Here Comes Trouble

The governors of Wyoming and Montana will head to Washington, D.C. this week (Tuesday, September 29th) to give their perspective on how to “improve” (ie. dismantle) the Endangered Species Act.

Please find several tweets to send off at the bottom of this post.

Western Governors’ Association Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead will be joined by Governors Steve Bullock (Montana, WGA Vice Chair), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota),Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), and Gary Herbert (Utah) at a number of meetings with congressional leaders. Governors Mead and Bullock will appear at a briefing on the topic “Improving the Endangered Species Act : Perspectives from the Fish and Wildlife Service and State Governors.” In addition to the governors’ appearance and remarks on the ESA, (which is the focus of Gov. Mead’s Chairman’s Initiative), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Dan Ashe, also will be present and will make a statement.

  • Mead last month announced that the Western Governors’ Association will hold five forums around the West to collect information on how to improve the Endangered Species Act. The first will be held in Wyoming this fall. The act “touches the people and economies of Western states in a significant way,” Mead said last month in announcing the effort. “This initiative is intended to take a hard look…” Mead has focused much of his criticism of the ESA on how difficult it is to remove federal protections for a species once it is listed. He has said that since 1973, when the federal law was enacted, 2,280 species have been protected but only 30 have been taken off the list after being classified as recovered. The truth of the matter is, as Montana lawyer, Tim Preso of Earthjustice, states: “The proper measure of success of the Endangered Species Act is its track record of preventing species from going extinct”. He said he regards current calls for improving the law to be “Trojan horse efforts” to undermine key provisions.

    “The Endangered Species Act has been 99 percent effective at preventing extinctions, which is kind of amazing when you consider the huge amount of population expansion, and expanded human footprint on this continent since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973”.

Let us not forget that Wyoming’s wolf management plan classified the animals as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in most areas, an approach that drew opposition from national environmental groups.

Bottom line, the Endangered Species Act works. The longer an animal or plant species is protected under the ESA, the more likely it is to recover. Today the ESA is under attack at a time when we can least afford to lose it.

The ESA safeguards ecological processes, such as predation, as well as maintaining biodiversity. Science tells us that the most effective way to mitigate climate change is by maintaining ecological resiliency. The ESA protects keystone species (such as the gray wolf and sea otter) which create more resilient ecosystems by increasing biodiversity.

  • Politicians should not be meddling in what should be science based decisions. Please reach out to the members of the Committee on Environment and Public Works – Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife via twitter. Tell them that the ESA works, leave it alone!

Republicans:

Dan Sullivan (Chairman) Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

John Barrasso Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Shelley Capito Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

John Boozman Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Jeff Sessions Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Roger F. Wicker Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Deb Fischer Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Mike Rounds Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

James M. Inhofe Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Democrats:

Sheldon Whitehouse (Ranking Member) Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Thomas R. Carper Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Benjamin L. Cardin Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Bernard Sanders Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Kirsten Gillibrand Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Cory A. Booker Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Edward Markey Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Barbara Boxer Tweet#1 Tweet#2 Tweet#3 Tweet#4

Thankyou, everyone, for your efforts here and support to protect the Endangered Species Act.

 Independent news blog report on the briefing

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 Copyright © 2015 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved.

Update and Continued Efforts on Behalf of the Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales

Emergency Endangered Species Act Petition Filed.

In an attempt to protect drastically declining wolf population in Southeast Alaska, six conservation organizations (Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace and The Boat Company)  petitioned for an emergency listing of Alexander Archipelago wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The petition  follows a decision by the Federal Subsistence Board that denied the groups’ July request to close federal wolf-hunting and trapping seasons on Prince of Wales and nearby islands. More information can be found in this press release from The Center for Biological Diversity.

On September 15, 2015 The Alaska Federal Subsistence Management Board released a statement  regarding the hunt for these imperiled wolves in GMU 2. The ISC (Interagency Staff Committee) found that the closure to subsistence and non-subsistence uses was not necessary for the conservation of healthy wolf populations or to continue subsistence uses of wolves in Unit 2. Rather than heeding the warning of scientists, professionals, and knowledgeable conservationists, Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service  consulted with “the four local Federally-recognized Alaska Native Tribes, as well as several Federally and non-Federally qualified subsistence users with local knowledge of Unit 2 wolf populations”. In other words the local “knowledge” of hunters and trappers was held in authority over scientific evidence, facts and research. The “harvest” quota remains at 9 wolves for the  2015-2016 seasons. The Alaska Board of Game originally established a guideline which would have allowed a quota up to 18 wolves. If the board felt this compromise would be found to be satisfactory, and  conciliate both hunters and conservationists alike, they were highly mistaken.

At this point in time I believe it is imperative that we support the aforementioned organizations with an email to Sally Jewell (Secretary of the Interior), Daniel Ashe (Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Geoffrey Haskett (Regional Director, Alaska Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Please be a voice for this imperiled species, cut and paste the following email (feel free to personalize or add your polite thoughts) and send to:  feedback@ios.doi.gov,dan_ashe@fws.gov,geoff_haskett@fws.gov

I have also added several tweets at the bottom of this post which will be helpful to our cause though not nearly as crucial as an email. Thankyou in advance for your anticipated support. Please share this action alert via twitter.

Dear Mrs. Jewell, Mr. Ashe, and Mr. Haskett,

Please list, on an emergency basis, the Alexander Archipelago Wolf (Canis Lupus Ligoni) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Despite a confirmed 60 percent population decline on Prince of Wales and accompanying islands, ADF&G and the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) have opened the wolf hunting and trapping season with a 9 wolf quota.  Fish and Game’s report estimated that the wolf population on and around Prince of Wales in fall 2014 was between 50 and 159, and more than likely approximately 89 wolves. This estimate does not account for the 29 wolves reported taken in the 2014/2015 winter hunting and trapping season (1/3rd of entire population), nor does it account for any illegal takes during that time or since, which studies indicate are substantial.

With a population as low as possibly 50 individuals, this year’s season will push this iconic species to the brink of extinction.

Data in the Alaska Department of Fish and Games’ report shows that, as of fall 2014, only 7 to 32 female Archipelago wolves remain. That is 7 to 32 female wolves in an approximate 2,600 square mile area. This would be possibly 1 breeding wolf per 371.4 square miles. Even if they are able to reproduce at these reduced numbers, the risk of inbreeding is high, putting them at further risk of extinction due to the loss of genetic diversity, which can negatively affect the species in many ways, such as weakened immune systems unable to fight off disease, skeletal deformities, and smaller litters with higher mortality. Genetic diversity is always a crucial factor with isolated species. If the decline in numbers is not arrested and recovery not immediately commenced, the Alexander Archipelago wolves fate will be sealed. Extirpation will be imminent.

Further evidence of a dire situation was proven when Alaska Department of Fish and Game, during their field season this spring,  visited about a dozen known den sites and found only one active den, with only one pup, indicating either entire wolf packs have been wiped out or have been decimated to a point leading to their fragmentation.

On September 15, 2015 The Alaska Federal Subsistence Management Board released a  statement regarding the hunt for these imperiled wolves in GMU 2. The ISC (Interagency Staff Committee) found that the closure to subsistence and non-subsistence uses was not necessary for the conservation of healthy wolf populations or to continue subsistence uses of wolves in Unit 2. Rather than heeding the warning of scientists, professionals, and knowledgeable conservationists, Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service  consulted with “the four local Federally-recognized Alaska Native Tribes, as well as several Federally and non-Federally qualified subsistence users with local knowledge of Unit 2 wolf populations”. In other words the local “knowledge” of hunters and trappers was held in authority over scientific evidence, facts and research. The “harvest” quota remains unchanged at 9 wolves for the  2015-2016 seasons. The Alaska Board of Game originally established a guideline which would have allowed a quota up to 18 wolves. I imagine the board felt this compromise would be found to be satisfactory, and conciliate both hunters and conservationists alike.

It is my understanding that since significant illegal wolf harvest is occurring in Unit 2, it has been requested that the Subsistence Board direct the USFS and the USFWS to begin coordinated law enforcement efforts to ensure illegal take of wolves in Unit 2 is stopped, and that the local USFS manager has also requested additional law enforcement officer support in Unit 2 during the wolf hunting and trapping seasons. However with 3,000 miles of logging roads in the area, 580 alone in the Big Thorne timber project area, as well as habitat destruction from decades of logging, wolf poaching is rife and nearly impossible to curb, as is enforcing such a low quota:

Both ADF&G and the FSB attempt to enforce a season’s wolf quota by counting wolf skins that are brought in for sealing. Both State of Alaska and FSB regulations have GMU- 2 specific requirements for the sealing of wolf skins taken by trapping. The FSB regulation also applies to skins taken by hunting. In these cases a skin must be sealed within 14 days. However, ADF&G’s GMU-2 specific regulation applies only to skins taken by trapping. Skins taken by hunting fall under a general statewide regulation that requires sealing within 30 days. Regardless of which time limit applies (14 or 30 days) it is nearly impossible to enforce such a small quota. This is evident from the quota for 2014/2015 being exceeded by 16% despite an emergency order (which did not take  effect for four more days) closing the season. The smaller the quota, the greater the chances are of the quota being exceeded.

Further compounding this disastrous situation is the unregulated amount of, and location of, trappers and hunters. Neither the State of Alaska nor the Subsistence Board have regulations that limit the number of trappers and hunters who may take wolves in GMU-2, nor is there any limit on the number of traps.

Threats to this unique subspecies are amplified because the wolf represents a distinct and isolated gene pool and now very few individuals remain. The Alexander Archipelago wolves are isolated and genetically distinct from other North American wolves because of tidewater barriers and coastal mountains that limit migration to the rest of the continent. The GMU-2 population is further isolated and may be genetically distinct from other Alexander Archipelago wolves. Scientific evidence determines that coastal wolves endemic to temperate rainforests are diverged from neighbouring, interior continental wolves; a finding that demands new strategies must be taken managing this species if they are to survive.

It is obvious that the situation for wolves in Game Management Unit 2 is alarming, and that immediate, decisive action is necessary to rescue this population from extirpation. I understand that several organizations have petitioned for emergency endangered species protection for the wolves on Prince of Wales and ask that you implement this protection immediately.

Thankyou for your time and consideration of this extremely urgent matter,

Your name

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#PrinceOfWalesWolves nearly wiped out in 1 yr, plummeting 2 as low as 60 individuals, protect under #ESA @SecretaryJewell @DirectorDanAshe

Tweet4Wolves

These R dire times for 1 of world’s rarest wolf subspecies. #PrinceOfWalesWolves Pls protect under ESA  @SecretaryJewell @DirectorDanAshe

Tweet4Wolves

#PrinceOfWalesWolves are facing a threat of extinction due to lack of food, hunting/poaching and logging, pls protect under #ESA @USFWS

Tweet4Wolves

2014-2015 “harvest” of #PrinceOfWalesWolves was unsustainable, please protect under #ESA @SecretaryJewell  @DirectorDanAshe

Tweet4Wolves

We are calling for emergency measures to save the lives of the few remaining #PrinceOfWalesWolves Pls protect under #ESA @DirectorDanAshe

Tweet4Wolves

We are calling for emergency measures to save the lives of the few remaining #PrinceOfWalesWolves Pls protect under #ESA @SecretaryJewell

Tweet4Wolves

.@SecretaryJewell @DirectorDanAshe pls take decisive action 2 save rapidly dwindling population of #PrinceOfWalesWolves #ESA protection pls

Tweet4Wolves

#StandForWolves #SaveWolves #ProtectWolves Save the #PrinceOfWalesWolves Protect under #ESA @interior @DirectorDanAshe

Tweet4Wolves

#PrinceOfWalesWolves nearly wiped out in 1 yr, plummeting 2 as low as 60 individuals, protect under #ESA @USFWSAlaska

Tweet4Wolves

For tweetsheets, petitions, updates and future actions please join our facebook event (please see pinned post for current tweetsheets and petitions). Thankyou, In The Shadow Of The Wolf

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 Featured image: Alaskan wolf Doug Brown

Copyright © 2015 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved.

Life Not Extinction

  • A record number of anti-ESA measures have been placed in the FY 2016 House and Senate bills that fund the Interior Department and other  wildlife agencies. These “riders” threaten wolves and other endangered wildlife in the United States and attempt to block, or remove, protections for individual species and undermine key sections of the ESA.

Ask President Obama to #VetoExtinction

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Reach out to your legislators now, via twitter, to protect endangered species, urge them to oppose all legislation that undermines the Endangered Species Act. Please also find five petitions to sign at the end of this post.
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.@SenateDems  Please prevent any anti #ESA  riders from being included in FY 2016 spending legislation. #EndangeredSpecies #Wolves Tweet this
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.@HouseDemocrats  Please prevent any anti #ESA  riders from being included in FY 2016 spending legislation. #Wolves #EndangeredSpecies Tweet this
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.@Senate_GOPs I oppose riders that harm the environment, wildlife and remove protections for #wolves in the FY 2016 spending bill. Tweet this
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.@HouseGOP I oppose riders that harm the environment, wildlife and remove protections for #wolves in the FY 2016 spending bill. Tweet this
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Send a tweet to your Congressional members (cut and paste a tweet from above, or, write your own). Find the Twitter link to your legislators here.
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Please sign and share the following petitions:
Help shut down Congress’ sneak attack on wolves via NRDC: Sign this
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Protect Wolves from Congressional Attacks via Endangered Species Coalition: bit.ly/1hUjF1e Sign this
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Protect the ESA From Political Attacks via Earthjustice: bit.ly/1fKGOSn Sign this
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Protect the Endangered Species Act via Defenders: bit.ly/1QmwRrD Sign this
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Ask President Obama to oppose anti-wildlife riders in the FY 2016. Ask that he Veto Extinction: bit.ly/1UrDcrv Sign this
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(Please feel free to use these images)
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Tweet to the President:
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Ask @POTUS to #StandForWolves and science-based wildlife recovery #VetoExtinction
bit.ly/1UrDcrv Tweet this
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.@POTUS Please prevent any anti #ESA riders from being included in FY 2016 spending legislation. #VetoExtinction #Wolves #Wildlife Tweet this
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Copyright © 2015 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved.