Conservationists criticize Quebec plan to protect caribou by killing wolves

Morgan Lowrie , The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2019 12:01PM EST
  • caribou A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images

  • WolvesA female wolf, left, and male wolf roam the tundra near The Meadowbank Gold Mine located in the Nunavut Territory of Canada on Wednesday, March 25, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

  • caribou A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images

  • WolvesA female wolf, left, and male wolf roam the tundra near The Meadowbank Gold Mine located in the Nunavut Territory of Canada on Wednesday, March 25, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

MONTREAL – A Quebec government plan to kill wolves that get too close to an endangered woodland caribou herd is raising concern among environmentalists, who accuse the government of sidestepping the true problem of habitat loss.

The plan by the Department of Forest, Wildlife and Parks involves placing tracking collars on both the caribou and members of local wolf packs to monitor distances between them.

If a wolf were to threaten the herd, trained shooters in helicopters could be sent in to kill the wolf in a “targeted intervention,” according to Francis Forcier, who is the general manager for strategic mandates at the department.

Forcier said the measures could be necessary in order to reverse the decline of the Charlevoix herd north of Quebec City, whoe numbers have fallen to an estimated 31 animals from 59 two years ago. He stressed that the plan remains hypothetical and is intended as a stopgap while the province addresses the greater problem of habitat restoration.

“What we’ve started to do, given this drastic fall of nearly 50 per cent in two years, is to look at measures that are stronger but temporary, because the principal element we have to do is restore the habitat,” he said in a phone interview.

Forcier said no wolves have yet been shot, and they will be left alone as long as they don’t threaten the herd. Overall, he believes no more than a dozen wolves will need to be killed.

The plan has drawn criticism from both environmentalists and members of the public. A petition denouncing the plan to shoot the wolves currently had amassed more than 9,000 signatures by Wednesday.

Rachel Plotkin, a caribou expert who works with the David Suzuki Foundation, says predator control is a popular management practice employed by provinces “that don’t have the political will to do the habitat restoration and protection that is needed to recover caribou populations.”

She said that while wolves are indeed killing caribou, that’s because of human activity that has destroyed the old-growth forests that protect them.

“Predator control is just a band-aid measure that further degrades ecosystems,” she said. “Predators and their prey have co-evolved for thousands of years, and they’re not the reason the caribou is declining.”

Plotkin notes that the federal government’s caribou management plan found that caribou herds need a minimum of 65 per cent of their range left undisturbed if they’re to have any reasonable chance of survival. The Charlevoix herd’s habitat has only 20 per cent.

Both environmentalists and the government agree that habitat preservation is crucial to the survival of the caribou, which are especially sensitive to human interference and depend on thick, old-growth forests to shield them from predators and provide the lichen they eat.

Those same old-growth forests are prized by the forestry industry, and Forcier acknowledged that finding a balance between economic growth and conservation is a challenge. But he said the government is limiting development on important lands and will take even stronger action in a caribou restoration plan to be unveiled in 2022.

Henri Jacob, the head of environmental advocacy group Action Boreale, feels the provincial government’s actions show it has no intention of helping caribou. He points out that the promised action plan will only be implemented at the end of the current government’s mandate.

“In other words, for their whole mandate they’ll do nothing to protect the caribou,” he said.

He also criticized the province’s decision, announced this week, to remove protection for some 460 square kilometres of woods in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, which had been previously designated protected caribou habitat.

Forcier said the decision was made mostly because no caribou had been seen in the area in several years, but Jacob doesn’t buy that. He says that it’s normal for caribou to leave an area for a few years after grazing there, to allow the lichen and moss to grow back.

Jacob is also critical of the government’s plan to kill wolves, noting they can actually help keep herds healthier by eliminating sicker, weaker animals.

He said that while predator management can sometimes be part of a temporary preservation strategy, it serves no purpose if it is not paired with serious effort to preserve habitat.

“When you want to make a cake, if you only put in flour, you won’t have a cake,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec 11, 2019

People are reporting sightings of the Tasmanian tiger, thought to be extinct

A Tasmanian tiger, which was declared extinct in 1936, displayed at the Australian Museum in 2002.

(CNN)The Tasmanian tiger, a large striped carnivore, is believed to have gone extinct over 80 years ago — but newly released Australian government documents show sightings have been reported as recently as two months ago.

Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) recently released a document detailing eight reported sightings of the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, in the last three years.
The thylacine, a marsupial that looked like a cross between a wolf, a fox, and a large cat, is believed to have gone extinct after the last known live animal died in captivity in 1936. It had yellowish brown fur, with powerful jaws and a pouch for its young, according to the Australian Museum.
While stories abound that some continue to live in the remote wilds of Tasmania, an island state off Australia’s south coast, there has been no hard evidence to support this — only claims of sightings, like the ones newly released.
One report last February said that two people, visiting Tasmania from Australia, were driving when an animal with a stiff tail and striped back walked onto the road.
The animal “turned and looked at the vehicle a couple of times” and “was in clear view for 12-15 seconds,” the report read. Both people in the car “are 100% certain that the animal they saw was a thylacine.”
Another report filed the same month described a striped “cat-like creature” moving through the mist in the distance.
“I am accustomed to coming across most animals working on rural farms … and I have never come across an animal anything close to what I saw in Tasmania that day,” the report read.
In 2017, another driver reported seeing a possible thylacine near the Deep Gully Forest Reserve in northwestern Tasmania. He didn’t see stripes, but he was about 150 meters (492 foot) away — likely too far to have seen that level of detail. He “seemed certain that if it was a cat it was a bloody big one,” the report said.
Most recently in July, a man in southern Tasmania, near the state capital of Hobart, reported seeing a footprint that seemed to match that of the Tasmanian tiger.
These reports reflect just how large the thylacine still looms in the collective imagination. Native to Tasmania and the Australian mainland, it was the only member of the Thylacinidae family to survive into modern times, according to the Australian Museum.

This thylacine was the last of its kind to be captured and died in Hobart Zoo on September 7th, 1936.

European colonists killed thousands of thylacines for attacking sheep.
Today, the thylacine still remains a major component of Tasmanian culture. It maintains almost Loch Ness Monster status, with regular claims of unsubstantiated sightings. In 2002, scientists at the Australian Museum even replicated thylacine DNA, opening the door to potentially bringing back the species with cloning technology.

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives

February 27, 2019, University of Washington
Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives
Two white-tailed deer seen in 2015 on a wildlife camera in eastern Washington state. Credit: University of Washington

https://phys.org/news/2019-02-wolves-deer-tactics.html

As gray wolves continue to make a strong comeback in Washington state, their presence can’t help but impact other animals—particularly the ones these large carnivores target as prey.

White-tailed  and mule deer, two  common in Washington, are among ‘ favorite catch. Wolves will chase deer great distances—sometimes upwards of 6 miles (10 kilometers)—in search of a satisfying meal. How these two deer species respond to the threat of being pursued by wolves in the early years of this predator’s return could shed light on changes to their behavior and numbers.

To help answer this question, researchers from the University of Washington and other institutions monitored the behavior and activity of wolves and deer in Washington for three years. They found that mule deer exposed to wolves, in particular, are changing their behavior to spend more time away from roads, at  and in rockier landscapes.

“In any particular ecosystem, if you have a predator returning, prey are unlikely to all respond similarly,” said senior author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “We show that wolves don’t have a uniform effect on different deer species.”

Their results were published Dec. 11 in the journal Oecologia.

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives
An adult gray wolf is caught on a wildlife camera in eastern Washington in 2015. Credit: University of Washington

Wolves were completely wiped out from Washington early last century, but began returning to the state from Idaho, Montana and Canada about a decade ago. The latest estimates now show about 200 wolves in packs across eastern Washington.

Both white-tailed and mule deer are important food for . While they might look similar to an untrained eye, white-tailed deer and mule deer are very different animals: Mule deer are bigger, with large, dark ears and a black-tipped tail. White-tailed deer are smaller animals, boasting an unmistakably  with a white underside that stands straight up when alarmed.

Aside from their physical characteristics, the two species differ in how they escape from predators. When chased, mule deer “stot,” a quick bound with all four legs touching the ground at the same time. This bounding gait helps them negotiate all types of terrain and can give them an agility advantage over predators in rocky, uneven areas where it might be hard to run.

By contrast, white-tailed deer sprint away from predators and rely on spotting them early enough to try to outrun them.

Keeping these known escape tactics in mind, the research team focused on the “flight behavior” of deer living in areas where wolves have returned and in areas without wolves. The researchers chose four distinct study areas, all near the small town of Republic, Washington. All four areas are home to both species of deer, but only two were occupied by known wolf packs at the time of the investigation.

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives
A pair of wolves run across the landscape in eastern Washington in 2016. Credit: University of Washington

In partnership with the Colville Tribes and the U.S. Forest Service, researchers set up wildlife cameras, captured and put collars on wolves and deer, and monitored the data from all of the collars over three years, from 2013 to 2016. This endeavor involved complex coordination and a dedicated team of UW students who were always ready to respond should an animal enter one of the traps.

“That part of eastern Washington is really special,” said lead author Justin Dellinger, who completed the work as a UW doctoral student and now works at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There is huge diversity of large mammals, including all of the native prey populations like big horn sheep, moose and deer. And now we’re starting to see a full complement of native predators, like wolves, here as well.”

Overall, the researchers found that mule deer in gray wolf areas changed their behavior to avoid wolves altogether—mainly by moving to higher, steeper elevations, away from roads and toward brushy, rocky terrain. Alternately, white-tailed deer that favor sprinting and early detection as ways to escape from predators were more likely to stick to their normal behavior in wolf areas, sprinting across open, gently rolling terrain with good visibility—including along roads.

“Mule deer faced with the threat of wolves are really changing their home ranges, on a large scale,” Wirsing said. “They appear to have shifted kilometers away from where they had been prior to the return of wolves, generally going up higher where the terrain is less smooth and where wolves are less likely to hunt successfully.”

These larger shifts among mule deer could affect hunting opportunities. Indeed, some hunters in eastern Washington have already reported seeing mule deer higher on ridges where they are less accessible than in past years, Wirsing said. Hunting for white-tailed deer likely won’t change to the same degree with the presence of wolves, the results suggest.

Long term, changes among  in wolf areas could affect other parts of the ecosystem, and perhaps reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions. These possible impacts are tantalizing fodder for future studies, Wirsing added.

 Explore further: White-tailed deer shape acoustic properties of their forest habitat

Indiscriminate Traps Harm Endangered Mexican Wolves

on February 15, 2019 – 9:47am

WEG News:

SANTA FE — As a bill to ban recreational and commercial trapping works its way through the New Mexico legislature, indiscriminate trapping is proving an enormous impediment for endangered Mexican gray wolves’ already uphill battle toward recovery.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports that, since Nov. 2018, five lobos have fallen victim to traps in New Mexico. One of the wolves, female 1565 died in veterinary care. Another, male 1669 lost a leg. Male 1556 was treated and released but was later observed limping. Two other wolves were captured and released without injury.
New Mexico House Bill 366, called “Roxy’s Law” in honor of a dog who died in a trap on public lands in November, would prohibit traps across public lands in New Mexico with exemptions for human health and safety, ecosystem management, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish depredation trapping. In an 8-4 vote the bill passed the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee Saturday.
“Trapping take a tremendous toll on New Mexico—companion animals, native furbearers, and our most imperiled species pay the price for these indiscriminate killing devices,” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Public lands and our desert ecosystems cannot bear this burden any longer and it’s time for our elected officials to take action.”
“We are grateful for the state legislature’s thoughtful consideration of House Bill 366 to strike a better balance among diverse interests on New Mexico’s public lands—toward improved public safety, animal welfare, and ecosystem health—that would protect endangered species from dangerous, indiscriminate traps,” said Jessica Johnson, chief legislative officer for Animal Protection Voters.
“Trapping serves no viable wildlife management purpose and is ethically indefensible,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “Body-gripping traps, which are inherently indiscriminate, pose a danger not only to pets, but also to threatened and endangered species including Mexican wolves.”
“Banning leghold traps on public lands will save the lives of all types of animals, including endangered Mexican wolves,” said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Traps are inhumane, sometimes fatal, and the smelly bait intended to attract coyotes is just as likely to draw curious wolves.”
“This is yet another chilling example of the grave threats lobos face, on top of an already dire genetic crisis,” said Kelly Nokes, shared Earth wildlife attorney at Western Environmental Law Center. “Mexican wolves are among our nation’s most critically imperiled species and they need proper protection if they are ever to recover as the law demands. Already threatened by an illegal management rule we’re challenging in court that banishes them from necessary habitat and caps their population at a number too low for recovery, lobos should not be further exposed to the lethal grip of indiscriminate traps strewn across New Mexico’s public lands –– the Mexican wolf population is simply too fragile as it is.”
The annual official count of wild Mexican wolves is ongoing currently. As of last February, there were 114 lobos in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona. The past year has seen a large number of Mexican wolf mortalities. During the 2017-2018 trapping season, at least four lobos were caught in traps. Two subsequently died.
Domestic dogs are also caught in traps on public lands. Along with Roxy, Ranger died from trap wounds this year. Kekoa lost a leg to a trap in December.
BACKGROUND:
TRAPPING
Trapping on public lands is legal in New Mexico. No bag limits exist for furbearer species. The law does not require trap locations to be marked, signed, or for any warnings to be present. No gross receipts tax is levied on fur and pelts sold by trappers. No penalties exist for trappers who unintentionally trap non-target species including endangered species, protected species, domestic animals, pets, humans, or livestock.
No database or official record is kept by any public entity and no requirement exists that trappers report when they have captured a dog in their traps. The pattern these incidents follow are usually similar; dogs screaming and frantically biting at the person desperately trying to rescue them. Veterinary and even human medical treatment along with associated expenses can result, as can long-lasting psychological trauma. Neither New Mexico Game and Fish nor trappers are liable for the damages that are caused by traps.
The true toll that trapping takes on native wildlife is difficult to know. Reporting requirements exist for some species, but not for often-trapped so-called “unprotected furbearers” like coyotes and skunks. The accuracy of reporting is unverifiable, and numbers do not adequately articulate the suffering and carnage that traps wreak on bobcats, foxes, critically imperiled Mexican gray wolves, coyotes, and other animals.
The almost singular excuse for the above-mentioned incidents is that trapping is necessary to control carnivore populations, but scientific studies do not support this assertion. In fact, scientific studies show that trapping and lethally removing carnivore species, like coyotes, often exacerbate conflicts such as those with livestock (see Using Coyotes to Protect Livestock. Wait. What?, Randy Comeleo, Oregon Small Farm News, Vol. XIII No. 2, p. 2, (Spring 2018)).
The existence of trapping by a minuscule subset of the population using New Mexico’s public lands is in direct conflict with one of the state’s most valuable economic strengths: outdoor recreation. Highlighted by the recent New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Las Cruces, the outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico is a current and future boon—diversifying and stabilizing the state’s economy while creating 99,000 direct jobs in the process. Outdoor recreation includes hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, photography, hunting, horseback riding, angling, trail running, and bicycling. This economy is not bolstered by piles of dead animals discarded by public roadways or by the thousands of wild animals taken from New Mexico’s diverse public landscapes for personal profit.
MEXICAN GRAY WOLVES
The lobo, or Mexican wolf, is the smallest, most genetically distinct, and one of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf. The species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1976, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the Service has yet to implement scientifically recommended recovery actions.
Although lobos once widely roamed across the southwestern United States and Mexico, the Mexican wolf was purposefully eradicated from the U.S. on behalf of American livestock, hunting, and trapping interests. Recognizing the Mexican gray wolf’s extreme imperilment, the Service listed it on the federal endangered species list in 1976, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the Service has yet to take the actions science shows is necessary to restore the species.
In 1998, after the few remaining wolves were put into captivity in an attempt to save the species, the Service released 11 Mexican wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico now known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The program has limped along ever since, with illegal killings and sanctioned removals subverting recovery.
Mexican wolves are at tremendous risk due to their small population size, limited gene pool, threats from trapping, Wildlife Services’ activities, and illegal killings.

Jimmy Kimmel scoop: Donald Trump “hates baby bears”

Jimmy Kimmel scoop: Donald Trump “hates baby bears”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40577274/jimmy-kimmel-scoop-donald-trump-hates-baby-bears

While we know that Donald Trump hates sharks, at least according to Stormy Daniels. Turns out the president also hates baby bears, at least according to Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel’s realization came in the wake of news that the Interior Department is ending a ban on hunting hibernating bears and their cubs in their dens. The National Park Service, under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, apparently has a problem with some of the current protections for black bears, “including cubs and sows with cubs,” that prevent hunters from “harvest practices” that include using bait to lure bears out, using lights to find hibernating animals, and using dogs to kill bear cubs.

The National Park Service now wants to roll back those pesky rules that stop people from killing baby bears for fun, according to a proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Under the proposed changes, hunters will now be able to hunt black bears with dogs, use motorboats to shoot swimming caribou, and kill wolves and pups in their dens. According to Kimmel, it’s all part of Trump’s plan to make America great again—and get rid of those evil baby bears.

Endangered Science

2016-05-30-1464631104-7599176-StandingUpForScienceWolfBanner.jpg

As Americans enjoy this long weekend of remembrance, many will find their way to a national or state park hoping to see wildlife in their natural habitats. Last year over 300 million people visited the national parks alone, the highest number on record. Tourists photographed bears and bobcats, bison and moose, foxes, wolves, prairie dogs, coyotes, eagles, owls, and more.

What most visitors didn’t see is the work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that our wildlife is protected, and species on the brink of extinction don’t disappear. Project Coyote is just one of many organizations committed to protecting our public lands and public trust, ensuring that the wild animals visitors hope to see receive the protections they deserve, as outlined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) decades ago.

One of the fundamental requirements of the ESA is that decisions about protecting wildlife are based on the best available science. This sounds obvious, but in order for science to be credible, it must be independent, which means free of political or commercial interests.

Unfortunately, respect for independent science within wildlife management ranks is as endangered as the animals we try to protect. One of many examples includes the Department of Interior’s alarming decision in 2014 to declare gray wolves recovered nationwide because the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) claimed the wolves occupied most of the remaining suitable habitat in the U.S. In truth, nearly two-dozen states in the historic range were, and still are, vacant. The FWS declared them unsuitable on grounds that human tolerance for wolves was low there and that wolves would be poached by citizens or killed by government agents seeking to protect livestock interests. This is the same year we witnessed wolves returning to their native home of California where they had not been seen since 1924. If FWS policy had been implemented, California might not have seen this important and historic return.

The fact is that none of the available science supported the FWS claim, and what evidence there was actually showed that tolerance for wolves was even higher outside their current range.

According to the ESA, our federal wildlife managers are supposed to address threats that may push a species to extinction, not circumvent the threat by redefining “suitable habitat.” It is required to combat threats and recover listed species, as the ESA states, “across all or a significant portion of range.” (ESA 16 USC § 1531)

Instead, FWS pointed to a non-peer-reviewed analysis suggesting the northeastern U.S. was not gray wolf habitat because a new species had lived there. The criticism that followed eventually led to an independent scientific review process that “unanimously decided that the FWS’s earlier decisions were not well supported by the available science.”

Project Coyote Science Advisory Board members Adrian TrevesJeremy BruskotterJohn Vucetich, and Michael Nelson co-authored this study refuting these assumptions, and there are more examples of FWS ignoring science, including the department’s recent delisting decisions about wolverines and grizzlies that not only omitted independent scientific review, but rejected the recommendations of agency biologists.

If we look at the history of decisions about carnivores under the ESA, we see similar disregard for the best available science. Since 2005, the FWS has lost nearly a dozen federal court cases trying to remove protections for wolves, grizzly bears, and wolverines. In each case, the courts sided with plaintiff’s claims that the Department of the Interior misinterpreted the ESA or did not follow the ESA mandate to base its decisions on the best scientific data available.

Which is why the recent Endangered Species Day was the perfect occasion for me to join with members of Project Coyote’s Science Advisory Board in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists, to compel Interior Secretary Jewell and Commerce Secretary Pritzker to enforce the ESA and serve the public trust by using the best available science. We submitted a petition with the signatures of nearly 1,000 US scientists and scholars, and our request was simple: respect the law and put the independent scientific community back in charge of determining the best available science.

All Americans can be proud of the cooperative vision that produced the Endangered Species Act in 1973, and protects the abundance of wildlife and beautiful landscapes that our federal agencies are charged to steward. Let’s not be the generation that allowed standards to slip so far that, for some species, it’s beyond recovery. When independent science is threatened, so are our keystone species, and the healthy ecosystems we all depend on to survive and thrive.

Learn more about the ways scientists are working for wildlife by visiting Project Coyote’sScience and Stewardship Program and Notes from the Field blog.

Harmful provisions in Congress’s spending bill would strip protections for wolves, reopen horse slaughter plants

By Kitty Block

  • Updated 
wolf
 

Photo: Alamy

As Congress works to finalize its FY18 spending bill to fund the federal government, key protections for animals are under attack.

Some members, beholden to special interests, are attempting to reopen horse slaughter plants in the United States, authorize the killing of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros, strip Endangered Species Act protections for Great Lakes wolves, and repeal a rule to prevent cruel and unjustified methods of killing grizzlies and wolf pups on National Park Service lands in Alaska.

It’s a tired old Washington story: attaching measures that could never pass on their own merits to important spending bills that must be approved frequently, as this one has to be, in order to keep the government running. Every year, it’s the same special interests with the same outrageous proposals, literally seeking to harm millions of animals with a few strokes of the pen or the keyboard. And every year, our program experts and the Humane Society Legislative Fund team dig in to hold the line, keeping a close eye on these harmful riders scattered through the House and Senate versions of the bill, and gearing up to defeat them.

You too can do your part to ensure that these provisions do not pass.

  • Allowing horse slaughter plants to reopen: While the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill includes language that would keep horse slaughter plants from operating in the United States, the House Appropriations Committee failed to include this “defund” language, which has been in the annual spending bill for most of the last several years. The defund language effectively bans horse slaughter for human consumption by preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using funds to inspect these facilities. Allowing slaughter plants to open will costs millions of taxpayer dollars each year—a move that is both fiscally irresponsible and in conflict with our values as a nation.
  • Authorizing the slaughter of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros: The House Interior Appropriations bill contains an amendment to allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill thousands of healthy wild horses and burros. In all but one year since 1994, Congress’s final appropriations bills have included language to prevent this. Thankfully, the Senate bill includes that protective language but the House version is a problem.
  • Removing ESA protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes: Both chambers’ versions include language to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Further, the provision would bar judicial review of the action. This language overrides a federal appeals court ruling last year that maintained protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.
  • Blocking the implementation of a rule to prevent hunting grizzlies and wolf pups on National Preserves in Alaska: The House bill blocks implementation of a federal rule to prevent inhumane and scientifically unjustified hunting methods on National Preserves—a category of National Park Service land—in Alaska. These practices include luring grizzly bears with bait to shoot them at point-blank distance and killing wolf, black bear, and coyote mothers and their babies at their dens. Last February, Congress repealed a similar rule that protected predators on 76 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. These issues are best left to robust regulatory processes, with input from the public, land managers, and scientific experts, rather than being subjected to the political whims of Congress.

Please act immediately to let your members of Congress know that you want this spending package to protect animals at risk from malicious legislation. Urge them to reject these harmful provisions in the spending bill, and to maintain vital animal welfare protections that most of the American public supports. Remind them that it’s a spending bill, not an opportunity for the defenders of cruelty.

Protect America’s horses and wildlife >>

The post Harmful provisions in Congress’s spending bill would strip protections for wolves, reopen horse slaughter plants appeared first on A Humane Nation.

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Wolf decision could undermine plan to remove grizzly bears from endangered list

  • ROB CHANEY rchaney@missoulian.com
  • 2 hrs ago

Wolves often harass grizzly bears in the wild, and now they’re challenging bear recovery in the courtroom.

An appeals court ruling in a federal lawsuit challenging how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Great Lakes gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act list could unravel plans to delist grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The possibility raised enough alarm within the agency that it sent out a request for public comment on the topic last week.

“We had put our final delisting rule out in July and within a week we got the court opinion,” FWS grizzly recovery coordinator Hillary Cooley said during a meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in Missoula on Tuesday. “The Great Lakes wolves were listed for the entire Lower 48 states, and then they carved out a DPS (Distinct Population Segment) and tried to delist them. That’s what we’ve done with the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as well, so we thought we should take a look.”

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has combined bear experts from the National Park Service, Forest Service, state wildlife agencies and other land managers for more than three decades on the task of removing threats to grizzly bear survival so the bears can be removed from the Endangered Species List.

In August, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed a lower-court ruling blocking the wildlife service’s plan to delist the gray wolf in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin while keeping the species protected in the rest of the continental U.S. The case was Humane Society of the U.S. v. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

In its species recovery plans, the wildlife service often uses distinct population segments to draw boundaries around places a plant or animal depends on. That three-state area was considered the Western Great Lakes DPS for gray wolves.

“The fundamental error in the Service’s decision is that, in evaluating whether gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region are a ‘distinct’ population segment, the Service failed to address the impact that extraction of the segment would have on the legal status of the remaining wolves in the already-listed species,” the appeals court judges wrote. They added that creating a DPS was a “one-way ratchet” that could increase protections, but not decrease them without additional justification.

“The Service’s power is to designate genuinely discrete population segments; it is not to delist an already-protected species by balkanization,” they added. “The Service cannot circumvent the Endangered Species Act’s explicit delisting standards by driving an existing listing into a recovered sub-group and a leftover group that becomes an orphan to the law. Such a statutory dodge is the essence of arbitrary-and-capricious and ill-reasoned agency action.”Grizzly bear recovery follows a similar pattern. In July, FWS published its final rule delisting the roughly 700 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is one of six DPS ecosystems the bears inhabit or could inhabit in the Lower 48 states. That action has triggered six lawsuits challenging it to date, several of which use the Western Great Lakes wolf decision in their arguments.

FWS is also working on a delisting rule for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which holds about 1,000 grizzlies in the Rocky Mountains between Missoula and Glacier National Park. But the remaining four ecosystems — the Cabinet-Yaak, Selkirk, Bitterroot and North Cascades — hold only handfuls of bears or none at all.

“The Lower 48 grizzlies were originally listed as all one population,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for Wildearth Guardians. “If you pull one DPS out, such as the Yellowstone, you have to consider how that affects all the other populations.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said of the agency request. “You can’t fix it by papering it over after the fact. You have to go back and withdraw the rule. It’s a glaring problem and they knew it back then.”

The request is separate from another notice FWS published on Monday, requesting public comment on its “Supplement to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan: Habitat-Based Recovery Criteria for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.”

The document explains proposed standards for delisting grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. That final action could take place next summer.

The FWS public comment request runs through January 8, 2018. Comments can be made online through the FWS website.

French sheep farmers protest against protection of wolves

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-farmers-wolves/french-sheep-farmers-protest-against-protection-of-wolves-idUSKBN1CE1OZ

OCTOBER 9, 2017

LYON, France (Reuters) – Farmers trucked hundreds of sheep into a central square in the French city of Lyon on Monday in protest against the government’s protection of wolves, which they blame for livestock deaths and heavy financial losses.

French farmers walk ahead of hundreds of sheep as they stage a protest against the government’s “Plan loup” (wolf project) which protects wolves which the farmers blame for livestock deaths and financial losses, in Lyon, France, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

European wolves were hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s but a pair crossed the Alps from Italy in the early 1990s and they now number about 360 in packs scattered across the country, according to wildlife groups.

As their population has rebounded, they have encroached increasingly on farmland.

“10,000 animals killed every year by the wolf,” read one banner

Michele Boudoin, president of the National Sheep Federation, said wolves were costing livestock producers 26 million euros a year compared with 1.5 million euros in 2004.

“Enough with the wolf,” Boudoin exclaimed. “At some point you have to choose between farmers and the wolf.”

A new five-year government plan allows a small number of wolves to be culled each year, according to French media, but farmers are demanding the right to shoot dead any wolf that attacks their herds.

Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Gareth Jones