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And now the Wyoming gray wolf slaughter begins

Three wolves are killed in Wyoming within days of federal protection removal

As I said here on March 25 — After many years of federal protection that cost millions of tax dollars, gray wolves will be fair game for hunters and ranchers in most of Wyoming when the animals are removed from the endangered species list on March 28.

Guess what? I was right.

The information below was on Tuesday’s (April 1) Associated Press wire. It comes from a story in the Casper (Wyoming) Star-tribune. You can read the whole story at http://www.trib.com/articles/2008/04/01/news/wyoming/14df5a030a0d85438725741e00048afb.txt

LANDER, Wyo. — Wyoming hunters and ranchers killed at least three gray wolves within the first three days of the animals’ removal from the federal endangered species list, local and state wildlife officials said.

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho took over management of wolves within their borders on Friday as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended protection of the animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Scott Talbott, the Game and Fish official overseeing Wyoming’s new wolf management program, said one of the wolves was wearing a tracking collar.

All three wolves were killed in Wyoming’s predator zone, where people are now allowed to kill wolves at any time and for any reason as long as they report the time, location and sex of each kill to the state within 10 days.

Wyoming is home to 25 wolf packs living outside of Yellowstone National Park, and seven of those live in the predator area. Wildlife officials have said that most of the 30 to 35 wolves living outside the trophy game zone live in adjoining Sublette County.

Terry Pollard, co-owner of Bald Mountain Outfitters in Pinedale, said he heard reports of many locals going wolf hunting over the weekend, but most didn’t make any kills. “I think they’re finding just what we figured,” Pollard said. “These wolves are an extremely tough animal to hunt. There was a significant amount of hunters out this weekend, and very few of them were taken.”

Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain regional director of Defenders of Wildlife, said it’s hard to know how many wolves were killed over the weekend because hunters have 10 days to report kills within the predator zone.

“In a shoot-on-sight zone, a large number of the wolves could be killed before Wyoming Game and Fish or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service even knows about it,” Leahy said. “There could be big impacts to the wolf population that go underreported until it’s too late.”

Defenders of Wildlife is one of several groups that has filed notice of their intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to retain Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves. Leahy said it’s too early to know whether the group will seek an emergency injunction against the federal delisting decision.

GARY’S RESPONSE:
So there you have it. Our tax dollars have been spent all these years so the federal government could keep the gray wolves from becoming extinct … just so Wyoming can sell hunting licenses to kill those very same  gray wolves at a very nice profit for the state.

Next … the wolf-killing fields of Idaho and Montana. Aren’t we clever? /Gary

Picture of gray wolf by Flickr user dobak under Creative Commons license

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Under: Endangered species, Hunting, Killing wolves, wild predators, Wolves | 10 Comments »

Wolves lose federal protection. Now fair game for hunters, ranchers

After many years of federal protection that cost millions of tax dollars, gray wolves will be fair game for hunters and ranchers in most of Wyoming when the animals are removed from the endangered species list on Friday (Mar. 28).

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho will take over full “management” of the wolves, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ending its wolf recovery effort.

In northwestern Wyoming, the state will continue a federal policy allowing ranchers to kill on sight wolves caught in the act of attacking their livestock or domestic animals.

They are allowed to kill the wolves, even though Defenders of Wildlife has provided a compensation program to ranchers for livestock killed by wolves. Can you believe it? The latest figures I could find show Defenders had spent $200,000 on this program by the end of 2003.

In the rest of Wyoming, the rules will allow people to kill wolves at any time and for any reason. (Can you spell H-U-N-T-I-N-G?)

Amazing, isn’t it, how our government has been able to bring the wolves back from the brink of extinction … so that Wyoming, Montana and Idaho can issue licenses to hunt and kill these animals as a very profitable source of revenue for the states?

Just remember … YOU helped pay for this. Kinda makes you feel warm all over just thinking about it, doesn’t it? /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
Under: Endangered species, Hunting, Wolves | 1 Comment »

Department of Interior sued to keep gray wolves on endangered list

A coalition of environmental and animal rights groups are challenging the federal government’s removal of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the endangered species list.

They say the estimated 1,500 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are too few to ensure the species survival — particularly given that the three states intend to sponsor wolf hunts beginning this fall.

State officials have pledged to keep wolves on the landscape. But they want to let hunters kill possibly hundreds of wolves, in part to reduce conflicts with livestock and big game. Oh, yes, and also because they want to sell hunting licenses and bring more revenue into the states.

Eleven groups, including the Sierra Club and the Humane Society of the United States, notified the Department of Interior Wednesday (Feb. 27) that they plan to sue the agency in federal court after 60 days. That’s a required first step under the Endangered Species Act.

As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Hang in there, wolves. Have a good howl on us. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2008
Under: Endangered species, Wolves | No Comments »

Endangered birds or feral cats? Which do we save?

Only 115 pairs of the endangered piping plover are left on Cape May, New Jersey beaches. They nest there during the summer. Because they nest on the ground, they are vulnerable to predators, including wild house cats, foxes and other animals.

Cape May’s beaches also have a population of feral cats that are being cared for by local volunteers in a trap, neuter and release program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service originally wanted the feral cat colonies moved back a mile from the beach to keep the cats from injuring or killing the birds. Cat lovers said this would have meant eliminating all feral cats from Cape May and they dug in their heels and resisted. This led to a compromise proposal to move the cat colonies at least 1,000 feet from the beach, and a half-mile from areas already identified as plover nesting grounds.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it was skeptical of the compromise and is considering withholding millions of dollars in federal sand replenishment funds for the beach. This has the town in a huge tizzy … pitting the local bird lovers against the local cat lovers against the Cape May City Council.

The plovers start returning to Cape May to nest around March 15, so that doesn’t leave much time to decide what to do.

Residents of the city are split down the middle on this. The city received 600 e-mails in one day from local cat lovers against moving the cats. But the New Jersey Audubon Society is equally distressed. Cape May is one of the prime bird-watching spots in all of North America. The World Series of Birding is held there every year.

Similar debates are being held in many communities across the country. Cat lovers in Benicia, California, want to feed feral cat colonies that live in local marshes around the city to keep them from starving to death. Members of the local Audubon Society would prefer that they didn’t because they kill wild birds and other wildlife.

How does this get resolved? Should birds die so that cats might live? Or vice versa? Is there a compromise solution that would make both sides happy and keep cats AND birds alive?

Any ideas?

Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2008
Under: Birds, Cats, Endangered species | No Comments »

Wolves removed from endangered list and will now be hunted

This information has been compiled from Associated Press stories. Sarcastic asides are mine.

Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies will be removed from the endangered species list, following a 13-year restoration effort that helped the animal’s population soar, federal officials said Thursday. An estimated 1,500 wolves now roam Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The feds giveth … and the feds taketh away.

“Gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains are thriving and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett. “The wolf’s recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains is a conservation success story.”

The restoration effort, however, has been unpopular with ranchers and many others in the three states since it began in the mid-1990s, and today some state leaders want the population thinned significantly. The states could allow hunters to target the animals as soon as this fall. That angers environmental groups, which plan to sue over the delisting and say it’s too soon to remove federal protection.

“The enduring hostility to wolves still exists,” said Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold, who is preparing the lawsuit. “We’re going to have hundreds of wolves killed under state management. It’s a sad day for our wolves.”

Management … a.k.a. hunting.

Wildlife agencies in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have already begun crafting rules for wolf hunts. Officials say the hunts will be similar to those for other big game species such as mountain lions and black bears.

Oh, boy … new hunting revenue for the states. That’s why they helped the wolf population to recover, right?

Here are some reactions to the decision to remove wolves from the endangered species list, also compiled from the Associated Press:

** “This announcement is great news. It signals that the state’s work has paid off and we’re ready to assume the full responsibilities of managing wolves.” (Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal)

** “Far more wolves are needed before the species can be considered truly recovered.” (Louisa Wilcox, senior wildlife advocate for Natural Resources Defense Council)

** “We reached the delisting goals in the recovery plan years ago, and Idaho is ready to manage wolves. Unfortunately, if history is a guide, radical preservationists will sue the federal government over this decision.” ( U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho)

** “Unfortunately, the current state plans seem designed to lead only to the dramatic decline and need for quick relisting of the wolf. That’s not in anyone’s best interest.” (Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife)

So how do you feel about wolves being taken off the endangered species list so they can be managed (hunted)? Please add your comments below. /Gary

You’ll find more details on the wolf delisting at http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_folder/2008/02_21_2008_wolves_lose_protection_under_endangered_species_act.php

Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2008
Under: Animal Activists, Animal Politics, Endangered species, Hunting, Wolves | No Comments »

Bush administration wolf-killing plan

A new federal rule would allow state game agencies to kill endangered gray wolves that prey on wildlife in the Northern Rockies.

Excuse me, but isn’t that what wolves and other predators do naturally? They prey on other wildlife to survive. It’s what happens in … natural … ecosystems.

An estimated 1,545 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana are scheduled to come off the endangered species list in coming weeks, which would allow public hunting of the predators for the first time in decades.

The rule released Thursday (Jan. 24) is a separate action that would give the three states more latitude to kill wolves even if their removal from the endangered list is delayed. (In other words, to violate the Endangered Species Act!) The rule would empower state wildlife agents to kill packs of wolves if they can prove the animals are having a “major impact” on big game herds such as elk, deer or moose.

Ah, now I understand. These states feel the wolves are competing with human hunters that spend a lot of money in the states when they come to shoot and kill elk, deer and moose. Too bad the wolves don’t have any money to spend.

The rule also would allow hunting guides and others (???) to kill wolves caught harassing dogs or stock animals on public land. Previously, only cattle or sheep ranchers whose animals were being harassed could legally shoot the predators.

Critics contend officials in Wyoming and Idaho — spurred on by anti-wolf livestock interests — are gearing up to kill hundreds of the animals. Those critics say that could knock down the animal’s population in the region by more than half, undermining a decade-long restoration effort that has cost taxpayers (that’s you and me, folks) more than $24 million.

“There’s just no biological justification for killing that many wolves,” said Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife. “It’s politically driven.”

As my friend and wild canid expert Camilla Fox says in this note:
Gary: Wolves are getting hit across the U.S. In addition to this insanity happening in the Northern Rockies, Wisconsin just proposed a wolf hunting season (where there are fewer than 400 individuals) and Arkansas is seeking a state sponsored denning program (where wolf pups are killed in their dens) (do they still pour gasoline in the dens and burn the cubs to death like the old days? /Gary) and less than 50 Mexican wolves remain in New Mexico and Arizona after the feds have killed off dozens because of depredation.
And how many millions were spent to “recover” these wolves?! And so the cycle is repeated …
Camilla, Larkspur

You can read more and find out what you can do about it … if you care … at:
http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_folder/2008/01_24_2008_northern_rockies_wolves_lose_important_protections.php

Thanks for caring! /Gary

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008
Under: Endangered species, Wolves | No Comments »

Animals vs. the New Year

SOME OF THE ANIMAL-RELATED THINGS HAPPENING IN 2008:

Senator Carole Migden and former Assemblyman Joe Nation have endorsed a letter asking U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein and U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey to put a moratorium on deer killing at Point Reyes National Seashore until 2010. The National Park Service has hired a Connecticut-based group, White Buffalo, Inc., to kill non-native deer in the park. There are an estimated 950 European fallow deer and 250 Axis deer in the park. The NPS claims the non-native deer are competing with the native black-tailed deer. More at: http://www.solaswebdesign.net/wordpress/?cat=5

The issue of feral cats vs. wild birds is rearing its ugly head in Benicia. In an attempt to balance the needs of feral (wild) cats with a diverse and sensitive wild bird population, city officials and local animal advocates are crafting new regulations for undomesticated felines. The cat people want to set up trap-spay/neuter-release programs and feed cat colonies throughout Benicia. Local bird lovers say this conflicts with the protection of local wildlife because the cats will eat the birds. This cat fight isn’t going to end anytime soon, if ever. The full story: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_7861999?nclick_check=1

Bay Area conservation groups are launching an interesting program in 2008 to reconnect residents with the natural resources and values of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) with the first-ever “GGNRA Endangered Species Big Year. The year-long event is aimed at connecting GGNRA visitors with the 33 endangered species found in the park, through individual exploration and guided expeditions, and to encourage participation in conservation action items that will prevent species from going extinct. You can find out more at http://www.ggnrabigyear.org

Speaking of the Martinez beavers — A special flow device is expected to be installed in the Martinez beaver dam this week, hopefully before the BIG rains that are expected this weekend. This device is supposed to control the water level behind the dam to keep Alhambra Creek from flooding. Let’s hope they get it installed before the rain … and let’s hope that it works. You can keep an eye on things at http://www.martinezbeavers.com

This is just a tiny sampling of all the animal-related activities that will be going on in 2008 around the country and the world. You can find out more at the Web sites of some of the more active animal-protection organizations:

The Humane Society of the United States: http://www.hsus.org

Defenders of Wildlife: http: //www.defenders.org

National Wildlife Federation: http://www.nwf.org/wildlife

Center for Biological Diversity: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org

ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org

Just one New Year resolution:
Figure out a way to take my couch pillow back from the cats so I can watch TV. /gary

Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008
Under: Animal Politics, Animal welfare, Beavers, Birds, Cats, deer, Endangered species | No Comments »

Do they, or don’t they exist?

According to a story by Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo on July 20:

"LITTLE ROCK, Ark — A federal judge temporarily stopped construction on a $320 million irrigation project Thursday, ruling the changes could disturb the habitat of a woodpecker that might or might not exist."

They are referring, of course, to the much-debated existence of the ivory-billed woodpecker, thought to be extinct until one was reportedly sighted in 2004 in Eastern Arkansas. The sighting has not been duplicated and the debate rages on with some ornithologists believing the bird is still extinct, while others think it lives.

It seems to me the above-mention federal judge may have just resolved the whole argument with his diabolically simple ruling. According to the AP story, U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson said that "for the purpose of the lawsuit he had to presume the woodpecker exists in that area."

Does this mean that we no longer need to have real animals? That we can just presume animals exist in a particular area?

That would certainly explain the herd of elephants I heard grazing on the fruit trees in my backyard last night.

Seriously, Judge Wilson may have set an interesting precedent. Can we assume that instead of environmentalists having to prove that an endangered animal exists in an area where developers want to build a shopping mall, that developers are now going to have to prove that the endangered animal doesn’t exist in that area?

That could be a little tricky and maybe take a few decades to prove conclusively for each species. Or longer.

I’ll bet that’s going to make someone in Washington, D.C. a little unhappy.

I can hear him screaming now.

Posted on Friday, July 21st, 2006
Under: Developers, Endangered species, Wildlife | 1 Comment »