Wolves need federal protection

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/guest/wolves-need-federal-protection/article_030ddd4a-8116-5f45-aa00-05b19554c64a.html

by Collette Adkins

The tragic killing of a gray wolf mistaken for a coyote in North Dakota’s Walsh County recently is a painful reminder of why wolves still need federal endangered species protections.

This poor creature was the first known wolf in North Dakota since one was confirmed in Bowman County in December 2014. Before that, hunters in McKenzie County killed one in 2012.

These wolf deaths are bad for North Dakota’s ecosystems, which are out of balance without large carnivores.

Because wolves target the weak, diseased, old and injured, they help keep prey populations of deer and elk more vigorous. Wolves also promote biodiversity by preventing prey from overgrazing vegetation, degrading habitat and harming other native wildlife.

The death of this wolf is a blow to wolf recovery in the state.

Although wolves elsewhere in the country have made significant progress under the protections of the Endangered Species Act, they are nowhere near fully recovered.

Wolves have returned to only about 10 percent of their historic range in the United States and could return to areas of North Dakota with abundant prey, such as the Badlands — if people would stop killing them.

Indeed, with Endangered Species Act protections, the wolf population in Minnesota grew and wolves dispersed to begin repopulating Wisconsin and then Michigan. Recovery to additional Midwest and Great Lakes states depends on the protections afforded by the act.

But if elected officials from those areas have their way, wolves will be stripped of federal protections. Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are pushing for removing those protections to appease livestock producers and trophy hunters. They have introduced legislation in Congress, HR424 and S164, that would remove federal protections without any review by the courts and turn wolf management over to states.

As an attorney working for more than a decade to protect wolves and stop cruel wildlife exploitation, I know these bills would be devastating.

We’ve already seen how states treat wolves when they are allowed management. As soon as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolf protections — prematurely — in 2012, Minnesota and Wisconsin worked to open trophy hunting and trapping seasons, contributing to a 25 percent decline in Minnesota.

When the court restored protections, wolf populations in Minnesota began to rebound. That shows that the Endangered Species Act works.

Wolves are an important part of our natural heritage but were driven to the brink of extinction across much of the country more than a century ago. They deserve a real chance at recovery. And, for starters, that means continued federal protections in Minnesota and across the Midwest and more tolerance for them on the ground.

One day, hopefully, we’ll see them breeding again in North Dakota.

Collette Adkins is a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

 

Congress Rolls Back Obama-Era Rule On Hunting Bears And Wolves In Alaska

A pair of brown bears play in a pond at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage Glacier, Alaska, in 2009.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

By a largely party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that repeals Obama-era hunting restrictions on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House already voted last month to abolish those restrictions — which were instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 to protect predator species from hunters — and so the bill now heads to the desk of President Trump, who is widely expected to sign it.

The FWS rule facing repeal explicitly prohibited many kinds of “predator control” on the 16 federally owned refuges in Alaska. That prohibition included a ban on the aerial hunting, live trapping or baiting of predators such as bears and wolves — as well as killing those predators while near their dens or their cubs.

Alaska Rep. Don Young, the Republican sponsor of the bill passed Tuesday, says these restrictions represented federal overreach.

“Not only does this action undermine Alaska’s ability to manage fish and wildlife upon refuge lands,” Young said, “it fundamentally destroys a cooperative relationship between Alaska and the federal government.”

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, also representing Alaska, echoed those concerns Tuesday, saying the restrictions changed the state’s relationship with FWS “from one of cooperation to subservience,” The Associated Press reports.

“This rule is about Alaska,” he said.

Others, like Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, were not convinced.

“This isn’t about states’ rights,” she said, according to the wire service. “It’s not about prohibiting hunting. … It’s about how we can manage these wildlife refuges to the degree that agencies believe are necessary for the preservation of these wildlife heritage areas.”

As the Alaska Dispatch News points out, this debate gets to the core of a long-running dispute:

“At the heart of the disagreement between state and federal wildlife managers is what each group thinks should guide its purpose. The federal government has argued that the goal on refuges and in parks should be biodiversity. The state Board of Game has an interest in ensuring maximum sustained populations for hunting.”

Ensuring the “maximum sustained populations” of commonly hunted prey species like elk, moose and caribou often means reining in the populations of their predators — namely, bears and wolves. In the 2016 restrictions, federal regulators argued that the Alaskan Board of Game had gone too far in prioritizing the populations of prey species over predators.

It was an argument pursued by several Democratic senators, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, and environmental groups who were opposed to the rollback.

“This isn’t hunting — it’s slaughter,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Killing wolves and bears in this cruel, unsportsmanlike fashion is outrageous, especially in national wildlife refuges that belong to all Americans.”

He added: “Repealing these protections also undermines the critical role predators play in healthy ecosystems.”

Still, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says these objections come from activists unfamiliar with Alaska, where “state management of fish and wildlife is practically sacrosanct.”

“Opponents will allege that the repeal of this rule will legalize brutal predator control practices,” Murkowski said, according to the Dispatch News. “The Senate should know that it is already illegal for hunters to use certain practices — gas against wolves, traps to bears. You can’t do this in national wildlife refuges in Alaska.”

In working to repeal the FWS rule, Republican lawmakers turned again to the Congressional Review Act, a measure they also used to great effect last month in rolling back another Obama-era regulation.

As we explained then, the CRA is a means to review and cancel regulations issued in the final days of an outgoing administration: “The move allows the Senate to proceed with a simple majority, thus enabling GOP senators to avoid a filibuster by Democrats.”

Latest: Gray wolves delisted in Wyoming

http://www.hcn.org/articles/latest-gray-wolves-are-no-longer-endangered

  • A gray wolf in Wyoming’s upper Gros Ventre drainage.

    Mark Gocke/Wyoming Game and Fish Department

BACKSTORY
In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced endangered gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, and they soon spread throughout the Northern Rockies. After a series of lawsuits, in 2011 Congress delisted wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. (“How the gray wolf lost its endangered status— and how enviros helped,” HCN, 6/6/11). In Wyoming, wolves remained listed until 2012, when they came under state management. Conservation groups sued, and federal protection was restored in 2014.

FOLLOWUP
In a March 3 ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision. Wyoming’s wolves will again be placed under state management, and Wyoming will implement its 2012 plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight across most of the state. “This decision highlights that Congress should not step in to block judicial review under the Endangered Species Act,” wrote Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso in a statement. Plaintiffs say they may ask for a rehearing.

A savage attack on predators

https://www.abqjournal.com/969229/a-savage-attack-on-predators.html

WASHINGTON – In its zeal to repeal, the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to overturn a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule forbidding the baiting, trapping and “denning” of bears and wolves in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges.The Senate is poised to consider the resolution as soon as next week.

Distilled to its essence, Alaska’s politicians want to reduce bear and wolf populations so hunters will have more moose and caribou to kill. Alaska’s full congressional delegation – Rep. Don Young and Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (all Republicans) – is behind the push.

Arguing for passage of H.J. Res. 69, Young told of entering wolf dens and killing mother and pups back when he worked as a bounty hunter of predators. Presumably, this was intended to impress his fellow legislators, as are his office walls, which are bedecked with animal trophies.

This isn’t an anti-hunting column. I’m on record supporting humane hunting for food, and I recognize that without hunters, many of whom are ardent conservationists, many wetlands would have been drained for commercial development. This is a plea for common sense, compassion and conservation. What are wildlife refuges, after all, if not refuges for wildlife?

The underlying so-called principle behind the resolution is the GOP’s promise to reduce job-killing regulations. While zealous regulation has led to some corporate outsourcing – and responsible tweaks can be made here and there – not one job is protected nor one dime saved by overturning the wildlife agency’s rule.

One could even argue that Young’s move is anti-business. Alaska’s greatest resource second only to oil is tourism. People go to Alaska to hunt but also to visit the parks and see the animals. Watching animals, in fact, brings Alaska more tourism dollars than hunting does, according to Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game.

The sheer savagery of what would become lawful if the Senate falls prey to its companion resolution (S.J. Res. 18) should give pause to anyone with a heartbeat.

Hunters could scout grizzlies from the air and then be deposited on the ground to kill them. (Aerial shooting is still forbidden.) They could hunt wolves during denning season, either shooting a mother wolf, thus dooming her babies, or entering the den and killing all, frequently with gas. Hunters could also bait, trap or snare, causing an agonizing death usually exacerbated by freezing temperatures. The traps are steel-jawed. A snare is a wire that wraps around an animal’s neck, then tightens as it pulls away.

These enhanced methods would target animals at their most vulnerable, in other words, and cause maximum suffering for no tenable reason. Moreover, artificially reducing the number of predators winnows down diversity essential to a healthy ecosystem, which can lead to unintended and disastrous consequences.

Of hunters, one must ask: Where is the sportsmanship in all of this? To Young and his like-minded colleagues, such a query is beside the point. Ultimately, they say, this is a states’ rights issue. There it is, the love Republicans can’t quit. In fact, no law grants state land managers authority to overrule federal land managers’ decisions related to federal land – for good reason.

Without the National Park Service, we might have had mining in the Grand Canyon, noted Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (where my son works), in a telephone interview. “Without federal protections, what’s to stop Wyoming from authorizing hunting grizzlies in Yellowstone?

“States’ rights simply don’t apply when you have a federal category of lands authorized by Congress,” he said. “This is really our Serengeti.”

As a humane matter, there’s no defending House Joint Resolution 69. As a regulatory issue, it defies logic. As an economic concern, protecting wildlife from cruel hunting practices makes sense.

Senators should vote to leave the protective rule in place – not only to protect our wildlife from politicians’ predatory practices but also to reassure Americans that the chamber still has a conscience.

EPIC in Court to Defend Wolves

Organizations Seek Intervention on Industry Challenge to Endangered Status

EPIC and our allies filed a motion today to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to remove California Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. The lawsuit, against the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and wrongly alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection.

The intervenors — the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Cascadia Wildlands and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center — are represented by Earthjustice.

“Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit is baseless,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Gray wolves were senselessly wiped out in California and deserve a chance to come back and survive here. We’re intervening to defend the interests of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, the lawsuit alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection because wolves returning to the state are supposedly the wrong subspecies, which only occurred intermittently in California at the time of the decision and are doing fine in other states.

Each of these arguments has major flaws. UCLA biologist Bob Wayne found that all three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. Also — importantly — there is no requirement that recovery efforts focus on the same subspecies, rather than just the species. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of species within California, not other states.

“The gray wolf is an icon of wildness in the American West, and its return to California after almost 100 years is a success story we should celebrate,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. “Stripping wolves of protection under the California Endangered Species Act at this early stage in their recovery risks losing them again, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

Led by the Center, the four intervening groups petitioned for endangered species protections for wolves in February 2012. After receiving two California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, scientific peer review assessment of those reports, thousands of written comments submitted by the public and live testimony at multiple public meetings, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect gray wolves in June 2014.

State protection makes it illegal to kill a wolf, including in response to livestock depredations — a major issue for the livestock industry. But despite the industry’s concerns, a growing body of scientific evidence shows nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less expensive than killing wolves. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allocated federal funding that can be used for nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures and to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, which make up a very small fraction of livestock losses.

“The cattle industry has made clear that it views wolves as pests and that they filed suit to allow killing of wolves,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Wolves are a vital part of American’s wilderness and natural heritage, helping to restore balance to our ecosystems by regulating elk and deer populations. The path to restoring wolves is through protecting fragile recovering populations.”

Wolves once ranged across most of the United States, but were trapped, shot and poisoned to near extirpation largely on behalf of the livestock industry. Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011 — when a single wolf from Oregon known as wolf OR-7 ventured south — it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state. Before OR-7 the last known wild wolf in California, killed by a trapper in Lassen County, was seen in 1924.

Since 2011 California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the seven-member Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County in 2015, and a pair of wolves was confirmed in Lassen County in 2016. An additional radio-collared wolf from Oregon has crossed in and out of California several times since late 2015.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) advocates for science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests, using an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center is an advocate for the forests, wildlife and waters of the Klamath and Rogue River Basins of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We use environmental law, science, collaboration, education and grassroots organizing to defend healthy ecosystems and help build sustainable communities.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.
EPIC advocates for the science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests and wildlife.

Feds kill wolf in Wallowa County on private land with cyanide trap

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/03/feds_kill_wolf_in_wallowa_coun.html

-e55094c11f380840.jpg
A male yearling from the Imnaha Pack was one of eight Oregon gray wolves collared in 2013 by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency uses signals from wolves’ collars to track their dispersal throughout the state. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife photo) (ODFW)

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on March 02, 2017 at 4:36 PM, updated March 02, 2017 at 4:57 PM

A gray wolf was killed on private land in Wallowa County by a controversial cyanide device used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wildlife officials confirmed Thursday.

The male, 100-pound wolf was a member of the Shamrock Pack in northeast Oregon and believed to be less than 2 years old. Officials had just placed a tracking collar on the animal Feb. 10. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and the USDA acknowledged Sunday’s “unintentional” killing in a news release.

According to Thursday’s statement, the federal government’s Wildlife Services division was using a cyanide device known as an M-44 to kill coyotes in the area and “prevent coyote-livestock conflict” on the private property.

State officials say the wolf’s death is believed to be the first in Oregon connected to an M-44. The controversial tool is a spring-activated device that is typically smeared with scented bait, then shoots poison into the animal’s mouth when it tugs on the trap.

Oregon removed the gray wolf from its Endangered Species List in November 2015. According to the state’s estimate that year, Oregon is home to at least 110 wolves in more than a dozen packs.

Gov. Kate Brown’s recommended budget doesn’t include $460,000 typically set aside to pay the federal agency to kill animals in Oregon. Brown’s office declined to issue a statement Thursday and deferred to state wildlife officials.

“It’s a pretty sad situation,” Rick Hargrave, an ODFW spokesman, said of the wolf’s death. “We don’t want this to happen.” Wolf OR48 was believed to be one of six members of the Shamrock Pack, according to the 2015 report.

Federal officials are reviewing the death and said in a statement that they would “see if any changes to our procedures are necessary.”

An agency spokesman hadn’t responded to a list of questions via email late Thursday.

But the killing prompted outrage in the conservation community and from one member of Oregon’s congressional delegation.

“I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of devices like the M-44 for decades,” U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “The use of this device by Wildlife Services led to the death of an innocent wolf, has previously killed domestic dogs, and sooner or later, will kill a child.”

DeFazio introduced a bill in 2012 to ban the M-44, which has been used to kill thousands of animals. According to the government’s website, some 383 wolves have been killed in eight states by the agency.

“The federal government should not be using these extreme measures,” DeFazio said. “It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all.”

Brooks Fahy, executive director of the Eugene-based nonprofit Predator Defense, said he was not surprised to learn an M-44 had killed a wolf in Oregon.

He also doubted that the wolf’s death was the first in Oregon.

“Besides putting wolves and non-target species at risk,” he said, “they also put domestic pets and people at risk. They’re extraordinarily dangerous.”

He also described the incident as “troubling.”

“This will not be the last time as long as M44s are allowed,” he said.

Hargrave, the state official, said M-44s were forbidden in areas where wolves are known to roam when the animals were listed under the state’s endangered species act.

According to a state permit document outlining situations in which a wolf could be accidentally killed – termed an “incidental take” – M-44s could “not be used in occupied wolf range.” Permit applicants also had to take broader protections, including prohibiting some traps or snares within three miles of known wolf territory.

Once wolves were removed from the endangered list in Oregon, Hargrave said, the state continued to discuss keeping those protections in place.

The animal killed Sunday was in an area known to be home to wolves.

 

After court ruling, wolves could soon be shot on sight in Wyoming

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/03/wolves-could-soon-be-shot-on-sight-in-wyoming-an-appeals-court-rules/?utm_term=.35e9f6eb5bf5
March 3 at 7:23 PM

A federal appeals court ruling stripped wolves of their protections in Wyoming on Friday, which could allow them to be shot on sight.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided in favor of Wyoming’s wolf management plan, which treats the animals as vermin. The court’s decision overturned a lower-court ruling that sided with conservationists who fought a state law that allowed the unlimited slaughter of wolves in a “predator zone that extended through most of the state,” the environmental groups said.

 

“Wyoming’s plan to shoot wolves on sight throughout most of the state was a bad idea when it was proposed, and it’s a bad idea now,” said Rebecca Riley, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups that fought the plan. “The court’s decision to lift federal protections for wolves in Wyoming will be a step backward for wolf recovery in the West.”

Wolves were hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states. Following a slight recovery after federal protections were granted in 1978, they exist on only 10 percent of their historic range. Many of the wolves that could lose their protection live outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park, where hunting is prohibited and where the wolves have been reintroduced.

Environmental groups earlier convinced a lower court that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama administration should not have moved to remove endangered-species protection for wolves based on promises from Wyoming that it would not harm them in certain areas.

The appeals court essentially ruled that the federal agency had reason to trust Wyoming’s word.

Wyoming’s “promises to protect wolves don’t amount to much” in a state that allows aggressive hunting, said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity. Wolves trying to make it to the southern Rocky Mountains to mate or establish territory “have to make it through the shoot-on-sight zone,” a deadly journey that could once again lower their population, he said.

Congressional effort to allow killing hibernating bears and wolf pups in their dens moves to U.S. Senate

February 22, 2017

Last week’s vote on H.J. Res. 69 was one of the most disturbing actions by Congress I’ve witnessed during more than a quarter century of political advocacy for animals. By a 225 to 195 vote, a narrow majority of the U.S. House voted to rescind a rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to forbid the worst wildlife management practices introduced to the field in the last century – shooting hibernating bears with their cubs and denning of wolves and their pups; using airplanes to scout, land, and shoot grizzly bears; and baiting and trapping black and grizzly bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and neck wire snares.

Both obedience to and fear of the NRA and Safari Club International, along with an interest in securing campaign donations from those groups and their supporters, drove more than 200 lawmakers to vote against good sense and common decency.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, a former board member of the NRA and a licensed trapper – who conceded on the floor that he used to kill wolf pups in their dens for a bounty paid by the federal government — initiated this action and led the charge for his terrible resolution. An identical resolution, introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska as S.J. Res. 18, may be taken up in the Senate next week or soon thereafter.

Let’s take a look at several of Young’s arguments brandished in the run-up to this vote.

Young and other proponents simultaneously argued that the federal rule would restrict hunting and even fishing rights, yet they also said that the practices forbidden under the rule don’t occur.

It’s almost a logical impossibility to severely restrict hunting and fishing rights for practices that aren’t occurring. So what’s really at work here, and where do the truth and these politicians lie? The state of Alaska, especially since the enactment of the Intensive Management Act, has been on a crusade to use well-heeled trophy hunters and state agents to drive down the numbers of grizzly bears, black bears, and wolves, in order to create more moose and caribou for hunters to shoot. In pursuit of this goal, it’s authorized all manner of appalling practices, including hunting and killing methods forbidden by the FWS rule on their lands. In short, if these methods weren’t legal and used, then the state, the Safari Club, and the NRA wouldn’t be clamoring for a rescinding of the measure.

Young and his allies invoked the 10th Amendment and called the battle a states’ rights issue, saying the federal government has no business managing wildlife on federal lands.

This is their most dangerous argument, since this is an attempt to supplant wildlife management by the National Park Service (NPS) and the FWS on over 170 million acres of land throughout the United States – from the refuges and national parks and preserves in Alaska to Yellowstone and Acadia and Everglades in the rest of the United States. While the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have traditionally deferred to the states on wildlife management, the FWS and the NPS have for decades directly controlled the management of wildlife on land dedicated to species preservation. That power is derived from the Constitution and Congress, and the federal courts have repeatedly upheld that right. The FWS rule is aligned with the Alaska National Interests Land Conservation Act (which Young opposed in 1980) and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, along with the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The sweeping application of Congressman Young’s invocation of the 10th Amendment would upend management practices at hundreds of parks, preserves, seashores, battlefields, refuges, and other designated land holdings. This has been a long-held aspiration of the NRA and Safari Club, and lawmakers aligned with them took the ball and ran with it. If this principle had merit, then it would just be a matter of time for the state of Wyoming to open hunting seasons on grizzly bears and wolves within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, if state managers chose that strategy.

Young said that everybody in Alaska is in favor of his effort to repeal the federal rule.

Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia argued against H.J. Res. 69 and read excerpts from a series of letters from Alaskans opposing the rule. On top of that, there were letters from more than a dozen wildlife biologists from Alaska saying that the FWS rule is the right policy, and that the rule itself was crafted by FWS biologists who work and live in Alaska and felt duty-bound to proscribe activities at odds with the purposes of the refuges. None of these people are cranks, and it turns out, they are not in the minority. statewide pollconducted in February 2016 showed Alaskans oppose denning of wolves by more than a 2-to-1 margin. At a series of public meetings on the FWS proposed rule, many Alaskans turned out to publicly support the rulemaking actions because they want these inhumane, unsustainable, and unsporting practices to end. At the Fairbanks meeting, a clear majority supported the proposed rule. Alaskan voters have put the issue of aerial gunning of wolves on the ballot three times, and passed two of the measures (still lawmakers, violating the wishes of their own constituents, overturned those laws).

The FWS rule, years in the works, was hardly an example of the federal government running roughshod over the state. The opposite is far closer to the truth, with the state trying to bully its way into our national wildlife refuges and national preserves, authorized by Congress. Congress provided the FWS with a statutory mandate requiring the agency to conserve wildlife species, and prohibiting the denning of wolf pups and land-and-scout hunting of grizzly bears falls in line with that mandate. Yet, consistent with its policy, the FWS appealed to the Alaska Board of Game dozens of times to amend its rules to exempt National Wildlife Refuges. The Board of Game refused.

The House outcome is intolerable, and now the debate moves to the U.S. Senate. Only determined action by citizens can stop the Senate from replicating the House action. Call your U.S. Senators and urge them to oppose S.J. Res. 18, by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska. It’s not just the lives of the wolves and bears at stake, it’s nothing less than the principle of federal control of our parks and refuges throughout the United States.

http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/02/congressional-effort-allow-killing-hibernating-bears-wolf-pups-dens-moves-u-s-senate.html?credit=fb_postwp022217

blog.humanesociety.org
Last week’s vote on H.J. Res. 69 was one of the most disturbing actions by Congress I’ve witnessed during more than a quarter century of political advocacy for animals. By a 225 to 195 vote, a narrow majority of the U.S. House voted to rescind a rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) . . .

Congress Advances Legislation to Kill Wolves, Bears in Alaska — Bill Would Repeal Protections on National Wildlife Refuges

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2017/predators-02-16-2017.php

For Immediate Release, February 16, 2017

Bill Would Repeal Protections on National Wildlife RefugesCongress Advances Legislation to Kill Wolves, Bears in Alaska

WASHINGTON— The House of Representatives today used the Congressional Review Act to strip away protections implemented during the Obama administration for wolves, bears and other predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. By eliminating these protections, the House measure greenlights killing wolves and their pups in their dens and allows bears to be gunned down at bait stations.

“Rolling back protections for predators defies everything wildlife refuges stand for,” said Emily Jeffers, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Refuges are places where we celebrate biological diversity, not where wolves and bears are inhumanely killed for no good reason. It’s an outrage that Congress would revoke rules that stop the senseless slaughter of predators, heedless of the important role these animals play in healthy ecosystems.”

In August 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized regulations that protected predators from new predator-control tactics approved by Alaska’s Board of Game. These tactics include killing black bear cubs or mother with cubs at den sites; killing brown bears over bait; trapping and killing brown and black bears with steel-jaw leghold traps or wire snares; killing wolves and coyotes during denning season; and killing brown and black bears from aircraft.

Alaska’s predator control activities are intended solely to artificially inflate prey populations, such as moose, for human hunting. House Joint Resolution 69, citing authority under the Congressional Review Act, would undo all those protections.

“This action is yet another extremist assault on the environment by certain members of Congress,” Jeffers said. “This bill has no scientific support and would dismantle rules that ensure wildlife refuges help conserve our natural heritage for future generations. We will do everything in our power to fight this mean-spirited attack on these magnificent animals and stop it from becoming law.”

The Service’s predator-protection regulations are also under attack from the state of Alaska, which is challenging the regulations in federal court. The Center and its allies have intervened on behalf of the Service to defend the challenged regulations.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Bill Would Allow Killing Of Bears And Wolves Again On Alaska Wildlife Refuges