The Committee on Animal Law of the New York City Bar Association (an independent non-governmental organization of more than 23,000 lawyers, law professors and government officials, predominantly from New York City and also from throughout the United States and fifty other countries) opposed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s nationwide gray wolf delisting proposal in an October 24th letter to USFWS Director Daniel Ashe.
The Committee argues that gray wolves should remain listed as endangered because: 1) It is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range 2) It is over utilized for recreational hunting and trapping in the lower 48 states 3) Its population suffers substantially from both disease and human predation 4) The existing state regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the Gray Wolf from extinction.
The Wolf Conservation Center sends howls of thanks to the Committee on Animal Law for adding its voice of support at this critical time. You can add your voice to this discussion. Please tell USFWS that you #StandForWolves today by submitting your comment via the link below:
Only 70 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild, making them one of the most endangered animals. (Photo: Joel Sartore)
My brother, Mexican wolf M806, was the alpha-male of the Bluestem pack. He thrived in the wild for 6 yrs before he was illegally shot & killed. Today, only 75 Mexican wolves live in the wild & the USFWS designates them as an "experimental, nonessential" population. This designation means that their recovery is trumped by the wishes of industry &/or recreation. Please tell USFWS that these wolves ARE essential to the recovery of their rare species. Our friends from Mexican gray wolves offer useful talking points here:http://bit.ly/1b7czl9 THANK YOU! http://www.mexicanwolves.org/index.php/news/1046/51/Take-Action-Comments-Needed-to-Ensure-Mexican-Wolves-Future Take Action: Comments Needed to Ensure Mexican Wolves' Future! Proposed USFWS Rule changes regarding reintroduction into the wild of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed changes to the rules guiding the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction. The proposed rule is very important to the future of Mexican wolves in the wild. Please comment, using the following points: One very good and many very bad changes are proposed: The good change is to allow direct releases of Mexican wolves into parts of New Mexico and additional areas in Arizona. This change has been recommended by experts for over 10 years and can be made faster and with less bureaucratic delay than any other part of the proposed rule TELL USFWS TO PUT THE REST OF THEIR PROPOSED RULE ON HOLD AND SPEED UP APPROVAL FOR MORE DIRECT RELEASES INTO ADDITIONAL AREAS. The bad changes include: By labeling all of the wild wolves as “nonessential” the USFWS ignores science and the reality of 15 years of experience with reintroducing wolves The USFWS claims that even if all of the 75 wolves in the wild are wiped out this is not “likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood” of recovery of Mexican wolves in the wild. When the current rule declared wolves in the wild “nonessential” there were only 11 wolves, recently released from a captive breeding program and they made up only 7% of all Mexican wolves in the world. Now the 75 wolves in the wild have up to four generations of experience in establishing packs and raising pups and are over 22% of all of the Mexican wolves in the world. After four more generations of captive breeding with few releases (only one in the last five years), scientists warn that there may be serious genetic problems making captive wolves less able to thrive in the wild. TELL USFWS THAT THE FOURTH GENERATION WILD LOBOS ARE NOT EXPENDABLE AND ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF RECOVERING THIS UNIQUE SUBSPECIES OF WOLF The proposed rule puts the cart before the horse and should come with or after – not before – an updated recovery plan USFWS admits that their present, typewritten, 1982 recovery plan is not scientifically sound and does not meet current legal requirements – yet in its proposed rule USFWS continues to emphasize a woefully inadequate population of only 100 wolves in the wild When USFWS published the current rule in 1998 they said they expected to put out a new recovery plan for the public to comment on later that year; 15 years later, there still is no scientific or legally adequate recovery plan! TELL USFWS TO QUIT STALLING AND COMPLETE A COMPREHENSIVE RECOVERY PLAN – AND LET THE PUBLIC SEE IT – BEFORE DOING ANY TINKERING WITH THE CURRENT RULE (except for allowing wolves to be reintroduced into additional suitable places) USFWS’s decision on the proposed rule can help Mexican wolves finally thrive or can push them closer to extinction. Please submit your comments here and ask others who care about Mexican wolves to do the same. Thank you! http://www.mexicanwolves.org/index.php Contact us at: email@example.com
WOLVES, THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT, AND WHY SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY MATTERS
Andrew Rosenberg, director, Center for Science & Democracy August 19, 2013
Shark week has come and gone, and as a marine scientist I feel most at home with these top predators, but it is another, equally charismatic predator species that is in the news. You can guess that because I said “charismatic” I wasn’t referring to Congress.
The possibility that the federal government would remove conservation measures for gray wolves and decide that they are no longer at risk of extinction is in the news not because of some new finding that wolf populations are recovering, but because of apparent political interference in the process of reviewing the science that is the basis for that determination.
HOW THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT WORKS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the Department of Interior is responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for most of the flora and fauna of the U.S. For marine species, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the Department of Commerce has the responsibility. I used to work as a scientist, and then as a lead regulator for the NMFS and have first-hand experience with implementing the ESA.
In a very real sense, the ESA is the protection of last resort for species of unique plants and animals that are determined to be in danger of extinction, in other words, lost forever from our natural heritage. ESA protections that should only come into play when all other conservation and management measures have not been successful at protecting that natural heritage.
Endangered species are often controversial, as you might expect. In every case that I am aware of, endangerment is due to the actions and activities of people. So removing threats to the continued existence of a species means that someone, somewhere will have to change their behavior.
While we might like to think we manage species and natural ecosystems, in reality we manage people and their impacts upon nature. For the marine species I worked with, from salmon to sturgeon to turtles, sea lions, seals, and whales there was incredible controversy on all sides, with some who wanted more protection and others who wanted less or none at all.
A species is “listed” as threatened or endangered under the ESA when a scientific review has determined its continued existence is in jeopardy. The law clearly lays out that science should determine the conservation status of the species — not economic considerations or political positions. These other factors can be taken into account when regulators develop a plan to protect the species.
If we are to protected biodiversity, that is how it should be, a decision based on science, not politics. This is why UCS continues to work with biologists and other scientists with relevant expertise to explain to Congress and the media that for the Endangered Species Act to be most effective, it must be grounded in the best available science.
But unfortunately, wolves are proving to be an exception.
SO WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE WOLVES ?
Wolves are among the most controversial of endangered species, and are being considered for de-listing, that is, a conclusion that they are no longer threatened or in danger of extinction and ESA protections are no longer needed. Not only does the law require a full, objective scientific assessment, in such a controversial setting, common sense demands it.
That means the FWS should follow the best process of developing scientific advice. Do the analysis, present the data and conclusions, have it independently peer reviewed by experts in the field. Ensure that all conflicts of interest are disclosed. Make the information public as far as possible while respecting any privacy concerns. And when determining what action to take, be clear about its reasoning, without trying to manipulate the facts to support a pre-conceived position.
While these basic steps in developing the scientific advice were underway, the agency intervened in the process of selecting peer reviewers, excluding some that had already been critical of the scientific basis of the proposed rule on wolves. A significant number of leading experts in the field joined this group to criticize the agency in an open letter. Excluding critics from a peer review when they are highly qualified and respected in the field, and when they raise serious methodological and scientific issues, undermines the very purpose of a peer review. The whole point is to make sure that key methodological, theoretical or empirical errors are caught and addressed so that the agency acts on the best science available. Furthermore, and critical in this case, if the policy-makers manipulate the review process to try to influence the result, the integrity of the advice is lost.
Fortunately, the FWS has backed away from that position. What needs to happen now is to take the time to do a full assessment complete with a comprehensive, independent peer review, adhering strictly to the agency’s science integrity policy. It is vital to include a range of experts in the review and address the scientific issues that they raise. Let’s not endanger scientific advice in the name of trying to declare victory for species recovery. When that happens we should all howl.
Posted in: Science and Democracy, Scientific Integrity Tags: Endangered Species Act, Scientific Integrity
About the author: Andrew Rosenberg is the director of the UCS Center for Science and Democracy. He leads UCS's efforts to advance the essential role that science, evidence-based decision making, and constructive debate play in American policy making. Subscribe to Andrew's posts
THE UNSAVORY TRUTH BEHIND THE MOVE TO TAKE WOLVES OFF THE ENDANGERED LIST
The feds have dismissed three scientists from a wolf panel for, guess what, raising concerns about wolf delisting.
August 16, 2013 Tracy Ross
Just weeks after calling for the removal of gray wolves from the Endangered Species List, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now under fire for allegations that it intentionally excluded three prominent scientists—whose views diverged from the Service’s on delisting—from an upcoming peer review process.
In June, Fish and Wildlife called to delist gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, leaving an exception for the struggling Mexican wolf in the Southwest. Agency director Dan Ashe told the media that the gray wolf had recovered to the point that it could thrive and even enlarge its territory without federal oversight. Several wolf advocates and some members of Congress disagreed. Once wolves are delisted, their management will fall to individual states.
But in order for the delisting process to continue, federal law requires that a team of scientists evaluate the basis for the motion. As such, Fish and Wildlife hired a private contractor to select and oversee the peer review panel. According to Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gavin Shire, the agency isn’t supposed to know who the panelists are. But the Associated Press revealed that the contractor chosen to assemble the panel had provided a list of candidates that redacted their names but included their professional resumes. Armed with this information, the Service found three esteemed wolf biologists, who—and this is the key part—had expressed concern with the gray wolf delisting plan. They also, along with 16 other prominent scientists, had signed a letter expressing this concern. Shortly thereafter, Fish and Wildlife effectively “delisted” the three scientists from the panel.
The three are identified as Dr. John Vucetich, Dr. Robert Wayne, and Dr. Roland Kays. All have published extensively on the wolf and are considered preeminent experts. Yet the Center for Biological Diversity’s Bret Hartl reports that the Service rescinded their invitations because, in the agency’s words, they have an “unacceptable affiliation with an advocacy position.”
Op-Ed: What We Learned From Living With Wolves for 6 Years
Vucetich and Wayne told the AP that they had received emails from the contractor saying they were being excluded from the review team because they had signed the letter. Kays said he had been “solicited as a possible panelist” but later told he wouldn't be needed.
Vucetich, a biologist and wolf specialist, told the AP it was “absolutely wrong” to disqualify an expert from a peer review team because of previous statements about a proposed policy. Any competent scientist will approach such an assignment with an open mind and be willing to alter his or her opinion if new information justifies it, he said.
According to the AP, Shire declined comment on the dealings with the three scientists, saying the matter was under review. But he said the Fish and Wildlife Service “wanted to be particularly sure that the people we got for this process were objective and unbiased” because the wolf is such a “highly polarizing subject.”
Brett Hartl, however, says that “peer review of the whole delisting question is complicated because the Service has injected so many improper policy considerations into this delisting proposal.” As Dan Ashe, Fish and Wildlife Service director, told the AP, “Science is an important part of this decision, but really the key is the policy question of when is a species recovered. Does the wolf have to occupy all the habitat that is available to it in order for it to be recovered? Our answer to that question is no.”
Yet under Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act, the decision to delist a species is required to be based on the best available science. “Had the Service followed this mandate, the best course of action would have been to develop a nationwide recovery plan for wolves using the best available science,” Hartl said. “Instead, the Service basically asked the States whether they wanted wolves or not and based its decision to delist the wolf on these political considerations.“
According to the AP, the contract with the outside firm has been put on hold and the peer review procedure will start anew. It's unclear whether the delay will affect the timetable for making a final decision on removing wolf protections, which is expected by June 2014.
But Hartl says that by injecting itself so deeply into the peer reviewer selection process, the entire peer review of the wolf delisting is likely to be tainted. “If the Service continues to oversee the review, then no matter how it comes out, one side or the other will be suspicious about whether the peer reviewers were objective.” Hartl recommends that the Service take a different course and have a scientific society, such as the American Society of Mammalogists or the Society for Conservation Biology, take over the peer review process and conduct it without Service involvement.
Hello Wolves. I was one of the ones Janet is referring to here. I believe that everyone does have the right to choose how to act. But given the light of Janet's information, I have to say that I was wrong. Janet is correct. For as much as I wish to save our wolves, I am now horrified thinking that I might have hurt them. I thought that taking a wolf out of a trap if I were to find him would be good, that is my impulse. This War on our Wolves is all so fucked, folks. Please just keep sending those emails and sign and share the petitions. Thank you.
< O >
From Janet Hoben
I know that some of you are very angry that I have been posting on Twitter to not post of promote the wolf hunt sabotage manual. You don’t like me telling you what to do, and feel I have no right to tell other advocate how to advocate. But what you don’t know is that there have now been credible threats on some of our beloved wolves who live in areas where wolf hunting is illegal, due in part to all the publicity and promotion surrounding this. Continued coverage of this is NOT going to save the lives of wolves, it is going to get more wolves killed! Also, in this country at least interfering with the hunts is against the law and this manual could be considered an act of DOMESTIC TERRORISM. People sitting in jail do not help the cause they hurt it. Also note that no major wolf/wildlife group is promoting or supporting this, and that should give you reason to stop and wonder why. Believe me, I want wolf hunts stopped more than anyone. You have seen my countless letters and activities on behalf of wolves. I literally cry each time I hear about more wolf deaths, even if it is just one wolf. But, again, I state that continuing to support and promote this IS GOING TO GET EVEN MORE WOLVES KILLED. Now, if you wish to kick me out of the group or stop following me on Twitter or FB, that is fine. At least I know I have told you what I know is true. Blessings on all of you as you do your best to help wolves.
“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” Ginetta Sagan
The title of a recent opinion piece in a Utah paper nailed it: Making War on Wolves. Because what we are seeing out there is truly a war waged on a wildlife species. And like with most wars there is a parallel public relations campaign making outlandish and unsupported claims against the “enemy” to justify and encourage actions that would normally be considered unethical or inhumane.
Poll after poll shows that anti-wolf forces are in the minority, but their myth and fear-based campaigns can only be countered by a loud and resounding voice of compassion and rationality. We, who believe that wild places are better off wild, need to speak up and urge others to do the same. And we need to do that before September 11th.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove gray wolves from the protections of the Endangered Species Act throughout most of the continental U.S. Removing federal protections, especially for wolves in the Pacific region, is premature. Take action today and make your voice be heard! More information below, including how to submit your comment letter. Comment deadline is September 11, 2013.
Removing protections is premature
The Obama administration has recently proposed to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the lower 48 states – including the Pacific West. The federal government is now asking for public comments on the proposal.
Wolves deserve to remain protected under the Endangered Species Act until they have fully recovered, especially vulnerable packs such as those just returning to the Pacific West region. While wolves have made a remarkable rebound in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes over the past 15 years, those areas represent only a small portion of their historic range. Federal protections for wolves in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes states were removed in 2011-2012. And now, even though scientists have identified hundreds of thousands of acres elsewhere in the lower 48 where wolves could return, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to remove protections in those places. This political decision isn’t justified by science and leading wolf scientists have expressed their concerns (here and here). We need your help in telling newly- appointed Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell that this proposal is premature and that wolves need comprehensive, not piecemeal, recovery.
Urge the Department of the Interior to protect gray wolves as they continue to make their historic comeback in the U.S.
Key messages to include in your comments:
• Wolves perform a crucial role in maintaining wildlife diversity and ecosystem function. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to turn their backs on wolves means millions of acres of habitat will be without the benefits from wolves for years or decades to come – and some areas may never see the return of wolves.
• Wolves west of the Rockies are few in number and at a fragile stage. Loss of protection now could put at risk “seed” packs like the Teanaway and Wenatchee Packs in Washington State that are critical to establishing a viable population in the Pacific West.
• Wolves are still dispersing into their historical range in the Pacific West states of Washington, Oregon and California. In 2011, a lone wolf known as OR-7 dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in Oregon to wander through California’s southern Cascades and Modoc Plateau. OR-7 was the first wolf to enter the state of California in nearly 90 years. Federal protection under the Endangered Species Act allows for the continued safety of wolves as they return to their historic range in the Pacific West.
• Though some states in the Pacific West region such as Washington and Oregon have state plans that call for recovery in the Cascades/Coast region, California is just now developing its state wolf plan and many other states with good wolf habitat but no wolves yet are lacking recovery plans altogether. Furthermore, state penalties for poaching a wolf are minimal and subject to local politics. Without the stricter penalties that come with Endangered Species Act protection (up to $50,000 and a year in jail), discouraging illegal killing is much more of a challenge.
• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should maintain federal protections for wolves across the Lower 48 and recognize Pacific West wolves as a distinct population. This would provide meaningful protection where adequate state recovery plans are still lacking.
Personalizing your message makes a strong statement for wolves. Comment deadline is September 11.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Secretary Jewell,
I am writing to express my concern about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to remove protections for wolves across most of the lower 48 states.
The recovery of wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes has seen tremendous success. The job of recovery, however, is not done. Scientists have identified suitable habitat for wolves in the southern Rocky Mountains, Pacific West, Northeast and elsewhere.
Wolves have just begun to return to the Pacific West in places such as the Cascade Mountains. These wolves would lose federal protection under the delisting proposal, making this fragile population more vulnerable and potentially setting back recovery in the entire Pacific West region.
Pacific West wolves include descendants of wolves living in coastal British Columbia, as well as the northern Rockies. Scientists have also pointed to the fact that some wolves returning to the Pacific West are genetically distinct from the reintroduced northern Rockies wolves. Over time, these wolves have adapted to local climatic and habitat conditions, creating a unique genetic profile. Currently, there are only three confirmed packs and two confirmed breeding pairs in the Cascade Range, which spans from Washington to northern California.
I strongly oppose the proposal to remove protections for wolves in these and other areas. Please also recognize Pacific West wolves as a distinct population. This will provide robust protections where state recovery plans are still lacking.
Please do not give up on wolf recovery in such an early stage of success – don't remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the lower 48 states.
By Bob Ferris photo via nowandthan~dot~tumblr~dot~com
I have worked on conservation issues through more than seven administrations and during that time I have known personally most of the directors of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In nearly all instances these have basically been stand-up folks trying to do the best job possible under trying circumstances. With all of these directors, my experience has been that when I and others have asked them or their staffs a direct question they have answered directly. In a word, they have generally been "transparent."
Certainly there have been problems with incompetency and these were often dealt with poorly. But the politically motivated mischief has generally been kept to a dull roar by the agency or watch dog groups. A great example of that process in action was the firing of Julie McDonald at Interior during the Bush II administration when she basically let the timber industry write their own rules.
It is a system with a lot of slop in it, but that is really what we should expect in a democracy attempting to reconcile a menu of conflicting positions. What we should not expect is what we are getting now in regards to the scientific peer-review process for the wolf delisting process and the Service’s selection of AMEC as the consultant for this process (see above quote from Gavin Shire information officer at USFWS in Todd Wilkinson’s excellent piece). Badly done. Badly done, indeed.
We all make press statements on a number of topics, but generally they are meant to be explanatory rather than acting to make muddy waters all the more murkier. This is a CIA response rather than a USFWS, because it really acts to raise more questions than it answers.
And what are those questions? Who at USFWS or Interior thought it would be a whiz bang idea to hire a foreign, multinational corporation with roots in construction and natural resource development would be a good choice to hold the reins on a complicated process that first and foremost needs to embrace and hold science sacrosanct? How exactly is their expertise on developing tar sands applicable to wolf recovery and science (see AMEC listing of accomplishments above)? Who at AMEC or USFWS made the decision to jetison nearly half the peer-review team because they signed on to a letter than raised legitimate and well documented problems with the delisting proposal? Why was this core-element of the delisting process outsourced at all? And why didn't someone at USFWS or Interior not foresee this embarassing train wreck?
Most wolves in the lower 48 states are about to lose Endangered Species Act protection. Since April 2011, when wolves in five states lost protection, more than 1,700 have been killed. Now the Obama administration wants to strip protection for nearly all wolves in the lower 48, and that means more of these majestic creatures will be hunted, trapped and killed.
Information the wolf hunters and trappers don’t want to believe and don’t want you to know
MYTH: There are plenty of gray wolves in America...over 100,000.
FACT: There are likely fewer than 7,000 gray wolves left in the entire lower 48 states. Rough population estimates by state, as of May 2013, are: Minnesota 3,000, Michigan 650, Wisconsin 750-800, Montana 650, Idaho 750, Wyoming 325, Oregon 46, Washington 30.
The gray wolf's long-term survival is at stake. It has barely begun to recover from being endangered, and is still absent from significant portions of its former range, where substantial suitable habitat remains. A growing body of scientific literature shows that top predators, like the wolf, play critical roles in maintaining a diversity of other wildlife species.
Read more below, and in letter from 16 of the nation's top scientists, sent May 21, 2013 to Sally Jewell, Secretary, Department of the Interior.
Source: Population estimates from state wildlife agencies
* * * * * * *
MYTH: Wolves kill lots of cattle, lead to lower birth rates, and are causing cattle ranchers to go out of business.
FACT: Wolves are responsible for less than two tenths of a percent (.2%) of cattle depredations. 94% of losses are due to non-predator related causes, such as respiratory disease, digestive problems, weather, calving problems, etc.
To be specific, according to the USDA there were 3,992,900 cattle deaths reported in 2010. A whopping 3,773,000 were not due to predators at all. In fact, only 219,900 were due to predators. Of those losses attributed to predators, wolves came in at second to last at 8,100. Furthermore, these losses are "self-reported" by ranchers, and most studies show that ranchers typically attribute any unknown causes to "predators," which increases the number of "losses."
Of special note, even dogs, which are listed as cattle predators, killed almost three times as many cows as wolves did, at 21,800.
Source: “Cattle Death Loss,” a report by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (see chart on pg. 5)
* * * * * * *
MYTH: The elk population has been declining, due to wolf depredation.
FACT: The numbers show the OPPOSITE is happening. In Wyoming and Montana there are more elk now than before reintroduction.
In Wyoming, elk are 29 percent above management objectives and Wyoming Fish and Game says they are actually “managing elk to reduce their numbers”! In Montana, elk populations have increased by approximately 60 percent since wolf reintroduction. Idaho elk are at or above management objectives in 80 percent of the state elk hunting units.
Source: “The Perverse Logic of Wolf Hunts”
* * * * * * *
MYTH: Gray wolves in the Yellowstone region are "non-native imports" dumped into the area.
FACT: Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus), were native to Yellowstone when the park was established in 1872.
The Park Service recorded killing 136 gray wolves in Yellowstone between 1914-1926. There were most certainly many more killed prior to that; they just weren't keeping records. By the 1940s, wolf packs were rarely reported, and by the 1970s scientists found no evidence of a wolf population. The species of gray wolf imported from Canada and reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995 is the same wolf species that originally inhabited the Park.
Source: The National Park Service
* * * * * * *
MYTH: Wolves are not endangered and should not receive endangered species protection.
FACT: Wolf management in America has swung full circle in 50 years from extermination to recovery, and now back again towards extinction. Never in the history of the Endangered Species Act has a species been delisted because of politics, but that is what happened when wolves were delisted on the federal level in April 2011, and management was left to the states.
This established a dangerous precedent. State managers opened hunting seasons on wolves who had just managed to gain a toe-hold and reoccupy territory from which they were extirpated by ranching and agricultural interests just a few decades ago. Ranching and hunting interests historically dominate state commissions and legislatures, so the playing field is not level. It is therefore no surprise that state wildlife management decisions are based on political special interests, as opposed to science.
Wolves are highly social animals and their health, as well as the balance of the ecosystem, depends on their pack structure. As a result of their delisting, free roaming packs of wolves in America will be lucky to survive, much less thrive, anywhere outside of the national parks, where they are protected. Hunters and trappers are gaining access to those wolves as well, by lying in wait for them when they cross the park boundaries, as has happened in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Read more about wolves' endangered status in letter from 16 of the nation's top scientists, sent May 21, 2013 to Sally Jewell, Secretary, Department of the Interior.
Learn more in our film, “The Imperiled American Wolf”
* * * * * * *
MYTH: Wolves should just live in parks like Yellowstone (or in Canada).
FACT: Not only is this unhealthy for the predator/prey balance in the states which have wolf populations, but wolves have never recognized the boundary line between Canada and the U.S. Nor, of course, do they recognize the boundary line between Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding states. Wolves that leave Yellowstone have been shot by hunters as soon as they step across the border. See New York Times article.
Learn more about predator/prey balance in The Importance of Predators.
* * * * * * *
MYTH: There are plenty of wolves in Canada and Alaska. If we have problems here, we can just import some from there.
FACT: That is not in the least bit desirable. Wolves are highly social animals. Family structure is vital to their health and well-being. It would be ill-advised to disrupt the social structure of wolves in those locations.
Learn more in our film. “The Imperiled American Wolf”
* * * * * * *
MYTH: Wolves are simply a problem. They need to be removed from the ecosystem.
FACT: Our ecosystems are out of balance when it comes to predator and prey. Predators are essential to restoring balance and ensure proper ecosystem processes and function. As a major predator, wolves have shaped prey populations for thousands of years.
Wolf predation is strategic; it differs from how humans hunt. Wolves primarily take the young and old, rather than the largest and healthiest animals. Wolf predation also helps to balance prey numbers with available habitat, ensuring that plant communities get periodic rest from heavy browsing or grazing influences of herbivores. Wolves can also affect habitat use—for instance, in Yellowstone there is evidence that wolf presence has shifted elk use from valley bottom streamside areas to uplands, which has benefited vegetation important to many wildlife species.
Finally, the presence of wolves can also affect the population and distribution of other smaller predators like coyotes, foxes and skunks. Changes in the population and distribution of these species can have cascading effects on other species from ground-nesting birds to small mammals.
Read more about The Importance of Predators and watch our film, “The Imperiled American Wolf”
* * * * * * *
MYTH: Wolves are a deadly menace to humans.
FACT: There have been only two incidents where wolves have killed humans in North America in the past 100 years, once in 2005 and once in 2010. This is an extremely rare rate of occurrence.
Wolves have a natural fear of people that is only eroded when they learn to associate humans and human settlement with opportunities to find food. Importantly, both of these fatalities took place near illegal garbage dumps that attract a host of scavenging carnivores other than wolves, including bears and coyotes. Also, in both cases, there is controversy as to whether or not wolves were the perpetrators.
To put these two wolf killings in 100 years in context, consider that domestic dogs kill 20 to 30 people in the U.S. every year. And an average of two hunting fatalities occur each year in the state of Oregon alone (see ODFW fatalities report). And every year hunters in the U.S. and Canada kill nearly 100 people and injure around 1,000 (more).
Source: Living with Wolves, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Hunting Incidents, and International Hunter Education Association reports
WASHINGTON— In a move questioned by some of the world’s leading wolf researchers, the Obama administration announced plans today to prematurely strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states, abruptly ending one of America’s most important species recovery programs. The proposal concludes that wolf protection in the continental United States, in place since 1978, is no longer needed, even though there are fledgling populations in places like the Pacific Northwest whose survival hinges on continued federal protection.
“This is like kicking a patient out of the hospital when they’re still attached to life support,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves cling to a sliver of their historic habitat in the lower 48, and now the Obama administration wants to arbitrarily declare victory and move on. They need to finish the job that Americans expect, not walk away the first chance they get. This proposal is a national disgrace. Our wildlife deserve better.”
Wolves today occupy just 5 percent of their historic habitat in the continental United States. Today’s proposal means that wolves will never fully reoccupy prime wolf habitat in the southern Rocky Mountains, California and Northeast, and will hinder ongoing recovery in the Pacific Northwest.
The proposal will hand wolf management over to state wildlife agencies across most of the country – a step that has meant widespread killing in recent years. Following removal of protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes in 2011, states in those regions quickly enacted aggressive hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce wolf populations. In the northern Rocky Mountains more than 1,100 wolves have been killed since protections were removed; this year populations declined by 7 percent.
“By locking wolves out of prime habitat across most this country, this proposal perpetuates the global phenomena of eliminating predators that play hugely important roles in ecosystems,” said Greenwald. “Wolves are well documented to benefit a host of other wildlife from beavers and fish, to songbirds and pronghorn.”
In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, today’s proposal maintains protections for the Mexican gray wolf as a separate subspecies. Only 75 Mexican wolves roam a recovery area restricted to portions of Arizona and New Mexico. The population has not grown as expected because of a combination of illegal poaching and government mismanagement that requires wolves to be removed from the wild or killed when they leave the recovery area or depredate livestock.
“It’s obvious that Mexican gray wolves continue to need protection and we’re glad they’re getting it,” said Greenwald. “But it is equally obvious that wolves in the Pacific Northwest, southern Rockies, California and Northeast also need continued protection.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The U.S. government once sponsored the wholesale eradication of wolves by any means, be it poisoning, trapping or shooting. It was only right, then, that the U.S. government step up to restore the animals they once helped drive to extinction.
Now, that work is done. With more than 6,000 wolves at last count, the species is no longer in danger of extinction in the Lower 48. Federal protections have been removed in a handful of states already, with full delisting on the horizon.
Draft plans to fully delist gray wolves in the Lower 48 were first discussed back in April. On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its proposed rule in the Federal Register, thus opening the 90-day public comment period.
If the rule is accepted, individual states will assume full responsibility for managing their wolf populations, much as Montana has already done. One particular subspecies of gray wolves in the Southwest will be the lone exception. This group of about 75 Mexican wolves would still be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
However, several large conservation organizations have met the planned end of protections with dismay. Some wildlife advocates are worried that full delisting could lead to widespread extermination. They also see the end of federal protections as the end of any attempts to establish new gray wolf populations in new areas.
These worries persist despite the precedent set in Montana. In 2011, protections for Montana’s wolf populations were lifted. Now, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is largely free to manage wolves, and they haven’t been eradicated — nor have all the elk or domestic animals that wolves sometimes prey on.
No, instead wolf populations in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions are healthy and appear to be expanding without human encouragement. In two states, Washington and Oregon, newly established and still-small wolf packs are growing under the protection of state law, rather than federal oversight.
Montana FWP continues to make adjustments to the state’s wolf management plan here. This is as it should be. Although this editorial board does not agree with every aspect of the state’s plans, we acknowledge that those plans are designed to be as responsive as possible to widely diverse needs. The concerns of ranchers, hunters, conservationists and others are all being taken into account.
And should the states fail in their mission, Endangered Species Act protections can be applied again.
But no species should be need permanent protection – especially not when all evidence proves they have fully recovered. In the decade preceding partial delisting, gray wolf recovery efforts cost the U.S. government some $102 million. That, in addition to the $15.6 million provided by the states. The federal government’s time, money and attention is better spent on protecting those species on the brink of extinction.
The 90-day public comment period on the proposed rule will end on Sept. 11. Speak up, and lend your support to fully delisting gray wolves.
— The Missoulian
INFORMATION AND NEWS ABOUT DELISTING WOLVES FROM THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT:
This is the search engine result from an organization that has sponsored many wolf support petitions. It is included so that you all can see JUST HOW LONG this conflict and slaughter has been raging on.
GALE NORTON was the Secretary of the Department of the Interior for one of these actions.