Experimental wolf cull in Alberta ignites scientific criticism over inhumane research

“The caribou are endangered because extensive and unabated industrial development of [obscenely omnipotent] oil, [goddamn] gas and [fucking] forestry operations has destroyed and degraded the habitat that provides life sustaining food, shelter, and security.” [NOT because of the wolf!!]

http://www.raincoast.org/2015/02/wolf-cull-ignites-critisim/

Experimental wolf cull in Alberta ignites scientific criticism over inhumane research

Scientists highlight the failure to abide by ethical standards of animal research and welfare.

3 running wolves-PCP

In a scathing commentary published today in the peer-reviewed journal, Canadian Wildlife Biology and Management, scientists from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Universities of Saskatchewan and Victoria denounce the failure of researchers, government agencies, research institutions, and the scientific publishing process to abide by recognized ethical standards of animal research and welfare.

Download  the journal paper Maintaining ethical standards during conservation crises

In the November issue of the Canadian Journal of Zoology, a team of researchers described a gruesome wolf culling experiment and last-minute bid to halt the decline of the Little Smoky caribou herd in Alberta. The caribou are endangered because extensive and unabated industrial development of oil, gas and forestry operations has destroyed and degraded the habitat that provides life sustaining food, shelter, and security.

The researchers oversaw a study in which at least 733 wolves and hundreds of other animals suffered and died by methods considered inhumane by the Canadian Council of Animal Care (CCAC). The CCAC provides ethical guidelines that scientists in Canada normally comply with to ensure that animals used in research are treated humanely. Bypassing CCAC standards, managers from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development administered the killing. Cooperative university investigators assessed the outcome of the cull. Most wolves died violent deaths via aerial gunning from helicopters. Others succumbed to poisoning after ingesting baits laced with strychnine. These methods of killing do not conform to CCAC’s recognized and acceptable standards of euthanasia, owing to the extended pain and suffering they often cause.

“Expedient but inadequate emergency ‘fixes’ have been experimentally implemented to arrest the impending loss of caribou”, said co-author Dr. Ryan Brook of the University of Saskatchewan, “but no context can justify methods that impose such suffering”.

Co-author Dr. Gilbert Proulx, Director of Science at Alpha Wildlife Research & Management Ltd, agreed. “There is a need to improve checks and balances that would normally prevent the approval, execution, and publication of unethical animal research”, he said. Despite questionably modest improvements to caribou declines, the researchers advocated for the continued killing of wolves. “Such short-sighted recommendations add fuel to the fire regarding the growing controversy and scrutiny of the unethical and unscientific Alberta wolf cull”, stated Chris Genovali, Executive Director of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

The study also troubled co-author Dr. Chris Darimont, Hakai-Raincoast Professor at the University of Victoria and science director for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. “Proponents of resource extraction can now announce that a ‘solution’ to the caribou crisis is in hand, enabling additional habitat destruction that harms caribou and wolves. So despite intentions otherwise, wolf control creates greater long-term harm than good to animals and ecosystems, failing a simple test of ethics.”

“In this case, the intended but very uncertain ends cannot justify the means”, said co-author Dr. Paul Paquet, senior scientist at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria and. “Experiments that involve the intentional inhumane killing of animals violate the fundamental principles of ethical science and rightfully endanger the reputation of science and scientists, as well as the journals willing to publish them”.

Citation: Brook, Ryan, Marc. Cattet, Chris T. Darimont, Paul C. Paquet, & Gilbert Proulx. 2015. Maintaining ethical standards during conservation crises. Canadian Wildlife Biology and Management Issue 4, pages 72-79.

Available in Open Access format here or download the pdf

Bills to end Endangered Species Act protections for wolves introduced in Congress

 

Two bills have been introduced in the U.S. House this week to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in several states. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., introduced HF 843 that would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota,… Duluth, 55802Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

2015-02-12 15:56:22

Two bills have been introduced in the U.S. House this week to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in several states.

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., introduced HF 843 that would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Meanwhile, Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., introduced HF 884, broader legislation that would restore wolves to their earlier unprotected status under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule from 2012 in not just the Great Lakes states but also Wyoming.

Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Sean Duffy, R-Wis., are among several co-sponsors on both bills.

Kline, who manages a fifth-generation family farm in southeastern Minnesota, where few if any wolves exist, said individual states should be able to manage the big predators without federal interference.

A summary of Kline’s bill says that “the overpopulation of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region contributes to the decline of livestock, pets and other animals in the wild.”

“Wolf attacks are a concern for farmers and livestock producers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where the overpopulation of gray wolves is directly linked to the decline of livestock and other animals,’’ Kline said in a statement Thursday. “This bipartisan legislation will remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list and return management to the states, providing greater flexibility and giving states exclusive jurisdiction over the wolves within their own borders.”

The proposed legislation is in response to a federal judge’s ruling in December that wolves in the Great Lakes states be immediately placed back under full protection of the Endangered Species Act, under the government’s original 1978 ruling to protect the animals which had been hunted, trapped and harassed to near-extinction at the time.

The judge ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 rule delisting wolves in the Great Lakes region, handing wolf management back to states and tribes, was improper. The federal agency has not yet decided whether to appeal the judge’s order. But thecopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles legislation introduced this week, if passed and signed into law by the president, would take precedent over the judge’s ruling.

The legislation is supported by groups such as the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Minnesota Farmers Union.

Wolf supporters, however, say wolves are in integral part of thriving ecosystems and that the legislation is an overreaction by politicians and wolf opponents who continue to wrongly cast the animals as storybook demons.

“This legislation is an end-around a series of federal court rulings that have determined that state and federal agencies have acted improperly” in managing wolves in recent years, said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, in a statement Thursday. “This bill is just the latest act of political bomb-throwing and gamesmanship, and lawmakers who want balance on the wolf issue should reject it.”

In January the Humane Society and 21 animal protection and conservation organizations petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list grey wolves as officially “threatened’’ across most of the U.S. That would continue federal oversight but enable some wolves to be trapped and killed by federally-approved trappers if the animals cause problems near pets or livestock.

It’s Official: Wolf Killed in Utah Was Animal From Rare Arizona Sighting

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/mistakenly-killed-wolf-animal-rare-arizona-sighting-28890684

A gray wolf that was shot by a hunter in Utah was the same one spotted in the Grand Canyon area last year, federal wildlife officials said Wednesday.

The 3-year-old female wolf — named “Echo” in a nationwide student contest — captured the attention of wildlife advocates across the county because it was the first wolf seen in the Grand Canyon in 70 years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did DNA tests to confirm the wolf killed in late December by a Utah hunter who said he thought he was shooting a coyote was the same one that was seen roaming the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and nearby forest in October and November, said agency spokesman Steve Segin.

Geneticists at the University of Idaho compared DNA taken from the northern gray wolf killed in southwestern Utah with scat samples taken from the wolf seen near the Grand Canyon last fall.

The hunter who killed the wolf called Utah state officials in December and said he mistook the wolf for a coyote, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Hadley. The man, whose name was not released, said he didn’t realize his mistake until he came up on the dead animal. In Utah, anybody can hunt coyotes.

The state handed over its initial findings of what happened to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Hadley said. That investigation is ongoing and could take weeks or months to complete, Segin said. It’s not clear yet what penalties the hunter could face for killing the animal.

Wolves are protected in Utah under the Endangered Species Act.

Wildlife advocacy groups have called the wolf’s death heartbreaking and say they want the hunter prosecuted. They said the animal could have helped wolves naturally recover in remote regions of Utah and neighboring states.

“Wolves and coyotes are distinguishable if one pauses for a second before pulling a trigger,” said Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are consequences for pulling the trigger when you don’t know what you’re aiming at. It’s important to have justice for this animal.”

Wolves and coyotes often have similar coloring, but wolves are usually twice as large as coyotes, said Kim Hersey, mammal conservation coordinator with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Wolves also have longer legs, bigger feet and rounder ears and snouts, she said.

But, Hersey says how well a person could distinguish between the two would depend on the lighting, the distance and how much experience a hunter has comparing the two animals.

The wolf had worn a radio collar since January 2014.

Wolves can travel thousands of miles for food and mates. Gray wolves had been spotted as far south as Colorado until the Arizona wolf was confirmed. Gray wolves last were seen in the Grand Canyon area in the 1940s.

In recent years, the Fish and Wildlife Service lifted protections for the wolves in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes. But a federal judge recently reinstated the protections after wildlife advocates in Wyoming sued.

The Center for Biological Diversity has documented 11 cases since 1981 where hunters told wildlife officials they had shot a wolf thinking it was a coyote.

10906075_10155034869550301_2511370178161460178_n

Why killing wolves will make no difference to caribou recovery

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Just like British Columbia, wolves in ‪#‎Alberta‬ are also in the firing line as the scapegoat for dwindling caribou populations.

Please sign/share this petition http://bit.ly/1Hndkqh
via Raincoast Conservation Foundation for Alberta wolves

Please sign/share this petition http://chn.ge/1y7up1m
via Pacific Wild for BCwolves

The full story of the caribou situation and why killing wolves will make no difference to caribou recovery: http://bit.ly/1Ln71CL

‪#‎saveBCwolves

Taxpayers Fund Mass Killing of Wolves in British Columbia

http://panampost.com/rebeca-morla/2015/02/04/taxpayers-fund-mass-killing-of-wolves-in-british-columbia/

As many as 184 wolves must be shot in British Columbia, Canada, in order to save the caribou, according to a statement from the provincial government. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced plans on January 15 to address what they consider the threat of wolf predation in the areas of the South Selkirk Mountains and the South Peace, along the border of US states Washington and Idaho.

The caribou, one of Canada’s most recognized national symbols, “is at high risk of local extinction,” according to the ministry’s statement.

The government claims the South Selkirk caribou population declined from 46 in 2009 to just 18 as of March 2014, adding that “evidence points to wolves being the leading cause of mortality.”

The ministry further cites a joint-research project between officials from British Colombia, Washington and Idaho states, First Nations, the US Forest Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which found wolves killed two of the remaining caribou in the past 10 months.

Authorities also claim that in the area of South Pearce, inhabited by four caribou herds, at least 37 percent of all “adult [caribou] mortalities have been documented as wolf predation.”

In order to “remove” the wolves from these areas, the government will deploy “trained sharpshooters” to shoot the animals from a helicopter. The operation will cost overcopyrighted wolf in water US$500,000.

This latest wolf cull follows the killing of more than 1,000 wolves in the forests of Alberta, between 2005 and 2012, in an attempt to protect 100 caribou living there.

However, while the wolf hunt in Alberta stabilized caribou numbers in the region, it did not result in a population increase, according to a study published in November 2014 in the Canadian Journal of Zoology

The War on Wolves

Ian McAllister, conservation director for Pacific Wild, believes the government’s focus on wolves ignores the real issue concerning the caribou’s habitat.

“While the government is not moving forward to protect adequate amounts of habitat to save the caribou, they’re instead using wolves as a scapegoat and planning just a horrific level of aerial killing in the coming months,” McAllister said. “This is truly a war on wolves in British Columbia.”

McAllister, who started an online petition against the cull, told local newspaper the Province that the fundamental threat to caribou is human encroachment and the destruction of their natural environment.

“Killing every single wolf in this province will not save those caribou. But they’re killing wolves anyway. The wolves are being used as scapegoats.”

Moreover, McAllister argues that the government’s wolf cull violates the guidelines set forth by the Canadian Council on Animal Care regarding wild animal euthanasia.

According to the guidelines, the only “acceptable methods” for animal euthanasia produce “death with minimal pain and distress when used on conscious or sedated animals.”

“There’s no way they can kill that many wolves without missing shots and injuring animals,” McAllister told the Province. “You will have wounded wolves returning to ripped-apart family units … their suffering will be extreme.”

“Foolish and Inhumane”

David Shellenberger, a self-described advocate of international liberty and animal welfare, told the PanAm Post that the mass killing of wolves in British Columbia is typical of the government’s treatment of wolves and other predators.

“States almost always serve themselves and their cronies,” said Shellenberger. “When it comes to wolves, this means doing the bidding of the hunting and livestock industries. Governments also fear monger regarding wolves, exploiting ignorance and prejudice.”

Shellenberger further explained that wolves benefit prey species, including caribou, and argued that they are “essential to the general ecological health of habitats.”

“The decline of caribou,” he states, “is the result of government’s mismanagement of land; it is not the fault of wolves. Killing wolves is foolish and inhumane. Wolves are not only ecologically essential, but also intrinsically and economically valuable.”

There are more efficient ways to preserve caribou herds, says Shellenberger, without sacrificing other species. “The long-range answer for the health of the caribou population is better stewardship of land, ideally through the government giving ownership to conservation organizations or creating a trust structure.”

“An immediate possible answer,” he added, “is the farming of caribou.”

Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.

This Bud’s Not For Me

Poll at bottom of page….

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/feb/02/budweiser-puppy-ad-wolf-conservation/

A Super Bowl ad has some people howling mad.

No, not Nationwide’s commercial about a boy who died , though way to bring down the mood, Nationwide.

It’s Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” spot, which featured an adorable puppy, majestic Clydesdale horses and a big, bad wolf.

Budweiser 2015 Super Bowl Commercial ‘Lost Dog’

To summarize, dogs and horses good, wolves bad. (Sharks? Thanks to Katy Perry, that’s another story.)

No, the wolf lobby didn’t like it.

Viewers see horses come to the pup’s rescue as he’s being threatened by a menacing wolf who bares its teeth and snarls at the poor, frightened little guy. But then the pup returns home, joy ensues and all is right with the world, allowing us all to sit back and enjoy a cold one. (As if we weren’t doing that already.)

For puppy lovers and horse lovers and beer lovers, the ad was a touchdown.

But to wolf aficionados everywhere the ad unfairly demonized the endangered gray wolf population and was an affront to the species.

Witness this headline form onEarth, the magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“The King of Fears? Budweiser’s ‘lost puppy’ Super Bowl commercial has us howling on behalf of wolves.”

The people at the Center for Biological Diversity said the ad “drums up anti-wolf sentiment to try and capitalize on our culture’s outsized fear of wolf attacks.”

The organization launched a petition it called a “reality check” asking the beer maker to pull the spot. It has nearly 20,000 signatures.

photo

Here’s what the petition says: “1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters in the United States each year while another 1.2 million dogs are hit and killed by cars on America’s roads. By comparison, wolves are a virtually non-existent threat to our furry canine friends, only in very rare instances attacking dogs if they feel threatened or perceive them as competitors. The real threat to both dogs and wolves, as these numbers show and as Budweiser’s cynical attempt to boost sales indicates, is people.”

Here’s how it ends: “Purposefully demonizing an animal that is part of America’s natural heritage is no way to sell beer.”

There’s some growling going on about the issue on the The Wolf Conservation Facebook page.

Many of the commenters agree that the ad should no longer run but then there was this: ” For god sake this is stupid… It shows a wolf growling once and you do this? You people are unbelievable…”

What do you think? Weigh in below.

Should Budweiser pull its ad because of the wolf?

  • Yes. Wolves should be protected and not demonized.
  • No. What’s next? Do we ban Little Red Riding Hood?

See results

Oregon wildlife officials to consider removing gray wolves from endangered species list

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/01/wolf_delisting_oregon.html

By Kelly House | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 27, 2015

Protections for Oregon’s gray wolves could be rolled back after wildlife biologists counted more than four breeding pairs in eastern Oregon for the third straight year.

Under the state’s wolf plan, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission can consider removing the eastern packs from the state’s endangered species list once that population bar is met.

Numbers from the annual wolf count released Tuesday afternoon indicate seven breeding pairs of wolves made it through 2014 – six of them in the eastern management area bounded by highways 97, 20, and 39.

Protections for wolves west of that boundary, including Oregon’s famed OR-7, are unaffected by the latest population figures.

The news came as no surprise to wildlife officials, who have said for months they expect to decide this year whether eastern Oregon wolves should continue to receive endangered species protections.

Of Oregon’s nine known wolf packs, only the Imnaha pack lacks a breeding pair. The Umatilla River pack still needs to be surveyed.

Conservationists and cattle ranchers hailed Tuesday’s news as proof that the state’s wolves are recovering, but their opinions diverged from there.

Rob Klavins, wolf advocate for Oregon Wild, argued that wolf numbers are still too low to consider delisting.

“We’re still a ways away from meaningful, long-term, sustainable recovery,” Klavins said.

Todd Nash of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said from his perspective, wolves in Oregon never should have been protected in the first place.

“There’s nothing delicate about their population,” he said. “I’m all for delisting them.”

Fish and wildlife commissioners who will decide Oregon wolves’ fate have offered no hints at their opinions on the matter, but state wolf coordinator Russ Morgan said both scientific data and public opinion will influence the commission’s eventual vote.

Before a vote can happen, Morgan said, wildlife biologists must complete a “status review” detailing how wolves are faring in Oregon. They will present their findings to the commission in April, along with a recommendation on whether wolves should remain listed.

“We have to do first things first, and the first thing here is to evaluate our data,” Morgan said.

In addition to triggering a review of Oregon wolves’ protected status, the increased number of breeding pairs triggers a new step in the wolf plan, giving ranchers more leeway to shoot wolves found mingling with their cattle.

Before the new population threshold was met, ranchers could only take wolves caught in the act of injuring or killing livestock. Now they can take wolves caught chasing livestock under some circumstances. Ranchers on private land also no longer need a permit to use beanbags, rubber bullets or other “non-lethal injurious harassment,” on wolves.

Nash, of the cattlemen’s association, said he’s happy the new rules give ranchers more options, but he doesn’t expect it to prevent many predations.

“Wolves kill at night,” he said. “There’s not much chance of catching them in the act at 2 a.m. in a remote area.”

The next step in assessing wolves’ recovering in Oregon will come in March, when fish and wildlife officials release their best estimate of the number of wolves in the state. They expect a significant increase from last year’s count of 64 known wolves.

 Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Animal Welfare Groups Push for Lesser ‘Threatened’ Status for Gray Wolf

http://wxpr.org/post/animal-welfare-groups-push-lesser-threatened-status-gray-wolf

A coalition of animal rights groups is pushing to downgrade federal protections for the gray wolf, hoping to compromise with opponents who want to remove protections altogether.

Gray wolves are back on the endangered species list in most U.S. states.

Gray wolves are back on the endangered species list in most U.S. states.
Credit ifaw.org

The groups are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the gray wolf as threatened rather than endangered.

Wolves are currently endangered in Wisconsin and Michigan, thanks to a court ruling in late December that put the wolf back under federal protection.

But some members of Congress are pushing to change that status through legislation.

Now the Humane Society of the United States and twenty other wildlife protection groups are advocating for what they call a compromise plan to give the wolf the less-restrictive designation of ‘threatened.’

Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle says it could give managers and property owners more flexibility, even allowing lethal control in some cases.

“We feel that this petition provides a way forward that gives something meaningful to both sides.  More active management of problem wolves, but maintaining federal protections.”

Wolves are on the endangered species list in most of the lower 48, except for parts of the Northern Rockies.

A federal court ruling in December re-listed wolves as endangered in Wisconsin and Michigan, and threatened in Minnesota.

The ruling put a stop to wolf hunts in all three states.

Delist or downlist? Michigan wolf debate rages on following federal ruling that blocked hunting

http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2015/01/delist_or_downlist_michigan_wo.html

Wolf Hunt
 

LANSING, MI — The debate over Michigan wolves — and whether the state should be able to proceed with future hunts or lethal removal — rages on in the wake of a recent federal decision that returned the Great Lakes population to endangered status.

U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, a Republican whose district includes the entire Upper Peninsula, is working with colleagues from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Wyoming on bipartisan legislation that would reportedly remove federal protections that now block local wolf management in Michigan and other states.

“The language we are looking at would be narrow and would address the recent court decision,” Benishek said in a statement provided to MLive. “It would not seek to change the Endangered Species Act, but would be designed to meet the need in our region for responsible stewardship of the wolf population. We are finalizing the details now and are hoping sometime in the next few weeks.”

State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, on Tuesday introduced a resolution that, if adopted, would offer support for the pending federal legislation and encourage the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources to appeal the federal court ruling.

Jill Fritz, state director of the Humane Society of the United States and the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition, said it would be difficult to comment on the pending federal legislation because she has not seen the language, but she noted her group “would oppose any action to strip federal protections from Great Lakes Wolves.”

HSUS and other animal protection groups this week submitted a petition asking the USFWS to “downlist” all gray wolves in the contiguous United States by reclassifying them as a threatened species — rather than an endangered one.

The proposal, if adopted, would allow USFWS to work with state and local wildlife authorities to kill or remove nuisance wolves attacking livestock, which has been an issue for farmers in Michigan and other states.

“If wolves are downlisted to threatened status across the board, then if there are concerns about depredation on livestock and they want to use lethal controls, they can do so,” said Fritz.

“What it would not allow is that wolves return to management under the states, which did not work. The states, particularly Minnesota and Wisconsin, started off with these aggressive killing and population reduction programs that really threatened to stop recovery of wolves in its tracks.”

Wolves in Michigan and other Great Lakes states were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2012, but U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled last month that the removal was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated federal law.

Federal endangered status trumps Michigan laws that had allowed the for lethal removal of problem wolves and a pending law reauthorizing the Natural Resource Commission to name new game species and establish hunting seasons.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to slightly more than 600 wolves, up from just six in the 1970s. Hunting advocates argue the population warrants stronger management to reduce conflicts with livestock and comfort levels around humans.

As MLive reported earlier this month, there were 35 wolf attacks on livestock or dogs in Michigan last year, up from 20 in 2013 but lower than the 41 in 2012.

Twenty-two wolves were killed in late 2013 during Michigan’s first-ever wolf hunt. There was no hunt last year, when voters rejected two separate wolf hunting laws, but a newer version is set to take effect in April.

Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act

I haven’t had a chance to look into this yet, but this line, from an article entitled, “Finding Balance in the Wolf Wars” in the Huffington Post caught my eye: “Our plan respects the purpose and intent of the Endangered Species Act but gives a nod to the folks who want more active control options for wolves, especially ranchers,”

The wolf is in no way “recovered” in the lower 48; they should never have been downgraded from endangered. In 1885 5,500 wolves were killed in Montana alone. Now there’s less than 5,000 in the entire country…

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Does anyone have any insights on this they want to share?

 

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2015/01/esa-threatened-gray-wolves-012715.html

 

January 27, 2015

 

Proposal presents a reasonable alternative to congressional delisting and a path to national recovery

Animal protection and conservation organizations petitioned  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout the contiguous United States, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf which remains listed as endangered. If adopted, the proposal would continue federal oversight and funding of wolf recovery efforts and encourage development of a national recovery plan for the species, but would also give the Fish and Wildlife Service regulatory flexibility to permit state and local wildlife managers to address specific wolf conflicts.

Gray wolves are currently protected as endangered throughout their range in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota where they are listed as threatened and in Montana, Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington where they have no Endangered Species Act protections. Some members of Congress are advocating for legislation to remove all protections for wolves under federal law by delisting the animal under the Endangered Species Act. The petition proposes an alternative path to finalizing wolf recovery based on the best available science, rather than politics and fear, and would help to find a balanced middle ground on a controversial issue that has been battled out in the courts and in states with diverse views among stakeholders on wolf conservation.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Several states have badly failed in their management of wolves, and their brand of reckless trapping, trophy hunting, and even hound hunting just has not been supported by the courts or by the American people. We do, however, understand the fears that some ranchers have about wolves, and we believe that maintaining federal protections while allowing more active management of human-wolf conflicts achieves the right balance for all key stakeholders and is consistent with the law.”

Wolf populations are still recovering from decades of persecution—government sponsored bounty programs resulted in mass extermination of wolves at the beginning of the last century, and the species was nearly eliminated from the landscape of the lower 48 states. Wolf number have increased substantially where the Endangered Species Act has been implemented, but recovery is still not complete, as the species only occupies as little as 5 percent of its historic range, and human-caused mortality continues to constitute the majority of documented wolf deaths.

Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said: “A Congressional end run around science and the Endangered Species Act will create more controversy and put wolves and the law itself in jeopardy. The better path is to downlist wolves to threatened, replace the failed piecemeal efforts of the past with a new science-based national recovery strategy,and bring communities together to determine how wolves will be returned to and managed in places where they once lived, like the Adirondacks, southern Rocky Mountains, Cascades and Sierra Nevada.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s piecemeal efforts to delist gray wolves in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes have been roundly criticized by scientists and repeatedly rejected by multiple federal courts. In addition to denouncing the Service’s fragmented approach to wolf recovery, courts have recognized that several states have recklessly attempted to quickly and dramatically reduce wolf numbers through unnecessary and cruel hunting and trapping programs. The public does not support recreational and commercial killing of wolves, as evidenced by the recent decision by Michigan voters in the November 2014 election to reject sport hunting of wolves. Wolves are inedible, and only killed for their heads or fur.

Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, said: “Complex conservation problems require sophisticated solutions. The history of wolf protection in America is riddled with vitriolic conflict and shortsightedness and it is time for a coordinated, forward-thinking approach that removes the most barbaric treatment of this iconic species and focuses on the long-term viability of wolf populations throughout the country.”

The threatened listing proposed by the petition would promote continued recovery of the species at a national level so that it is not left perpetually at the doorstep of extinction. A threatened listing would also permit the Fish and Wildlife Service some regulatory flexibility to work with state and local wildlife managers to appropriately address wolf conflicts, including depredation of livestock.

Groups filing the petition include national organizations and those based in wolf range states:

Born Free USA

Center for Biological Diversity

Detroit Audubon

Detroit Zoological Society

The Fund for Animals

Friends of Animals and Their Environment

Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf

Help Our Wolves Live

Howling for Wolves

The Humane Society of the United States

Justice for Wolves

Midwest Environmental Advocates

Minnesota Humane Society

Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection

National Wolfwatcher Coalition

Northwoods Alliance

Predator Defense

Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Wildlife Public Trust and Coexistence

Wildwoods (Minnesota)

Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

 

Also on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-pacelle/finding-balance-in-the-wo_b_6558340.html