A Federal Court Could Save Yellowstone’s Grizzlies From the Trump Administration


Wednesday, January 10, 2018    By Mike Ludwig

A grizzly bear and cubs play in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on June 3, 2017. (Photo: Wolverine 9 5)A grizzly bear and cubs play in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on June 3, 2017. (Photo: Wolverine 9 5)

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe and a coalition of environmental groups are asking a federal court in Montana to throw out the Trump administration’s decision to remove grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park from the endangered species list — a move that has paved the way for trophy hunts of the iconic animals.

Delisting the Yellowstone bears opened the door for Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to allow grizzly bear hunting on vast areas of land.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are endangered and qualify for special federal protection. However, last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule that carved out the bear population in the Yellowstone region and removed it from the endangered species list. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a Trump appointee who oversees the wildlife agency, personally announced the change in June 2017.

Delisting the Yellowstone bears opened the door for Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to allow grizzly bear hunting on vast areas of land outside of the national park system, and Wyoming officials are already making plans to propose grizzly bear hunts later this year.

“We’re not anti-hunting, but we are certainly not excited about trophy hunting of grizzly bears in one of the last few places where they continue to exist,” said Timothy Preso, an attorney with Earthjustice who filed the legal request, in an interview with Truthout.

“Nobody needs a grizzly bear in the freezer to get through the winter.” — Timothy Preso, Earthjustice

Preso said some hunters in the region hunt elk and other large game for food, but grizzly bears are likely to be hunted as trophies. Yellowstone grizzlies are much more valuable as icons that draw tourists to the region and as “ambassadors of wildness,” as Preso put it, than as trophies in a big-game hunter’s private collection.

“Nobody needs a grizzly bear in the freezer to get through the winter,” Preso said.

A number of environmental groups and nine Native tribes sued Zinke and the Interior Department last year for removing the Yellowstone grizzly bears from the endangered species list, a designation that has helped protect their habitat from logging and oil and gas development. Zinke is aggressively working to lift restrictions on development and fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

US Fish and Wildlife is now reviewing its decision to delist the Yellowstone grizzlies and is asking for public comment in light of a recent court ruling that returned federal protections to wolves in the Great Lakes region. Officials have left the rule delisting the bears in effect while they reconsider it, allowing state game wardens to move ahead with hunting plans.

Preso said the move by US Fish and Wildlife to reconsider the decision without withdrawing it altogether is unusual. His coalition is asking a federal judge in Missoula to restore the endangered species protection to the Yellowstone grizzly bears while federal wildlife officials complete a review of their delisting decision, which they have promised to do by March 31.

Taking some Yellowstone grizzlies out of the gene pool could put the entire population at risk.

“The Yellowstone region’s grizzlies deserve better than to be subjected to trophy hunting based on a half-baked government decision,” Preso said in a statement.

The environmental coalition argues that US Fish and Wildlife’s effort to review its own rulemaking is proof that the agency “did not complete its homework” before removing Yellowstone grizzly bears from the endangered species list. For example, conservationists say officials must research how delisting could impact the total population of endangered grizzly bears across the West.

Grizzly bears have made a comeback in the Yellowstone region, where the population has grown from 136 when the bears were originally listed as endangered in 1975 to about 690 today, according to the National Park Service. However, environmentalists warn that grizzlies across the rest of the lower 48 states have not done as well, and taking some Yellowstone grizzlies out of the gene pool could put the entire population at risk.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said grizzly bears occupy less than 5 percent of their former range in the lower 48 states, so they clearly have not recovered.

“Attempting to delist the Yellowstone bears and expose them to trophy hunting without considering grizzlies’ poor status overall is simply ludicrous,” Greenwald said in a statement.

Hunting is not allowed in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks, but it is allowed outside the park boundaries, where wildlife is managed by state agencies in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Wyoming officials are currently considering public input on a management plan for bears that would potentially include hunting within federal limits, according to local reports.

As predator populations slowly recover from deforestation and loss of habitat caused by human development, their territory increasingly butts up against ours. In 2016, wildlife managers captured 39 grizzly bears in Wyoming to resolve “conflicts” with humans, according to a state report. These “conflicts” typically involved bears killing livestock, eating pet food or foraging in someone’s garbage. Twenty-two of the captured bears were killed, often for having a history of “conflicts” with people and their property.


Feds investigating shooting of a possible gray wolf in Marshall County

4A 3 col color WOLF.jpeg
Britton-area man Mike Werner shot and killed this animal that may be a gray wolf. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the case, according to a state conservation officer. (Courtesy photo)

A Britton-area man is caught up in a federal investigation after shooting an animal that may be a gray wolf.

Mike Werner said he was hunting coyotes by a slough near Clear Lake in Marshall County on Jan. 13 when he shot and killed what he thought was a bigger, dark coyote that came up behind him about 100 yards away.

Immediately after shooting the animal, Werner said he realized it was much larger than a coyote and resembled a wolf.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the case.

Casey Dowler, a conservation officer with the state Game, Fish and Parks Department in Marshall County, said the animal is being tested at a federal lab.

Dowler would not give anymore information on the case since there is an active federal investigation into the shooting of the animal.

GFP Conservation Officer Supervisor Mike Klosowski said harvesting, trapping or recreational hunting of wolves is illegal.

Klosowski said any case involving gray wolves falls under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said GFP has no wolf management authority at this time.

“So when we have an incident where a gray wolf is killed by a member of the public, we’d likely respond to the call, do a preliminary investigation then pass it off to Fish and Wildlife Service,” Klosowski said. “Then they would do any kind of prosecution on their end, or not prosecute on their end.”

Klosowski said gray wolf sightings are uncommon in northeastern South Dakota, but transient wolves do come through the state from time to time.

“To the east we have Minnesota. Northern Minnesota has a healthy population of gray wolves,” he said. “Then when you go out west near Yellowstone National Park, you have a very healthy population of wolves out there too.”

He explained that wolves are known to venture away from their pack to start their own pack in a new territory.

 Although gray wolves have not established populations in South Dakota, the species is still illegal to kill in the state.

Klosowski said if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were to prosecute someone for killing a gray wolf the case would go to court.

Knowing that wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act and in South Dakota, Werner said he left the animal where it was shot and called the local game warden.

Werner said the animal had an old trapping injury on its foot, where it was missing a couple toes and part of its foot pad.

On another foot, the animal had a trapping device. Werner believes the animal was trapped and was able to break free of the chains that kept him immobilized.

Werner said if the lab testing results show the animal to be a dog-coyote hybrid, he will be able to take the animal home.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were unable to comment on the ongoing investigation.

War isn’t just bad for people — it harms wild animals, too


 January 10

A baby mountain gorilla in the Sabyinyo Mountains of Rwanda. (Ivan Lieman/AFP/Getty Images)

As if we needed another argument against war, here goes: It’s bad for wild animals.

This is true even with low-level conflict, and it’s especially true if the conflict repeats or drags on, according to a new study published in Nature. In a wide-ranging examination of the net effect of such disruptions on African wildlife populations over more than six decades, researchers found the frequency of war — rather than the intensity — to be a key factor in declines of wildlife.

“It takes a relatively little amount of conflict, and a relatively low frequency of conflict, before the average population is declining,” said lead author Joshua Daskin, a conservation ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. “All the socioeconomic things that come along with a war are probably making conservation quite difficult.”

The researchers’ conclusion might sound obvious, but there has been little previous examination of the overall impact of armed conflict on animals. The case-study work to date focused on specific conflicts’ consequences and actually found both positive and negative effects.

Those downsides are numerous. Land mines and bombs can kill fauna as well as human targets. Armies sometimes intentionally destroy critical habitat — by dumping herbicides on forests, for example, as the United States did during the Vietnam War — or finance their fight by selling ivory. Collapsed institutions mean less enforcement of laws protecting animals, and economic fallout can force desperate civilians to hunt wild animals for food.

On the other hand, wars can also cause human displacement, and “anything that causes people to vacate can be a beneficial thing for nonhuman wildlife,” said co-author Robert Pringle, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. Poaching and habitat destruction might slow, and mining might stop. This is sometimes called the “refuge effect,” and it can be seen in the demilitarized zone dividing North Korea and South Korea.

Pringle and Daskin, who finished his PhD at Princeton last year, both do research in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, where a 15-year civil war nearly decimated wildlife. They wanted to know more about the big picture — is war generally positive, negative or neutral for wildlife? Among other reasons, they note, the question is important because the vast majority of wars since 1950 have taken place in the world’s most biodiverse regions.

An elephant in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

The pair decided to focus on protected areas in Africa between 1946 and 2010. They mapped events  there using a standard definition — fights that killed at least one person in a broader battle that caused 25 human deaths in a year — and found conflicts in a depressing 71 percent of the areas during that time period. Then came the hardest part: finding reliable wildlife population data.

Daskin said he used published research as well as “gray literature” such as park management figures, government wildlife agency documents and reports from nongovernmental organizations. He looked only at populations of large herbivores, in part because they “have really outsize roles in maintaining these ecosystems,” but also because they’re counted more easily and therefore more frequently. In the end, Daskin had data for 253 wildlife populations and 36 species, including giraffes, warthogs and wildebeests.

Next, the authors looked at correlations between wildlife populations and variables that can influence them, like drought, human population density and the presence of mining, as well as two factors related to war: conflict frequency and conflict intensity.

When they crunched it all together, the biggest and only statistically significant predictor of wildlife declines was conflict frequency. While wildlife population trajectories stayed stable in peaceful times, they dropped with even a slight increase in conflict and were “almost invariably negative” in high-conflict zones, the authors found.

Pringle said they were somewhat surprised that conflict intensity wasn’t correlated with dips in wild animals. The numbers don’t suggest why, and Pringle said understanding these dynamics will take more research with larger data sets. But he and Daskin have some theories.

“Our interpretation is that conflict destabilizes everything. When people don’t feel secure, institutions start to break down, livelihoods start to be disrupted,” Pringle said. Yet intense conflict may provide a buffer for wildlife because “people evacuate. People don’t hang around and go set snares in the forest.”

Cinereous vultures on a rice paddy in South Korea near the demilitarized zone with North Korea. The area has become a nearly untouched nature refuge. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/European Pressphoto Agency)

The researchers emphasized that their findings were not limited to gloom. The only cases of extinction in the areas they studied took place in the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in Uganda, where giraffes and two species of antelope vanished between 1983 and 1995.

“War is awful for people. It’s bad for wildlife. But it’s not so cataclysmically bad that we should be giving up on anything,” Pringle said. “In fact, there are great opportunities for restoration.”

He and Daskin hope their findings can help governments and wildlife organizations better predict and mitigate the influence of conflict on wildlife. Both point to the place where they do work — Gorongosa National Park — as an example. It lost about 90 percent of its wildlife during the war that ended in 1992, but it’s now back to “about 80 percent of the prewar populations,” Daskin said.

“That’s been achieved not just by trucking in large numbers of animals from other protected areas, as has often been highlighted, but by creating the conditions in the local region for conservation to be possible,” Daskin said. “It’s an excellent case study in what can happen after the conflict.”

Read more:

30 years after Chernobyl disaster, camera study captures a wildlife wonderland

These heroic rats detect land mines. Now they might help save an endangered animal.

A rhino at a French zoo was killed for his horn. Could that happen here?

Two lions survived a circus, only to be killed and mutilated in a sanctuary

Elephant poachers are even deadlier than we knew

Volunteer to Distribute Free Endangered Species Condoms


Action Alert from All-Creatures.org


Center for Biological Diversity
January 2018


Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and soon people will be busy thinking about romance, fancy dinners and, well, getting busy. The world could use a little more love right now, but as our human population grows, there’s less room and fewer resources for wildlife.

Help us give away free Endangered Species Condoms on Valentine’s Day. They’re a fun, unique way to break through the taboo and get people talking about how human population growth affects wildlife.

The good news is that safe sex saves wildlife — so this Valentine’s Day show wildlife some love by helping hand out free Endangered Species Condoms.

Be a part of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Endangered Species Condom project, and distribute free condoms featuring six endangered species threatened by unsustainable human population growth.

SIGN UP NOW USING THIS FORM to join our volunteer distributor network. And note that Valentine’s Day requests must be submitted by Jan. 18 for consideration.

The Center distributes thousands of condoms every year as a part of our Population and Sustainability Program to spotlight the toll human population growth and overconsumption have on our planet. Sign up to receive condoms and help educate people across the country about how endangered species — from Ozark hellbenders to monarch butterflies — are affected by our rapidly growing numbers.

Here’s how it works:

The condoms are distributed for free through the Center’s volunteer network nationwide and at specific times of the year — particularly around certain holidays and, of course, Earth Day.

Due to the high volume of requests, we’re not able to send condoms to everyone who signs up. So the more you tell us about your ideas for cool events and opportunities to engage people in conversation about human population and endangered species, the easier it is for us to make sure the condoms are sent where they can have the greatest impact. Submissions are reviewed on the 1st of every month, so if your request is urgent, please let us know. Unfortunately we’re unable to ship condoms anywhere outside of the United States.

See two of the six condoms available.

endangered species condoms

endangered species condoms

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

Permits for elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe are still being issued


 December 16 at 12:17 PM

A sample of the six tons of ivory confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on display during the U.S. Ivory Crush event at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge on Nov. 14, 2013, in Commerce City, Colo. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The U.S. government continues to grant permits to hunters seeking to import the remains of elephants shot in Zimbabwe as trophies, federal documents show.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded permits to 16 people in 11 states who requested them between January 2016 and as recently as October, according to Friends of Animals, a nonprofit environmental group that obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. The organization released the documents Friday.

The permits were for elephants shot before 2014, the year the Obama administration decided to ban the import of trophies from Zimbabwe after Fish and Wildlife determined that the country’s management of its elephant population was not sound in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.

The ban went into effect the following year. Last month Fish and Wildlife announced a decision to lift it but President Trump postponed the action the next day following a public outcry over the slaughter of elephants.

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

Friends of Animals said in a statement saying the information it uncovered proved that the administration was issuing permits in violation of the ban. Fish and Wildlife declined to provide a statement about the permits when the group released the documents, but denied the group’s account Saturday.

“We did not issue new permits for elephant trophies from Zimbabwe in violation of our import,” the agency’s statement said. “They were only for animals legally hunted during the Obama administration and prior to the 2014 suspension.”

The first permit awarded this year came four days after President Trump’s inauguration, and the last came shortly before a controversial proposal in November to lift the ban against trophy imports from Zimbabwe.

public uproar over Fish and Wildlife’s lifting of the ban prompted Trump to put the decision on hold pending a review. Ryan Zinke, secretary of the Interior Department, which oversees Fish and Wildlife, subsequently announced that he agreed with his boss. Neither Trump or Zinke have spoken about the issue or the review in the month since the controversy erupted.

Under the Obama administration, elephant-hunting trophies were allowed in from South Africa and Namibia, which worked diligently to account for elephants under its care and protect the population. Zimbabwe failed to meet Fish and Wildlife’s conservation standard for an animal that’s considered threatened in the wild under the Endangered Species Act. For starters, it lacked knowledge of the size and whereabouts of much of its herd.

Zimbabwe and Safari Club International, which worked to improve the management of Zimbabwe’s elephants, celebrated last month’s initial announcement of a lifting of the ban against imports. Safari Club was so zealous that it made the announcement a day before Fish and Wildlife. The club bemoaned Trump’s and Zinke’s subsequent decision to review the plan by issuing a “call to arms,” blaming conservation groups and news outlets.

Zimbabwe and other hunting clubs voiced similar outrage. But opponents of lifting the trophy import ban included some of Trump’s staunchest supporters, including radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.

Friends of Animals sued to reinstate the ban less than a week later. To support its legal challenge, the group requested and received a spreadsheet from Fish and Wildlife documenting the issuance of permits to import the remains of African elephants and lions, which are also listed as threatened, as trophies.

Michael Harris, the wildlife law program director for the group, said the permits support his group’s case against the Trump administration’s initial attempt to overturn the ban.

“This really helps us show this is an unsubstantiated change in position” on the ban by Fish and Wildlife, Harris said. The group has a second Freedom of Information Act request for the applications submitted by the permit recipients and material supporting their requests.

“They were granted when the ban was in place, so we’re questioning that,” Harris said. He disputed the explanation that they were granted because the animals were shot at a time when the United States approved of Zimbabwe’s management and trophy imports were legal. “I don’t buy it,” Harris said.

Read more:

This is why the government crushed a ton of ivory in Times Square

Antique dealers say the federal ivory ban will cost them dearly

Why Hawaii joined New York and California’s ban of ivory sales

A pound of rhino horn is worth far more than gold and cocaine

Delisted grizzlies being reviewed

  • By Mike Koshmrl Jackson Hole Daily

Federal wildlife managers are looking into whether a court ruling jeopardizes the legality of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho’s oversight of Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

The review of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies traces to a July court ruling that found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred in not assessing how “delisting” Great Lakes states’ wolves affects the canines in the rest of their historic range.

The agency took the same approach when it revoked Endangered Species Act protections for grizzlies this summer, delisting an isolated cluster of about 700 bears called a “distinct population segment.” But the bureaucrats did not have the luxury of reviewing the appeals court’s opinion, which kept wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan under federal control.

“What happened is we put the [grizzly] rule out on June 30th, and then the opinion came out about a week later,” said Hilary Cooley, Fish and Wildlife’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator.

“We had not received that opinion,” she said, “so this is new information for us that we need to consider. We’re taking a close look at it.”

The public is being asked to weigh in, with comments due by Jan. 5.

The process does not mean the final grizzly delisting rule is being opened again, Cooley said.

“I want to be clear: The rule is final, and it stands, and bears are delisted,” she said. “To say any more right now is pretty premature.”

Fish and Wildlife plans to make a decision on the matter by March 31. It’s unlikely the outcome would flip management of the region’s bears back to the federal agency.

“I don’t anticipate remanding the rule,” Cooley said.

Wildlife activists view the review as a dodge from complying with legal precedent.

“It seems like a pretty lame attempt to fix some fatal flaws that the Fish and Wildlife Service is now acknowledging exist in that rule,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney in Victor, Idaho. “The fact is that they’re taking this unprecedented step of collecting public comment on a rule that’s already issued.”

Independent of the Fish and Wildlife review, the courts will also determine whether the Yellowstone grizzly rule jibes with the law. Environmental activists, Native American tribes and other parties filed at least six lawsuits after grizzlies became a state-managed species, and the complaints weren’t filed until after the wolf ruling was issued.

Fish and Wildlife initiated the public review “in part” to cover its legal bases, Cooley said.

“The lawsuit’s key on this issue, and it’s information we did not have when we put the rule out,” she said. “But it’s also due diligence.”

The court that decided the Great Lakes wolves case found that Fish and Wildlife improperly “brushed off” the substantial loss of wolves’ historical range as “irrelevant to the species’ endangered or threatened status.” But the panel of judges did find that the general approach of delisting an isolated population complied with federal law. The analysis and execution, they found, is what was illegal.

The 515-page delisting rule for Yellowstone grizzlies mentions the Northern Continental Divide population — in the nearest grizzly recovery area, approximately 70 miles away — 48 times. The smaller and more distant Cabinet/Yaak, Selkirk and North Cascades populations are mentioned between six and eight times each. Federal managers and the courts will soon decide whether the analysis behind those numbers does the job. 

‘Dead bears don’t learn anything’ — Biologists balk at notion hunting makes bears wary

Grizzly bear

It’s hard for a grizzly bear to learn anything when it’s dead.

That’s the take of two grizzly bear biologists in northwest Montana on the notion that grizzly bears will learn to fear man if the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming allow a limited trophy hunt now that the species’ threatened status in the region around Yellowstone National Park has been revoked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last week, the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International asked to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to restore protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

In affidavits, several members of the two organizations said allowing a grizzly bear hunt would improve public safety as well as help the region’s economy and allow states to better manage the animals.

Safari Club International Idaho Chapter President Anthony Hafla of Idaho Falls said that hunting grizzly bears would limit the human-bear conflicts that now occur, especially during bow season.

“Grizzlies are smart animals and as soon as they figure out that man is dangerous, they will avoid such conflict,” Hafla said. “The overall outcome for the bears will be positive as fewer bears will be killed out of self-defense or from culling bears that have been involved in altercations with humans.”

Edwin Johnson, a 70-year-old outfitter from Gardiner, said he would welcome the opportunity both to offer guided grizzly bear hunts to his clients as well as hunt one personally.

“To me, this is a public safety issue,” Johnson said. “In 1996 and 2007, clients of mine were mauled by grizzly bears. More bears are becoming more aggressive. They need to be hunted so that they fear the scent of humans, rather than following as they do now.”

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Libby area grizzly bear management specialist Kim Annis has heard that argument before.

“If the argument is that hunting bears will teach them to be afraid of humans, I don’t understand how that would play out,” Annis said. “Bears are solitary animals. If someone kills one, it’s dead. It would have to stay alive to actually learn something.”

Annis said people have been hunting black bears forever and they still come around people. Alaska has allowed hunting of brown bears — which are called grizzlies in the Lower 48 — and there are still conflicts between bears and humans there.

“I don’t see where there is any evidence that bears learn to fear humans because of hunting,” she said. “If people want to be able to hunt grizzly bears as a trophy, that’s what they should say.”

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes grizzly bear specialist Stacy Courville said he couldn’t say for sure how bears would react to being hunted, but there is one thing he knows for certain.

“Dead bears don’t learn anything,” he said. “Unless there is a bear right there standing next to the one that got shot, I’m not sure how bears would learn anything about being hunted. … Intuitively, that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Courville’s experience does tell him that grizzly bears are capable of learning to avoid unpleasant situations.

A cornfield surrounded by an electric fence near St. Ignatius has shown him that numerous times.

“We had bears that were patrolling the outside perimeter almost every night in hopes of finding a way in,” he said. “We had bears inside the fence that couldn’t get out. When they finally did decide to leave and the fence was turned off, they still hesitated before going through it.”

The female bear stuck inside the fence had two cubs with her. As the corn patch was harvested and it grew smaller and smaller, Courville occasionally saw her stand up and look around.

When the three finally decided to make a break for it, Courville happened to be there to watch.

“While mom barreled right through the fence, the two cubs hesitated when they got to the fence,” he said. “She was already across the county road before they even attempted to get through the fence. That was learned behavior.”

Animal rights activists camp out to stop culling of wolf in Germany


Animal rights activists have flocked to eastern Germany in a bid to prevent the culling of a wolf that has been preying on local farmers’ sheep.

Activists from across Germany are camping out in the forests of Upper Lausitz, a sparsely populated area near the border with Poland, in an attempt to stop hunters tracking down the wolf.

“I’ve been here since Monday. We’re protecting the wolves and facing down the hunters,” Bettina Jung, the head of Germany’s Animal Protection Party, told Bild newspaper.

But local farmers are furious at what they see as the activists’ interference. “These radical eco-warriors hang around in the dark with their cars and night vision equipment, scaring my livestock,” one said.

The head of the local hunting association has called on landowners to press criminal charges against the activists.

French breeders hold a banner with a quote by French poet Victor Hugo reading "He who saves the wolf kills the sheep" as they demonstrate in Lyon to draw attention to rising wolf attacks on sheep
French breeders hold a banner with a quote by French poet Victor Hugo reading “He who saves the wolf kills the sheep” as they demonstrate in Lyon to draw attention to rising wolf attacks on sheepCREDIT: AFP

Wolves are generally protected by strict laws in Germany as an endangered species, and killing them is prohibited.

But local authorities have lifted the ban for a specific pack that has repeatedly attacked farms and mauled sheep in the area.

The stand-off between activists and farmers is a sign of the growing tensions as the rapidly rising wolf population begins to encroach on human habitations.

Just twenty years ago, there were no wolves left in Germany after the species was hunted to extinction in the early 20th century.

But wolves have made a remarkable comeback since the end of the Cold War. When the Iron Curtain fell and border defences were removed, they began to wander back into Germany from neighbouring Poland.

Today, there are believed to be more than 30 packs roaming Germany, and wolves have been photographed just 30 miles from Hamburg, the country’s second largest city.

The lifting on the hunting ban on what authorities have named the “Rosenthal Pack” only applies to a specific wolf which has been identified attacking sheep, and not to the pack in general.

A single licensed hunter has been appointed by the authorities to track and kill the culprit.

But the activists are determined to stop that happening. “We try to disturb the hunters, and keep watch over the sheep pastures,” said Stefan Voss, who patrols the forest every night.

Grizzly roadmap: Studies show grizzlies finding their way around people


Grizzly bear management has evolved from growing populations to moving them around. And a couple of new reports give mixed signals about how the keystone predators travel.

In the United States, evidence has grown that grizzlies have almost bridged the gap between the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem north of Missoula and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem south of Bozeman. But a British Columbia study released this month raises doubts about the condition of its much larger bear population.

Grizzly movement matters because the rare and federally protected animals must avoid inbreeding for their populations to remain healthy.

Critics of taking Greater Yellowstone grizzlies off the endangered species list say that the recovery area lacks connectivity to other bears, and so risks genetic decay.

The U.S. Interior Department proposed turning Greater Yellowstone grizzlies over to state management in July, and is developing rules for similar delisting of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population within a year.

Montana researchers Cecily Costello of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Frank van Manen of the U.S. Geological Survey published a report on possible grizzly pathways out of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the journal Ecosphere. Their work lends hope that the genetically isolated population around Yellowstone National Park may soon get a breeding boost as northern bears shake their family tree.

“There were routes that were not obvious before we started, and a lot more alternatives than we thought initially,” van Manen said.

Some bears leave the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex via the short but precarious path around Helena through the Big Belt Mountains toward Bozeman and relative security north of Yellowstone. Others loop around Butte to approach Yellowstone from the west.

One counter-intuitive result van Manen observed was that the heavily used routes weren’t necessarily the best ones.

“The concentration isn’t because that’s the great habitat,” van Manen said. “It’s because there’s not a lot of great places to go. Those are pinch-points.”

Knowing that allows land managers and bear advocates to do two things. One is to make sure those pinch-points don’t become too hazardous for grizzlies, such as providing wildlife crossings at freeways.

The other is to protect the qualities of the more dispersed routes.

“Those (dispersed routes) have really good, secure habitat like the Beaverhead and Bitterroot mountains that are already well-protected with little human influence,” van Manen said. “That might make those routes more effective in the long run. We shouldn’t just focus on the ones with highest concentration.”

At least 21 grizzly bears have been tracked moving between the two recovery areas. Almost all have been males. Female bears are much less likely to cross highways or human settlements, the authors noted.

“Our analyses placed much greater emphasis on potential paths following the Rattlesnake, Garnet, John Long, Flint Creek, Anaconda, Pioneer and Highland Mountains,” the authors wrote. “The Tobacco Root Mountains may be a particularly pivotal stepping stone, as many different paths converged on this mountain range.”


Three smaller recovery areas in the Cabinet-Yaak, Selkirk and North Cascades mountains of Montana, Idaho and Washington also depend on the movement of grizzly bears. Pathways there cross the international border between the United States and Canada, where British Columbia has a much larger grizzly population.

Last week British Columbia Auditor General Carol Bellringer warned that supply of grizzlies may be at risk as well.

The southeast corner of the province bordering Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park holds B.C.’s greatest concentration of grizzlies. That zone is also the only portion of the B.C.-U.S. border open to grizzly hunting. But three of the four zones just to the west, bordering the small Cabinet-Yaak, Selkirk and North Cascade U.S. recovery zones, were considered threatened populations by the Canadians.


British Columbia grizzly bear population units
British Columbia Auditor General

British Columbia has slightly more than twice Montana’s area and more than four times its population, although about 2.6 million of the province’s 4.6 million people live in the greater Vancouver area north of Seattle.

It also has more than 10 times the grizzly bears: an estimated 15,000 compared to the 1,500 to 1,800 estimated in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes Idaho and Wyoming. Alberta had about 580 grizzlies, including about 140 in the region between Waterton Lakes National Park and Banff.

Grizzlies can be hunted in British Columbia, but Bellringer said that was less a threat to their management than loss of habitat.

“The expansion of development in oil and gas, forestry and human settlement makes it more difficult for grizzly bears to mate, and results in food source loss, as well as more human-bear conflict,” Bellringer wrote. “An increase in resource roads — 600,000 kilometers (100,000 miles) existing and more added every year — also leads to more human-bear conflict, and ultimately, grizzly bear deaths.”

British Columbia charges residents $80 for a license to hunt during its grizzly season, while nonresidents pay $1,030. Grizzly hunting brings about $6 million to $7.6 million to the provincial economy. Commercial bear viewing in just one part of the province, the Great Bear Rainforest, was worth $15 million in 2012, according to the auditor’s report.

While sales of resident hunting licenses have stayed steady at around 300 a year, nonresident sales have spiked. They grew from about 800 in 2000 to 1,700 in 2016. The audit did not separate Canadian and foreign purchases in the nonresident category.

The possibility of U.S. states offering grizzly hunting seasons has been a major controversy in the delisting debate. But van Manen noted that the Canadians were borrowing many of the same steps Americans have used in the Endangered Species Act recovery process to maintain their bear populations.

“We’ve certainly been fortunate we have a strong piece of legislation like the ESA,” van Manen said. “Roads are key. Keeping road density below certain thresholds is key to effective grizzly bear conservation.

“In the Yellowstone, that’s accomplished by setting standards for secure habitat that are at the same levels as 1998 or below. The same thing is happening with the NCDE (Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem) conservation strategy. That guarantees that in the core of the ecosystem, the road densities and motorized access will really not change.”

Perry artist focuses exhibit on trophy hunting of endangered animals


By Herald-Whig

Posted: Oct. 14, 2017 8:50 pm

PERRY, Mo. — As professional artist Craig Norton of Perry was doing research for an adult coloring book focusing on endangered animals, something kept gnawing at him.

Norton said he would frequently encounter disturbing photographs of big-game hunters posing with the carcasses of endangered animals they had just killed.

He said he saw one hunter standing victoriously atop a dead elephant while flexing his muscles and giving a thumbs-up sign.

He saw a hunter swaying with a dead cheetah in his arms as if dancing with the animal on prom night.

He saw a couple kissing and holding a “Just Married” sign while standing next to a dead grey zebra one of them had killed.

He saw hunters sitting on a dead giraffe while smoking cigars and toasting each other with champagne glasses.

He saw a photo of a boy — about 10 or 12 years old — relaxing alongside a lion he had shot.

“He was literally cozied up next to the dead lion, and he’s playing on his iPad,” Norton said.

All of these images — and many others — bothered Norton and stayed with him while he was producing the 45 pen-and-ink drawings that were eventually featured in his coloring book, “Endangered: Animals to Color,” which was published in 2016.

Since then, Norton decided to express his feelings about “the negative effects of trophy hunting” by producing a series of paintings that focus on the killing of endangered animals.

The result is “Trophies,” an art exhibit that opens Monday in the Hannibal-LaGrange University’s Arts Department gallery. The exhibit will remain on display through Nov. 10. A reception with the artist — open to the public — is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.

Norton, a father of six who makes a living as a professional artist, said he felt compelled to create the series of artworks as a way to make a statement about his concern for the loss of endangered animals.

“These beautiful animals stand no chance when facing a hunter with a gun,” he said.

Norton is quick to point out that he is not opposed to legal hunting in general. He is specifically opposed to killing endangered animals.

“This exhibit has nothing to do with deer, turkey or duck hunters,” he said.

Norton is worried that the continued hunting of endangered animals will lead to the extinction of more species.

“For every species that is wiped out, it affects so much more than people realize because the extinction of one species affects other species,” he said.

Norton likens the extinction possibilities to a jigsaw puzzle.

“When one piece of that puzzle is suddenly missing, it affects the balance of things and is not complete,” he said.

“There’s not enough protection for these animals. Their numbers are dropping considerably. So I’m trying to get the debate going on whether this is the right thing or the wrong thing.”

Norton said all of the paintings he produced for the exhibit were based on real photographs he encountered while doing research over the last couple of years.

“These are not fictional,” he said. “They are based on real photographs, then I make it my own painting by adding things and subtracting things.”

Norton even added editorial text to some of the paintings to help illustrate his points about “the complete and utter disrespect and disregard for the animals’ life.”

Norton, 43, is known for making statements about social issues when producing his work.

Over the years he developed gallery shows in New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore featuring paintings, drawings and mixed-media work on such diverse subjects as the Holocaust, racial lynchings, gun violence and the travails that have faced Native Americans and the elderly.

He feels endangered animals deserve some attention as well.

“There are thousands of species at risk,” he said.

More information and examples about Norton’s artwork can be found on his website, craignortonart.com, and at craignortonart@facebook.com.