plane came in low as the seasoned pilot maneuvered to give his gunner a clear shot at a coyote on the ground below. They were on a mission to hunt down predators that had been killing livestock in northeastern New Mexico.

A spotter less than a mile away had his binoculars trained on the coyote. He heard two or three gunshots as the plane passed over its target and through his field of view. Moments later, he heard a crash and looked up to see the plane planted in the ground.

Pilot Kelly Hobbs and his gunner, Shannon “Bubba” Tunnell, were killed. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board released late Wednesday says the impact pushed the engine into the cockpit.

No strangers to the risks of aerial gunning missions, the men left the Raton airport just after dawn on June 5. After passing over the edge of a mesa and spotting the coyote, the pilot began to descend. At one point, the plane was flying just 42 feet above the prairie, according to GPS data.

After Tunnell took his shots, Hobbs began to climb to the left. The last reading showed the plane was nearly 100 feet off the ground and its speed had dropped to 62 mph through the turn.

Ranchers across New Mexico are mourning the two men, who were working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services branch at the time of the crash. Ranchers say they would often turn to Hobbs and Tunnell for help in protecting their cattle and sheep from predators.

“It hit me pretty hard when I heard about it. It was just like a punch in the stomach,” said Candy Ezzell, a state lawmaker who worked with Tunnell just weeks earlier to address coyote problems on her ranch in southern New Mexico.

Funeral services for both men were planned Friday.

Their deaths bring to 12 the number of public employees killed during Wildlife Services1920332_613143138754489_331154733_n aerial gunning operations in the U.S. since 1979. Many of the aerial missions happen in the West, where sheep and cattle ranchers regularly report problems with predators.

Hundreds of thousands of hours have been logged by Wildlife Services pilots over the decades. Agency officials stand behind their safety record, but environmentalists argue that the costs are too great and the federal government should end aerial gunning. They pointed to the fatalities along with more than 100 crashes and dozens of injuries.

“In no uncertain terms, putting agents into the air so they can gun wildlife from low-flying aircraft is so inherently dangerous and reckless,” said Wendy Keefover of The Humane Society of the United States.

A review of accident investigations shows pilots have flown into power lines, trees and land formations, Keefover said. Some also have flown back into their air turbulence and in several instances, gunners have shot their own aircraft or bullet casings have become lodged in mechanical workings.

The call to halt the practice stretches back to the last deadly crash in 2007 in Utah. At the time, Wildlife Services responded by launching a safety review.

As for the potential of another review, agency spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole said the focus now is on helping investigators determine what caused the latest crash in New Mexico.

The preliminary report states the weather was calm and there was no apparent evidence of any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have caused engine problems.

Flying low and at relatively slow speed is risky, but Ezzell and other ranchers say aerial gunning operations are invaluable since controlling predators across such large swaths of land can be difficult. Trapping and coyote-calling contests have also come under fire, leaving ranchers with fewer options.

“With folks in the city wanting to end trapping and calling, it has become a real issue for the ag community and has affected the state’s ability to manage wildlife,” said David Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockmen’s Association.

Aerial operations were used by Wildlife Services last year to kill more than 35,000 animals in two dozen states. That included more than 21,000 coyotes.

The agency targets animals that prey on livestock and other wildlife as well as nonnative species that damage crops or cause problems at airports. A total of 2.7 million animals, the majority of them birds, were killed last year.

400,000 Coyotes Are Killed in the U.S. Each Year…

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400,000 Coyotes Are Killed in the U.S. Each Year… The Reason Why Will Make You Livid

At least 400,000 coyotes are killed each year in the United States. That’s an average of nearly 1,100 individuals a day.

So why isn’t the government doing something to stop it? Well, mainly because they have been orchestrating a discreet mass slaughter of coyotes for nearly a century.
Read more at http://blog.therainforestsite.com/killing-coyotes/#g4cx4aXjKm7uwMDO.99

Also, know that a “reality” show, in its third season, http://deaddogwalkin.com
is a testament to just how low society has stooped in its ongoing backslide to hitherto unattainable depths. Next stop? Hell itself.

Your Tax Dollars Kill 7,400 Animals a Day‏

The numbers are shocking. Since 1996, Wildlife Services has shot, poisoned, and strangled 27 million native animals; in 2014 alone, Wildlife Services killed close to 3 million animals. That’s 7,400 animals slaughtered every single day across the U.S.— not by hunters or poachers, but by a little known government agency called USDA “Wildlife Services” whose stated mission is “to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” This killing is done largely at the behest of ranchers and agribusiness. The carnage costs U.S. taxpayers more than 100 million dollars each year.

But we are holding this rogue agency accountable! In response to legal pressure from Project Coyote, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and other allies, Mendocino County, CA officials recently agreed to suspend the renewal of the county’s contract with Wildlife Services pending a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). For the first time, this agency’s actions will be assessed under CEQA, requiring public disclosure of the full impact of this program on all wildlife- both target and non-target- and on the environment. Furthermore, non-lethal alternatives must be considered.

Representing our coalition, I am en route right now to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting where I will present nonlethal approaches to coexisting with wildlife. I will speak of our successful model in Marin County – known as the Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program. It works. Since implementation 15 years ago, livestock losses and costs to the county have decreased; fewer wild species have been killed. Ranchers have embraced the cost-share program that provides guard animals, better fencing and other non-lethal predator deterrents. Joining me is Keli Hendricks, Project Coyote Predator Friendly Ranching Coordinator, who will talk about some of the innovative non-lethal tools and methods we are testing on ranches in Marin and Sonoma County.

Coyote in leghold trap
Mendocino County is re-evaluating its contract with Wildlife Services, the federal government’s wildlife damage control agency. Despite increasing calls for reform, the agency reported killing 61,702 coyotes in 2014.”

Please read this excellent op-ed in the Sac Bee by Lee M. Talbot – Stopping the Slaughter of America’s Native Wildlife, one County at a Time– and help us continue this critical work to stop the killing, reform predator management, and promote coexistence by donating to Project Coyote today. We depend on individual donors to sustain our important work for North America’s wildlife.

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Because of the generosity of a Project Coyote supporter in Marin County your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $12,000. Your donation will go directly toward our campaign to stop the slaughter of North America’s wildlife and to promote non-lethal alternatives to killing. Please help us meet this matching pledge!

Sign on Letter to Congress

Sign on date by Friday April 17th

Attachments report and letter and list of signatures to date

Hello friends and colleagues,

Some of you have helped me in the past by signing onto a letter to request a ban on carnivore hunting in the National Seashore. I am writing again to ask for your help in signing another important letter.

As you know, federal protection for Wyoming wolves was restored September 2014. Then in December 2014, federal protections for wolves in the Great joh States was restored through judicial  action (HSUS v. Jewell).  In response to the decisions, two separate bills have been introduced: The Western Great Lakes Wolf Management Act (HR 843), introduced by Representative John Kline (R MN) now has 11 co-sponsors and Reissuing Final Rules Regarding Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes (HR (884) introduced by Representative Reid Ribble (R WI) now has 11 co-sponsors.

We have every reason to fear these bills since a bad precedent was set in 2011 when federal protections for wolves was removed through Congressional intervention in the Western states when legislation was attached as a rider to the “must pass” budget bill.  It could happen again.

Although several sign-on letters have been circulated, this one is different as it asks for a NO vote for each of the two bills but also offers two alternatives: 1) the HSUS petition to downgrade wolves from endangered to threatened and 2) to ask Congress to do some real work and use the Bruskotter/Vucetich Framework for Recovery as a start to address ambiguities in the ESA.

We are asking that you sign on to the attached document by submitting:

YOUR NAME

YOUR ORGANIZATION + ONE LINE SUMMARY OF EITHER YOU IF SIGNING AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR BUSINESS OR ORGANIZATION

CITY& STATE

YOUR EMAIL (Your email will not be included in the document, it will only be used in case we need to contact you)

DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME IN THE DOCUMENT, WE WILL DO THAT.  DO NOT ALTER THE DOCUMENT, IF YOU SEE AN ERROR, NOTIFY US.

SEND TO louise@kaneproductions.net BY Friday, APRIL 17 , 2015

We plan to send the letter with all the signatories to members of Congress, their aids and USFWS along with Secretary Jewell when Congress returns from spring break.

Below is the link to the document (if you need a link to share) that is on the carnivore conservation act website.

http://www.carnivoreconservationact.com/wp-content/uploads/ReportCongressAgainstHR843and884_2.pdf

Please distribute this message to colleagues and/or organizations or businesses that would be willing to sign. Our goal is to get a minimum of 150 signatories.  Please be one!

copyrighted wolf in river