Save Dogs from the evil of Traps

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ACTION ALERT: Do you have a story about a dog caught in a trap or snare even if it was not your dog? Many animals, including dogs, are unintentionally brutally killed or injured in snares. Contact Governor Dayton, share your story, ask him to eliminate wildlife snaring.

Gov. Dayton phone #: 651-201-3400, toll-free: 800-657-3717
Gov. Dayton contact form: http://bit.ly/1EDwQgh

Please share your story with us. It may be used to pass legislation. Email: info@howlingforwolves.org

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Bill in Legislature tries to save dogs from accidental trappings

 by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune

  • March 18, 2015 – 10:27 AM

Dogs continue to be trap victims, and a controversial bill in the Legislature aims to change that

Rosie Nordby knew something was wrong when she stepped outside her rural Pequot Lakes home Nov. 29 to retrieve the family’s three dogs, and Lily, a chocolate Lab with a two-week-old litter of eight puppies, was missing.

“It was like she just disappeared,” Nordby recalled this week.

She and her husband, Daren, and three kids searched, called neighbors and then authorities, fearing their hunting dog had been stolen. That night, the family hand-fed Lily’s puppies to keep them alive.

Rosie Nordby found Lily the next day, dead in a body-gripping trap set in a ditch about 750 feet from her family’s house.

“I was heartbroken,” she said. “I’m glad it was me who found her and not my kids. It was traumatic.”

Lily was one of at least 34 dogs caught accidentally in traps in Minnesota last year and among five that were killed. Since 2012, the Department of Natural Resources says 75 dogs have been caught in traps and snares, and 17 died. A group pushing for trapping restrictions claims at least 25 dogs have been killed during that time.

The issue, which gained attention in 2012 when the Legislature tightened some trapping restrictions in response to dog deaths, is again being scrutinized. A bill was introduced this session that further stiffens trapping regulations to reduce or eliminate accidental dog deaths.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration has testified in support of the measure.

Supporters say the changes made three years ago haven’t stopped the accidental trapping of dogs.

“We need to do something so our pets don’t get killed anymore,” said Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, author of the bill.

Hoffman’s bill would require body-gripping traps to be either completely submerged in water or have enclosures with smaller openings and larger recesses, or be placed at least 5 feet above ground. These methods would greatly reduce the chances of a dog being accidentally trapped, he said.

The Minnesota Trappers Association and the Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association both oppose the measure, saying the proposals would greatly limit the effectiveness of trappers.

“Trappers want this issue to go away more than anyone,” Gary Leistico, an attorney representing the Minnesota Trappers Association, testified Tuesday at a Senate hearing in St. Paul. “We’ll continue to work with everyone, but this bill … does much more than what it’s claimed to do. It would not allow meaningful trapping in Minnesota.”

The Minnesota Forest Zone Trappers Association also opposes the bill, as does Michael Tucker, who runs a wildlife removal service and is a member of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. Tucker told legislators the bill would severely limit the ability of businesses like his to remove problem animals.

Trappers reduce predators of ground-nesting game birds, such as raccoons, skunks, mink, fox and coyotes, the groups say.

And a section in Hoffman’s bill requiring body-gripping traps used near water to be fully submerged would greatly reduce the taking of beavers, who cause damage to culverts and roads around the northern half the state, opponents say.

 

“You’re taking away the most effective way to trap beaver,” said Randy Goldenman of Zimmerman, who traps beaver for Sherburne County. “I catch up to 200 a year.”

Hoffman says his bill isn’t meant to be anti-trapping and wouldn’t inhibit trapping. “It will just make it safer for dogs and our pets,” he said.

The issue is an emotional one and drew impassioned testimony. Among those testifying in support was a handler for a search-and-rescue dog, the executive director of a Cloquet animal shelter that took in a dog injured in a trap and several hunters.

Loren Waalkens of Lake City, whose beagle, Frisbee, was caught in a body-grip trap in 2011, pleaded with senators to tighten regulations. Though he saved his dog with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he said Frisbee now has breathing problems related to the incident.

And Waalkens said when he hunts rabbits he’s constantly concerned his dogs will encounter another trap. “It’s taken the joy of hunting from me,” he said. “Please do something about this.”

Kurt Boerner, an upland bird hunter from Wayzata, said his English setter had a close encounter with a trap, and since then he’s been on a quest to tighten trapping laws. He’s quit hunting when trapping season begins and told outstate friends not to come to Minnesota to hunt during trapping season.

“The problem isn’t trappers, it’s the regulations,” he testified.

Tim McCauley of Fridley is a board member of Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN, which has pushed for tighter trapping laws, too. He no longer hunts public lands in Minnesota during the trapping season, either, for fear of losing a dog.

“I won’t take the risk,” he said in an interview. “It would ruin my life if I lost my dog.”

Restrictions passed in 2012 require trappers to use a 7-inch overhang when using baited body-gripping traps on public lands. The overhang is intended to prevent dogs from sticking their heads in the trap to reach the bait.

Trapping proponents say the restriction is working. But the DNR reports that since 2012, 15 dogs have been trapped in boxes with overhangs.

Rosie Nordby’s dog was caught in a body-grip trap recessed in a box. The trap was recessed 6 inches, meaning it wasn’t legal. Two of the five dog deaths in 2014 were in illegally set traps.

Some, including DNR officials, say even if the recess had been a legal 7 inches, it probably wouldn’t have saved Lily because of the trap’s location. Meanwhile, the trapper was cited.

“The fine was a whopping $100,” Nordby said.

We can live with wolves in the wild

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/national-view/3660405-response-we-can-live-wolves-wild

by  Chris Albert

As much as I appreciated Sandy Updyke’s Jan. 14 column headlined, “City people don’t understand wolves” — it was refreshing to read something so thoughtful on this topic — I did have some disagreements.

As a veterinarian, I dispute her claim that foothold traps are “harmless.” Ischemia, or the lack of blood supply, is extremely painful. Depending on how long an animal is caught in a trap and depending on the trap’s tension, a foot may be damaged beyond repair. A rubber band around your finger for long enough would produce the same kind of damage (don’t try it).

Updyke also didn’t address the fear that animals face when exposed and unable to retreat or the sometimes-brutal methods of dispatch. Not to mention the fragmentation that happens to a family when a member of a social species like a wolf is taken. Traps are most certainly not harmless.

As for dogs and wolves, by far the most conflict occurs when hunting dogs are intentionally put in harm’s way. I don’t live in wolf country but have friends with pets who do. There are sensible guidelines that keep dogs safe: Don’t leave dogs outside alone, check an area with lights before sending a dog out and don’t leave out food or other attractants.

I wholeheartedly concurred that wolves are not deities or villains and that their hunting strategy is not pretty. Though why does the latter even matter? I even concur that people need to be able to shoot a wolf if it is imminently harming them or their animal.

That doesn’t seem to be what happens, though. It seems that people filled with hatred and a desire to inflict the most harm possible are turned loose on wolves to maximize destruction.

Wolf advisory boards have precious few advocates for wolves. The impact of killing a single wolf on that wolf’s family rarely if ever is considered by such boards.

We can live with wolves and other large carnivores. We can have them safely in our forests. Why would we want to? Because we will be much richer for it. It’s not only city folk who feel this way; there are plenty of people living where wolves do who want wolves free from hunting and trapping and killed only when it is truly unavoidable.

Chris Albert of Lebanon Junction, Ky., is a doctor of veterinary medicine.

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Some MT Wolf Hunt/Trap Stats

copyrighted wolf in river

MT: Lincoln County bagging fair share of wolves

 Justin Steck
The Western News

Ninety-six wolves have been taken, with eight harvested by trapping, during Montana’s wolf hunting and trapping season.

In region one, which encompasses Lincoln County, 30 wolves have been taken by hunting and two have been trapped. Those numbers were from John Fraley at Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks office in Kalispell.

Montana wolf trapping season got underway on Dec. 15 and will run until Feb 28. Archery season for wolves ran from Sept. 6-14, and general rifle season began Sept.15 and continues until Mar. 15.

Local taxidermist Gerry Mercer said trapping season starts to take-off when the snow falls and it starts to get cold, which should be soon. Last year he had a dozen wolves come through his shop.

According to 2013 numbers from Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, the total number of wolves taken during the season was 230, 143 were hunted and 87 trapped.

Wolf Management Units 100 and 101, which include Lincoln County and a portion of Flathead County, were the areas with the highest numbers of harvested wolves in the state. The number of wolves taken in those two areas was 28 in 100 and 38 in 101.

Last year 24,479 wolf licenses were issued, 22,169 of those were to Montana residents.

Senate Bill 200 is a new bill that allows for landowners in Wolf Management Units 200, 400, 310 and 390 to take up to 100 wolves total that may potentially be a threat to humans, livestock or dogs. The quota will be examined in four 25-wolf increments throughout the year, with increases needing to be approved by Fish Wildlife & Parks.

The first fair chase wolf hunting season in Montana was 2009. Before then, no rules existed to regulate the number or means by which wolves could be taken. That year 60 wolves were taken during the season lasting from Oct. 25 to Nov. 15.

In 2011, the number of wolves harvested rose to 166. The total number of wolves killed during the 2012 season fell to 128.

Court challenges barred the 2010 wolf hunting season.

Source

New WDFW Pick is Former Idaho Gun-Nut

The following is an open letter by an anonymous reader…

The Fish and Wildlife Commission’s recent choice for the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is an inappropriate choice for Washington.

The new director is from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which is known for its brutal archaic wildlife management style.  They support many practices, which have been banned here by state initiatives because of the cruelty involved.  These practices include bear baiting, hounding, and the use of steel-jaw traps.  They promote the killing of wolves in all kinds of despicable ways and put little emphasis on protecting endangered species.

The primary mandate for WDFW is to protect, preserve, and perpetuate our state’s wildlife.  The Commission’s choice of director is inconsistent with this mandate and is ill suited for our state.  I fear for the future of our wildlife.

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Some gray wolves to be returned to endangered list

copyrighted wolf in water

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in three states.

The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the combined population is estimated at around 3,700. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday the removal was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

Unless overturned, her decision will block the states from scheduling additional hunting and trapping seasons for the predators. All three have had at least one hunting season since protections were lifted, while Minnesota and Wisconsin also have allowed trapping. More than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves have been killed, said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, one of several groups whose lawsuit prompted Howell’s ruling.

“We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks,” Lovvorn said.

Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Gavin Shire said the agency was disappointed and would confer with the U.S. Department of Justice and the states about whether to appeal.

“The science clearly shows that wolves are recovered in the Great Lakes region, and we believe the Great Lakes states have clearly demonstrated their ability to effectively manage their wolf populations,” Shire said. “This is a significant step backward.”

State officials acknowledged being caught by surprise and said they would study the judge’s 111-page opinion before deciding what to do next.

“It’s an unusual turn of events,” said Tom Landwehr, Minnesota’s natural resources commissioner.

The ruling is the latest twist in more than a decade of court battles over the gray wolf, which has made a strong recovery after being shot, poisoned and trapped into near-extermination in the lower 48 states in the last century. Only a remnant pocket in northern Minnesota remained when the species was added to the federal endangered list in 1974.

The wolf is now well-established in the western Great Lakes and in the Northern Rockies, where the minimum population is estimated at around 1,700.

Animal protection advocates repeatedly have sued over federal efforts to drop federal protections in both regions, arguing that the wolf’s situation remains precarious. Meanwhile, ranchers and farmers complain of heavy financial losses from wolf attacks on livestock.

A judge in September restored endangered status to wolves in Wyoming, although those in Montana and Idaho remain off the list. The Fish and Wildlife Service is nearing a final decision on whether to lift protections across the remainder of the lower 48 states, except for a fledgling population of Mexican gray wolves in the desert Southwest.

In her opinion, Howell acknowledged the issue inspires passions on all sides but said the administration’s “practical policy reasons” for its action in the Great Lakes region don’t trump the requirements of the federal law, which “offers the broadest possible protections for endangered species by design.”

“This law reflects the commitment by the United States to act as a responsible steward of the Earth’s wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult for the localities where an endangered or threatened species resides,” Howell wrote.

The ruling came too late to halt this fall’s hunting and trapping seasons. They have concluded in Minnesota, where 272 wolves were killed, and Wisconsin, where the total was 154.

Michigan’s only hunt was in 2013, when 22 wolves were taken. During the November election, voters rejected two pro-hunting laws approved by the Legislature. But a third remains on the books, and regulators had been expected to consider scheduling another hunt next year.

Minnesota and Wisconsin officials warned residents that with wolves classified as endangered once again, it’s no longer legal to shoot those preying on livestock or pets. Wolves can be killed only if threatening human life,

More: http://news.yahoo.com/great-lakes-wolves-ordered-returned-endangered-list-212002962.html

Dog Owners Beware: Trapping Season in OR is Open

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[The title of this Oregonian article, “Trapping season is open; keep dogs safe by having them on leash,” should have read: There are 1,200 licensed trappers (plus an unknown number of unlicensed poachers, in addition to Wildlife “Services” agents) currently setting their sinister torture devices throughout Oregon, so if you don’t want your beloved pet to join the staggering number of wild animals who suffer horrible, hellish deaths at the hands of evil, vacuous trappers, you’d better keep them leashed at all times and always carry heavy duty cable cutters.]

http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2014/12/trapping_season_is_open_keep_d.html

Trapping season is open; keep dogs safe by having them on leash

by Terry Richard                         December 20, 2014

With trapping seasons under way, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds dog owners to be aware that there could be traps in areas where they walk or hike with the dogs.

Traps may be present on public land, though state regulations require they be set a certain distance from designated trails and public use areas. Traps can also be set on private land by permission of the landowner.

Dogs running loose can be accidentally captured in legally set traps, causing injury or even death. To keep your dog safe during trapping seasons, take the following steps:

Keep your dog on a leash.

Or, keep your dog in sight and under voice command _ don’t let your dog wander off, especially out of sight.

Keep your dog on designated trails and within designated public use areas. Traps must be set a certain distance away from these locations (more information below).

Remember lures and baits used by trappers can attract dogs too (another reason to keep your dog under your control).

Understand how to release a dog from a trap. Idaho Fish and Game and Alaska Fish and Game have brochures and videos with detailed how-tos.

Carry the appropriate tools (cable cutter and length of rope) to be prepared in case you need to release your dog from a trap or snare.

Furbearer regulations set restrictions on where trappers may set traps and snares on state and federal lands. Traps may not be set within 50 feet of any designated public trail or within 300 feet of any designated trailhead, public campground or picnic area. Also, killing traps with a jaw spread between 7.5 and 9 inches set on public land cannot be placed more than 50 feet from a permanent or seasonal water source.

It is illegal to disturb or remove the traps or snares of another person.  Individuals that see traps they believe are illegally set should not disturb the trap, but contact Oregon State Police. OSP can identify the owner of a legally set trap through a unique branding number required on each trap.

Oregon has about 1,200 licensed trappers. Before becoming licensed, trappers in Oregon must pass an education course that deals with topics such as wildlife identification, trapping ethics and setting traps to catch target animals.

Most trapping seasons opened Nov. 15 or Dec. 1 and end Feb. 28 or March 31. A few seasons are open the entire year, but winter is the most popular time to trap because pelts are in prime condition.

Christmas Came Early: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2014/12/fed-court-wolf-hunt-season-over-121914.html

December 19, 2014

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now

Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over

Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of wildlife protection groups, including Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the USFWS’s premature December 2011 delisting decision. The decision threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region—where state politicians and agency officials have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said, “In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”

In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species.  The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.

Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt ended this year after killing 154 wolves – 80 percent of them in leghold traps. And in Minnesota, 272 gray wolves were killed – 84 percent of the wolves in this year’s late season were trapped.

The Michigan legislature also passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. However, in response to a referendum campaign launched by The HSUS and other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, the 2014 wolf hunt was canceled and voters in Michigan soundly rejected sport hunting of wolves in the recent November election.

Despite rhetoric from state politicians about wolf depredation of livestock, a new study of 25 years of wolf data has shown that hunting wolves may increase livestock losses.  Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season, and had to apologize for misleading statements.

Today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows another ruling by the same court in September that rejected the USFWS’s decision to delist wolves in the State of Wyoming. The HSUS was also a plaintiff in the Wyoming litigation.

The plaintiffs in the Great Lakes lawsuit were represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.

Seashore asked to ban predator hunting

Vote in Poll on lower right column here:
“A group of wildlife conservationists asked Cape Cod National Seashore officials to ban hunting for meat-eating predators such as coyotes and foxes on the 44,000-acre park. Do you support the ban or the hunters?”
                                                           …

Conservationists call on park leaders to prohibit coyote and fox hunting

By Mary Ann Bragg
mbragg@capecodonline.com
Posted Dec. 12, 2014

SOUTH WELLFLEET – A request from wildlife conservationists to ban coyote and fox hunting in the Cape Cod National Seashore will be considered by the agency’s managers in the next few weeks.

Predator Defense, a conservation group in Oregon, joined with backers, including about 30 people on Cape Cod, to ask Seashore officials in a letter Tuesday to ban the hunting of meat-eating predators within the Seashore’s 44,000 acres. The Seashore boundaries include public and private lands across the Cape’s six easternmost towns.

Meat-eating predators found in the Seashore would include Eastern coyote, red fox, river otter and fisher, and in the future, could include gray fox, bobcat and black bear, according to the Predator Defense letter.

The Seashore follows state hunting regulations except for banning all hunting from March 1 through Aug. 31 and allowing a spring turkey hunt, according to Seashore Chief of Natural Resource Management Jason Taylor. The Seashore also operates under a 2007 final environmental impact statement hunting program that manages traditional hunting practices with National Environmental Policy Act standards, such as minimizing the effect on wildlife populations and ecosystems.

“The EIS was fully vetted over multiple years, so I’m not sure why we’re talking about this now,” Taylor said Thursday. Taylor said he and Seashore Superintendent George Price would likely meet to discuss the letter within the next few weeks and craft a response. He said he supported the idea in the letter that predator species are important to maintain a balance within the ecosystem, but that the Seashore is experiencing an imbalance with too many animals because of humans feeding them or leaving trash behind.

In response, Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense and wildlife conservationist Louise Kane, of Eastham, said Thursday that the Seashore had no data to back up a claim of imbalance with coyotes.

“We’d like to meet with them,” Kane said.

For 2014, state regulations allowed coyote hunting Jan. 1 through March 8, and then from Oct. 18 through the end of the year. In 2014, red and gray fox hunting was allowed Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, and then from Nov. 1 through the end of the year. There are no daily or season hunting limits for coyotes or foxes, state records show.

The state’s trapping season in 2014 for coyote and fox was Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, and the trapping season for river otter is Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. The trapping season for fisher was Nov. 1 through Nov. 22.

Statewide, there are an estimated 10,000 coyotes, and they and fox are considered abundant throughout the state including on Cape Cod, according to state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Chief of Information and Education Marion Larson. There is not a state estimate on the number of foxes, Larson said.

On Cape Cod, there are an estimated 200 to 250 coyotes at the end of the winter, before new pups are born, according to coyote researcher Jonathan Way of Barnstable. The coyotes in Massachusetts, called Eastern coyotes, are a hybrid of a coyote and a wolf, according to Way, and he refers to them as “coywolves.” Way was one of the backers of the Predator Defense letter.

The Seashore does not maintain population studies or harvest records on coyotes or other animals hunted under state regulations, Taylor said. “What we see is basically what we observe as we do the other work on the park,” he said.

State records show 24 coyotes and two red foxes were killed in the 2013-2014 season in Barnstable County. Larson said all hunters and trappers are required to report their harvests.

Way, though, said about 100 coyotes are killed each year on Cape Cod.

Coyotes have a natural ability to regulate their population size, and typically would have a pack of three or four adult animals and a territory of about 6 to 10 square miles, Way said. Killing through hunting disrupts the packs and territories and can lead to problems such as more pups being born and more predation of domestic animals, Way said.

“The national park is the ultimate place to have a setting where you can actually study them,” he said. “The population gets stable and they can actually act like a coyote.”

The concerns noted in the Predator Defense letter include that killing “top” predators such as coyotes can cause an overabundance of smaller predators. Hunting does not reduce predation, and killing coyotes for sport rather than to eat is unethical, according to the letter. Heavily hunted animals also show signs of higher stress, the letter stated.

— Follow Mary Ann Bragg on Twitter:@maryannbraggCCT. 

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Science and Sentiment Say Wolf Trophy Hunting Doesn’t Wash

Anti-wolf billboard, Spokane, WA

Anti-wolf billboard, Spokane, WA

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-pacelle/science-and-sentiment-say_b_6278208.html?utm_hp_ref=green

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Science and Sentiment Say Wolf Trophy Hunting Doesn’t Wash

 12/05/2014

If policy makers stick to their guns and continue allowing trophy hunters to kill  wolves in six states in the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions, they will be defying both science and, generally speaking, the will of voters.

Folks, the recent weeks of 2014 have brought us to a turning point. So let’s turn. It’s time to turn away from the past and catch up with the future in the way we manage predators in the wild.

The right decision now, after what we have learned, is to suspend trophy hunting and trapping programs for the small, recovering wolf populations just recently taken off the federal list of endangered species - with the knowledge that it’s the right thing to do on so many levels.

One compelling reason is science. Underlying the growing number of wolf hunts in the United States is the wrongheaded, but long-standing, belief that trophy hunting and trapping programs for wolves reduce the threat that wolves pose to cattle, sheep, and other free-ranging livestock.

Well, that theory is now in doubt. And it’s not just me who says so.

The first serious study of that theory has been released and it found just the opposite. When I say serious, I mean very serious science. Washington State University researchers dug into comprehensive statistics from 25 years of wolf “management” and found that shooting wolves indiscriminately may make things worse for farm animals. As well as for wolves.

That’s because when disrupted, wolf families adapt, move, split up, increase reproduction — and then they kill even more livestock.

Researchers found that shooting wolves indiscriminately reduces predation on cattle and sheep only when wolf populations are brought so low that, guess what, they end up protected again under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolf haters are having a hard time coping with the truth here. A spokeswoman for one Washington state group was quoted as criticizing the integrity of the 25-year statistical survey because it was sponsored by the state legislature.

Or here’s what a spokesman for Idaho’s wool growers told National Geographic: “The professor can say whatever he wants. We’re not going to just let wolves run wild.”

Well, folks, you can’t invoke science only when it suits you — as the trophy hunting lobby so often does. The science may not be the final word, but it’s an important set of facts to inform a final decision.

The other element to consider is our values: obviously, here we differ with the wool growers and the trophy hunters. But let’s face it, by all accounts, it appears their views are in the minority. The public wants more protection for wolves, in a world where we all are showing greater conscious consideration of animals.

In the first-ever plebiscite on the subject, voters in Michigan sided with wolves and against trophy hunting and trapping. Voters faced two separate votes on laws passed by the Legislature to permit wolf hunts, and both were repealed. The margins were overwhelming, 64-36 and 55-45, with one of the measures getting more than 1.8 million votes against wolf hunting, more votes than any of the statewide candidates for office received in their winning elections.

Let me add that Michigan has one of the most deeply rooted and publicly popular hunting traditions in the United States. But voters there, including hunters, understood that wolf haters were plain wrong — and that these ancient animals played a vital role in the wild ecosystem, and in fact were more valuable as a draw for tourists than as stuffed decorations in private trophy rooms. What’s more, nobody eats wolves, so the idea of killing them has no practical value, and responsible hunters don’t go for that, either.

Just as with the new science, there can be no quibbling with the meaning here.

The two pillars of good policy — independent and verified science and thoughtful electoral consensus — agree: Hunting wolves is not acceptable to the public and makes life worse for ranchers who raise cattle and sheep.

**

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This article first appeared on Wayne Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation.

Killing 890 Wolves to Learn About Them: Something’s Wrong

 

By Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. on December, 02, 2014 in Animal Emotions

An “experimental” study performed under the guise of conservation involved killing 890 Canadian wolves (and other animals) using aerial gunning, trapping, and strychnine poisoning. This research and publication represents the moral failure of the Alberta government, participating universities, the Canadian Journal of Zoology, and the scientists, and it didn’t work.  Read More