Letters: Allowing animal cruelty in hunting is a new low

Peter Kuper, PoliticalCartoons.com

Allowing animal cruelty in hunting is a new low

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.

Linnea Wilkinson, Aurora

Trump administration opens Alaska’s national preserves to cruel practices like trophy-hunting denning bears and wolves and their cubs; proposes disbanding protections on Kenai Wildlife Refuge

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

June 10, 2020 0 Comments

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.

Trump administration to ease rules for hunting bears and their cubs in Alaska

2:02 a.m.

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

Alexander Archipelago Wolves Need Urgent Help Following Record Killings in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/alexander-archipelago-wolves-need-urgent-help-following-record-killings-in-alaskas-tongass-national-forest-2020-04-15/

JUNEAU, Alaska― Conservation groups today called on the U.S. Forest Service to take immediate steps to protect Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest following word that 97 percent of the most recent estimated population was killed this past trapping season.

In their letter the groups also urged the agency to implement other wolf-conservation measures established in a 2017 habitat-management program developed specifically to protect this vulnerable population.

“This is a shocking number of wolves to have been taken, and once again there has to be concern for the viability of wolves on Prince of Wales Island,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The U.S. Forest Service must engage with the state on wolf management decisions to ensure that this imperiled wolf population and its forest habitat will remain healthy for future generations,”

Today’s letter follows a March 5 announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that 165 wolves out of an estimated population of 170 (as of fall 2018) were legally trapped during the 2019-2020 season in the game management unit that includes Prince of Wales and surrounding islands. This record number of killings is in addition to any illegal killing, which is known to have been significant in the past.

“While wolf management has always been a controversial issue in Southeast Alaska, it simply belies common sense for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to allow legal trapping of 97% of any game population,” said Meredith Trainor, executive director for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “With this letter we’re calling on the U.S. Forest Service to take a larger role in, at a minimum, ensuring sustainably managed wolf populations on Prince of Wales Island by partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to immediately return to the quota system.

The department lifted the wolf-trapping quota for this past season despite the fact that the population had only recently rebounded after falling to a historic low in 2014. Had the quota been in place, the legal trapping limit would have been 34 wolves.

“The unprecedented killing of these imperiled wolves is an appalling and completely predictable result of reckless mismanagement,” said Shaye Wolf, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s difficult to see how state and federal officials can allow hunting and trapping next season without completely wiping out these wolves. They have a duty to protect these beautiful animals from extinction.”

In previous years the quota had been set at about 20% of the population estimate, and sometimes significantly lower than that due to conservation concern for the population. The Tongass Land Management Plan directs the U.S. Forest Service to “assist in managing legal and illegal wolf mortality rates to within sustainable levels” and to “develop and implement a wolf habitat management program in conjunction with” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Forest Service finalized that plan in 2017.

Background
Alexander Archipelago wolves and their rainforest home are under continued threats from industrial logging, road building, unsustainable trapping and hunting and large-scale habitat loss.

The population of wolves in the management unit decreased from an estimated mean of 336 animals in 1994 to just 89 animals in 2014.

Concern about the animal’s survival led the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to develop a Wolf Habitat Management Program. The program identified the key components of wolf management on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands as deer habitat, roads, mortality, den management and human dimensions. The program provided key recommendations in each category.

This interagency group considered quotas to be an important management tool in regulating mortality, reflected in these management recommendations:

● Maintain flexibility in quota management to alter quotas on a yearly basis to ensure wolf population and harvest sustainability;

● Continue to incorporate unreported human-caused mortality rates in developing wolf-harvest quotas using best available data;

● Monitor the wolf population to help evaluate program effectiveness;

● Prioritize and increase enforcement in pre-season and beginning of season, increase enforcement capabilities, and prioritize wolf-trapping season patrols in the game management unit.

Following implementation of the wolf-management program, the population recovered from a low mean estimate of 89 wolves in fall 2014 to 231 animals in fall 2016 and 225 wolves in fall 2017 before dropping to a mean estimate of 170 animals in fall 2018. The population estimates take several months to develop, so the fall 2019 estimate will not be available until August or September.

In addition to eliminating the wolf quota, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game also removed in-season monitoring of wolf mortality in the management unit. The department gave trappers more time to bring killed wolves to state officials for tagging and counting. The new deadline is up to 30 days after the trapping season ends, instead of 14 days after the animals are killed.

Alexander Archipelago wolf
Alexander Archipelago wolf. Photo credit: ©Robin Silver / Center for Biological Diversity Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Defenders.org/newsroom

FWP may expand wolf hunting opportunities in NW Montana

https://www.kpax.com/news/montana-and-regional-news/fwp-may-expand-wolf-hunting-opportunities-in-nw-montana

Posted: 6:37 AM, Feb 06, 2020
Updated: 8:06 AM, Feb 06, 2020

FWP may expand wolf hunting opportunities in NW Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is recommending changes to the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in northwest Montana.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider these proposals at the February 13 meeting.

FWP’s proposals for Region 1 include:

  • Extend the general hunting season to begin Aug. 15 and end March 31. Currently, archery season begins Sept. 1, general season begins Sept. 15 and ends March 15.
  • Extend trapping season to March 15. Currently, the trapping season ends Feb. 28.
  • Increase the individual limit to 10 wolves per person. Currently, the limit is five per person.
  • If approved by the Commission, these proposed changes would take effect in Region 1.

These proposals emerged from the latest biennial season-setting process that involved the review of hunting season structures for most game animals and other managed species. FWP regional staff met and took input from local communities at four meetings across northwest Montana this winter. Public comment was also received online from Dec. 5 to Jan. 27 and forwarded to commissioners and FWP staff for their consideration.

FWP will recommend extending the public comment period through March 16 for these changes to the original hunting season proposals.

“We heard from a substantial number of people attending the public meetings throughout northwest Montana who requested additional opportunity for wolves. Biologically, we have the wolf population to sustain additional harvest opportunity and wanted to be responsive to public input and participation,” FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson said.

The Commission will consider these and other proposals from the statewide season-setting process at its Feb. 13 meeting in Helena. The meeting will be streamed live via video to all FWP regional offices. The meeting will also be audio streamed online at fwp.mt.gov . The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. For the full agenda and background on the scheduled topics, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov ; under “Quick Links” click “Commission.”

Delisting Wolves and the Impending Wolf Slaughter

JULY 12, 2019

Delisting Wolves and the Impending Wolf Slaughter

by MICHAEL LUKAS FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
On July 15, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will close comments on its proposed rule to delist wolves from the endangered and threatened species lists. While this rule may seem to be just one of many attempts in a decade-long battle over grey wolf listing to eliminate protections for wolves and turn management over to states in places where wolves have returned, such as the Northern Rockies and Upper Midwest, this rule goes far beyond any previous USFWS delisting proposal by eliminating protections for all wolves in the lower 48 states, essentially declaring 85% of the grey wolf’s historical range insignificant to wolf recovery, ending federal protections and oversight. Given recent state management, it is difficult to see how this delisting will not result in isolated populations of wolves heavily and lethally “managed” through hunting, trapping, culling, and poaching in their current range, and a free-for-all slaughter of wolves that migrate outside those zones, keeping wolves from re-establishing their populations in places like Colorado (which has habitat for an estimated 1000 wolves)[1], where they are already returning.

While I am not a biologist, as are many of the hundred signatories to a recent open letter[2] to the USFWS opposing the proposed wolf delisting rule due to the Service’s lack of attention to “the best available science” (a mandate of the Endangered Species Act), as a researcher who has studied the discourse and human dimensions of wolf management for the last decade and recently completed a doctoral dissertation that focuses on the politics and rhetoric of wolf management, particularly in the U.S., it’s nonetheless incumbent upon me to emphasize the likely implications of wolf delisting in this current moment. This is because, as many of these scientists recognize, the proposed wolf delisting rule is not a decision prompted by science, but is, rather, a socio-political decision grounded in accepting the social intolerance of wolves. This delisting, I argue, will inevitably lead to the needless deaths of wolves, as migrating grey wolves (a native species) are prevented from re-establishing themselves in states that have wolf habitat but where lobbyists for agribusiness, privatization of public lands, and trophy hunting outfitters, are pushing state legislatures to keep wolves out (such as Colorado, Utah, and North Carolina) or further reduce populations (like the Upper Midwest and Northern Rockies) to satisfy and maximize their own private economic interests over those of the public and intent of the Endangered Species Act.

When canis lupus was listed as a species on the ESA in 1978, the entire species “grey wolf” was listed as endangered throughout the coterminous states, aside from Minnesota, where it was listed as threatened. Recovery of the species, as Judge Beryl Howell re-confirmed in a 2014 decision rejecting another delisting attempt by FWS, would thus amount to a return of the grey wolf to a “significant portion of its historical range.” Howell’s decision exposed the FWS rule as an attempt to circumvent the original listing of the entire species by designating the ‘Eastern wolf’ a subspecies that was now extinct, thereby eliminating the entire eastern half of the country outside the Upper Midwest as historical grey wolf range and possible future grey wolf habitat. While that sub-speciation effort to delist and contract historic wolf range failed, FWS has nonetheless proclaimed that the range this purported wolf occupied is now no longer “a significant portion” of the listed species canis lupus’ “historical range.” Indeed, while grey wolf populations have increased in 15% of the historical range, much of that range (including the Central Rockies, the Northeast, Lower Midwest, Central Appalachia and the Pacific Northwest) remains unoccupied by wolves. However, it is almost a certainty that wolves will migrate to, and establish populations in, available habitat in this historical range in the near future. Without adequate protections, these wolves are sure to face lethal control and persecution in states where the agribusiness lobby, big game hunting industry, and privatization advocates hold immense sway, such as presently seen in Utah, Colorado, and Eastern Washington and Oregon.

Indeed, the very contraction of grey wolf range proposed in the current delisting proposal ultimately is not based upon available habitat, historical range, or the best available science. Instead, it is based on an agricultural model of wildlife management that “ranches” wolves, allowing wolves on the land so long as they are contained (ranched) and lethally controlled (slaughtered) where they exist. Given their often close ties with the agricultural industry and extractive land users, it should perhaps not be surprising that wildlife managers defer to this agricultural model and its perception that social intolerance should be a determinative factor in designating suitable wolf habitat—a designation that is wholly at odds with the scientific definition of habitat[3], which is any place that provides for the needs of a species. Indeed, it could be said that a perceived lack of social tolerance amongst even a minority of the population in places such as Utah, Colorado, and North Carolina is considered determinative of the suitability of that habitat. However, as Justice Howell notes in the 2014 decision:

While the FWS and the defendant-intervenors may have practical policy reasons for

attempting to remove the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, those policy reasons cannot overcome the strictures imposed by the ESA. The ESA 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.

As Howell recognizes, protections for endangered species may often be “inconvenient or difficult” where co-existence occurs, but this alone should not be determinative of endangered status or protections more generally. Indeed, basing species protections on a lack of social tolerance would be no different than withholding protections of the Civil Rights Act for vulnerable minorities in localities where people lack social tolerance of such minorities—something we’re seeing the consequences of with voting restrictions in states now exempted from the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

So, while the grey wolf has come back from extirpation in a small portion of its range in the coterminous U.S., the listed entity canis lupus, whose range was originally designated as the near entirety of the lower-48, has not recovered in a way that would allow for delisting of the species throughout the United States. As Carlos Carrol–one of the biologists selected by the FWS to review the proposed delisting rule–emphasizes, FWS’ restrictive definition of wolf “range” to their current range is not only temporally arbitrary, but produces “perverse incentives” to eliminate wolves (or any species whose range is treated as such) to prevent their recovery by killing them before they become established. Indeed, Carrol notes that Utah’s Senate bill 36 explicitly proposes to “manage wolves to prevent the establishment of a viable pack” where they are not already protected[4]. Thus, the likely result of delisting wolves from the entirety of their range is that wolves will be heavily hunted, culled, and trapped where they exist, and unprotected and extirpated everywhere else, should they escape from such “management” in the habitat they currently occupy.

If anything, the American public should be suspicious of any delisting of canis lupus in a climate where lobbying efforts are dominated by minority interests like agribusiness and anti-regulation entrepreneurs—such as Americans for Prosperity, who promote exaggerated fears and effects of wolves[5]. As Carol and other researchers have noted, while it’s become increasingly evident from recent wolf range expansion in the Great Lakes and Europe that wolves “can persist in semi-developed landscapes if anthropogenic mortality is kept relatively low,”[6] doing so will require rejecting social intolerance as a determining factor in wolf recovery. Rather than putting resources into delisting wolves due to such pressure, FWS should instead work with wolf researchers, social scientists, human dimensions researchers, and environmental educators to develop programs to increase social tolerance, both in the range where wolves are and where they are soon to re-inhabit.

You can express your opposition to USFWS’ proposed rule by commenting on the federal website by July 15th:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0097-0001

Idaho GOP considers ‘wolf hunter sanctuary state’ proposal

Parents’ rights and decriminalizing marijuana also on the table at meeting that concludes today in Boise

Idaho GOP officials will consider a proposal to designate Idaho a “wolf hunter sanctuary state” during their summer meeting in Boise today.

The two-day convention, which began Friday, gives party members from across the state an opportunity to mingle and meet with elected officials. It’s also a chance to take positions on various topics of interest and tweak party procedures.

The election of a new state party chairman highlights today’s agenda. However, officials will also consider a number of resolutions and proposed rule changes — several of which were submitted by Republicans from north central Idaho.

The list includes a new “platform loyalty and accountability” rule, which allows the state central committee to judge, reprimand and sanction any Republican legislator deemed to have undermined and opposed the core principles of the Republican Party.

The rule, proposed by the Idaho County Central Committee, lays out the procedure for challenging a legislator’s commitment to the party principles.

If the lawmaker is found guilty, a warning will be issued; if he or she is found guilty of a second violation, the committee would have the authority to withdraw the party’s endorsement, and the legislator would no longer be recognized as a Republican.

The Clearwater County Central Committee proposed the resolution designating Idaho a “wolf hunter sanctuary state.”

The measure cites the impact wolves have on the state’s moose, deer and elk populations, as well as on livestock. It also notes that Democratic jurisdictions have created various sanctuary regions by refusing to cooperate with federal officials on detaining illegal immigrants or other issues.

The resolution calls on the state central committee to work with Idaho lawmakers to pass legislation prohibiting Department of Fish and Game employees, as well as county and city officials, from assisting the federal government in enforcing any laws regarding wolves.

Once such legislation is approved, “hunters will be allowed to shoot and kill an unlimited number of wolves with no interference from any state or local officials,” the resolution declares.

Out-of-state hunters who have the necessary tags and licenses to hunt other game would also be allowed to purchase a special wolf permit for $10.

The Latah County Central Committee submitted a resolution supporting multiyear licensing for boats, motorhomes, ATVs and other recreational vehicles.

The resolution suggests that discounted three- and five-year licenses be created.

The Benewah County Central Committee proposed a resolution “to protect the rights of parents concerning their child’s health, safety and well-being.”

The resolution cites government-mandated vaccines, anti-homeschooling sentiments, the gay rights agenda and driver education requirements as potential threats to the fundamental right of Idaho parents to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children.

The measure encourages the Idaho Republican Party to support a parents’ rights amendment to the Idaho Constitution.

Other resolutions being considered at this year’s meeting include a proposal for at least one employee of every school to be designated a school security officer and be authorized to carry a concealed weapon; a proposal to decriminalize marijuana and all other forms of cannabis; and a measure supporting President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national border emergency.

Oregon wildlife commissioners adopt hotly contested wolf management plan

Commissioners with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted a new plan to manage the state's gray wolf population on Friday. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP)

AP -WR

Commissioners with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted a new plan to manage the state’s gray wolf population on Friday. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP)

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After years or revisions, scores of contentious meetings, an outside mediator and the abandonment of talks by half of the stakeholders, Oregon wildlife commissioners approved the state’s long-overdue Wolf Management Plan on Friday.

In a 6 to 1 vote, the 155-page plan, which governs how wolves are handled in the areas of the state where they don’t enjoy federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, was approved by the seven-member commission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We see a lot of concern on both sides of this plan,” she said. “For someone like me, who has looked forward to seeing wolves living free on our landscape, it’s time to celebrate.”

The state’s first wolf plan was issued in 2005, before any wolves had actually come back to the state after decades of extirpation due to hunting and trapping. Language in the original plan called for updates every five years and, in 2010, just a year after wolves had been confirmed in the northeast corner of Oregon, the second version of the plan was released. At the time, at least 21 of the canids were known to wander the state’s rural areas.

When it came time to update the plan for 2015, though, stakeholders on both sides — hunters and ranchers on one side, environmentalists and wolf advocates on the other — couldn’t come to a consensus on some of the most sensitive issues. Over the following years, facilitated meetings were held all over the state in an effort to find compromise between the two sides.

Much of the tension surrounding the wolf plan boils down to when wolves can be killed, why and by whom. The latest revision has some key changes to the plan’s most controversial provisions.

Under the old plan, a wolf that attacked livestock twice or more over any period of time was deemed a “chronic depredator” and could be killed in the eastern third of the state, where wolves are managed by the state. The new plan will allow the state to kill wolves after two confirmed attacks during a nine month period.

State officials have stressed that when a wolf meets that threshold, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be killed. Non-lethal deterrents like fencing, alarm devices, hazing and removal of carcasses must be documented before a permit to kill a wolf can be issued. Even then, the state can exercise its own discretion, taking other factors into account before allowing a wolf to be killed.

“Discretion is more valuable than an actual number,” said Derek Broman, the state’s carnivore coordinator and one of the key architects of the plan. “When lethal action is taken, it’s not retribution.”

Once a wolf is deemed a chronic threat to livestock, however, the state can issue a permit for lethal action against the animal and, because staff and resources available to the state are limited, those permits can be issued to members of the public. That kind of action, called “controlled take,” was clarified in an amendment to the plan that said any permits issued to the public would require approval from the commission. Still, wolf advocates remained fiercely opposed to the provision, saying it could open the door to wolf hunts by the general public.

“With just 137 wolves in the state, it is absurd that ODFW would put hunting on the table,” Sristi Kamal, Northwest representative of Defenders of Wildlife, told commissioners. A spokesman for Rep. Peter DeFazio read a letter from the Oregon congressman that called for the provision allowing permitted hunting by the public, even under very specific circumstances, to be stripped from the plan.

Akenson responded that the commission would not issue permits lightly.

“This commission isn’t going to meet and say ‘Yep, let’s do it.’” she said. “It’s going to be a deliberative process.”

Numerous ranchers and hunters expressed concern over some aspects of the plan. Many said the state didn’t do enough to track wolves, particularly in Wallowa County, where the majority of wolves reside and most attacks on livestock take place. When a wolf is suspected of killing livestock, it must be confirmed by an investigation and many ranchers said it could take up to a week for investigators to show up, time when evidence can degrade and a confirmation becomes more difficult. Without a confirmation, ranchers aren’t eligible for compensation from the state.

Others livestock producers said, given the continued growth of the wolf population, the state should establish “management zones,” defined geographic areas that would have a maximum number of wolves. Any wolves in the area beyond the maximum could be killed.

Though both sides found parts of the plan they disagreed with, many in the ranching community urged commissioners to adopt the plan as it was written, while environmental advocates pressed officials to revise the plan or remove the provisions they found most troubling.

After public comment concluded, Commissioner Gregory Wolley, the sole “no” vote, acknowledged the divide in the room.

“We have one side that seems to support the plan despite its imperfections, while the other side is 100 percent against it,” he said. “We say we’re trying to go down the middle, but that doesn’t sound like a compromise.”

Friday’s commission meeting came against the backdrop of a push from federal regulators to strip the wolf of protections under the Endangered Species Act. That plan, like Oregon’s plan but on a larger scale, has been met with condemnation from advocates and scientists, but was welcomed by hunters and ranching industry groups.

Oregon wildlife commissioners adopt wolf management plan

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Oregon wildlife commissioners have approved the state’s long-overdue Wolf Management Plan after years of revisions, contentious meetings, an outside mediator and half the stakeholders abandoning talks.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the plan to govern how wolves are handled in areas of the state where they don’t enjoy federal protection under the Endangered Species Act was approved Friday by the commission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The state’s first wolf plan was issued in 2005, before any wolves had come back to the state after decades of extirpation due to hunting and trapping. The second version of the plan came out in 2010, a year after wolves had been confirmed in Oregon.

The plan finally approved Friday came after hunters and ranchers, and environmentalists and wolf advocates squared off over when wolves can be killed, why and by whom.

News release from ODFW:

Commission adopts revised Wolf Plan in 6-1 vote

SALEM, Ore.—The Commission adopted a Wolf Plan today at its meeting in Salem in a 6-1 vote after hearing from 44 people who came to testify and reviewing thousands of public comments.

Allowing controlled take (limited regulated hunting and trapping of wolves) was one of the most controversial topics in the new Wolf Plan. The original Plan adopted in 2005 allowed for controlled take only in Phase 3 (currently eastern Oregon), in instances of recurring depredations or when wolves are a major cause of ungulate populations not meeting established management objectives or herd management goals. While ODFW believed it needed to remain a tool available for wolf management, the department has not proposed any controlled take of wolves and has no plans to at this time.

Commissioners made some changes related to “controlled take” from the proposed Plan.  An addendum was added clearly stating that “Use of controlled take as a management tool requires Commission approval through a separate public rulemaking process” and the definition of controlled take was modified.

Additional minor changes were made to emphasize the importance of non-lethal tools to address wolf-livestock conflict and easy access to this information. Non-lethal measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflict continue to be emphasized in all phases of the Plan, and required before any lethal control is considered.

After some discussion, Commissioners revised the definition of chronic depredation (which can lead to lethal control of wolves if non-lethals are in use and not working) in Phase 2 and 3 from two confirmed depredations with no specific time frame to two confirmed depredations in nine months.

The Wolf Plan will be filed with the Secretary of State and posted on the ODFW Wolves webpage (www.odfw.com/wolves) within the next few business days.

·Allocated big game auction and raffle tags for 2020.

·Heard a briefing on the crab fishery and reducing the risk of whale entanglements.

·Adopted harvest limits for Pacific sardine in state waters for July 2019-June 2020 based on federal regulations.

·Approved funding for Access and Habitat projects that provide hunting access or improve wildlife habitat on private land.

·Heard a briefing on proposed changes to 2020 big game hunting regulations as part of efforts to improve and simplify the Big Game Hunting Regulations

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. Its next meeting is Aug. 2 in Salem.

Newhouse heads bipartisan contingent in seeking to delist gray wolf as endangered

Newhouse heads bipartisan contingent in seeking to delist gray wolf as endangered

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) this week headed a bipartisan contingent in supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s proposed rule to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the contiguous United States.

“The gray wolf should be considered a success story of the Endangered Species Act,” Rep. Newhouse said on Tuesday.

Because gray wolves now are found across the United States and globally, their populations should be managed in America at the local level by individual states, wrote Rep. Newhouse and 33 other bipartisan members of Congress in a May 28 letter sent to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

“State and local governments, tribes, and other stakeholders are best suited to develop effective, local management plans for gray wolf populations,” the members wrote. “We should be empowering them to do so — not hindering them with unscientific, burdensome federal regulations.”

Among the 33 members joining Rep. Newhouse in signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Greg Walden (R-OR), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Bill Flores (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN).

Rep. Newhouse and his colleagues wrote that a USFWS 2013 review determined gray wolf recovery goals had been achieved, but the agency’s proposed rule to remove them from the ESA was stalled by objecting environmental groups.

Now, according to their letter, “We cannot let scientific findings fall victim to politically motivated attacks. As the proposed rule demonstrates, the gray wolf is a success story of the ESA.”

The lawmakers want the USFWS proposed rule finalized swiftly, they wrote.

“Federally delisting the gray wolf will allow Washington state to implement the comprehensive wolf management plan that will give relief to farmers, ranchers and communities that are affected by growing wolf populations,” Rep. Newhouse said.