Sates Prove Playground Bullies In Push To Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

[grizzly-commons:3378] Counterpunch: States Prove Playground Bullies in Push to Delist Yellowstone Grizzlies

|

State wildlife managers from Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have recently dispelled any illusions about how they intend to treat grizzly bears after wresting management control away from the federal government. Removal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections will probably happen later this year and, if that happens, the states have made clear that they plan to go on a blood-letting binge involving the slaughter of hundreds of bears. They are already showing their thuggish nature in dealings with the public and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). State managers, most notably those representing Wyoming, have been the proverbial playground bullies during recent public meetings and, unfortunately, the FWS is rewarding this nastiness by acquiescing to every demand.

Not only do the states intend to allow trophy hunting, they also want a free hand to kill more grizzlies without any accountability to the national public that treasures these bears… or even any accountability to the majority of state residents who don’t support hunting grizzlies. At a meeting of grizzly bear managers earlier this month, only Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk had the courage to speak out in defense of the grizzly bears that define the nation’s oldest Park (link). Wenk objected to hunting grizzly bears in lands bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The state managers who were present responded by saying, basically, “bugger off.”

The battle lines are clearly drawn. On one side, the states are representing the ethos of death and violence, slaved to the interests of hunters and ranchers. On the other, the Park Service is upholding an ethos of preservation and respect, on behalf of the broader American public. The states are about guarding the franchise of a few and their exploitative pursuits, while the Park Service is about empowering the many, who tend towards more benign, even altruistic, treatment of wildlife and wildlands.

The Park Service’s philosophy reflects a broader cultural trend towards greater inclusiveness, greater tolerance, and greater respect for those who are different—increasingly including animals (Among other great books on the topic is Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature).  This trend is reflected in the fact that, according to Acting FWS Recovery Coordinator Wayne Kasworm, over 99% of the 290,000 comments submitted during May of this year to the FWS in response to its proposed removal of ESA protections opposed this move, opposed trophy hunting, and supported increased protections.

The states, which have the upper hand right now, are making no secret about their agenda or their disregard for the widespread concern about their prospective treatment of grizzly bears. A letter submitted in May to the FWS by Wyoming, Idaho and Montana makes this agenda crystal clear (link). More on this later.

As institutions, the states are obsessed with power and meting out death, which are not unrelated. State wildlife managers still adhere to the archaic view that nature must be subdued to enable economic progress and provide killing opportunities for those who find gratification in such pursuits (link). Reflecting past, more regressive times, state game agencies and their commissions are mostly for and about white guys, as evidenced in their sexualized literature that surrounds sport hunting (link). Elsewhere, I have written about the numerous times I have been belittled and ridiculed by the thugs who lead Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department, because I am a woman standing in opposition to the state’s destructive policies, and thus not an enfranchised member of their clientelle… nor apparently  even worthy of being treated respectfully (link).

But nothing rankles state wildlife managers more than a perceived threat to their power from the federal government. Any federal restrictions on their ability to kill things are seen as an anathema — especially when it comes to large carnivores such as grizzlies that these managers see as competitors for opportunities to sell licenses to hunt elk, deer, and moose (link). Never mind that they depend on welfare payments from the federal government in the form of huge annual grants. Never mind that the weight of scientific evidence shows that weather, habitat, and sport hunting govern population dynamics of large herbivores far more than does predation.

It is no surprise that the states have demanded that the FWS revoke the few requirements being imposed as a condition for removal of ESA protections and instead substitute handshake agreements.  And they have demanded that the FWS eliminate provisions for triggers that could lead to reinstating ESA protections if the states fall down on the job and the bear population tanks.  They also reject provisions for monitoring habitat 5 years after delisting, especially the current FWS requirement that such monitoring be “in perpetuity.” In essence, the states are saying “trust us” with the future of the grizzly bear, even though their historic hostility toward bears was the main reason why this species ended up as an endangered species 40 years ago.

At the recent meeting of state and federal bear managers, the states were brazen enough to press FWS even further by insisting that they be allowed to manage for a population decline.  This would make grizzly bears the only species in the history of the Endangered Species Act where population decline was an explicit post-delisting goal.

The consequences of such a policy would likely be catastrophic for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, which are the members of slowest reproducing land mammal species in North America, faced with unprecedented threats from climate change and human population growth. According to one model employed by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, the population may already be decline, the likely result of a spike in across-the-board mortality that began more than a decade ago (link). Indeed, some experts fear that the population could already be at a tipping point, headed towards a crash if bear deaths continue to mount.

Recovery Target of 500 Was “Pulled Out of the Government’s Ass”

Put simply, the current threshold of 500 bears set for determining population recovery by the FWS is far too low. And it is this number that is driving much of the states’ rhetoric as well as backing the FWS into a corner of its own making.  As a bit of historical context, grizzly bears in Yellowstone were once part of a contiguous population of many thousands of grizzly bears that extended from the Bering Strait to central Mexico. But European settlers managed to wipe out over 95% of the bears in the western United States in little less than 100 years. By the time Yellowstone’s bears were given ESA protections in 1975, they were down to perhaps 300 to 350 animals totally isolated from grizzly bears anywhere else on Earth (link).

Under federal protections that prohibited hunting and excessive killing, the population had stabilized at around 350 bears by 1992 when the federal government revised its grizzly bear recovery plan. In the plan, the government adopted 500 animals as the recovery target, largely because that was considered to be a generous increase over what they thought they had at the time, with little other justification. The states, already agitating to delist the population and renew a sport hunt, resisted higher recovery numbers.

One expert, who advised the FWS in the recovery planning process, later offered this: “The FWS basically pulled this number out of its ass.” He and a number of scientists argued — then and since —  that 500 animals, only about 27% of which are capable of breeding, was far from enough, especially since the Yellowstone population was (and is) entirely isolated.

Since 1992, scientists’ understanding of endangered species recovery has advanced greatly. Today, there is scientific consensus that an interconnected population of populations, or “meta-population”, of as many as 6,000 bears is needed to ensure long term persistence in the face of rapid change, as is occurring now (link). This would necessitate reconnecting Yellowstone to other ecosystems in the Northern Rockies, including Glacier, which boasts the largest population of grizzlies. Numerous analyses have been done showing that ample habitat is available to achieve a recovered meta-population of grizzly bears. In light of today’s scientific understanding, a recovery target of 500 isolated mammals does not pass the laugh test – except where politics, rather than science, rules.

Nodding ever so slightly towards the newer science, the FWS included in its conditions for removing ESA protections a provision that limited the number of bears that could be killed by hunting, saying that if the population, now estimated at 717 animals, dropped below 674, hunting would stop. And, the agency stated that maintaining at least 600 bears is important to the population’s genetic health, and that if the population dropped to or below 500 animals, “the population would not be considered demographically recovered.” Importantly, the FWS encouraged—but did not require–connectivity between Yellowstone and other grizzly bear populations.

But the states are having none of this. Instead, they are demanding that the FWS remove all language that might even encourage managing to connect populations. They are asking that hunting be allowed to continue until the population hits 600, not 674 individuals. Perhaps most disturbing is their rejection of the FWS’ claims that a population of fewer than 500 would be considered in peril, indicating that the states may not be willing to sustain even this minimum number of bears.

Instead, the states argue that adherence to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is good enough.

The States’ Answer to Grizzly Bear Recovery: The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

In lieu of the FWS’ meager post-delisting restrictions, the states maintain that grizzly bears would be fine because they will be governed according to principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (link).  This model argues that hunters are the major if not sole drivers of wildlife conservation. The Model espouses a fanciful rendering of history in which hunters have been the primary agents of wildlife protection, and have benefited not only targeted big game species, but all other species as well. Advocates of the Model claim that this ”just so” history is a prescription for the future, and that, to be effective, conservation must be based on providing hunters and trappers hunting and trapping opportunities as repayment for their presumed ardent support of all things preservable.

But the Model is, in fact, a “just so” story designed to serve a political purpose. It is not based on a comprehensive or accurate understanding of history. Among other powerful critiques, Thomas Dunlap’s Saving America’s Wildlife: Ecology and the American Mind: 1850-1990, shows wildlife conservation to be the product of efforts by non-hunters as well as hunters – and that hunters have actually persecuted and striven to eliminate a number of species under the rubric of “varmints” and “vermin”. Read: carnivores such as grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions.

It is a fact that the major wildlife and environmental laws enacted from the 1960’s to the present, including the Endangered Species Act and the Wilderness Act, were NOT passed due to the influence of hunters, but rather due to the efforts of a broad-based national constituency. According to Department of Interior data, hunter numbers have been shrinking in recent decades, and the primary “consumers” of wildlife are increasingly those who watch, rather than kill, wildlife. Simply put, those who value wildlife alive for moral, aesthetic, spiritual and scientific reasons are the biggest force behind wildlife conservation today—not hunters or trappers.

And, even if hunters did contribute something to wildlife conservation in the past, this does not mean that they should dominate the policy process now. The fact is, as I noted earlier, those advocating preservation rather than hunting of grizzly bears constituted over 99% of those who submitted comments to the FWS during the period during which the public had an opportunity to comment on the proposal to remove ESA protections. Overwhelming opposition to delisting was similarly expressed during the last 9 public processes that occurred over the last 15 years (link). Yet the FWS and state wildlife managers are catering to less than 1% of hunters and ranchers who expressed the a desire to kill bears, under the guise of a “Model” that is, in reality, nothing more than a myth.

Knowing that they are flying in the face of public opposition, the states are now ducking the hunting issue, while attempting to rewrite history.

 Of Trophy Hunting and Human-caused Mortality

Although state officials have been advocating a return to hunting grizzly bears for over 20 years, recently codified in their state plans, they asked for the first time ever in their May letter to the FWS  that hunting not be mentioned in the delisting Rule. Why? Because of the tsunami of public protest against trophy hunting grizzly bears – and against trophy hunting more broadly—that has occurred in the last months and years. Since at least the early 1990s, the overwhelming majority of the American public has disapproved of killing wildlife for fun and ego-gratification, rather than for food.

It must be noted that wildlife managers in the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana have not had a change of heart. Rather, here they espouse Lefty Gomez’s epithet: “if you don’t throw it, they can’t hit it.”

As part of their plans for driving the Yellowstone grizzly bear population down to basement levels, the states are also seeking permission to kill more bears, even bears that have not been involved in conflicts with humans. Under the post-delisting Memorandum of Agreement developed by state managers, as many as 72 bears could be killed per year. To facilitate this outcome, the states are pushing the FWS to remove any mention in the Rule of excessive human-caused bear mortality as a problem — even though this was one of the major reasons that grizzlies were listed in the first place and continue to be threatened. Ironically, all grizzly bear management agencies, including the states, have prioritized co-existence practices and voiced support for reducing bear deaths. Indeed, progress in this area has been perhaps the key reason that delisting is even being discussed today.

The states are now demanding that the FWS rewrite history, ignore science, and be silent on the need to place limits on killing bears. Instead the states want the FWS to help pave the way to killing even more bears after delisting. If the current level of killing was not enough of a problem now, the states would guarantee a crisis soon after delisting.

But wouldn’t the FWS reinstate ESA protections if the population crashes under the heel of state management? Not if the states also gets the FWS to remove any of the current provisions in the Rule that would automatically lead to a relisting process.

States Seek Responsibility without Accountability

The FWS has so far included a few triggers (which many consider inadequate) that would potentially lead to relisting. One is if the states fail to adequately fund post-delisting monitoring and management requirements. If funding is inadequate enough to indirectly jeopardize the population, the FWS currently provides assurances that it will step in and begin deliberations that could lead to relisting Yellowstone bears. The states are asking FWS to strip this provision.

The FWS also requires that the states and federal land managers commit “in perpetuity” to a post-delisting habitat monitoring program outlined in the Conservation Strategy, which is a companion document to the delisting Rule. This is a tacit admission by the FWS that the future will not necessarily look like the past, and that the government must keep watch over the quality of the bear’s habitat.  The collapse of two key bear foods, whitebark pine and cutthroat trout, over the last few decades demonstrate how quickly habitat can deteriorate (link). But predictably, the states want monitoring after the usual 5-year post-delisting period to be eliminated.

The states are also requesting that all other requirements pertaining to population distribution and composition be eliminated and replaced by the Memorandum of Agreement among the states. But the MOA is a killing, not a conservation policy (link). Furthermore, the MOA is a handshake agreement, and thus completely discretionary. Given the states’ notorious anti-carnivore histories (yes, despite propaganda to the contrary, they have indeed treated carnivores badly), why should they be trusted with a handshake?

The ball is in the FWS’s court to either accept or reject the states’ demands.

Will FWS Bow to the Bullies, or Defer to the Wishes of the Broader Public?

So far, the FWS’s leaders, most notably Director Dan Ashe, have demonstrated an unqualified desire to placate the states rather than uphold the ESA when it comes to dealing with grizzly bears (link). Unprecedented public outcry on behalf of bears seems to have made no difference. Nor has harsh criticism by numerous independent scientists, including Drs. Jane Goodall and E.O. Wilson. Why?

Because the FWS is enslaved to the narrative that delisting of grizzly bears (and wolves) is needed to “save” the the ESA. This seems to translate into obsequious cow-towing to the states. Elsewhere, I have written that this story has zero justification (link). Hatched in the mid-1990’s, the narrative has taken on a life of its own and is now embedded in the culture of the FWS where it seems impervious to critical examination.

As outrageous, the FWS’s point person for delisting Yellowstone grizzly bears is Deputy Regional Director Matt Hogan, who was formerly the head lobbyist of Safari Club International, one of the hunting groups that stand to benefit directly from a grizzly bear trophy hunting (link). And equally outrageously, the FWS also contracted with a company that services the oil and gas industry, headed up by an ex-Haliburton executive, to conduct the scientific peer review of the delisting Rule (link). The reviewers predictably gave the Rule a green light. Conflict of interest, anyone?

In response, the Oglala Sioux, one of fifty Tribes opposed to delisting, have requested a Congressional investigation of the matter (link). The Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) letter says: “the FWS is not, the evidence suggests, conducting the process in good faith with either the OST or any other tribal nation.” Or the rest of the nation, I would add.

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, who has yet to respond, should see this as an opportunity to correct the FWS’ tragic course on delisting, and support the Park Service’s efforts to introduce some sanity in the process. It is the centennial of the National Park Service, after all. She should respect the views of the Tribes, and comply with legal requirements to consult with them on the fate of the bear. She should heed the advice of scientists who advocate caution. She should uphold principles of democracy and serve the interests of the majority of Americans who want to see the grizzly bear protected, not hunted. And she should clean house at the FWS while she is at it.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

The Montana FWP Commissioners voted during the July 13 public hearing on the 2016/17 trapping proposals, wolf quota and griz mgt plan.

Three of our board members from Hamilton and Great Falls went to Helena and we gave public comment again on all the proposals. Pro-wildlife participants far outnumbered anti-wildlife. Other than Helena, the FWP regions appeared sparsely attended. However, it quickly became clear, the Commissioners votes had already been cast.

Here are the winners and the losers:

  • Wolf quota for unit 313, outside Yellowstone will remain at 2!
  • A no wolf trapping zone in the Deckard Flat – Trail Creek elk closure area will be instituted!

655 “communications” were received by FWP regarding the wolf quota increase with most opposed to hunting and trapping wolves.  Many were reportedly from out of state, but Commissioners stated, Montana does care about the tourists. Rightfully we should!  Tourism is our 2nd leading industry and wolves and grizzlies are what many come here to see. Although the elk in unit 313 area are at management objectives, comments were this decision wasn’t biologically based but was done for social reasoning.  We thank our friends at Wolves of the Rockies for taking the lead and all their work on keeping this quota as low as it is.

CONNECT WITH US


THE CONSERVATION ETHIC


“The greatest good for the greatest number of people for the greatest length of time.”
Gifford Pinchot

  • The Grizzly tri-state agreement with some change to the hunting structure was approved. We’ll leave the info on the Grizzly up to those groups that are following and working for them. Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Sierra Club, Defenders, Wildearth Guardians, i.e., gave some great comment at the hearing.
  • Trap setbacks from designated roads, trails, trailheads, etc. as now applies for trapping furbearers and wolves will apply for trapping ALL, including predators and nongame!
  • The swift fox quota will be reduced from 30 to 10 which is consistent with the average number being reported trapped and killed annually since they were reintroduced and trapping resumed!
  • More bobcat will legally be trapped as commissioners voted to increase the quota from 180 to 200 for Region 2 ie Bitterroots, Missoula, also areas designated Lynx habitat.
  • Despite public comment 2:1 opposing increasing the trapping of River Otters  for Region 1, NW Montana, the otters again lost and their quota will go from 23 to 28!
Monitoring the quotas and reviewing over the years the reports, one can basically conclude this is the norm. Regions that go over quota are addressed and reinforced by having the quota increased. During the Commissioner’s hearing, FWP provided graphs depicting the increased trapping of River Otter as summation the River Otter population has increased and increasing the quotas are therefore justified. Yet what the graphs show us is more River Otter are killed, not that more exist, or existed over time.

FWP reports trapping is market driven. River Otter pelts sold for $63 on average to high of $127 in Montana this past season early on. However, unless the trappers aren’t interested the wildlife rarely catch a break. When trappers lose an interest in a species, FWP reportedly increases the quota to entice them.

  • Despite the FWP Commissioners proposal in May to actually eliminate a quota on the rare Fisher, they since met with the Montana Trappers Association and rescinded. Fisher will now have 4 mgt areas with a quota of 5 and subquotas of 1 female in 2 of the areas. Killing 1 female is potentially far more than killing 1 fisher. They experience delayed implantation and therefore can either be pregnant or caring for dependent young during the trapping season.
  • Montana Trappers Association testified previously that Fisher weren’t of interest to them and that Fisher were incidentally trapped in Marten sets. Since then they must have looked up the pricing of Fisher fur and seeing it basically tripled in value in three years from $50 to $145 they became very interested! A trapper testified yesterday in a region where Fisher were reintroduced and actually have not appeared to survive. He said trapping a Fisher is like trapping the Holy Grail! What a gift. What it really is about, friends. Wildlife are trapped and killed for selfish greed.

    Photo courtesy: Zaxtor. Reproduced for educational purposes.
FWP neglected to mention in their publicized cover sheet of numerous comments received supporting NRDC 24 hr trap checks that was denied public comment. Yet during the hearing, FWP acknowledged the comments were significant. Not on the agenda was the Dept of Livestock providing comment at length on their need to continue to use M44s and opposing any tools such as snaring being removed from their war on predation especially against coyotes even on public lands or in Grizzly habitat. Commissioner Wolfe asked to what extent are these deadly M44 (sodium cyanide) explosives used on public land? The answer remains unknown.

Short from ending trapping, it is hard to really find much winning given the cruel and unnecessary practice of trapping. Of the reported 480 comments FWP received, 54% opposed trapping and favored all proposals to limit trapping. From yesterday’s FWP Commissioners public hearing what was evident  is the trappers remain in control and our wildlife is managed, or the lack thereof, in Montana, for trappers.

What was further emphasized by Montana FWP and promoted by some Commissioners is trapping is a heritage to be protected in Montana.

In contrast,  we will continue to push for preservation and ethical treatment of wildlife for their intrinsic, economical and ecological value.

Thank you Friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands

Montana Furbearer Comments tallied

http://us8.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f22932e4382726211444c9d0c&id=b27e45702d&e=34cb4196ed

…In response, FWP moves to establish 4 trapping units with a quota of five and a female subquota of one in the Bitterroot Unit, one in the Cabinet, and zero in the Yaak and Continental Divide Units.

Bobcat quota increasing 180 to 200 for Region 2 (Western Montana) was nearly equally supported and opposed. Although fur prices have plummeted, bobcat remains one of the most lucrative species to trap and kill. We are NOT being overrun with bobcat. The whitetail deer population is not taking a hit from predation on fawns by bobcats. This is about selfish greed!

This is about whether Commissioners will address the fact Regions 1, 2, 3 alone killed 187 OVER quota for bobcat from a min 8330 killed in Montana in just the last 5 years!

FWP responded to all of our attacks on this mockery of “quotas” with, “It was clear that many do not understand that quotas are set as a general and conservative target rather than a precise number that will result in population decline if exceeded. It was also clear that many do not understand that closing the season and hitting the target quota exactly is virtually impossible. Trapping closures happen on a 48-hour notice and FWP tries to be conservative and often initiates closures before the actual quota number is reached.”

FWP annually attends Montana Trappers Association meeting in the spring. “If you all based wildlife management off of science instead of whining emotion and came to an actual meeting you would know that a bobcat quota is set with an expected overage”. Jason Maxwell, Montana Trappers Association vice president

Trappers take full advantage of this flawed and failed system designed to favor them not the wildlife by knowing they can trap over quota and keep the fur just as long as the liberal closing has not occurred.
What would happen if a hunter had the same mindset?

“Additional comments not specific to the proposals included several suggestions to manage beaver with quotas, and several suggestions that decisions be based on data instead of emotion”.  Montana FWP

The proposals for Grizzly bear and for changing quotas for wolves outside of Yellowstone will also be decided at the hearing. Recent changes re these wolf quotas………. your voice is needed!  bit.ly/29CBP9g

FWP made no mention of all our comments insisting on 24 hour trap checks. This is not going away, friends!

Despite all the comments opposing increasing quotas, “FWP moves to approve” the proposals. Now it will be up to the FWP Commissioners on Wed, July 13th! 

For meeting agenda:
http://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/insideFwp/commission/meetings/agenda.html?meetingId=38170999

To attend: Montana WILD – 2668 Broadwater Avenue – Helena, MT or one of the district FWP offices.
To listen in to the audio recording on Wed go to: http://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/insideFwp/commission/audio.html

Thank you to all that submitted comments, spoke up, and those that WILL look these commissioners in the eyes in Helena during their voting on these proposals and their future crucial decisions effecting our wildlife! Lets hope they make us proud!

We would love to hear if you are planning to attend!

Thank you Friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands

The Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative, I-177, has qualified for the November 8, 2016 ballot!!

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE….June 30, 2016

CONTACT

TIM PROVOW,tprovow@gmail.com;406-360-6332

CONNIE POTEN,406-274-4791,rattlefarm@gmail.com

 The Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative, I-177, has qualified for the November 8, 2016 ballot.  Montana Trap-Free Public Lands is a ballot initiative committee based in Missoula and supported by volunteer coordinators statewide. Volunteer and hired signature gatherers gathered more than 24,175 qualified signatures required for the ballot.

Members of Footloose Montana, a non-profit corporation supporting trap-free public lands, formed the ballot initiative committee.

Montana Trap-Free Public Lands missed qualifying a similar initiative in 2010 by about 1,500 signatures.   I-177 will end commercial and recreational trapping on public lands.  People, pets and wildlife will be free of indiscriminate, hidden and baited traps.

Trapping to protect livestock and property, for health and safety will continue if non-lethal methods have tried and failed.   Trapping for wildlife management such as reintroduction and medical needs are allowed in I-177.

The Attorney General’s summary of I-177:

I-177 generally prohibits the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within Montana and establishes misdemeanor criminal penalties for violations of the trapping prohibitions.  I-177 allows the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to use certain traps on public land when necessary if nonlethal methods have been tried and found ineffective. I-177 allows trapping by public employees and their agents to protect public health and safety, protect livestock and property, or conduct specified scientific and wildlife management activities. I-177, if passed by the electorate, will become effective immediately.

Wolf advocates warn U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of coming lawsuit

http://missoulian.com/news/local/wolf-advocates-warn-fws-of-coming-lawsuit/article_76c1e772-ce25-55bc-9269-272cfd222e1a.html

 

A coalition of wolf advocates has warned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they plan to sue if the agency doesn’t extend its supervision of wolf populations in Montana and Idaho another five years.

“When the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is offering five tags to every wolf hunter and Idaho Fish and Game is putting sharpshooters in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and funding aerial gunning in the Lolo Zone, we feel renewing another five years of federal monitoring is warranted,” said Matthew Koehler of Missoula-based Wild West Institute, one of five groups putting FWS on notice. “Given the situation on the ground and the ways state policy is changing, we think the prudent thing to do is keep monitoring wolf populations so they’re not hunted and trapped back to the brink of extinction.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Clearwater and Cascadia Wildlands joined Wild West Institute in the notice. By law, groups objecting to a federal agency must give it 60 days advance warning to offer time to craft a solution before going to court.

Gray wolves were extirpated from the continental U.S. in early 20th century. The Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves in remote areas of Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1994 and 1995. The wolves were protected under the federal Endangered Species Act until 2011, when Congress passed a provision removing their listed status in Idaho and Montana. However, FWS personnel were required to monitor wolf populations for five years after giving state wildlife agencies local control of the species.

Wolves remain a federally protected species in Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and the Great Lakes region. Congress is considering several provisions to change or remove those protections this year.

In early January, Idaho Department of Fish and Game workers improperly collared two wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness along the Montana border while carrying out a helicopter-assisted elk-collaring project. The agency reported the incident to the U.S. Forest Service, which suspended Idaho’s permission for further helicopter work in the wilderness pending a review of the state’s practices.

Idaho has also maintained a state-sponsored wolf-removal program in addition to a public wolf hunting season.

In Montana, resident hunters may buy up to five wolf licenses a season for $19 each. The state removed its annual quotas on wolf seasons in 2012.

UPDATES IN THE WORLD OF FOOTLOOSE MONTANA!

 

2/29/2016 

http://www.footloosemontana.org/

https://www.gofundme.com/dyqky7ng

 

 

.

 

Greetings friends of Footloose Montana! Spring is just around the corner, so it’s a perfect occasion to talk about the group that works everyday to protect your pets and public lands, Footloose Montana!

First off we’d like to say thank you to everyone who donated to us over the holiday season. You are true heroes to the people, pets and wildlife of Montana. We couldn’t continue to educate the public about the dangers of trapping without your generous support.

Second, we’re excited to announce that we’ve finally found the time to completely overhaul our website! Every page has been updated, and there is TONS of great information and resources on there… so check it out after you read the letter here!

We’ve been oh so hard at work already in 2016. With close to 10 workshops already this year, it’s safe to say that 2016 is going to be the biggest year ever for Footloose. We’ve been in Billings, Bozeman, Whitefish, Red Lodge, Livingston, and Missoula already this year, and we’re coming to Bigfork on March 8th and Helena March 10th! Make sure to email

info@footloosemontana.org if you’d like to set up a workshop in your area! We also have a Footloose Film and Dance night coming up at the Roxy Theater in May, so keep your eye on the website and Facebook for more information!

 

On a more somber note, we know that fur trapping has been going on in full force around Montana. Some species have been trapped over quota, and we’ve already seen over 10 dogs and 2 cats trapped

just since January 1st. There was also a close call with children finding foothold traps set near some apartments in Missoula. We must continue to educate the public about this environmentally atrocious and barbarically cruel practice. So let us know where we need to be. We’re looking for opportunities for Spring 2016. Is there an area near you that could use some help with beaver fencing? Do you know an area where traps are causing trouble for pets and recreating humans? Does your hometown need a trap-release workshop? Maybe you are hosting an event and you’d like to have Footloose there with a table…just let us know!

 

Thank you again so much for your continued support, we couldn’t do it without you. We are here to serve the good people, pets and wildlife of Montana, so please feel free to contact us anytime.

Keep reading for more news from around Montana!

-Best Regards, Chris and Footloose Montana

 

 

 

BALLOT INITIATIVE UPDATE

 

We still get questions about Initiative I-177, the ballot initiative written by Footloose members that would ban commercial and recreational fur-trapping on Montana’s public lands. They are actively gathering signatures and raising funds, but are their own entity. If you are looking for information, you must contact that separate committee. Thanks!

Email: montanatrapfree@gmail.com

Website: www.montanatrapfree.org

Gofundme Donations Page:https://www.gofundme.com/dyqky7ng

 

Service Spotlight: Crush!

Crush lost his leg in trap near Great Falls on Christmas Eve, and then had to undergo a high amputation. But the folks at Pet Paw-See in Great Falls took care of him for over two months, and he was just adopted yesterday by a member of the Footloose family! Welcome home, Crush!

Trapping and slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone bison begins

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/trapping-and-slaughter-of-hundreds-of-yellowstone-bison-begins/ar-BBpAcKT?ocid=spartanntp

Josh Hafner

Yellowstone National Park officials started trapping bison Monday as part of an annual effort to kill hundreds of the area’s iconic animals through hunting or shipment to slaughterhouses.

Government agencies aim to drive down the bison population by as many as 900 this year to reduce the mammals’ centuries-old migration beyond the park’s boundaries and into Montana, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

A plan calls for eventually culling bison in the park from about 5,000 down to 3,000.

Efforts to winnow the bison’s migration came after fears from Montana ranchers and landowners that the bison may vie with cattle for grazing space or transmit disease, according to the Associated Press.

Suggested from Windows Store

About half of Yellowstone’s bison have been exposed to brucellosis, an animal disease that causes abortion in cattle, AP reports. There are no recorded cases of it moving from bison to cattle.

“There is recognition by both disease regulators and wildlife managers that the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle is minute,” the National Park Service told Vice magazine last year.

In 1995, Montana sued the National Park Service over bison migration into the state. The settlement created a plan requiring hundreds of bison to be captured and killed each year.

A record-high 1,726 bison were captured in the park in 2008, according to AP, with most sent to slaughterhouses.

Meat and hides from the slaughtered bison are distributed among members of Native American Tribes, according to the National Park Service.

In 1902, the herd of bison in Yellowstone dwindled to as low as 23. The park now counts near-record levels of its bison, according to AP, which biologists cherish as genetically pure.

While hunters had killed more than 300 bison as of Sunday, the Chronicle reported, the park said it wasn’t enough to negate the need for regular capture and slaughter.

“We understand that many people are uncomfortable with the practice of capture and slaughter—we are too, so we’re looking for additional alternatives,” the Park Service said in a guide to the controversy on its site.

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

Francis Marsh, right, a Cayuse Indian from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Ore., stands next to a bison he shot and killed near Gardiner, Montana on Feb. 12, 2011.© Ted S. Warren, AP Francis Marsh, right, a Cayuse Indian from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Ore., stands next to a bison he shot and killed near Gardiner, Montana on

MT Trapping Updates

FUR PRICES DOWN!!!
“That’s right – low, low fur prices.  Bottom of the barrel.  In most cases, fur will sell for far less than what you’ll spend to trap it.”
Why are fur prices going to be so low?  Two words.  China and Russia.  Those two countries basically control the modern world market for wild fur because their citizens purchase the vast majority of the garments produced with the fur we trap.” Prices for dead Coyote, Beaver, Pine Marten, Bobcat, Wolves and Fisher are expected to hold. Trappers are claiming they are simply stockpiling the rest.
Trapping Today’s 2015-2016 Fur Market Update


Photo courtesy Montana Trappers Association, “fur auction, small”.
Reproduced for educational purposes.

TRAPPING DISTRICT CLOSURES
Hopefully  our  monitoring the quota harvest reports  for Montana furbearers have helped spare more unnecessary trapping deaths for Otter and Bobcat.

Bobcat is now closed in Districts 1, 2, 3, i.e. Northwestern, Western and Southwestern Montana. District 3 closed 8 over quota. Historically, over half of the 7 districts, including these three have gone over quota. In 2013/14, i.e. 62 extra bobcats were reported killed in the Districts 1,2,3,5. We especially appreciate FWP taking a proactive stance and closing District 2. In 6 years, from the 2008 through the 2013/14 bobcat trapping season a minimum of 11,062 bobcats were killed in Montana.


It might not seem much to save even one, but it is everything to that one. We don’t know how many might have gotten killed over the quota. Thanks for making those calls and being the voice for Otters, too!

ANOTHER KILLING CONTEST
A repeat of last January predator trapping and hunting killing contest, sponsored by groups such as Montana Trapper’s Association (MTA), but this time instead of for a weekend, it ran from Jan 8 to Jan 17th. We did not accept the MTA request  that we post the flyer fearing it would only draw more attention, more participation to their killing contest. That does not mean we are not following up on  this. Note they do not call it a killing contest but that does not make it less so! More to come.

EXPOSURE OF CRUEL UGLY TRAPPING
The much awaited article,  America’s trapping boom relies on cruel and grisly tool,  by award winner journalist, Tom Knudson, sheds more light on what becomes of millions of animals, annually, and in particular Bobcat, here out West, in the disturbing significant world of trapping. “Every year, 150,000 trappers here capture and kill up to 7 million wild animals, more than any nation on earth. In all, more than 20 species are targeted for their fur, from foxes to raccoons, coyotes to river otters. But it is the spotted, marble-white fur of one animal that has sparked a Wild West-like trapping boom in recent years.” We were honored to help with Tom’s informative investigation and trust exposure and increased awareness will lead to an end of trapping. Be sure to check out the link to the video of the a leghold trap snapping shut on various items.


Credit: Max Whittaker for Reveal

EFFORTS TO PROTECT FISHER
The rare fisher is getting closer to federal protections under the ESA. Legally trapped still in Montana, other Fishers, too, here have fallen victim as “incidental” “non-targets”. In December of 2014, a Fisher was killed in a conibear trap set for Pine Marten in the Bitterroots. More info to come on how you can help. Click to read  “Northern Rockies Fishers One Step Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection.

PETS CONTINUE TO GET TRAPPED IN MONTANA
An Akita was recently caught for days in a leghold trap set for wolves near Alberton, Montana. The dog was reportedly missing for six days!  Solid ice had to be chipped away from the trap to free the dog. The trapper was cited for not checking his wolf traps for the required 48 hours but will he have to pay the vet bills? The dog will most likely lose its leg.

Searching for the perfect Christmas tree, Petty Creek, near Alberton, a Chihuahua,  Dutley, was caught in a leghold trap, and luckily was released quickly apparently uninjured.

A dog was caught in a snare while accompanied fortunately close by its owner. Ghost town in Drummond.

Trap reports for Bracket Creek area north of Bozeman, Flathead national forest, Pleasant Valley……..

For updates see Trap Alerts  on our website.
Pets have us to look out for them but what of the average 60,000 reported wildlife annually trapped and killed in Montana that legally cannot be rescued and helped?

ANIMAL PLANET DOCUMENTARY FOR TRAPPERS?
Just in, Montana Trappers Association says because “of your relentless attacks on trapping” they have signed to do a trapping documentary with Animal Planet.  Imagine what kind of planet animals would succumb to if trappers had their way. It’s incompatible for a show that features the wonderous animals we share this planet with and their sponsors to promote such cruelty and trapping myths.  More to come on what you can do.

DAILY HAPPENINGS
Like, follow us, and invite friends on Facebook and be sure to check out our website www.trapfreemt.org for ongoing educational information, updates and our online store to purchase, i.e. “Ranger” story of a wolf, t-shirts.

Please lend a hand, be our eyes and ears, promote TFMPL, collaborate with us and let us know you how you are willing to do more for wildlife! 

Thank you Friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands

Tis the ugly season of prevalent trapping!

trrapped-wolf-facebook
Recently a missing Golden was caught in a trap for 3 days up Sweeney Creek Loop, Florence area. She broke off several teeth biting the leghold trap to try to free herself. Her foot was badly swollen. She has been reunited with her owner.

Today, Sunday, a 30 lb dog, Molly, is now reported missing up Sweeney Creek. On Wed, Dec 15th, the legal trapping of wolves in Montana begins resulting in a whole new arsenal of leghold weaponry of mass destruction will be out on the lands.

Trappers are not required to assist trapped pets. They only have to report any they trap within 24 hrs to FWP. They have no required trap check interval though, except for wolf trap sets must be visibly checked every 48 hours.

Be sure to check with the regional Montana FWP office if your pet is missing. To see contact numbers visit our website at http://www.trapfreemt.org/about-trapping/incidental-trapped-dog-reports-montana

Please share with us any areas of known, spotted or suspicious trapping.

Thank you Friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands

MT TRAP-RELEASE WORKSHOP SERIES

You’re invited to attend the
FOOTLOOSE WINTER TRAP-RELEASE WORKSHOP SERIES!
Coming soon to your area!
Hello friends of Montana’s pets and wildlife! We wanted to make you aware of some exciting events coming up in your area. We are planning a series of trap release workshops statewide. If you have never attended a trap-release workshop, we strongly encourage you to do so. There is no better way to learn how to spot traps in the wild, how to protect your pets from traps and how to release them in worst-case scenarios. This is also a great chance to meet like-minded individuals and to learn more about the current trapping situation in Montana. If you have attended a workshop before, its still a good opportunity to get a refresher, bring a friend, or make some new friends…so we hope to see you all there!

Workshops are free and open to the public, although we do ask that you bring a can of food for the local food bank, or pet food for the humane society. So check out the schedule below, and if we aren’t doing a workshop in your area contact us so we can set one up!

Best regards,

Chris and Footloose Montana

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9th 6:30pm@ Billings Public Libary (Billings, MT)

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15th 6pm@ Bozeman Public Library (Bozeman, MT)

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16th 6pm @ The Shane Center (Livingston, MT)

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6th 6pm@ Whitefish Public Library (Whitefish, MT)
IN THE WORKS
GREAT FALLS (JANUARY 2016)
KALISPELL (JANUARY 2016)
Please consider donating to help us with the costs associated with putting on workshops! Your donation is 100% tax deductible…