Action Alert Yellowstone Wolves

Very dark days lie ahead for us, for our state’s reputation, for tourism, for our state’s economy, and particularly for wolves and other animals. The wildlife and beloved family pets will pay the ultimate price in this unethical, indiscriminate, and unnecessary war declared on wolves in Montana.

In support and collaboration with some of our closest allies, Plan B to Save Wolves, Wolves of the Rockies, The 06 Legacy, and the Apex Protection Project, Trap Free created this action alert, below, focused on the Yellowstone Wolves. We did not make this decision lightly. The Yellowstone wolves are the poster child of wolves. They are both deeply valued and deeply despised. We do not want to put them in further jeopardy. However, they are the trophies, wolf haters, and outfitters will target. They have no quota, anymore, on the number of Yellowstone wolves who can be killed, and these wolves are clueless. Their deaths will be heard worldwide and felt through the heart and the wallet. We cannot sit back, wait, and watch.  As WOTR founder once said to us, “If we cannot save Yellowstone wolves, we cannot save any.” 

Please take action below and make the calls. With enough pressure we should be able to at least stop this pending targeted slaughter we know will be on the prized Yellowstone wolves and the foreseen annihilation of hundreds of unknown wolves will not be muted!

YELLOWSTONE WOLVES NEED YOU NOW

If you are a fan of Yellowstone, a future or past visitor, or a business owner who benefits from 
Yellowstone National Park, then WE ARE IMPLORING YOU to be a voice for Yellowstone Wolves.

This is an EMERGENCY. In Montana, killers will be targeting Yellowstone wolves as a badge of honor, for revenge, and for the ease now in killing them. The fascination and love of wolves viewed and watched by millions in the park, annually, have habituated many wolves into thinking that humans will cause them no harm. However, they are about to be seriously betrayed.

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission removed the quotas outside the park, so those who hate wolves CAN NOW KILL countless Yellowstone wolves as they cross the imaginary park
boundary lines.
 

Effective August 20, 2021, in sync with the Montana 2021 legislature’s passing of anti-wolf bills, here is how wolves in Montana can legally be killed:

  1. By outfitters, landowners, and others with landowner permission, enticing wolves with bait onto private land so they can also shoot them at night using artificial light or night vision scopes.

   2. With baited unattended indiscriminate massive secreted leghold traps and countless cheap snares. 

   3. With archery beginning September 5, guns September 15, and trapping and snaring as early as November 29. The Montana wolf season closes on March 15 during the wolves’ latter stage of 
pregnancy and birthing.

    4. And with monetary reimbursements ~$1,000, a bounty, from an Idaho based organization for Montana wolf killers.

The Yellowstone wolves have significant intrinsic and extrinsic value:

  1. They are the poster child of wolves. These wolves are known, observed, photographed, studied, and treasured.
  2. They will represent the secreted and disturbingly unethical, cruel fate that will befall all the unknown wolves in Montana and in which the recent overwhelming majority of 25,000 submitted public comments opposed.
  3. Tourism is Montana’s second and fastest-growing industry. Many come here for wildlife, and especially to Yellowstone to see wolves. 
  4. In 2005, 10 years after wolves returned to Yellowstone, a study estimated wolf-centered ecotourism generated > $35 million in the park’s surrounding gateway communities.
  5. In 2019, Yellowstone National Park reports tourism generated a  cumulative economic benefit of $642 million for local economies near the park.
  6. Years of scientific research and educational discoveries will be lost with this pending slaughter.                                                                                                   

Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission’s approval of these wolf “hunts” has nothing to do with hunting, or as anti-wolf bills’ sponsor, Rep. Paul Fielder said, fair chase. They will become culls, potentially decimating, even eliminating entire naive Yellowstone packs.

PLEASE, TAKE A FEW MINUTES, now to try to stop this, using your own words, and being respectful, do the following:

1. Contact MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT and tell them that you are demanding protections for wolves as a patron of Yellowstone, a tourist, or a relevant business owner. 
1-406-841-2870 / Toll-free 800-847-4868 Email: travelcounselor@visitmt.com 
Online contact: https://www.visitmt.com/contact.html

Post a respectful comment on their Facebook page to amplify the need to protect wolves in Montana: https://www.facebook.com/visitmontana

2. Contact MONTANA GOVERNOR GREG GIANFORTE about the negative economic impact this will have; the economic benefit in 2019 from tourism to local Yellowstone Park communities was an estimated $642 million.
1-406-444-3111, or online https://svc.mt.gov/gov/contact/shareopinion
 

3. Contact SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, DEB HAALAND and urge her to protect Yellowstone wolves, save the Northern Rocky Mountain region wolves from this unethical and unnecessary slaughter, and move to a federal emergency listing of all wolves to prevent the imminent eradication of the species. 1-202-208-3100
email: feedback@ios.doi.gov or online https://www.doi.gov/contact-us
 

4. Contact PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN and insist he put the wolves back on the endangered species list as the states have demonstrated their inability to manage wolves responsibly and through science; and this is not what the American public supported for wolf reintroduction and recovery.1-202-456-1414 (Switchboard) 1-202-456-1111 (Comments) or online https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
 

 5. Contact YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. Trust they do not like this either, but help them document all the opposition. email: yell_visitor_services@nps.gov or online: https://www.nps.gov/yell/contacts.htm 
1-307-344-7381

TAKE ACTION BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

On behalf of a consortium of wolf supporters, thank you! 

For an excellent comprehensive article on the plight of wolves and the drastic harm this will cause, Montana Defiantly Puts Yellowstone Wolves in its Crosshairs.

Group asks US to cut funding to Idaho over wolf-killing bill

Group asks US to cut funding to Idaho over wolf-killing bill – The Washington Post

FILE - In this Jan. 14, 1995, file photo, a wolf leaps across a road into the wilds of Central Idaho. The Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, is asking the U.S. government to cut off millions of dollars to Idaho that’s used to improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities in the wake of legislation that could lead to killing 90% of the wolves in the state. (AP Photo/Douglas Pizac, File)
FILE – In this Jan. 14, 1995, file photo, a wolf leaps across a road into the wilds of Central Idaho. The Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, is asking the U.S. government to cut off millions of dollars to Idaho that’s used to improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities in the wake of legislation that could lead to killing 90% of the wolves in the state. (AP Photo/Douglas Pizac, File) (Doug Pizac/AP)

By Keith Ridler | APMay 4, 2021 at 12:13 p.m. PDT

BOISE, Idaho — A conservation group is asking the U.S. government to cut off millions of dollars to Idaho that is used to improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities because of legislation that could lead to 90% of the state’s wolves being killed.

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter Monday to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, saying states may be deemed ineligible to receive federal wildlife restoration money if states approve legislation contrary to that goal.

Idaho received about $18 million last year in that funding, which comes from a tax on sporting firearms and ammunition. States can use it to pay 75% of the cost for projects including acquiring habitat, wildlife research and hunter education programs.

The conservation group’s request is a reflection of the long-simmering tension between ranchers and those seeking to protect wolves in the American West. About 1,500 wolves are in Idaho, with disagreement over whether that is too many or not enough because the predators are known to attack cattle, sheep and wildlife. Ranchers say they lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to those attacks.

The Idaho legislation, backed by the agriculture industry, allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves and opens up ways the predators can be hunted.

Those methods include hunting, trapping and snaring an unlimited number of wolves on a single hunting tag and allowing hunters to chase down wolves on snowmobiles and ATVs. The measure also allows the killing of newborn pups and nursing mothers on private land.

“We won’t stand idly by while federal taxpayers are forced to fund Idaho’s wolf-slaughter program,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Idaho is entrusted with protecting its wildlife for all Americans, and its failure to do so should be met with serious repercussions, including the loss of federal funding.”

Idaho lawmakers have approved the legislation. Republican Gov. Brad Little, whose family has a long history with sheep ranching in Idaho, hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the measure.

Last week, nearly 30 former state, federal and tribal wildlife managers sent a letter to Little asking him to veto it, saying the methods for killing wolves would violate longstanding wildlife management practices and sportsmen ethics.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission also opposes the bill because it removes wildlife management decisions from the commission and its experts and gives them to politicians.

Supporters say the changes could help reduce the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150, alleviating attacks on cattle and sheep. The Idaho Cattle Association said it supports the measure because it allows the free-market system to play a role in killing wolves.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, using remote cameras and other methods, reported in February that the wolf population has been holding at about 1,500 the past two years.

About 500 wolves have been killed in the state in each of the last two years by hunters, trappers and wolf-control measures carried out by state and federal authorities.

Idaho’s wolf conservation and management plan calls for at least 150 wolves and 15 packs. Supporters of the measure say the state can increase the killing of wolves to reach that level.

According to the plan, if Idaho’s wolf population fell to 100, there is a possibility the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could resume management of the predators in the state.

Biden administration mum on gray wolves endangered species listing

Biden administration mum on gray wolves endangered species listing (ktvq.com)

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Photo by: National Park Service via AP, FileFILE – In this March 21, 2019, aerial file photo provided by the National Park Service, is the Junction Butte wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park.By: Jacob Fischler – Daily MontananPosted at 8:51 AM, Apr 05, 2021 and last updated 7:51 AM, Apr 05, 2021

A controversial decision in the last months of the Trump administration to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list led to a massive overhunt in Wisconsin this year that Ojibwe tribal representatives said disrespected their wishes.

But there’s no indication yet that the Biden administration will attempt to roll back that move, despite an order the day President Joe Biden took office that departments across the government review decisions from the previous four years that were “damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” The order specifically cited the gray wolf delisting as one to reconsider.

It’s also unclear what effect the three-day hunting season in Wisconsin, where hunters killed nearly double the state’s non-tribal quota, will have on other states.

The season was held in late February after a Nov. 3 Fish and Wildlife Service order removed gray wolves from the endangered species list in all of the lower 48 states, mostly affecting the Great Lakes region. Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains had already been delisted federally.

A Wisconsin judge ruled in February that state law required a wolf hunting season. The state set a limit of 119 wolves that could be harvested by the general public, with an additional 81 reserved for the Ojibwe tribes.

The tribes intended not to harvest wolves, but to use their quota as a means for conservation, said Dylan Jennings, a spokesman for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, a group that represents 11 Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.https://85a9b590766c8489fb86c7a4c79aed8b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Hunters killed 216 in just three days.

“The second it gets beyond a certain threshold, there’s a quick and irrational desire to hunt them again,” Jennings said.

Jennings’ group opposed the hunt because of biological factors and because of the reverence for wolves in Ojibwe culture.

The animal’s fate is seen as tied to the Ojibwe people, and they view policies throughout U.S. history where the government has sought to remove both Native Americans and wolves as strengthening that shared existence, Jennings said.

“What happens to one happens to the other,” he said. “There’s a mirror prophecy…. And that mirrored history is pretty fresh in the minds of a lot of our tribal nations.”

Although the state was forced by the court decision to hold a hunting season, Jennings said tribes were not meaningfully consulted.

“When you’re pushing for a hunt to happen in a week’s time, you’re essentially saying ‘We’re going to bypass the tribal consultation process,’” Jennings said. “And that’s exactly what tribal communities viewed as happening.”

The timing of Wisconsin’s hunt, when females may be pregnant and wolf pelts are not as valuable, added a layer of disrespect, the group said in a statement before the season opened.

Representatives for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

Managing large carnivores

Government management of large carnivores like wolves is often controversial. The animals can pose a danger to people, livestock and the livelihoods of ranchers.

“Wolves are strong, smart and vicious predators,” Luke Hilgemann, the CEO of Hunter Nation, the organization that sued the state to force a wolf season, wrote in a March 19 op-ed for the Wisconsin State Journal. “Wolves are to be respected and revered. But too many of any species — particularly predators — can wreck the entire ecosystem.”

In neighboring Minnesota, wolf populations have remained strong since before the animal was listed on the federal endangered species list, said Dan Stark, a large carnivore specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The population has hovered around 2,700 for the past three years, about double the 1,250-1,400 goal that federal authorities set.

Stark said he didn’t have enough information about the Wisconsin season to speculate about how it might affect Minnesota’s management plan, but that examples from across North America, including Wisconsin’s, helped inform best practices for wolf hunting.https://85a9b590766c8489fb86c7a4c79aed8b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Anything we can learn about what methods were allowed or what steps were taken to manage and provide the controls for that season closure could help inform us as we develop or if we adopt a proposal for a season,” he said.

Minnesota DNR policymaking committees include tribal members and formal tribal consultation is also part of the process, as is consultation with people concerned about wolves preying on livestock, Stark said.

The department’s review of its wolf management policy was slowed by the pandemic, Stark said. A review committee would likely have a plan ready for public review in the summer and a final recommendation in the fall.

Jennings said there was no indication of how the federal government might act. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is the first Native American person to hold that office, but tribal communities understand her job goes beyond their concerns, Jennings said.

Other than citing the gray wolf in the executive order, the Biden administration has not given any other sign it intends to undo the delisting, which could be a lengthy process.

“The administration cannot simply yank back the rule,” said Kristin Boyles, a staff attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental group suing the federal government over the delisting.https://85a9b590766c8489fb86c7a4c79aed8b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

If the agency agreed the rule was invalid, it could begin a new rulemaking process to put the gray wolf back on the list, she said.

The government’s answer to the Earthjustice suit is due April 19.

A spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment. A spokesman for the Interior Department did not return a request for comment.

The Fish and Wildlife Service kept the grizzly bear, another well-known large and potentially dangerous mammal, on the endangered species list, the service announced this week.

Wolf hunting in Montana

In Montana, where wolf hunting has been legal since a 2011 law authored by Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, the state Legislature has pursued measures to expand hunting.

The Montana Wildlife Federation, which supported the 2011 law, has asked Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, to veto seven bills. The proposals include measures to allow the use of spotlights in hunts, baits near traps, the killing of more than one wolf with a single license, and other measures conservationists consider unethical.https://85a9b590766c8489fb86c7a4c79aed8b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“What we’re seeing this session is an all-out war against wolves,” Nick Gevock, the conservation director for MWF, said. “We support ethical wolf hunting, but this is something different. This is a purposeful effort to drive their numbers to a bare minimum.”

Gilles Stockton, the president of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association, said the state’s official tally of around 870 wolves is likely an undercount. The animals are overpopulated throughout the state and are a threat to livestock producers, he said. Hunting is an important tool in managing that threat, he added.

The group didn’t have a position on the specific bills the Legislature has passed, but said “more aggressive methods are necessary and should be allowed.”

Many in western Montana, where wolf populations are more plentiful, have advocated for similar measures for years, Gevock said. But with the state now led by a Republican governor after 16 years of Democratic control, the chances of enactment are greater.

Gevock said the governor’s office has not said if it will veto the bills.

State authorities fined Gianforte earlier this month for killing a wolf without first taking the proper training course.

Stop SB314 “The Wolf Extermination” bill

It’s here.
SB314 “The Wolf Extermination” bill will he heard and voted on Tuesday afternoon, 4/13, in the Montana House of Representatives. It will then have a final hearing and vote most likely the following day before dying or going to Governor Gianforte.

SB314 by Rep. Bob Brown mandates the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission reduce wolves in our state down to the bare minimum, but no less than 15 breeding pairs in order to avoid re-listing. It enables them to do so by the “most liberal” and unethical methods such as hunting over bait, killing latter stage pregnant wolves, night hunting, night vision scopes, multiple wolves on one tag, and of course indiscriminate cruel traps and snares. One can easily anticipate killing contests inclusive of wolves.

Passage of SB314 will mean ~85-90% of wolves in Montana will have a legal and unjust target on their backs. Yet, they are having no difficulty killing wolves in Montana. Every year they break a new record. This 2020 wolf season was no exception. Hitting a new high, over 325 wolves were reported killed by trapping and hunting. This does not account for poaching, SB200 landowner wolf kills, highway mortality, etc. in which an estimated 500 wolves are killed every year in Montana.  Depending on who is talking, Montana’s estimated wolf population is between 800-1200 wolves, or was.

SB314 takes the other trap and kill wolves bills, HB224 Wolf Snaring, HB225 Extended Wolf Season, SB267 Wolf Bounties, passing into law now in our state with Governor Gianforte’s signature and ties them all up in a bow requiring the Wildlife Commission implement these means, methods, and more, to exterminate wolves in Montana….but avoid the Feds.

CONTACT Montana Representatives and respectfully Urge a NO on SB314. Be sure to use your own words.
Look them up and their contact info.

Let us know if you want to email them all.

In response to an email with the data, science, and our objections to SB314 we sent to all Montana Representatives, today, we already heard back from one.
Rep. Gunderson, HD1, Libby, Montana.
Gunderson Steven <steve.gunderson@mtleg.gov>
Tue 4/13/2021 
To: Trap Free Montana Public Lands TFMPL
Thanks for reminding me of the many reasons to vote for Senator Brown’s bill!!

Steve

We have not received a reply in requesting his reasons.

Call the front desk and leave a message for up to 5 Representatives urging a NO on SB314.
1-406-444-4800

Send a message via the legislative web to Montana Representative/s to vote AGAINST SB314.

Note as of 4/1/21, there were 33 message For SB314 and 344 Against SB314.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to Do ALL of the above!

SB314 already passed in Montana Senate 29:20.

This is our last chance to try to stop SB314.Please take effective action!

To listen to the House floor hearing and 4/13 vote on SB314:
They meet at 1:00.

Also today, Tuesday, the 13thHB367, by Rep Paul Fielder, Senate Fish & Game hearing is this afternoon and we will be testifying against it. They meet at 3pm. HB367 is to amend our Montana constitution making hunting, fishing and trapping a right and the preferred methods to manage wildlife in our state. In 2004, Montana voters overwhelming supported amending the constitution to preserve the opportunity to hunt and fish, not to trap. If this reaches the Senate floor and passes with 34 out of 50 Montana Senators it will go before Montana voters in November 2022.

Do not let up on contacting and urging our Montana Senators to Vote NO on HB367 a significant far reaching Constitutional amendment disastrous to wildlife and that will cost us a small fortune to defeat if it winds up going to the voters.

To see and learn more about 2021 Montana trapping & related bills visit our TFMPl website. 

To Contact Governor Gianforte.  1-406-444-3111

Non-Residents continue to Contact Montana Department of Tourism

To see how legislators voted re trapping and related bills in 2019

Please keep those letters to the editor going! They are educational, powerful, and amplify what is befalling our wildlife in Montana. 

Donate to help with our fight. Thank you to all who have! A monthly donation, no matter how small, helps us!

Take action, now, and help us kill this disturbing unethical extreme kill wolves bill and more!

KC York 
President/Founder
on behalf of the board of directors

Thank you friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands and to all who have been doing what they can to help!

Montana Governor Given Written Warning After Trapping, Killing Of Yellowstone Wolf

https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/montana-governor-given-written-warning-after-trapping-killing-yellowstone-wolf#stream/0

By NATE HEGYI MAR 23, 2021The Mountain West News BureauShareTweetEmail

  • Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte trapped and killed an adult black wolf, like the one pictured, near Yellowstone National Park on February 15. The wolf, 1155, was born and radio-collared within the park.JIM PEACO / NPS

Montana’s newly elected Republican governor violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot a collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park in February, according to documents obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau.ListenListening…4:12

Gov. Greg Gianforte killed the adult black wolf known as “1155” roughly ten miles north of the park’s boundary in Park County. He trapped it on a private ranch owned by Robert E. Smith, director of the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group, who contributed thousands of dollars to Gianforte’s 2017 congressional campaign

While wolves are protected inside Yellowstone National Park, it’s legal to hunt and trap wolves in Montana – including wolves that wander beyond the park’s boundaries – in accordance with state regulations.

Gianforte violated Montana regulations by harvesting the wolf without first completing a state-mandated wolf trapping certification course. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued the governor a written warning, and he promised to take the three-hour online course March 24Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte

According to Montana’s wolf hunting regulations, “A person must attend and complete a wolf-trapping certification class before setting any trap for a wolf,” and the state-issued certificate “must be in possession of any person setting wolf traps and/or harvesting a wolf by trap.”

The course gives would-be wolf trappers “the background and rules to do so ethically, humanely, and lawfully,” the course’s student manual states.

John Sullivan, Montana chapter chair for the sportsmen’s group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said the governor should’ve known about the certification requirements. 

“He has been hunting and trapping for a long time and I would be surprised to learn that he didn’t know better than to complete that education,” Sullivan said. “We hope that he apologizes to the citizens of the state for circumventing the process that we all have to go through.”

“It’s difficult to fathom accidentally not taking that class,” he added. “When you go to buy your wolf trapping license online it clearly states that trapper education is required.”

The governor’s spokesperson, Brooke Stroyke, said in an emailed statement that “after learning he had not completed the wolf-trapping certification, Governor Gianforte immediately rectified the mistake and enrolled in the wolf-trapping certification course.”

The governor did have all the necessary hunting licenses to harvest a wolf, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon. 

“Typically, we approach this sort of incident as an educational opportunity, particularly when the person in question is forthright in what happened and honest about the circumstances,” Lemon said in an email. “That was the case here with Gov. Gianforte.”

Lemon said the warning was a “typical operation procedure” and the governor was allowed to keep the skull and hide. As governor, Gianforte oversees Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and appointed its director earlier this year. Gov. Gianforte trapped and killed the wolf on land owned by Robert E. Smith’s Point of Rocks Ranch, LLC, according to location data obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau.

Word of Gianforte’s wolf-kill violation comes as the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature appears poised to send to his desk bills aimed at aggressively reducing the state’s wolf population through hunting and trapping. One would reimburse wolf trappers for the costs they incur, which critics call a “bounty.”

The incident highlights the polarized and overlapping debates in the West over how to manage growing wolf populations and trapping’s role – if it has one at all – in wildlife management. A decade after wolves were stripped of Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are asserting aggressive wolf management policies, while Colorado voters recently decided to reintroduce wolves to the Western Slope. 

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Legislature last week approved a bill banning the use of wildlife traps, snares and poison on public lands across the state, likely joining the growing number of Western states that have outlawed the practice increasingly viewed as cruel.

“It’s clearly not an ethical chase,” said Mike Garrity, executive director for the nonprofit environmental group Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Ethical hunters try to have a clean shot so they kill the animal instantly. Trapping obviously doesn’t do that. They suffer for a long time and who knows how long that wolf was trapped before the governor went out and killed it.” 

Wolf 1155 was born in Yellowstone National Park and was issued a radio collar by wildlife biologists in 2018, according to park spokesperson Morgan Warthin. Collars allow scientists to track the movements – and deaths – of wolves. 1155 was initially a member of the Wapiti Lake pack but is now considered a “dispersed male,” which means it had wandered away from the pack to find a mate elsewhere.

Yellowstone wolves hold a special place in the nation’s heart, according to Jonathan Proctor, director of the Rockies and Plains program for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife.

“People from all over the world come to Yellowstone specifically to see these wolves,” he said. “The fact that they can be killed so easily, right on the edge of the park in the state of Montana, for only a few dollars for a permit to trap a wolf – it makes no sense, either ecologically or economically.”

There are about 94 wolves living within the park, according to data from last year. Warthin said this was the first Yellowstone-collared wolf to be killed by a hunter or trapper this year. 

Gianforte killed 1155 on Feb. 15. It’s unclear when Gianforte first laid the traps. State regulations require that trappers check their traps every 48 hours and report wolf kills to FWP within 24 hours. Trappers also have the option of releasing a collared wolf. 

This is the second time Gianforte’s personal actions sparked controversy. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault after he body-slammed a reporter from the British newspaper The Guardian. He was sentenced to community service and anger management.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

FIVE WOLVES DEAD in OR

FIVE WOLVES DEAD

5 wolves found dead in northeastern Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon authorities say five wolves were found dead in northeastern Oregon in February. Oregon State Police said Friday when asked about it by The Associated Press that on Feb. 9, a collar on a wolf indicated a mortality signal in the Mt. Harris area in Union County. Police Capt. Timothy R. Fox said in an email that arriving officers found a total of five wolves dead. He says the cause of death is unknown. Fox says all the carcasses were taken to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife forensic lab to determine the cause of death. A state Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman said the incident is under investigation. No further information was released. 

California wolves update: newly named ‘Whaleback Pair’ carves out territory in Siskiyou

https://www.mtshastanews.com/story/news/2021/03/16/two-siskiyou-county-wolves-dubbed-whaleback-pair/4720319001/?fbclid=IwAR1-XpZXmuCSkC2jgziTobhWfKW30JBt8kvtX-gzckcEkC1ZgqAOGZDOi8s

Skye KinkadeMount Shasta Herald0:051:00https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.447.1_en.html#goog_1454717386

A gray wolf known as OR-85 as seen on trail cam footage in Siskiyou County last month.

It’s official: two wolves that have been carving out a territory in Siskiyou County over the past few months have made the area their home – and now they have a new name. 

The Whaleback Pair’s territory encompasses about 480 square miles of Siskiyou County and extends slightly south into Shasta County, according to a map recently released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The pair was named after the 8,500 foot mountain on the north side of Mt. Shasta’s flanks that resembles a whale’s back, which is within the wolves’ “very large home range,” said Kent Laudon, CDFW’s wolf specialist.

“Typically packs are named for some geographical feature where their home range is,” Laudon explained. A map of the area from 1900 refers to the mountain as Black Crater, but it was renamed Whaleback on a 1930 map.

What is believed to be a female gray colored wolf with OR-85 (black colored wolf with green colored satellite location collar) in Siskiyou County in late December. The female is scavenging on an old carcass that is believed to have been possible road kill, said Kent Laudon, California Fish and Wildlife’s Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist.

Siskiyou County Wolf Liaison Patrick Griffin said there have been no confirmed issues between the wolves and local livestock since the male wolf, OR-85, first came to the county in November 2020 in search of a mate.

Evidence collected by Laudon and trail cam footage from several sources show OR-85 was probably successful: he connected with what’s almost certainly a female wolf soon after arriving in California.https://25361bd0178539975096cb0cc2871dc9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The wolves have been moving around Siskiyou County together since then, and Laudon has been hard at work collecting samples of their genetic material to determine more about the mysterious female wolf’s origins.

“We don’t have a full DNA profile on her yet,” Laudon said of the gray colored wolf. “We have her DNA on some hair and a scat – neither yielded complete profiles but the hair is more complete than the scat and based on that our CDFW geneticist reports that the results are consistent with female.”

The gray-colored wolf is most likely a female, said CDFW wolf biologist Kent Laudon. Behind her, OR-85 rolls on the ground in this still photo taken from  trail camera footage in Siskiyou County.

More:Wolves in California: Siskiyou is home to a new pair

That sample has gone to a genetics lab at University of Idaho, Laudon said, where geneticists will compare it to other wolf DNA from Oregon, Washington and Idaho to see if they can determine what pack she was born in before dispersing to find a mate.

Once the CDFW is 100% sure the wolf is a female, she will be named WHA01F: WHA for Whaleback and 01F for the first marked female Whaleback wolf, Laudon explained.Story from Wines of British ColumbiaNext trip? A tour of British Columbia wine countryPlan a dream wine-tasting route through this gorgeous, vineyard-dotted region of Canada.See More →

“OR-85’s ID will remain the same. If there are pups this year, all of their profiles will be collected from pup poops at pup rearing locations after they have left,” Laudon said. “They will be named WHA02, WHA03, etc. with the relevant sex initial. So all the known wolves that we have sampled in California have identification.”

Griffin, who worked as Siskiyou County’s Agricultural Commissioner for 10 years before retiring in 2015, is a local rancher himself. He works closely with Laudon, the CDFW, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, local ranchers and the county to mitigate issues that might arise with Siskiyou’s new wolf residents.

This map, released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, shows the home territories of the Whaleback Pair and the Lassen Pack as of March, 2021.

Wolves that are dispersing “usually move on,” he said, but these two wolves “tend to stay in this location,” hence their new moniker.

Griffin said there has been mortality among local livestock since November, but in the suspicious cases there was not enough evidence to determine how the animals died or whether wolves were involved.

“When there are wolves around, people are always suspicious,” Griffin said. “Ranchers think, ‘will a wolf kill this calf or not?’”

Laudon said OR-85 and his friend continue to travel through cattle operations on winter range “but there’s been no issues so far.”

Wolves typically survive on big game like deer and elk, but they will also eat roadkill, Laudon said.

What is thought to be a female wolf was caught on trail cam footage in Siskiyou County in late January.

It’s important to note that the CDFW nor any other organization has reintroduced wolves to California, Laudon said. Instead, these wolves and their predecessors have traveled hundreds of miles after being reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho in 1995 and 1996 in search of mates and territories to call their own.

OR-85 was born part of Oregon’s Mt. Emily Pack. He was collared in February of 2020 and struck out on his own in June. The wolf, with shaggy black fur, took a short trip to Nevada and then returned to Oregon before crossing the border into California’s Modoc County in early November. 

Two days after entering the state, OR-85 made his way to Siskiyou County and has been here ever since, Laudon said.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life. 

Timeline: THE FIGHT FOR NORTHERN ROCKY GRAY WOLVES

Timeline: Wolves in Danger | Earthjustice

The gray wolf is one of North America’s most iconic native predators. The wolf’s incredible comeback in the Northern Rockies is one of our country’s greatest wildlife success stories.

Explore the history of the Northern Rockies gray wolves, beginning in the 1930s when their numbers were decimated after years of persecution, through their successful reintroduction in the 1990s, to current day’s first legal wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies in nearly a century:What’s Happening Now

On Oct. 29, 2020, the Trump administration finalized a rule removing Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the lower-48 states except for a small population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made its decision despite the fact that wolves are still functionally extinct in the vast majority of their former range across the continental U.S. (More details.)20TH CENTURY1933January catch of Forest Service hunter T.B. Bledsaw, Kaibab National Forest, circa 1914.ARIZONA HISTORICAL SOCIETYJanuary catch of Forest Service hunter T.B. Bledsaw, Kaibab National Forest, circa 1914.

WOLF POPULATION DECIMATED

Bounty hunters finish killing most wolves in the continental United States.

Tiny remnant populations cling to existence in several spots along the Canadian border in Michigan, Montana, and Idaho.

Reports of ghost wolf sightings trickle in from parts of Wyoming, Washington, and Idaho. 1973President Richard Nixon.WHITE HOUSE PHOTO

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT BECOMES LAW

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is signed into law by President Nixon.

It prohibits the “taking,” without explicit permission, of species deemed to be in danger of going extinct.

“Taking,” in this instance, means killing, harassing, or damaging habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of the species. 1974A 'wolf-like' animal sighted in Hayden Valley, August 7/8, 1992.RAY PAUNOVICH / BUSCH FILMS VIA NPSA “wolf-like” animal sighted in Hayden Valley, August 7/8, 1992.

WOLVES LISTED AS “ENDANGERED” UNDER ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

As part of the first list of species to receive federal protections, gray wolves are listed as “endangered” under the ESA.

The designation applies to all remaining wolf populations in the lower-48 states. 1982

10(J) RULE ADDED TO ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

The ESA is amended to include the 10(j) rule, allowing the Interior Department to classify reintroduced species as experimental and nonessential.

The change is a result of local concerns about reintroduction of species to their historical ranges. 1995Schoolchildren at Yellowstone's Roosevelt Arch welcome a truck transporting wolves, January 1995.DIANE PAPINEAU / NATIONAL PARK SERVICESchoolchildren at Yellowstone’s Roosevelt Arch welcome a truck transporting wolves, January 1995.

WOLF REINTRODUCTION BEGINS

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) begins reintroducing gray wolves to central Idaho and Yellowstone.

Wolves are brought in from Canada.21ST CENTURYJuly 2000

STATUS CHANGE TO “THREATENED” PROPOSED

FWS proposes dropping “endangered” status for most wolves in the United States and reclassifying them as “threatened,” a designation under the ESA that carries milder protections than “endangered” status. 2003Wolves howling at Little America Flats in February 2003.JIM PEACO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICEWolves howling at Little America Flats in Yellowstone, February 2003.

RECLASSIFIED AS “THREATENED”

FWS reclassifies most gray wolves in the lower-48 as “threatened.”

Work also begins to delist most gray wolves entirely. As a requirement for delisting, states with wolf populations must have laws and management plans to ensure continued survival of the species. 2004Wolf lying on glacial erratic at Yellowstone's Little America Flats, February 2, 2004.JIM PEACO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICEWolf on glacial erratic at Yellowstone’s Little America Flats, February 2, 2004.

STATE MANAGEMENT PLANS: IDAHO, MONTANA, WYOMING

FWS accepts Montana’s and Idaho’s proposed management plans for wolves but rejects Wyoming’s.

The State of Wyoming, livestock and hunting interests supported plans to manage wolves as “predators,” which would permit indiscriminate killing in nearly 90% of Wyoming. 2004

WYOMING FILES SUIT

The State of Wyoming and 28 Wyoming-based livestock and hunting groups file suit, challenging FWS’s rejection of the Wyoming management plan. November 2004

WYOMING SUIT INTERVENTION

Earthjustice and other conservation groups intervene in the lawsuit to defend FWS’s decision to reject Wyoming’s management plan for wolves. January 2005

DECISION RECLASSIFYING WOLVES AS “THREATENED” IS REJECTED

An Oregon district court judge rejects the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to reclassify most wolves in the lower-48 to “threatened” from “endangered.” January 2005

10(J) RULE AMENDED

An elk in winter.ISTOCKPHOTOAn elk in winter.

The Bush administration gives livestock owners in Montana and Idaho more power to kill wolves.

Under the new “10(j) rule,” livestock owners can kill wolves without a permit if wolves are chasing livestock.

The rule also says states can take action against wolves if it can be demonstrated they are the primary reason for decline among deer or elk populations.21ST CENTURYMarch 2005Wolf watchers at Yellowstone's Slough Creek, March 2005.JIM PEACO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICEWolf watchers at Yellowstone’s Slough Creek, March 2005.

WYOMING LOSES IN DISTRICT COURT; APPEALS

Federal District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson tosses out the lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming and livestock and hunting interests challenging FWS’s rejection of Wyoming’s management plan.

The case is ultimately appealed to the 10th Circuit. February 2006Wolf near Blacktail Pond in Yellowstone on February 16, 2006.JIM PEACO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICEWolf near Blacktail Pond in Yellowstone, February 16, 2006.

NORTHERN ROCKIES DELISTING PLAN ANNOUNCED

FWS announces plans to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rockies (Idaho, Wyoming, Montana) from the Endangered Species List, but only if Wyoming adopts a state management plan that FWS deems appropriate.

Wyoming’s original plan, rejected by FWS, remains under review by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. April 2006Wolf 470F of Leopold Pack near Blacktail Pond.JIM PEACO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICEWolf 470F of the Leopold Pack, near Blacktail Pond in Yellowstone.

WYOMING LOSES APPEAL

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules the lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming and livestock and hunting interests to compel approval of the state management plan is without merit.

The ruling affirms a decision made one year prior by District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson, as well as FWS’s initial decision to reject the plan. August 2006

WYOMING DELISTING PETITION REJECTED

After 12 months of study, FWS rejects a petition filed by the Governor of Wyoming and the State Game & Fish Commission asking that gray wolves in the Northern Rockies be removed from the Endangered Species List.

The rejection is based on the lack of an adequate state management plan in Wyoming. February 2007

NORTHERN ROCKIES DELISTING PROPOSED

Wolves from the Druid Pack bed down in the snow.NATIONAL PARK SERVICEWolves from the Druid Pack bed down in the snow.

FWS issues a proposed rule to delist Northern Rockies gray wolves from the endangered species list.

Wyoming has yet to propose a management plan since their initial one was rejected by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Without a Wyoming plan, FWS intends to keep a significant portion of wolves in Wyoming on the endangered species list. December 2007

WYOMING PLAN APPROVED

In an about-face, FWS approves Wyoming’s state management plan.

The plan allows anyone to kill any wolf that wanders outside the northwest part of the state, including wolves that live most of the year in Yellowstone National Park and leave the park for periods in the winter in search of food. December 2007

APPROVAL OF WYOMING PLAN CHALLENGED

Earthjustice files comments challenging the approval of Wyoming’s new plan to allow unlimited wolf killing in nearly 90% of the state. January 2008

10(J) RULE UPDATE CHALLENGED

An elk in winter.U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICEMule deer.

Earthjustice challenges the Bush administration 10(j) rule that would allow wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to be indiscriminately killed, including through aerial hunting.

To start killing, states only need to demonstrate that wolves are one of the reasons for elk and deer populations that fail to meet state objectives. February 2008

NORTHERN ROCKIES DELISTING RULE PUBLISHED

The final rule for delisting of the Northern Rockies population of gray wolves from the Endangered Species List is published.

Delisting is scheduled to take place in late March 2008. March 2008

NORTHERN ROCKIES WOLVES DELISTED

The Northern Rockies gray wolves are officially removed from the endangered species list. Wyoming’s contentious state management plan takes effect. March 28, 2008His distinctive gait, walking on three legs, made him one of the more easily recognized wolves in Yellowstone.STEVE JUSTADWolf 253. His distinctive gait, walking on three legs, made him one of the more easily recognized wolves in Yellowstone.

LIMPY KILLED

Wolf 253 (aka, “Hoppy” or “Limpy”) is one of the first wolves killed after ESA protections are removed.

A member of Yellowstone’s famed Druid Pack, this particular wolf was unique. “He was a hell of a wolf,” recalled one veteran wolf watcher. April 2008

NORTHERN ROCKIES DELISTING CHALLENGED

Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of 12 conservation groups, challenging the decision to delist Northern Rockies gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protections. July 2008

PROTECTIONS REINSTATED FOR NORTHERN ROCKIES WOLVES

In response to the Earthjustice lawsuit, a federal court reinstated ESA protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, just in time to keep wolves safe from fall hunts that would have been implemented in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Since delisting, more than 100 wolves were killed. Fall hunts would have killed hundreds more. January 2009The White House, shrouded in fog.PETE SOUZA / WHITE HOUSE

BUSH MIDNIGHT REGULATION TO DELIST NORTHERN ROCKIES WOLVES

Days before leaving office, the Bush administration makes a final attempt to remove endangered species protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies (excluding Wyoming).

Earthjustice and other groups announce they will challenge delisting … again. An order by the Obama administration halts the proposed delisting for the time being. March 2009

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT AFFIRMS DELISTING

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.DEPARTMENT OF INTERIORSecretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

After nearly two months of waiting, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar affirms the FWS decision to remove endangered species protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana (as well as parts of Washington, Oregon, Utah and western Great Lakes).

Earthjustice and others announce they will challenge the decision. April 2009

NORTHERN ROCKIES WOLVES DELISTED AGAIN

Wolf pups emerge from a den, December 2009.HILARY COOLEY / U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICEWolf pups emerge from a den, December 2009.

Wolves in the Northern Rockies are again removed from the endangered species list. The delisting rule goes into effect on May 4, 2009.

With the exception of Wyoming, where wolves remain federally protected, states will take over management of their wolf populations. June 2009

NORTHERN ROCKIES WOLVES DELISTING CHALLENGED

Earthjustice files suit challenging the decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies. July 2009

IDAHO AND MONTANA WOLF HUNT INJUNCTION SOUGHT

Earthjustice asks the federal district court reviewing the delisting challenge for an emergency injunction to halt pending fall wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana. Earthjustice sought—and won—a similar injunction the last time wolf hunts began. September 2009

WOLF HUNT TO CONTINUE

A federal district court issues an order finding that the delisting of wolves in the Northern Rockies was likely illegal, but declined to stop wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.

The order comes a week after Idaho’s wolf hunting season opened on September 1. Montana is set to begin wolf hunting on September 15. March 31, 2010

WOLF HUNT SEASONS END

Idaho’s wolf hunt season ends, with the loss of more than 500 wolves due to human killing.

The hunt, along with Montana’s similar season, followed the April 2009 delisting of populations in those states under the federal ESA. August 5, 2010Gray wolf, August 2010.TRACY BROOKS / U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICEGray wolf, August 2010.

PROTECTIONS REINSTATED FOR IDAHO AND MONTANA WOLVES

Federal District Judge Donald Molloy restores ESA protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana, stating that the decision by FWS to remove protections in only two states is “a political solution that does not comply with the ESA.”

In his ruling, the judge affirmed that protections for the same population cannot differ by state. March 2011Wolf faces a snowstorm in Seney National Wildlife Refuge, January 2011.LARRY MCGAHEYWolf faces a snowstorm in Seney National Wildlife Refuge, January 2011.

U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE SETTLEMENT

Of the 14 conservation groups that joined in the June 2009 lawsuit to protect wolves, not all agree to a settlement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This requires Earthjustice to withdraw as the clients’ counsel. April 15, 2011

“2009 RULE” REISSUED

President Obama signs into law the “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act” for fiscal year 2011.

The bill requires the Interior Secretary to reissue the “2009 Rule” which removed ESA protections for all Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, except those in Wyoming. August 3, 2011Storm clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOLStorm clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol building.

DISTRICT COURT UPHOLDS DELISTING

Federal District Court Judge Donald Molloy upholds the 2011 legislation removing ESA protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The legislation marks the first time Congress has legislatively delisted an endangered species. Fall 2011

WOLF HUNTS IN IDAHO AND MONTANA

The 2011–2012 Montana wolf hunting and Idaho wolf hunting and trapping seasons begin, during which 166 wolves are killed in Montana, and 379 wolves are killed in Idaho. October 5, 2011

WYOMING DELISTING PROPOSED

FWS proposed a rule to remove the gray wolf in Wyoming from the endangered species list, claiming Wyoming’s wolf population is stable, threats will be addressed, and Wyoming’s wolf management laws are adequate.

This is notwithstanding FWS’s own peer review of the Wyoming delisting proposal, which concluded that “there is substantial risk to the population” because “the Plan, as written, does not do an adequate job of explaining how wolf populations will be maintained, and how recovery will be maintained.” March 14, 2012Wolf in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, January 12, 2012.U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICEWolf in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, January 12, 2012.

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS MONTANA, IDAHO DELISTING

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress had the right to strip protections from wolves in Montana and Idaho in April 2011. August 31, 2012

WOLVES DELISTED IN WYOMING

FWS announced it is eliminating federal protections for Wyoming’s wolves, handing wolf management over to Wyoming, which will open almost all of the state to immediate, unconditional wolf killing.

Wyoming’s wolf population is estimated to be only 328 wolves, far fewer than either Idaho or Montana. November 14, 2012

WYOMING’S KILL-AT-WILL WOLF POLICY CHALLENGED

Following the required 60-day notice of intent to sue, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of conservation groups, challenging the federal government’s elimination of ESA protections for wolves in Wyoming.

The state policies will result in wolf deaths that undermine the recovery of the species. May 9, 2013

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT URGED NOT TO DELIST WOLVES IN LOWER-48

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.KEITH SHANNON / U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICESecretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

Six of the nation’s most prominent conservation groups called on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to cancel plans by FWS to remove federal ESA protections for wolves across nearly the entire lower-48 states.

The letter is signed by the chief executives of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club. June 7, 2013

LOWER-48 WOLF DELISTING PROPOSED

FWS proposed removing federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across nearly the entire lower-48 states, except for a small population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, where only about 75 wild wolves remain.

The plan would be disastrous for gray wolf recovery in the United States. December 17, 2013

PUBLIC VOICES SUPPORT FOR PROTECTIONS FOR WOLVES

Wolf in Yellowstone.BARRY O’NEILL / NATIONAL PARK SERVICEA wolf in Yellowstone.

In a public comment period, approximately one million Americans stood in opposition to the proposal to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves across most of the lower-48.

It is one of the largest numbers of comments ever submitted on a federal decision involving endangered species. February 2014

SCIENTIFIC PEER REVIEW QUESTIONS NATIONAL WOLF DELISTING PROPOSAL

An independent scientific peer review unanimously concluded that the FWS’s national wolf delisting rule did not currently represent the “best available science.”

The study was commissioned by FWS and conducted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. January 7, 2014A member of the Golden pack in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.COURTESY OF HOBBIT HILL FILMS LLCA member of the Golden pack in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

IDAHO WILDERNESS WOLF EXTERMINATION INJUNCTION SOUGHT

Earthjustice requested a court injunction to halt an unprecedented program by the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Fish & Game to exterminate the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek Packs deep within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

The area is the largest forested wilderness area in the lower-48 states. IDFG commenced the program in December 2013 without public notice. January 18, 2014

IDAHO DECISION APPEALED

Members of the Monumental pack in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.COURTESY OF HOBBIT HILL FILMS LLCMembers of the Monumental pack cross a ridge in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Earthjustice filed an emergency motion asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to preserve the wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness, after a federal district court judge rejected the injunction request.

The hunter-trapper hired by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has killed nine wolves from the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek Packs. July 29, 2014Members of the Golden pack in the  Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.COURTESY OF HOBBIT HILL FILMS LLCMembers of the Golden pack.

IDAHO SUSPENDS WILDERNESS WOLF-KILLING PLAN

Faced with the legal challenge and imminent hearing before the federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game abandoned its plan to resume the professional wolf-killing program in the Frank Church during the coming winter. September 23, 2014

PROTECTIONS REINSTATED FOR WYOMING WOLVES

Wolf in Yellowstone.JIM PEACO / NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

A ruling from Federal District Court Judge Amy Jackson invalidated the statewide delisting of wolves in Wyoming, reinstating protections for the species.

Earthjustice represented Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity in challenging the FWS’s decision to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in Wyoming.

219 wolves were killed under Wyoming’s management since the 2012 delisting. December 15, 2015

WOLVES RETAIN PROTECTIONS IN WYOMING & GREAT LAKES STATES

Wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will retain their federal protections after a contentious policy “rider” that would have stripped them of Endangered Species Act protections was excluded from the final omnibus government spending bill.

The rider would have overridden two federal court decisions (including the September 2014 victory for wolves in Wyoming) that found those states’ management plans do not sufficiently protect wolves, while also barring further judicial review of the court decision overrides. January 7, 2016

CONSERVATIONISTS CHALLENGE HELICOPTER INTRUSIONS IN PREMIERE WILDERNESS AREA

A coalition of conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, today filed a legal challenge to the decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to conduct approximately 120 helicopter landings in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness as part of a program to manipulate wildlife populations in the wilderness. January 13, 2016

IDAHO BREAKS AGREEMENT USING HELICOPTER DROPS TO COLLAR WOLVES IN FRANK CHURCH WILDERNESS

The Idaho Fish & Game Department admitted that it broke an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service and used helicopter landings to collar wolves in the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness. This followed less than a week after Earthjustice filed its legal challenge. January 19, 2017

COURT RULES FOREST SERVICE ILLEGALLY AUTHORIZED HELICOPTER INTRUSIONS IN PREMIERE WILDERNESS AREA

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill concluded that the Forest Service violated the Wilderness Act and conducted insufficient environmental review in allowing IDFG to land helicopters in the River of No Return in January 2016 to capture and place radio telemetry collars on wild elk. IDFG also captured and radio-collared four wolves during these operations—an unauthorized action that was not permitted by the Forest Service, but that threatened to advance IDFG’s plans to undertake widespread wolf-killing in the wilderness by providing locational information on the collared wolves. March 7, 2017

D.C. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULING STRIPS ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROTECTIONS FROM WYOMING WOLVES

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling in Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. Zinke, et al., reversing a district court decision that had restored Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming. April 25, 2017

WOLVES DELISTED IN WYOMING

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hands wolf management authority over to the State of Wyoming, despite state policies that promote unlimited wolf-killing across more than 80% of Wyoming and provide inadequate protections for wolves in the remainder. March 6, 2019

WOLVES DELISTING IN LOWER-48 PROPOSED

The Dept. of Interior announced a proposed rule would remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the lower-48 states except for a small population of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, where only about 114 wild wolves remain. The Service made its decision despite the fact that wolves are still functionally extinct in the vast majority of their former range across the continental United States. (More details.) October 29, 2020

WOLVES DELISTED IN LOWER-48

The Trump administration finalized a rule removing Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the lower-48 states except for a small population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made its decision despite the fact that wolves are still functionally extinct in the vast majority of their former range across the continental U.S. (More details.)

“This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy — and it’s illegal, so we will see them in court,” said Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles.

The Undeniable Value of Wolves, Bears, Lions And Coyotes In Battling Disease

WILL THE FAIRY TALE MENTALITY OF WESTERN STATES AGAINST PREDATORS HAMPER THEIR ABILITY TO SLOW CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE?

by Todd WilkinsonSUPPORT USGET NEWSLETTERPhoto courtesy NPS / Jacob W. FrankPART FOUR
For over two decades, Douglas Smith and successive teams of researchers have watched wildlife predators hunting for prey in Yellowstone.
The national park’s senior wolf biologist says there is no mistaking the way that lobos identify and target elk. To the human eye, an individual wapiti might appear perfectly healthy yet there is something—almost a sixth sense— that catches the attention of discriminating pack members searching for their next meal.
It might be an elk with arthritis carrying a slight gimp in its gait, or maybe a hint of winter-worn fatigue, a slowness brought on by advancing old age or illness, or perhaps naïve behavior exhibited by the young.
There is no doubt, based on the accrued record of wolf behavior documented in Yellowstone—and the significant body of scientific accounts logged across the continent—that under normal conditions, wolves key-in on prey that is meek, infirmed or vulnerable.
“Wolves pick up on stuff we can’t see. They are most efficient at exploiting weaknesses in prey because their survival depends on it,” Smith told me recently. “They are predisposed, by instinct and learned behavior, to focus first on animals that are easier to kill rather than those living at the height of their physical strength.”
Does having predators on the landscape—wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes— provide a protective gauntlet that can help slow the spread and prevalence of deadly diseases?
In particular, with ultra-lethal Chronic Wasting Disease now invading the most wildlife-rich ecosystem in America’s Lower 48 states and spreading coast to coast, are these often maligned meat-eaters, frequently dismissed as worthless vermin in western states, actually important natural allies in battling CWD?

“Wolves pick up on stuff we can’t see. They are most efficient at exploiting weaknesses in prey because their survival depends on it. They are predisposed, by instinct and learned behavior, to focus first on animals that are easier to kill rather than those living at the height of their physical strength.” —Yellowstone’s chief wolf biologist Douglas Smith

While the data and the assessments of most scientists clearly suggests yes, there remains fierce resistance by some to acknowledge the beneficial roles predators play.  At the recent year-end meeting of the Montana Fish and Game Commission, anti-predator biases were on full display, especially toward wolves. They surfaced as the commission pondered its next move in confronting CWD which this autumn entered Montana via sick wild deer for the first time in state history.
Weeks earlier, Ken McDonald, wildlife bureau chief at the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department, raised eyebrows when he claimed the advantages predators bring in weeding out sick prey is merely theoretical and unproved. Dismissing the notion of wolves as effective disease-fighters, he asserted that in order for lobos to truly make a difference in slowing CWD’s advance, they would need to exist in such high numbers that it would be socially unacceptable to humans, namely ranchers and hunters.
In terms of Montana’s strategy for dealing with CWD spread in the state through sick wildlife entering via Wyoming from the south and Canada to the north, McDonald said the state’s primary method of confronting disease will involve enlisting hunters to aggressively harvest animals in emerging CWD endemic zones. The state recently approved the issuance of 1,200 additional B tags to kill deer in areas east of Red Lodge, Montana (the northeast corner of Greater Yellowstone) where six dead deer have turned up CWD positive out of 1300 tested there—four mule deer bucks, a mule deer doe and a white-tailed doe.
Many claim McDonald’s characterization of wolves demonstrates not only a personal anti-wolf bias, which also permeates the thinking of the department, but it shows a lack of understanding and appreciation for the natural history of the species. In other words, it denies what the very essence of a wolf is.
“I was disappointed with Ken McDonald’s nonsensical bureaucratic response,” conservationist and professional biologist Dr. Gary J. Wolfe wrote recently in comments that were widely circulated.
Wolfe is a former Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commissioner appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock. Notably, he is also the former project leader of the CWD Alliance founded by a number of prominent sportsmen’s’ groups and former national president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for 15 years. He is widely respected in hunting circles.
 “While I don’t think any of us large carnivore proponents are saying that wolf predation will prevent CWD, or totally eliminate it from infected herds, it is ecologically irresponsible to not consider the very real possibility that wolves can slow the spread of CWD and reduce its prevalence in infected herds,” Wolfe says. “We should consider wolves to be ‘CWD border guards,’ adjust wolf hunting seasons accordingly, and let wolves do their job of helping to cull infirm animals from the herds.”

“While I don’t think any of us large carnivore proponents are saying that wolf predation will prevent CWD, or totally eliminate it from infected herds, it is ecologically irresponsible to not consider the very real possibility that wolves can slow the spread of CWD and reduce its prevalence in infected herds.  We should consider wolves to be ‘CWD border guards,’ adjust wolf hunting seasons accordingly, and let wolves do their job of helping to cull infirm animals from the herds.”  —biologist Gary Wolfe, former Montana wildlife commissioner and former CEO/president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Strong evidence seems to bear him out. Not only do predators stalking large game species target weak animals, they can mitigate the impact of disease outbreaks, experts say. Further, by removing sick prey species, predators could, over time, though this is unproved, make herds more resilient and stronger, less susceptible to disease.
While some may doubt this premise, illustrated in literature below, no one has provided evidence suggesting that having robust and stable numbers of predators will not aid in confronting the most rapidly spreading and fearsome new disease in North America.
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The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a region unparalleled in the Lower 48 states. It is known globally as America’s Serengeti for having its full original complement of mammal and bird species, including large native predators, that were here when Europeans arrived on the continent in the late 15th century.  Plus, the landscape these animals inhabit, a 22.5-million-acre mixture of private and mostly public land, is intact—meaning not fragmented and enabling migrations of elk, deer and pronghorn (antelope) to occur and which do not exist anywhere else.
Lloyd Dorsey, conservation director for the Sierra Club in Wyoming, is a hunter and crusader against Wyoming’s operation of elk feedgrounds. This autumn when we spoke about predators and CWD, he had just returned from hunting in the Gros Ventre mountains east of the National Elk Refuge. He told me of how on the morning that he glassed mule deer and bands of elk, he found grizzly tracks in the snow and heard wolves howling a quarter mile away.
Citing reams of scientific studies to back him up, Dorsey says predators play an import ecological role in keeping prey species in check and in serving as vanguards in removing sick animals. Greater Yellowstone’s “predator guild” of wolves, grizzly and black bears, lions and coyotes, he notes, also makes it a draw for wildlife watchers from around the world, helping to fuel a $1-billion annual nature-tourism economy tied to the national parks alone. 
A disease like CWD that stands to significantly harm the health of deer family members over time—deer, elk, and moose—also has potentially grave implications for species that eat and scavenge their remains. In many ways, the biological integrity of Greater Yellowstone’s large mammal populations depends upon the health of its ungulate herds and the biomass they provide in sustaining other species large and small—those with fur and feathers down to the microbial level.  Diseases that threaten to dramatically diminish Greater Yellowstone’s ungulates could have negative, far-reaching consequences for people and the environment.
To date, there is no evidence that CWD can infect predators, humans or livestock, though geneticists who have studied the molecular make-up of CWD prions [misshapen proteins] believe it could change. And a recent study in Canada involving macaques exposed to CWD prions has elevated concerns. Macaques are primates with genes similar to humans.
With CWD, Wyoming is perilously burning the candle at both ends and it has implications for Montana and Idaho, Dorsey says. Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue to knowingly operate feedgrounds [read parts OneTwo and Three of MoJo’s series here] which makes the state and federal government guilty of game management malpractice by setting up public wildlife for calamity, he says. 
At the same time, Wyoming persists in destroying a natural ally—wolves—based upon no solid reason other than traditional cultural animosity toward these archetypal animals that earlier generations of settlers took great delight in eradicating to make way for livestock.
“Our understanding of wolves has broadened in an age of greater scientific and ecological awareness,” Dorsey told me. “They are not the animals of menacing myth they were portrayed to be in fairy tales.  We can—and should—co-exist with them for mutual benefit.”
Nonetheless, Wyoming—along with Alaska—is known for having the most notoriously-hostile attitude toward wolves in America. There, in over 85 percent of the state, lobos, like coyotes, can be killed year-round for any reason, no questions asked. Only in the northwest corner of Wyoming within the vicinity of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are wolves classified as a game animal and even there it is state policy to keep their numbers suppressed to please outfitters, guides and ranchers.
Beyond that small zone, they are classified as “predators” and treated as vermin. They can be trapped, poisoned, shot at any and all hours of the day, and targeted by aerial gunners in aircraft. Even if they are not threatening livestock, it’s open season on wolves.
The profound irony is that just as Wyoming condones a campaign of re-eradication against wolves, CWD has been rapidly spreading westward, faster than anyone expected across the state via infected mule and white-tailed deer.Perfect conditions to amplify a CWD pandemic, experts say, exist on the National Elk Refuge and 22 elk feedgrounds operated by the state of Wyoming, many of them on U.S. Forest Service land.
CWD’s arrival is considered imminent. When the disease lands in the Wyoming feedgrounds, where more than 20,000 elk are unnaturally concentrated during winters, CWD is expected to not only take hold but have its spread accelerated due to the widely-condemned management practice of bunching up wapiti. The conditions there are similar to game farms where CWD infections have been devastating.
This point was made in a letter sent December 7, 2017 from the Montana state wildlife commission (read it at bottom of this story] to counterparts in Wyoming, asking the state to take steps to shut down feeding.
“We respect the fact that how Wyoming manages its affairs is up to Wyoming. However, Montana’s ability to combat CWD will depend upon decisions that Wyoming makes about its wildlife management.  Over the long-term, the feed grounds make your wildlife populations less healthy, less stable, and much more vulnerable to a catastrophic disease event,” the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission wrote.  “We implore you to begin the process of looking at alternatives to the present management regime that unnaturally concentrates wildlife in feed grounds each winter and increases the pace at which CWD infects both states’ wildlife populations.”
The letter ends with this warning:  “If we do not address CWD, we will all be culpable in leaving a greatly devalued landscape to future generations.”  Culpable is a word with many connotations.

While Montana has escaped the intense scrutiny and public rebuke aimed at Wyoming over its operation of feedgrounds and controversial management of wolves, Wolfe and others say Montana isn’t much better with regard to predators.
Recently, another case of CWD was confirmed in a deer near Chester along Montana’s Hi-Line south of Canada.

Currently, only three wolf management units in Montana have strict quotas (two located north of Yellowstone and one west of Glacier National Park). But all others allow unlimited wolf harvest “which is probably not the best ecological strategy for containing CWD,” Wolfe noted. “As a wildlife biologist who spent several years working on the CWD issue, I believe wolf predation is an important tool that needs to be recognized and effectively utilized, along with other tools, as part of Montana’s CWD management plan.”
Wolves, Wolfe says, ought to have their numbers safeguarded in areas that represent the front line of disease. Stable packs can serve as a barrier.  Wolf management units (WMUs) that border CWD infected areas (or have CWD infected herds within the WMU) should have conservative wolf harvest quotas, he notes. Currently, only three WMUs have quotas (313 and 316 immediately north of Yellowstone, and 110 west of Glacier).  All others allow unlimited wolf harvest.
When the argument has been presented to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, it has been met with deaf ears, though Dr. Mary Wood, the state wildlife veterinarian noted in 2016 that predators can play a beneficial role.
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Humans can invent any fairy-tale-reason they want to despise wolves and justify their elimination, but that doesn’t change the fundamental time-tested nature of the species, says Kevin Van Tighem, a hunter and former superintendent of Banff National Park in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies.  “I don’t know of a single credible biologist who would argue that wolves, along with other predators and scavengers, aren’t important tools in devising sound strategies for dealing with CWD.” Van Tighem says it can be rationally argued that wolves provide the best line of defense since they are confronting infected animals.
Van Tighem told me, just as a dozen other scientists and land managers who hunt have—that once CWD is confirmed in the places where they go afield, they will no longer eat game meat from that area and may stop hunting altogether.
Dr. L. David Mech, the eminent American wolf biologist, has authored or contributed to hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers on wolves and prey. We’ve been talking about wolves since the late 1980s when he came to Yellowstone in the years before lobos were reintroduced. There’s no tangible argument he’s seen that suggests wolves wouldn’t be useful in combatting CWD.
“In the main, the preponderance of scientific evidence supports the view that wolves generally kill the old, the young, the sick and the weak,” Mech said. “There’s so much documented field data behind it.” 
He then made a point that exposes the limitations of relying on human hunters and sharpshooters alone to remove suspected CWD carriers.  Wolves appear to target sick animals that, to the human eye, exhibit no overt symptoms of disease.
“There’s a lot more going on than we can detect,” Mech said. “They are killing animals that most people would say, ‘That animal looks pretty healthy to me,’ but in fact it isn’t.”  Mech stays out of the political fray, though he says the value of predators is clear.  “Based upon everything I’ve seen over the course of my career, I generally stand behind the assertion that wolves make prey populations healthier,” he said. “The evidence to support it is overwhelming.”
In Wolves on the Hunt: The Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey, Mech, Doug Smith and co-author/editor Daniel R. MacNulty undertook an exhaustive, unprecedented review of scientific studies and observations related to wolf behavior. They cite example after example of how wolves choose prey.  They use intricately-detailed observations based on the work of park ecologist Rick McIntyre and colleagues who have tracked the wolves of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley for decades. They also point to hours upon hours of accumulated video footage amassed by award-winning wildlife cinematographer Robert Landis who has recorded numerous wolf predation incidents in Yellowstone. 

More: https://mountainjournal.org/predators-and-chronic-wasting-disease?fbclid=IwAR3n6_aqsslqwo_uNx8wVOYnwphj6i6ycMBMYXRlK_pKxWkFj-7Wza7hYD4