MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin wildlife officials opened a wolf season Monday after hunting advocates sued to move the start date up from November amid fears that the Biden administration might restore protections for the animals.
The hunt will run through Sunday across six management zones. The DNR set the kill limit at 200 animals, with 119 allocated to the state and the other 81 allocated to Wisconsin’s Chippewa tribes as per treaty agreements. However, the Chippewa regard the wolf as sacred and will not hunt it, leaving the working kill limit at 119.
The DNR estimates that there are at least 1,000 wolves in Wisconsin and its aim is to maintain a population of 350. The agency issued 2,380 permits, or 20 times its kill limit for non-tribal members. Department officials said Monday that they received 27,151 applications.
Wisconsin law requires the DNR to run a wolf hunt from the beginning of November through the end of February. But wolves have been bouncing on and off the federal endangered species list for the past decade. The DNR ran its first hunt in 2012 after the Obama administration removed protections and ran two more before a federal judge re-listed the animals in late 2014.
The Trump administration delisted wolves in most of the U.S. again in January. The DNR was preparing to hold a season in November, but a Kansas-based hunting advocacy group, Hunter Nation, won an order from a Jefferson County judge that forced the agency to hold a season before the end of February. The group argued that President Joe Biden’s administration could restore protections for wolves before November and deny hunters a season.
Northern Wisconsin farmers and residents say wolves kill their livestock and pets. According to DNR data, the state paid a total of $189,748 in 2019 to farmers and dog owners to compensate them for losses to wolves. It paid out $144,509 in 2018 and $102,600 in 2017.
Conservationists counter that the wolf population isn’t stable enough to support hunting them and that the animals are too beautiful to allow it.
Legislators in neighboring Minnesota have introduced dueling bills that would ban hunting wolves in that state and mandate a season. Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling for Wolves, a Minnesota-based wolf advocacy organization, issued a statement Monday condemning the Wisconsin hunt.
“As apex predators, (wolves) have the social and biological structure to control their own pack sizes and numbers,” she said. “The political decision to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for the wolf is against public sentiment and sound science.”
An animal rights group calling itself Wolf Patrol planned to monitor hunters across the northern management zones starting Monday. In 2016, then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill prohibiting people from bothering hunters in the woods in response to allegations that Wolf Patrol members followed and filmed wolf hunters in Wisconsin and Montana in 2014.
The Wisconsin DNR still plans to go ahead with another season starting in November.
This story has been updated to correct that the DNR issued 2,380 permits, not 4,000.
By Associated PressPublished: Feb. 19, 2021 at 3:51 PM PST|Updated: 18 hours ago
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has dismissed a Department of Natural Resources request to stop the wolf hunt, which is scheduled to begin next week.
The DNR was appealing a court order that requires a hunt this month. Although the Natural Resources Board authorized the wolf hunt on the judge’s orders, the DNR was nevertheless appealing the Jefferson County judge’s order which said the agency violated hunters’ constitutional rights (see related story).
But the appeals court says that the order was not a final judgment, so the appellate court has no jurisdiction over the appeal.
The weeklong wolf hunt will run from Feb. 22 through Feb. 28, and the permit application period closes at midnight Saturday. The state will issue 4,000 hunting licenses. Up to 200 animals will be allowed to be harvested.
One of the concerns raised about a proposed late winter hunting season is that it could disrupt the wolf breeding season.UW-STEVENS POINT
ListenListening…5:49WUWM’s environment reporter Susan Bence reports on a Natural Resources Board special meeting to consider a call to hold a wolf hunting and trapping season this winter.
The controversy over how the gray wolf, humans, livestock and pets can coexist is not new. The wolf has been on and off of the federal endangered species list within the last decade.
Early this month, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service delisted the wolf, transferring its management to states.
A dozen Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin sent a letter to the state’s Natural Resources Board urging approval of a hunt this winter. The letter resulted in a special board meeting Friday to discuss the issue.
Sen. Rob Stafsholt reminded the board about the 2011 statute requiring — whenever the wolf is delisted — an annual hunting and trapping season from early November through February.
“Hunting and trapping regulations from the 2014 wolf harvest season could easily be used for a current season. Science was already used for that regulation book; no new science is needed,” he said.
The Natural Resources Board sets wildlife management policy for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to follow, which includes hunting seasons.
Wisconsin has held three concurrent annual wolf harvests, the last in 2014. DNR officials are proposing the next kick off November 6, 2021.
Wildlife and Parks Division Administrator Keith Warnke said that gives the DNR time to factor in the latest science — both biological and social. He said one of the first steps is updating the state’s wolf management plan.
“Our goal is to launch a wolf management webpage in early February, launch a public input process in late April or early May, and host the first of four public meetings on the wolf management plan in July,” explained Warnke.
The need of an updated management plan now is a point of contention.
“The management plan that’s in place now, it is solid science. Clearly the science in the current plan would be fully protective of the wolf population of the state of Wisconsin,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and a former DNR secretary.
Now-retired DNR wildlife biologist Adrian Wydeven headed Wisconsin’s wolf recovery program and helped craft the existing management plan more than 20 years ago. Wydeven said new research — including population modeling and people’s attitudes about sustaining a wolf population — needs to be considered to properly steward wolves now and into the future.
“We’ve got more information on just the ecological benefits of wolves, the potential impact on things like chronic wasting diseases and using that as a factor. I think there is a lot of work that has been done since the 1999 plan that needs to be included in updating this new wolf harvest system,” he said.
On Friday, lots of people had a lot to say about the gray wolf — over four hours of testimony. At least 800 watched remotely, and more than 1,000 comments flooded the Natural Resources Board inbox.
Ryan Klusendorf wanted anyone listening to know that his fourth generation 120-cow dairy farm “on the edge of the Northwoods” in Medford is being threatened by wolves.
“Our first known harassment started in 2011 and has not stopped since and I move my cattle within 100 feet of my buildings at night to protect them, and all it did was bring wolves closer to my children as well,” he said. “I plead with you, rural Wisconsin needs the hunt now.”Wildlife specialist Abi Fergus commented on behalf of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa during the special Natural Resources Board meeting.CREDIT SCREEN SHOT
Abby Fergus said tribal input must be factored into Wisconsin’s wolf management and harvest plan. Fergus is a wildlife specialist for The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and spoke on behalf of her tribe.
“Bad River and other Anishinaabe bands have stewarded relationships with Ma’iingans (wolves) since time in memorial and hold great knowledge in this area,” she said.
Fergus warned that a decision to hold a wolf harvest in February may create unintended consequences.
“I’d like to point out the high potential for a hunt concentrated during the sensitive mating season would entail even more negative and more unpredictable impacts. Wolves that survive may experience pack breakup and these situations can lead to increased livestock depredation,” she said. “The state has legal obligations to be working with the tribes on this.”
In the end, the board took up a motion to open a wolf hunting season no later than February 10, using the 2014 harvest quotas.
It was voted down 4 to 3, after a lengthy discussion about obligations under a 1983 federal court ruling that clarified treaties signed in the 1800s with Ojibwe tribes.
DNR Chief Legal Counsel Cheryl Heilman explained the state is required to consult with tribes before, not after, a harvest plan is finalized.
“The usual process is that if the department has a committee, and so we have a wolf committee. There needs to be tribal representation. And setting the quota, ordinarily the process would allow us to consult with the wolf committee to get that tribal input. There are other ways that the department could get the tribal input, but I believe based on at least the testimony I heard here today, you haven’t yet taken that step,” she said.
For now, it looks like the DNR will move forward with updating its management plan and approving a hunt starting November 6 after, the agency says, “working collaboratively and transparently with the wide array of diverse interests associated with wolf management in Wisconsin.”
The gray wolf has been removed from the federal Endangered Species List, allowing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies to assume management of the species.
The delisting decision, announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late October and published in early November, became effective Jan. 4.
The change allows lethal measures to be used on the animals, including the killing of wolves that cause depredation of livestock as well as the use of hunting and trapping seasons to manage populations of the native predators.
In a statement, the DNR said it has “successfully managed gray wolves for decades and will continue to do so in accordance with the laws of our state and the best science available.”
The state most recently held management authority over wolves from 2012-14, when it held three hunting and trapping seasons and killed 528 wolves. A federal judge returned wolves to the Endangered Species List in Dec. 2014.
Wisconsin law requires a wolf hunting and trapping season to be held when the species is not under protections of the Endangered Species Act. The DNR plans to begin the next wolf season Nov. 6.
The agency also said it is working to complete a 10-year wolf management plan to help guide future management decisions for the species in Wisconsin.
Although delisted, it remains unlawful to shoot a wolf unless there is an immediate threat to human safety. Or, if on private land, a wolf can be shot and killed if it is in the act of killing or wounding livestock or a domestic animal such as a pet.
Under state management, the payouts for wolf depredations will also be delayed until the end of the year, and could be pro-rated based on available funds, said Brad Koele, DNR wildlife damage specialist.
State statute allows payments of $2,500 to hound hunters and others who have lost dogs to wolves. But that could be reduced if insufficient funds are available.
Wolf depredations in Wisconsin were running higher in 2020. A DNR report through the end of October showed 90 confirmed or probable wolf depredations, compared to full-year depredations of 82, 73 and 61 in 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
No wolf depredation of a farm animal or pet has occurred in Wisconsin so far in 2021, according to state data.
The DNR estimated the 2019-20 Wisconsin wolf population at a modern-era high of 1,195 animals and 256 packs.
No case of a wolf attack on a human has been verified in Wisconsin history.
If wolf depredation is seen or suspected, the public should contact USDA-Wildlife Services at (800) 228-1368 in northern Wisconsin and (800) 433-0663 in the rest of the state.
To assist with the investigation, USDA-Wildlife Services recommends not moving or unnecessarily handling a carcass as well as preserving any evidence at the kill site by using a tarp to cover a carcass to discourage scavengers and preserve any tracks, scat and other material.
The delisting was opposed by American Indian tribes and many environmental and animal protection organizations.
Several groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, have vowed to overturn the delisting through legal action.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service finalized a rule removing protections for all gray wolves in the lower-48 states except for a small population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.
The rule, proposed last year, outraged Americans, with approximately 1.8 million comments submitted by the public opposing delisting. Additionally, 86 members of Congress (in both the House and Senate), 100 scientists, 230 businesses, and 367 veterinary professionals submitted letters opposing the wolf delisting plan. Today Dr. Jane Goodall released a video in response to the decision. Even the scientific peer reviews commissioned by the Fish and Wildlife Service itself found that the agency’s proposal contained numerous errors and appeared to come to a predetermined conclusion, with inadequate scientific support. Despite this public and scientific outcry, the rule issued today removes all federal protections from gray wolves.
The following are statements from a coalition of organizations that work toward wildlife conservation:
“This is no ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment for wolf recovery,” said Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice attorney. “Wolves are only starting to get a toehold in places like Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and wolves need federal protection to explore habitat in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast. This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy – and it’s illegal, so we will see them in court.”
“Wolves are too imperiled and ecologically important to be cruelly trapped or gunned down for sport,” said Collette Adkins, Carnivore Conservation Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration is catering to trophy hunters, the livestock industry and other special interests that want to kill wolves. We’ll do everything we can to stop it.”
“The decision to remove critical protections for still-recovering gray wolves is dangerously short-sighted, especially in the face of an extinction crisis. We should be putting more effort into coexistence with wolves instead of stripping critical protections still needed for their full recovery. The science is clear that we need to be doing more to protect nature and wildlife, not less.,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
“We are disappointed in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final determination to remove federal protections for the gray wolf in the lower 48 states,” states Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA. “With current gray wolf habitats spanning states that are hostile towards the species, gray wolves still teeter on the verge of recovery. Delisting this American icon appeases a small percentage of the American public and will surely damage the viability of future populations.”
“Without the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves would never have recovered in the places where they are now,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “By removing protections across the country, the Trump Administration is abandoning efforts to restore this iconic American species to millions of acres of wild habitat.”
“Protecting and restoring the iconic call of the wolf is our duty to not only the populations of wolves that continue to be persecuted to this day, but to the ecosystems that depend upon them. Removing protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act ensures that these much-maligned creatures will continue to struggle for their rightful place in the natural world, ” stated Louie Psihoyos, Founder and Executive Director of Oceanic Preservation Society. “As we confront the 6th Mass Extinction, we must work to defend every living component to maintain nature’s complex and delicate balance.”
“Wolves are just beginning a tentative recovery in states like Washington, Oregon, California, and Colorado, and the howl of the wolf is completely absent from their natural habitats in states like Nevada and Utah,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Removing Endangered Species Act protections before wolf populations are secure, and before their recovery is complete, is ecologically irresponsible.”
“By turning over gray wolf management to the states, the Fish and Wildlife Service is relying on local management regimes that often undermine gray wolf recovery efforts,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute. “Many of the states’ wolf management plans are vague and unenforceable, lack sources of funding, and prioritize recreational hunting interests over the maintenance of viable wolf populations. Gray wolves are apex predators who play a vital role in ecosystems, contribute to a multibillion-dollar outdoor tourism industry, and are a beloved symbol of our nation’s wildlands.”
“Where wolves are unprotected, they are mercilessly persecuted, as we’ve already had a glimpse of in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, ” said Lindsay Larris, Wildlife Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “Now they are defenseless across their range, which is bad news for wolves, but good news for people who want to shoot and trap them. The Trump administration is once again destroying our shared natural resources for the interests of a few.”
“Stripping protections for gray wolves is premature and reckless,” said Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO, Jamie Rappaport Clark. “Gray wolves occupy only a fraction of their former range and need continued federal protection to fully recover. We will be taking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court to defend this iconic species.”
“If we want to save wolves, we need a national plan, if not a continental one,” said Environment America’s Conservation Program Senior Director Steve Blackledge. “Wolves need plenty of space to roam, and it just doesn’t make sense to create arbitrary boundaries for them. Do we really want to lose the hearty howl of the gray wolf on our watch?”
“You cannot have a national wolf recovery without putting forward a national wolf recovery plan. This still has not happened, so eliminating federal protections for gray wolves is a huge setback in recovery efforts,” said Sylvia Fallon, Senior Director, Wildlife for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Wolves are still missing from much of their remaining habitat in the West and throughout the Northeast. As we face a biodiversity crisis of global proportions, now is the time to restore species to the landscape – not dial back efforts. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has decided on the exact opposite.”
“The many threats that caused wolves to become endangered still exist,” said Nancy Warren, Executive Director National Wolfwatcher Coalition. “States have shown over and over again, that wolf management is based on politics rather than science. The cumulative effects of interpack strife, aggressive hunting and trapping practices, legal and illegal killings, car collisions and disease impact not only wolf populations but also the social structure of packs well beyond the extent of each individual threat.”
“Once large carnivores lose federal protections, the states often open liberal hunting and trapping seasons, purposely depleting populations,” said Garrick Dutcher, Research and Program Director for Living with Wolves. “History shows this to be especially true for the gray wolf, whose recovery is underway, but nowhere near complete. There is no biologically sound reason to lessen or remove protections for wolves.”
“The return of the wolf reflects more fully functional and wild ecosystems,” said Wolf Conservation Center Executive Director, Maggie Howell. “While we agree that wolves cannot be recovered everywhere they used to be found, there is still plenty of suitable habitat left in areas where wolves have yet to recover. Vast swaths of existing, highly suitable habitat in the Southern Rockies, parts of West, and the Northeast will now remain forever impoverished by reduced biological diversity and impaired ecosystem health.”
“Wolves are only recovered in 15% of their range at best,” stated Camilla Fox, Founder and Executive Director of Project Coyote. “Only anti-wolf bias, and certainly not credible science, would conclude that 15% constitutes a significant portion of wolves’ historic range. This completely contravenes the notion of evidence-based policy or science-based wolf recovery.”
“Given that gray wolves in the lower 48 states occupy a fraction of their historical and currently available habitat, the Fish and Wildlife Service determining they are successfully recovered does not pass the straight-face test,” said John Mellgren, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “On its face, this appears to be politically motivated. While the Trump administration may believe it can disregard science, the law does not support such a stance. We look forward to having a court hear our science-based arguments for why wolves desperately need Endangered Species Act protections to fully recover.”
“Restoring endangered species is much more than a minimum population numbers game”. stated David Parsons, Carnivore Conservation Biologist at The Rewilding Institute. “The first purpose of the ESA is to restore ecosystems that are critical to the recovery of endangered species. Gray wolves are keystone species in their ecosystems, and removing their protection under the ESA will forever preclude them from re-inhabiting significant areas historically occupied habitats, leaving these areas ecologically impoverished.”
“Until all wildlife voices are weighted equally and the state agencies inhumane and unscientific management plans are changed to reflect real Wisconsin values on wolf conservation and independent research, then the wolf hasn’t truly recovered. Endangered species conservation begins and ends with managing and educating people. Delisting would essentially throw the wolf back into the hands of the very same attitudes and practices that caused their extinction in Wisconsin,” said Melissa Smith, director of Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance and Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife.
“Entrusting states with gray wolf management is a brutal and failed experiment,” said Kimberly Baker, Executive Director of the Klamath Forest Alliance. “Idaho serves as a horrific example, where 60% of the state’s wolf population, including dozens of pups, were exterminated in a single year, destroying decades of wolf recovery efforts.”
“Delisting will cause wolves to fall prey to the whim of state governments, led by boards disproportionately represented by hunting/trapping interests,” said Karol Miller, President of The 06 Legacy. “This conflict of interest is without consideration of the positive role of wolves or the need for sufficient populations to fulfill their role as a critical keystone species in a healthy ecosystem.”
“The northeast has been totally ignored by state and federal governments despite the fact that it contains tens of thousands of square miles of potentially suitable wolf habitat, abundant prey, and is as near as sixty miles to existing wolf populations in Canada,” according to John Glowa, President of The Maine Wolf Coalition, Inc. “Furthermore, recent evidence indicates that wolves have returned to the region. This keystone predator is an essential part of the ecosystem in the northeast where deer populations are exploding and where moose are lacking natural predators. Stripping federal protection will doom natural wolf recolonization and will ensure that the ecosystem is never returned to its natural state.”
“Wolves are one of the most highly persecuted species in North America, and the humans that came before us did a remarkable job of eliminating these carnivores from our landscapes,” said Wildlands Network Conservation Director and Interim Executive Director Greg Costello. “We now recognize the ecological need for wolves, and must continue to uphold the inherent right of this species to coexist in the world.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has once more shown its blatant disregard for the values of the majority of Americans who care deeply about wolves and don’t want to see them killed for the pleasure of a few trophy hunters,” said Sara Amundson, President of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “ This politicized decision by the Trump Administration throws away decades of science-based recovery efforts and is based on the same fearmongering and hate that caused the extirpation of wolves a hundred years ago. We’ll never give up fighting to secure their permanent protection from such wanton cruelty and destruction.”
“Wolves are among the essential wildlife for healthy, resilient ecosystems, especially during these times of chaotic climate change. In addition, wolves are also valued by many Americans for their intrinsic worth as co-inhabitants of the Earth’s wildlands.” Kim Crumbo, Wildlands Coordinator, The Rewilding Institute.
“Removing protections for gray wolves amid a global extinction crisis is short-sighted and dangerous to America’s conservation legacy,” said Bart Melton, Wildlife Program Director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Rather than working alongside communities to support the return of wolves to parks and surrounding landscapes including Dinosaur National Monument, North Cascades and Lassen National Forest, the administration essentially today said, ‘good enough’ and removed Endangered Species Act protections. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal ignores the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, science, and common sense.”
“The gray wolf is a keystone species that plays a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems across its historic range,” said Danielle Kessler, U.S. Country Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “Wolf populations are far from recovered in much of their native territory. Removing federal protections now and placing wolves in the hands of state managers only threatens already fragile gains. No state has the breadth of vision to oversee recovery efforts for species that range beyond its boundaries. For the sake of our shared environment, as well as the health and survival of gray wolves themselves, federal protections remain essential for this iconic American species.”
“Howling For Wolves is adamant in our opposition to wolf trophy hunting and trapping. We have witnessed how wolf hunting and trapping harms the wolf population. Human wolf killing destroys the individual wolf, which is a magnificent and social animal, and these killings cause other secondary wolf deaths. Research shows that human wolf killing disrupts wolf packs, causing unstable and unpredictable effects including increased wolf-livestock conflicts,” said Howling For Wolves President and Founder Dr. Maureen Hackett.
Wildlife Gray wolf #DefendCarnivores, #EndTheWarOnWildlife, #EndangeredSpeciesAct, #StopExtinction
BOISE—As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that the removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection nation-wide is “very imminent,” new data from Idaho show the ugly face of state wolf management there.
According to an analysis of records obtained by Western Watersheds Project, hunters, trappers, and state and federal agencies have killed 570 wolves in Idaho during a 12-month period from July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Included in the mortality are at least 35 wolf pups, some weighing less than 16 pounds and likely only 4 to 6 weeks old. Some of the wolves shattered teeth trying to bite their way out of traps, others died of hyperthermia in traps set by the U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services, and more were gunned down in aerial control actions. The total mortality during this period represented nearly 60 percent of the 2019 year-end estimated Idaho wolf population.
“There is nothing scientific about the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s management, which seems to be guided by anti-wolf hysteria among some members of the ranching and hunting communities, rather than any sort of conservation ethic,” said Talasi Brooks of Western Watersheds Project. “It is cruel, morally and ethically reprehensible, and policy is set through a process which denies conservation interests any voice.”
About 400 wolves have been killed each year in Idaho for the past several years, and the 570 wolves killed in 2019-2020 is record-breaking, perhaps reflecting Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) incentivization of wolf killing. This level of population disruption leads to population-level effects among wolves, including population decline, a younger, destabilized population, and ultimately more livestock conflicts.
“It’s sickening to see how wolves have been slaughtered in Idaho once federal Endangered Species Act protections were lifted,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “If wolves are delisted nationwide, this cruelty could extend to all wolves within our country’s borders. This treatment of our nation’s wildlife is unacceptable.”
“Idaho’s reckless, violent, massacre of wolves and their pups not only showcases the worst of state wildlife “management,” it shines a light on the darkest corners of humanity. To maim, bludgeon and actively seek to destroy a native animal, that is familial and social by nature, is disgusting,” said Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner with WildEarth Guardians. “Tragically, the Idaho narrative clearly shows, to the rest of the country, what can happen to wolves if they are delisted from the Endangered Species Act.”
“Idaho is not ‘managing’ wolvesbut is attempting to reduce the state wolf population to the brink of federal relisting while jeopardizing region-wide recovery of a native carnivore. This inhumane mass killing of wolves abuses federal recovery objectives and is one of many reasons why Endangered Species Act protection is so important for gray wolves nationwide,” said Zoe Hanley of Defenders of Wildlife.
IDFG recently announced it had awarded approximately $21,000 in “challenge grants” to the north Idaho-based Foundation 4 Wildlife Management, which reimburses wolf trappers a bounty up to $1,000 per wolf killed. The Foundation also has received funding for wolf bounties from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. A single individual may now kill up to 30 wolves under IDFG hunting and trapping rules—a new increase from the 20 wolves previously allowed.
“It is beyond tragic that Idaho has become the poster child for animal cruelty through their pathological destruction of wolves,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “I find it hard to believe that most Idahoans would approve of this indefensible carnage being carried out on behalf of zealots in the ranching and hunting community. Time and again we see that removing Endangered Species Act protection and allowing states to manage wolves generally leads to mass slaughter.”
“Wolves are a native species and part of our iconic Western wildlife heritage,” said Derek Goldman, Northern Rockies Representative of the Endangered Species Coalition. “It’s deeply disappointing that Idaho Department of Fish and Game is abandoning science and ethics in its zeal to eradicate wolves, when many nonlethal, less-costly approaches to conflict prevention already exist.”
Gray Wolf pups. Photo by Tim Fitzharris.
Andrea Zaccardi, Center for Biological Diversity, (303) 854-7748; Zoe Hanley, Defenders of Wildlife, (509) 774-7357; Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 937-4261; Talasi Brooks, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 336-9077; Derek Goldman, Endangered Species Coalition, (406) 370-6491
Re: “Banned hunting techniques revived,” June 10 news story
One may question how much lower can this present government stoop? The small article in Wednesday’s Denver Post may give many people yet another glimpse into the inhumane and deplorable policy change regarding hunting on federal land, primarily at this point in Alaska.
According to the article’s information, the president, Donald Trump Jr., the Safari Club International, Alaskan state leaders, and hunting advocates have succeeded in reversing the Obama-era restrictions on barbaric hunting methods. Two of the many cruel methods listed in the article are “using spotlights to blind and shoot hibernating black bears and their cubs in dens, and gunning down swimming caribou from motorboats.” Maybe we don’t need to question how much lower some human beings can go.
Just today, the Department of the Interior proposed another rule, again to overturn the prior administration’s rule that barred baiting of brown bears on two million acres of public lands in the state’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Dacia Doroff/iStock.com
The Trump administration has given trophy hunters the green light to commit some of the worst sort of carnage on 20 million acres of Alaska’s pristinely beautiful national preserves.
Under a new rule finalized this week, trophy hunters can, starting next month, kill hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in their dens with the aid of artificial lights, shoot wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, use bait like donuts and meat scraps to attract brown and black bears, shoot vulnerable caribou while they are swimming (including with the aid of motorboats), and use dogs to hunt black bears.
This is yet another dastardly move from an administration that, from the start, has carried out a no-holds-barred assault on America’s—and the world’s—most precious wildlife. From weakening protections for native American wildlife covered by the Endangered Species Act to allowing trophy hunters to import the trophies of endangered animals likerhinos and lions, the Department of the Interior, under Trump, has consistently played into the hands of trophy hunters and other corporate interests to dismantle the progress we’ve made for wildlife over decades.
A lot of this, including the National Park Service rule finalized this week, has involved reversing protections for wildlife put in place by the Obama administration.
And they’re not done. Just today, the Department of the Interior proposed another rule, again to overturn the prior administration’s rule that barred baiting of brown bears on two million acres of public lands in the state’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Hunting of brown bears over bait is an extreme practice and biologists have been raising alarms about the loss of brown bear populations in Alaska.
We already know what the carnage sanctioned by these rule changes will look like. Before the 2015 rule, thousands of bears and wolves were shot from the air, killed over bait barrels, clubbed or shot in their dens and hunted down with lights at night. Many of these cruel practices professed to reduce numbers of iconic predators in order to boost prey species for hunters, but science has shown that nature cannot be manipulated this way without terrible results.
We have seen brown bear numbers across Alaska dwindle because of intensive management. State lands, where the egregious practices now permitted by the NPS rule are already allowed by the Alaska Board of Game, have seen sharp drops in wildlife populations. Alaska state officials should prefer their wildlife alive rather than dead because the tens of thousands of wildlife watchers who trek into the state each year put far more money into the state’s coffers than a handful of trophy hunters seeking to kill the animals do.
The Humane Society of the United States, along with a coalition of organizations, is currently in federal court defending the Obama-era NPS and Kenai rules. These changes are unlawful because Congress requires that the Department of the Interior conserve and protect wildlife in national preserves and national wildlife refuges. By opening season on the animals it’s supposed to protect just to appease a few trophy hunters, the agency—and this administration—have not only shown themselves to be extremely poor stewards of our public lands, they have let down a majority of Americans who would never sanction such cruelty against our native wildlife.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
The National Park Service is rolling back Obama-era regulations that banned hunters in Alaska’s national preserves from using food to lure black and brown bears out of their dens.
The new rules will also let hunters use artificial light to attract black bears and their cubs, shoot caribou from motorboats, and hunt wolves and coyotes during the denning season, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The Obama administration enacted the regulations in order to prevent the destabilization of Alaska’s ecosystems.
This change is “amazingly cruel,” Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director for the Center for Western Priorities, told The Guardian, and is “just the latest in a string of efforts to reduce protections for America’s wildlife at the behest of oil companies and trophy hunters.”
Several Native American tribes criticized the original rule, opposing it due to rural Alaskans needing wild food sources. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) cheered the reversal, saying it was necessary “not only as a matter of principle, but as a matter of states’ rights.” Catherine Garcia