Ranchers and hunters intent on wiping out wild horses, wolves, and bison

Source  Author: Cathy Taibbi

“There is a crisis going on in the west, and it threatens to wipe out some of America’s most beloved, unique and imperiled species from bison to wild horses to wolves.”

According to this morning’s update from Buffalo Field Campaign Outreach, 120 genetically distinct and valuable bison from the nation’s only continuously free-roaming, wild and migratory herd, have already lost their lives to placate both surrounding ranchers and public-lands ‘welfare’ ranchers. The stated reasons are to stop the possibility of transmitting brucellosis to domestic stock, which fear-mongerers misrepresent as a hazard of having bison herds nearby. In fact this is a disease originally brought over by European cattle and while many bison are now infected , the zoönosis is actually spread via domestic cattle or wild elk. In fact, one would be more concerned about domestic cattle and sheep infecting our priceless native animals. Yet misinformation is being spouted by the livestock lobby in order to stir hysteria around bison to justify their removal. Not only that, but the roundup is being conducted under a cloak of disturbing secrecy. And it’s not just bison being targeted on our public lands.

There is a crisis going on in the west, and it threatens to wipe out some of America’s most beloved, unique and imperiled species from bison to wild horses to wolves. Worse, it is entirely avoidable, if agencies would stop pandering to the demands of special interests who make up a fraction of the US population but feel entitled to destroy the resource for the rest of us, forever.

Demanding safe access for their domestic cattle and sheep, livestock owners are pushing toexterminate bison and wild horses from ranges on public lands and in National Parks, claiming that American bison and wild horses ‘compete’ with their private herds. These same ranchers get taxpayer-funded assistance destroying any native and rightful (even federally protected) predators who might, understandably, see these tasty helpless domestic animals as easy meals. Yet owners are not required to oversee or protect their livestock in any way. It seems to be simply a free-ride on the back of the American tax payer.

Next, enter the hunters, wanting to artificially inflate numbers of elk and other game animals to shoot, aggressively persecuting magnificent native predators (wolves, mountain lions, bears) which dare to feed (as nature intended) on the herds. Whereas wolves, for instance, strengthen these herds by culling the weakest, hunters do the reverse, selecting the biggest, healthiest and most beautiful (those sporting the most impressive racks) for extermination – Leaving the gene pool poorer. They are unintentionally ‘selecting’ for scrawnier, less healthy and less attractive descendants of the game they claim to love.

Add to this the extractive industries (drilling/fracking/logging/mining etc) that want any protected species out of the way, so as to open every last fragment of public and national lands to exploitation, and it’s alarmingly evident that, indeed, this is a serious, urgent crisis for biological diversity, the environment and the American people. Yet it’s a crisis being largely ignored by the media, even with the current militant takeover of a federal bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge in Oregon, who’s members, incidentally, were in part upset because they were being asked to pay a tiny fee for the livestock they were grazing on public lands.

During the bison culls, mothers and calves are separated or killed, family bonds are torn apart, animals are injured, wounded, terrified, hazed, harassed, penned up, tested and then sent to barbaric slaughter. These are live animals, not walking meat. They have deep emotions, strong family and social bonds and sensitive nervous systems which feel pain, fear, and stress. This treatment of an American symbol which was, with great effort, snatched back from the brink of extinction, is unjustified and unconscionable.

The bison crisis, in time, could undermine decades of restoration efforts by the federal government and American people. So again, it is domestic livestock which endanger native species, rather than the other way around, which begs the question ‘why are domestic animals permitted on public or wilderness lands at all?.’ The fight is becoming monumental as advocates for wilderness and our iconic wild bison battle to stop what is expected to be a mass slaughter of 900 of these important animals, being conducted, suspiciously, out of the public eye and with limited or no media access.

At the same time, the highly contentious S. 659 Bi-Partisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (now of 2016), aims to lift Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in 4 states, but even more, hopes to weaken or eviscerate the ESA itself. Safeguarding biodiversity apparently presents an obstacle to unbridled development of resources in fragile natural areas – places rightfully protected due to designated protected species. So does the prospect of banning lethal lead from ammunition and fishing gear. Yes, lead, the same stuff that’s causing all the trouble with Flint’s water. And there are plenty more terrible proposals in the Sportsmen’s Act. Unlike the supporters of this bill, most of us feel there need to be true sanctuaries, places completely protected from hunting, trapping, fishing, roads and other damaging human activities. If this bill goes through, the users win, leaving most of the wildlife and wilderness and public lands in the USA at the mercy of trophy hunters (who vote to make game farms of National Parks), industry and the states. As we all know, industry is a very poor steward of wildlife and the environment. So, in many cases, are the states.

Wolf populations, once hunted to extirpation in the continental US and not yet fully recovered, suffered debilitating setbacks after their welfare was entrusted to the states a few years back, a debacle in which adults were trapped, gut-shot and allowed to linger in pain, puppies clubbed or gassed in their dens, packs (families) mowed down by helicopter gunners. Wolves, even indesignated wilderness areas, mercilessly hunted down and destroyed. The insidious amendment to the Sportsmen’s Act that would assure no future judicial review seems to be unconstitutional, at best. How, in a Democracy, can a lethal bill affecting wildlife owned not only by all Americans but the world, be presented as the final word with no possibility of future discussion?

If there is any question of hunters being out of line in scapegoating wolves (claiming that wolves are ‘decimating elk herds’ and leaving hunters with nothing to shoot), see this disturbing article about the problem of elk overpopulation in those places where wolves have been eliminated.

In 1971 the THE WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971 (PUBLIC LAW 92-195) was enacted to forever protect and preserve our spectacular and beloved Mustangs and other wild herds. However, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is capitulating, again, to private interests (hunters, grazers and extraction industries) and have begun systematically removing wild horses. The roundups are excruciating; many equine families and friendships torn apart, horses injured, sometimes killed (or later dying as a result of the chase), the survivors stockpiled in pens, at taxpayer expense, sometimes for the rest of their lives – All to clear the range for the millions of privately-owned cattle and sheep being raised on public land for personal profit.

Cattlemen will claim horses ‘ruin the range’ and out-compete their livestock. In truth, it is the privately-owned domestic cattle and sheep being released (for profit) on our public lands, that are over-grazing, causing erosion and contamination of surface water and general loss of biodiversity on our national land management areas.

Even if some of these horses manage to get adopted and live out their (albeit disrupted and now confined) lives, most end up at the mercy of so-called ‘kill buyers’. Just like it sounds, these hapless wild horses end up facing brutal handling, stress, grim and abusive shipping and grotesque, painful and completely inhumane slaughter where they are butchered for dog food and even human consumption. Some are even slated for highly dangerous and invasive sterilization operations (experimental spaying of mares) that is unheard of in horses and could threaten not just individual health but herd dynamics and stability, as well. The helicopter operators who fuel this tragic slaughter pipeline are private, for-profit vendors whose only concern is making the most money they can in the shortest time. One way or the other, through removal, killing or sterilization, the intent is for our cherished and iconic herds to be whittled down to a fragmented token population – If that much. This is a nightmare for our wild horses and an affront to the billions of Americans who fight to protect them.

Many of the imperiled herds are of important Spanish and other rare heritage – precious bloodlines that need to safeguarded from loss. The outright genocide of these self-sustaining herds is contrary to the spirit and intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and against the fervent wishes of a vast majority of stakeholders who take nothing from these lands for personal gain yet pay their taxes toward preserving these last expanses of wilderness and the wildlife that live on them.

By now the common denominator in all these public-lands genocides, is clear: The massive driving forces behind the loss of biodiversity and persecution of our native wildlife boils down to those who want to use (and use up) the land for personal gain, against the wishes, and without the knowledge of, the majority of Americans. The livestock, hunting and extraction lobbies (logging, drilling. mining etc) carry an inordinate amount of weight with politicians when it comes to managing lands, and wildlife, that a far greater number of stakeholders want to see preserved in perpetuity.

To stop the Sportsmen’s Act, and in particular the wolf de-listing amendment, follow this link and vote OPPOSE.

To get involved in helping bison, wild horses, wolves and other native species, and deepen your knowledge, please see this list of helpful links.

Buffalo Field Campaign

The Cloud Foundation

Wild Horse Preservation

Howling for Wolves

Predator Defense

Earthjustice

Western Watersheds Project

Center for Biological Diversity

ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund)

PawsPR

The Wildlife News

 

Related content (Yellowstone Bison)

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Hey, Congress~Leave Those Wolves Alone

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) won passage of an amendment which would strip federal protection for endangered gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states onto the so-called Sportsmen’s Act in Congress (.S. 659).

Barrassos’ amendment  mirrors a bill he recently introduced with Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and would subvert two federal court rulings, legislatively removing wolves from the federal list of endangered species for purely political reasons. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) also secured an amendment to block a proposed new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which would limit predator control in national wildlife refuges. This proposed rule, which I encourage you to support here, would stop the worst predator control and killing practices on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, such as brown bear baiting, and aerial gunning of wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stripped federal protections from gray wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2011 and in Wyoming in 2012, marking the beginning of nothing less of a bloodbath. For example, last summer the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced its annual wolf population survey numbers which revealed that almost 100 wolf packs (25 percent) were eliminated from 2014 to early 2015. Minnesota’s wolf population is now down to nearly 1988 levels. Another example of poor governance was seen when in 2011 a policy rider (the first time legislation has ever removed ESA protections for a species) on a key appropriations bill, stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Montana and Idaho. In the three years that followed, more than 1,956 wolves had been killed in just these the two states. Should this shameful “Sportsmen’s Act” pass into law, Barrasso’s amendment would circumvent the usual delisting process, effectively remove federal protection from gray wolves, and ensure that this decision could not be challenged in federal court.

Politicians should not be injecting themselves (with stand alone bills, amendments or riders on must pass legislation) into what should be science based decisions. 

Political greed should never prevail over sound science. Please contact your congressional members and be a voice for the voiceless, be a voice for the gray wolf.
Tell Congress that you #StandForWolves and oppose any legislation that would remove protections for wolves. Tap the links to each bill (below) to oppose via Popvox, or, if you rather, oppose them via democracy.io, here. Please note: If you have already opposed these bills, please voice your opposition again via democracy.io which allows you to comment on legislation more than once. At the end of this blog post you will find my comments in opposition to these bills. Feel free to utilize my information in your comment, and please join our facebook event and tweetstorm.

S. 659 BIPARTISAN SPORTSMEN’S ACT OF 2015 *

H.R. 884 REISSUING FINAL RULES REGARDING GRAY WOLVES IN THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES

H.R. 843 THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES WOLF MANAGEMENT ACT

H.R. 1985 THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST GRAY WOLF MANAGEMENT ACT

S. 2281 A BILL TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO REISSUE FINAL RULES RELATING TO LISTING OF THE GRAY WOLF IN THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES AND WYOMING  (Senate version of H.R. 884)

Senator Johnson has also added a wolf delisting amendment to this bill as well. Please oppose and find newly added comment against this legislation at end:

S. 2012 ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2015

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*Related Bills (Legislative action may be occurring on one of these bills in lieu of or in parallel to action on this bill).

S. 405  Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015

H.R. 2406  SHARE Act (house version of the Senate Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act)

Please sign and share the following petitions:

This petition must be signed by February 9th: TELL CONGRESS: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR WOLVES

Help shut down Congress’ sneak attack on wolves via NRDC: Sign this

Protect Wolves from Congressional Attacks via Endangered Species Coalition: bit.ly/1hUjF1e Sign this

Protect the ESA From Political Attacks via Earthjustice: bit.ly/1fKGOSn Sign this

Related content:

Wolves thrown under bus by Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act amendment approval

Opposition to bills:

Opposition to S. 659:

I oppose S. 659, The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, which is comprised of numerous, irresponsible, pro-hunting and anti-environment regulations, and represents a clear assault on wildlife. This omnibus bill combines many bad bills related to environmental resources into one. There are several problematic portions with dire implications for wildlife and the ecosystems they need in order to thrive. This bill panders to special interests and sacrifices smart conservation policy for political cache with damaging anti-wildlife “poison pill” amendments including a provision which would strip Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region and a provision prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from blocking anti-predator measures proposed by the State of Alaska for bears, wolves and other carnivores on national wildlife refuges in that state.
S. 659 would permanently exempt lead fishing tackle from any regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Lead is an extremely toxic substance that is dangerous to people and wildlife at any level. Lead (a potent and dangerous neurotoxin) found in fishing tackle as well as ammunition is the cause for an estimated 10-20 million animal deaths each year in the United States after ingesting lead shot, bullet fragments, and sport fishing waste. Another abhorrent provision of the bill would allow for approximately 40 polar bear trophies to be imported into the United States. When polar bears were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2008, all import of polar bear hunting trophies was prohibited. Despite having 16 months of notice of the impending prohibition, a number of hunters went forward with hunts anyway. The hunters were given repeated warnings that trophy imports would likely not be allowed into the United States as of the date the species was formally designated as “threatened.” If this legislation is enacted, it will accelerate the pace of killing of any species proposed for listing in the future.
These are just several of the horrific provisions of this bill, which would destroy years of work done by animal protection advocates, environmentalists, and conservationists to protect endangered species and other wildlife.  Such blind dedication to implementing recreational killing is detrimental to both conservation efforts and goes against the wishes of the majority of Americans, and their desire to protect the wilderness and wildlife. This is yet another disgraceful bill which I oppose.

Opposition to S 2281:

I oppose S. 2281. The future of the American gray wolf may become very grim as the war against the wolf continues with Congress’ aggressive, officious interference in wolf conservation with proposed legislation that undermines the Endangered Species Act. Politicians should not be injecting themselves into what should be a science-based decision. S.2281 and would reverse court orders, wiping out Endangered Species Act protection for approximately 4,000 wolves that live in four states (Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states). The energies of politicians would be better spent on pragmatic efforts that help people learn how to live with large carnivores. We must learn to respect, rebuild and conserve ecosystems not just by simple fixes, such as reintroducing species, but by finding ways to mitigate the conflicts that originally caused their loss. This bill serves as the Senate companion to the bipartisan House bill introduced by Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) earlier this year and would “allow the Great Lakes states to continue the effective work they are doing in managing wolf populations without tying the hands of the Fish and Wildlife Service or undermining the Endangered Species Act”, yet the horrific slaughter of wolves directly after delisting in Wisconsin was an abomination. One would indeed call it “effective work” if the goal was to extirpate the wolves. In Wisconsin, the population of wolves was just 800 in 2011, yet in a matter of three years (since delisting), Wisconsin has lost at least 518 wolves to legalized hunting, hounding, trapping and annual unenforced quota overkills. The 518 wolves killed does not include wolves killed at the request of livestock operators for “depredation control” (170) or wolves killed on roadways every year (25). In addition, it is difficult for agency staff to estimate how many wolves are poached, which is estimated, conservatively at 100 a year. Considering annual wolf pup mortality at up to 75 percent, and the human take of wolves (in Wisconsin), this has been a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Hardly a wolf management plan integrating the “best available science”. This moral bankruptcy and ineptness is not a way to treat a species recently removed from the ESA. I vehemently oppose this and any other legislation that would remove protections for wolves.

Opposition to HR 843 and HR 884:

Politicians should not inject themselves into what should be a science-based decision. Please oppose anti-wolf Legislation HR 843 / HR 884 and oppose all efforts in this Congress to remove existing federal protections for wolves. The energies of politicians would be better spent on pragmatic efforts that help people learn how to live with large carnivores. In the long run, we will conserve ecosystems not just by simple fixes, such as reintroducing species, but by finding ways to mitigate the conflicts that originally caused their loss. Adversaries of wolf protective legislation continue their court battles against the wolves, but now those on the side of the wolves have an important weapon in their arsenal — the restoration of entire ecosystems (even if such benefits are not immediately obvious). The loss of major predators in forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to greatly increase, crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change. The Endangered Species Act requires science-based standards, not politics, for adding or removing protections from a particular species, but recently Congress has used must-pass bills to dodge this process. Any congressional initiative to remove Endangered Species Act protection from wolves (including via riders) must be denied. This species is endangered in most of the nation and needs continued protection to survive and recover. After three decades of federal protection, and painstaking efforts by federal biologists, gray wolves are just beginning to reestablish stable populations, with the obvious and overwhelming support of the majority of the American public. With the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, the wolf was able to return to portions of its native range in the Lower Forty-Eight. However, although wolves have recovered in some states, the North American population as a whole is nowhere near its historic range and thus merits continued federal protection. Judges have repeatedly overturned rules stripping wolves of their federal protection — with barely over 10 percent of suitable wolf habitat currently occupied and almost constant threats to their safety, these apex predators still desperately need the Act’s protection to survive. Wolves are essential.

Opposition to HR 1985:

I oppose H.R. 1985 The Pacific Northwest Gray Wolf Management Act. States are not “fully qualified to manage wolves responsibly”. Removing protections for wolves is not “long overdue.” Mismanagement of wolves in Representative Newhouses’ state is a prime example for maintaining protection for this species: *Washington state wildlife commission adopted rules violating the wolf plan regarding when wolves can be killed. *One entire pack of wolves, the Wedge Pack, was destroyed by the State of Washington in 2012 in response to allegations of depredation of livestock. This was in violation of Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The actions by the state did not prevent future depredations in the area. That decision-making process and aerial hunt was an absolute dreadful disgrace. *In 2013 an emergency rule went into effect allowing ranchers to kill wolves without a permit if they attack pets or livestock. This was also in violation of the wolf plan. *The state wildlife agency’s efforts to kill members of the Huckleberry pack for livestock losses was an abomination. The state failed to undertake sufficient nonlethal deterrence measures to prevent conflicts with livestock in this pack’s territory. *WDFW hired “sharpshooter” (hired to “remove” younger pack members) took out the breeding female of the Huckleberry Pack. Losing the alpha female harmed the survival of that wolf pack with pups just several months old. *Washington’s management plan sets a target of 15 known breeding pairs (with at least three located in each region of the state) as the point when the species can be considered recovered. Currently, the state has only five or six known breeding pairs. *At least three wolves were illegally killed by poachers in Washington in 2014. Therefore, one would say Washington state is far from “fully qualified to manage gray wolf populations responsibly”. Utah has no wolves beyond a few spotted over the years to remove protections from. The populations of wolves in Oregon is small and still in the early stages of recovery.

Update January 30th: Oppose S 2012:

(The anti wolf amendment was added to this bill January 28th)

I oppose S.2012. This bill includes provisions that would undermine important environmental standards and long-standing and popular public protections. The bill fails to do enough to mitigate the threat of climate change and contains some provisions that weaken protections for our land, air, water and public health.  S. 2012 also contains an amendment which would delist wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming which I oppose. Once again, Politicians should not inject themselves into what should be science based decisions.

Thankyou for your support, feel free to use the above comments for a message to your Congressional members.

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

No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Dragging Alaska’s Predator Management Policies Into The 21st Century

Voice Your Opposition to Alaska’s Shameful Predator Control Program.

UPDATE: The comment period has been extended 30 days. Please comment by April 7, 2016. Thankyou.

Generally the federal government allows the State of Alaska (and other states) to manage hunting and fishing on federal lands. But sometimes the State refuses to follow federal mandates even though Federal management authority always takes preference over state management directives. The USFWS is mandated to “protect natural diversity and abundance”.

Under Title VIII (Subsistence Management And Use) of the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), Alaska Natives and other rural residents were granted hunting and fishing rights (when fish and game are not under outside threat) on National Preserves. The ANILCA did not, however, allow Alaska to manage its wildlife as it has been ~ which is not unlike a game farm, where wolves and bears are decimated to allow unchecked trophy hunting and commercial guiding, and led to the implementation of tighter restrictions by the National Park Service. Alaska is unique among the 50 states for allowing sport and subsistence hunting in the 17 million acres of national preserves added to the National Park System by the ANILCA.  While Congress recognized the “important value of  subsistence and (sadly, and in my opinion disgracefully) sport hunting”, it allowed both to take place only where consistent with the mandate to protect and conserve wildlife resources.

State sport hunting regulations passed by the Alaska Board of Game apply on public lands, but only when those regulations do not conflict with federal mandates or National Park policies. The Board, however, has noticeably become increasingly aggressive in its efforts to implement predator control on federal public lands through liberalization of sport hunting and trapping regulations. For example in 1994, the Alaska Legislature passed the Intensive Management Statute with which the explicit goal was to maintain, restore, or increase the abundance of big game  populations for human consumptive  use.
The following 2 maps illustrate the enormous expansion of state designated predator control areas (PCA) from 2001 to 2014. The maps also show that the boundaries of most national preserves had been encroached upon and many  had become virtually surrounded by  Predator Control Areas in just 14 years. Note the vast increase of “wolf control” areas (in yellow).

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The Board has also practiced intensive  management by liberalizing sport hunting regulations, including:

*increasing bag limits from five per season up to 20 per season or 10 per day (as high as 20 a day for wolves in some areas of the state), and liberalizing hunting  seasons for predators to increase their “harvest”.
*eliminating the need for hunters to obtain or purchase hunting tags or permits for predators.
*permitting  the incidental taking of predators.
*authorizing same-day airborne hunting  and trapping, which allows hunters to take predators the same day they’ve  been flying.
*allowing the use of bait to lure predators.
*And, of course, the aerial gunning of wolves. Note that in 2011, the Board issued an emergency order to extend wolf hunting and trapping seasons in GMUs 9 and 10 to increase caribou numbers and as a way of getting around the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s prohibition on aerial wolf control programs on Unimak  Island. Furthermore, the board has  repeatedly refused to reduce the impact of its programs on national preserves.  For example, in the spring  of 2014, the  radio-collared Lost Creek wolf pack left the borders of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve and was eliminated  through aerial shooting by state agents implementing one of the Board’s intensive management plans. The Park Service had been studying the Lost Creek pack for seven years as part of a roughly 20-year study of wolves in the Yukon Charley National Preserve; The State  predator control efforts killed 36 wolves in the area in a single year, reducing the preserve’s population by over half. Another example is the Board’s 2010 elimination of the 122 square-mile buffer adjacent to Denali National Park that protected wolves crossing its boundaries from hunting and trapping~Two years later, the wolf populations in the Park were the lowest in decades.
The USFWS should prevent application of state regulations which are incompatible with management objectives for the nearly 77 million acres of wildlife refuges across the state. Period.
The National Park Service has also been at odds with the State which led to the implementation of tighter restrictions on sport hunting (the closure regulations became effective Nov. 23 2015, and new hunting regulations effective January 1 2016. More information regarding the NPS regulations can be found here.

In contrast to the goal of the Game Board, which is to ensure maximum sustained populations for hunting a proposed new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would limit predator control in national wildlife refuges and is deserving of your support.

The draft rule, published in the Federal Register, aligns with a similar National Park Service rule that was finalized in October, banning abhorrent practices such as bear baiting, and the Game Boards’ liberal predator control “management” which could “disrupt natural processes and wildlife interactions” (In recent years, the Game Board has allowed harvesting of brown bears at black bear bait stations, taking wolves during denning season and has classified black bears as fur-bearers and big game species, “which could allow for trapping and snaring of bears and sale of their hides and skulls”).
The Proposed Rule “clarifies how existing mandates for the conservation of natural and biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health on refuges in Alaska relate to predator control; prohibits several particularly effective methods and means for take of predators”. This would formally establish a goal of biodiversity as the guiding principle of federal management of wildlife refuges (The Fish and Wildlife Service says the rule makes clear it would have no impact on subsistence hunters).

That, of course, stands in contrast to the goal of the Game Board, which is to alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics to increase human harvest of ungulates.

Heather Tonneson, a regional refuge ecologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service, who was one of the rule’s primary authors, said the rule would “clarify existing legal mandates”. Tonneson also noted that the agency is “not done yet. It’s a proposed rule” and the agency wants to hear from the public and is open to changes.
I, myself, believe that their intent is to rein in Alaska, and make it clear to everyone that this sort of Intensive Management of predators is not going to be allowed.

Please show your support for this proposed new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would limit predator control in national wildlife refuges, it would help put an end to the suffering and death of many of our voiceless friends.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment until March 7th, though, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker plans to ask the federal government to double the public comment period for the rule.

There will be nine public hearings. Comments can be submitted online through regulations.gov  using docket number FWS-R7-NWRS-2014-0005, or directly here.

Or by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R7-NWRS-2014-0005]; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.

Below, please find a sample comment, please personalize.  Note: Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign.

Sample comment:

It is my understanding that this proposal to amend regulations for National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska was developed in response to public concern about predator control and recent liberalization of predator “harvest” within the State of Alaska. Thankyou, and I welcome a policy encouraging the maintenance of more biological diversity on refuges, and an end to the horrific “predator control” found to be acceptable and encouraged by the State.

State regulations which have long authorized the hunting/trapping and other intensive management actions that involve predator reduction efforts with the intent or potential to alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics and associated ecological processes (to increase human harvest of ungulates) is in conflict with the federal mandate, and abhorrent.

I appreciate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ proposed rule which would clarify that predator control is not allowed on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, “unless necessary to meet refuge purposes, federal laws or Service policy, and is consistent with the agency’s conservation mission”, and appreciate your efforts here.

It is high time that Alaska stop treating our national preserves like game farms, and wholeheartedly support this proposal,

Your name

Thankyou, in advance, for your anticipated efforts on behalf of the wildlife on our National Preserves in Alaska.

USFWS News Release | Related content 

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Just 89 of these Alaskan wolves remain…now hold on a minute

Just 89 of these Alaskan wolves remain, really? Could there possibly be just 89 wolves left on Prince of Wales and accompanying islands?

No, there are not just 89 Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales and satellite islands, there are possibly only 50 which the Interior Department did not grant protection under the Endangered Species Act . Fish and Game reported an estimated population of 89 wolves on and around Prince of Wales in the fall of 2014.

This estimate did not account for the 29 wolves reported taken in the 2014/2015 winter hunting and trapping season (1/3rd of the entire population), nor did it account for any wolves illegally killed during that time or since, which studies indicate are substantial. The estimate also, obviously, does not include further unreported take nor does it include the 5 wolves reported to date (out of a quota of nine) taken this winter. Bear in mind 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 closing the season. The smaller the quota, the greater the chances are of the quota being exceeded. This extremely low population estimate (50 to, at best and prior to this year’s season, 60 wolves is confirmed in this U.S. Forest Service briefing paper, which also notes the drastic decline in breeding female wolves, and I quote “The sex ratio of wolves in the survey area has become significantly skewed. In 2013 the proportion of females in the sampled population was close to 0.50. The proportion of females observed in the sample population for 2014 was 0.25.”

Remember this is data from 2014! Certainly it is safe to assume that the reason USFWS, during their field visit to over a dozen den sites this past spring, found only one active den with just one pup, is because there are barely any female wolves left! 

Indeed, 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, if all the female wolves were on Prince of Wales itself and not the accompanying islands. This would be possibly 1 breeding wolf per 371.4 square miles.

Then there’s the poaching. 

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 significant illegal wolf harvest is occurring in Unit 2, and 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 had 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.

But, don’t worry folks, the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service believes there are plenty of Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Planet Earth, a whopping 850 to 2,700!! Note: This extremely wide range population estimate (with approximately 62 percent living in British Columbia where they can be hunted and 38 percent occupying southeastern Alaska) is evidence of their lack of knowledge about the species’ actual status.

The true culprit behind the lack of ESA protection for this imperiled species ~ logging. The Big Thorne timber sale.

Not just logging but more importantly, existing regulations (which have not been adhered to) with the failing taxpayer supported logging  projects on Prince of Wales which have not provided adequate enough protection to ensure persistence of population numbers of this unique species. As noted in the U.S. Forest Service briefing paper, twice, the timber sales were of utmost importance and obviously outrank the persistence and survival of this species:

“A sixty percent decline in the wolf population in a single year potentially increases the probability of ESA listing and will almost certainly become a factor in ongoing litigation against timber sales critical to the Tongass Young-growth Transition Strategy (e.g., Big Thorne).” And: “It is expected that Plaintiffs in litigation against the Big Thorne timber sale will use these numbers to argue for judgement against the Forest Service based on potential additional harm to the wolf. Effects to wolves are one of the primary issues in litigation against the Big Thorne project. The Big Thorne EIS discloses that short-term adverse impacts on local wolf populations will result from project implementation.

Say Goodbye to the Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales and accompanying islands, and, for that matter….eventually on Planet Earth.

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

No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

 

 

No ESA Protection For Alexander Archipelago Wolves

Breaking, horrible news.
The FWS, after considering the petition to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as an endangered species, has announced today it does not warrant such protections, even though its population has seriously declined on the Prince of Wales Island (The USFWS noted in a recent Species Status Assessment that the Alexander Archipelago wolf population occupying Prince of Wales Island declined by 75 percent between 1994 and 2014, from 356 to 89 individuals).

The USFWS said in a Tuesday press release that the island wolves do not qualify for ESA protection because “the population does not persist in an unusual or unique ecological setting; loss of the population would not result in a significant gap in the range; and the population does not differ markedly from other populations based on its genetic characteristics.”

“We think the US Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t get it right and that they’ve overlooked some important things,” Larry Edwards (a Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace) told Alaska Public Media. “It’s very odd to us that the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges a 75 percent decline in the Prince of Wales wolf population and then basically writes that population off.”

The U.S.Fish and Wildlife Services’ extremely wide range population estimates (between 850 to 2,700 individuals, with approximately 62 percent living in British Columbia and 38 percent occupying southeastern Alaska) is evidence of their lack of knowledge about the species’ actual status. Another USFWS ‘prediction’ is that the current population of Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island will continue to decrease by another eight to 14 percent over the next 30 years.

Bottom line, if the USFWS had found the Alexander Archipelago wolf worthy of endangered species status, the listing process would have limited or entirely prevented the ongoing timber sales on Prince of Wales islands (The US Forest Service plans to continue with old growth logging for another 15 years through the wolves’ habitat). One agency, yet again, washing the hands of another.

“After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the Alexander Archipelago wolf is not warranted at this time throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” the agency wrote.

The decision goes into effect immediately.
Detailed report from The Department of Interior: bit.ly/1O8OKrE

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I am thoroughly disgusted with Interior Departments decision not to protect the Alexander Archipelago  ‪#‎PrinceOfWalesWolves‬ under the Endangered Species Act.
Ignoring uncertainty – in dimensions such as true population size – is like playing Russian roulette. As the history of wildlife management has shown repeatedly, the consequences of not accounting for the unknowns are grave.
The Interiors assessments were made upon information provided by their own (fws) biologists! How impartial as well as disgraceful.

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

No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.