Can non-native wolves receive protections reserved for native species in Oregon
Two Political Trainwrecks in the Making.
And they’re off! Last week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees finished work on their respective versions of the federal spending bill that funds the Department of the Interior, the EPA and the U.S. Forest Service. Both bills are loaded with ideological riders that would block or eliminate protections for our air, water, climate, public health, endangered species, forests and other public lands.
A rider is a provision that either makes a change in law directly or, more commonly, prohibits an agency from using its funds to carry out specific duties under a law or rule. One example would be a rider that prevents the EPA from setting or enforcing limits on air pollution from power plants. Another rider might stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting certain creatures as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The House Appropriations Committee imbedded nearly 40 anti-environmental riders into its spending bill before it was voted out of the committee on June 15. It now includes riders that would remove Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in Wyoming and the upper Midwest and deny farmworkers the right to grant a family member, physician or labor representative access to information on pesticides they have been exposed to. Riders in the bill would also block new national monument designations, the president’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and the Clean Water Rule that protects the drinking water of one in three Americans. In addition, riders in the bill seek to stop the implementation of a 2015 rule to reduce smog nationwide, as well as an effort by the Department of the Interior to control air pollution from offshore oil development.
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its spending bill on June 16. It too contains more than a dozen anti-environmental riders. It has riders that seek to undermine public involvement and environmental impact analysis of logging projects in national forests. Its riders would also prevent the Obama administration from reducing old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Also included are riders to stop the Department of the Interior’s work on a rule to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining and to keep mining companies from having to foot the bill for the future hazardous waste contamination that they cause. The bill, with its riders, would also prevent the government from carrying out endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken, and it contains the wolf delisting and Clean Water Rule riders as well.
As they left for their July 4th recess House leadership said they intended to bring this spending bill to the House floor early next month, where even more bad riders are likely to be added. It is doubtful the Senate can bring its bill to the floor before the fiscal year ends on September 30. However, all of these poison pill riders will be poised to be part of the year-end, back-room mudwrestling that will occur after the November elections when Congress tries pass a single measure to fund the government.
Between now and then it’s vital that our elected officials understand the American public does not support these back-door assaults on our air, water, climate, workers, wildlife and public lands. The job of Congress is to fund the government, not craft sweetheart riders for polluters.
Written by Martin Hayden, Earthjustice Vice President, Policy & Legislation
Take a moment of your time to oppose H.R. 5538 (Department of Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act) here via popvox.
Also stand opposed to S. 3068 (the Senate version of this appropriations bill) here, via popvox.
You may also contact your elected officials easily through democracy.io here.
Tell your elected officials that you are opposed to riders that would remove protections from wolves, block or eliminate protections for our air, water, climate, public health, endangered species, forests and other public lands.
Please be sure that you have signed these petitions:
Stop 30 plus deadly riders from unraveling environmental protections, from Earthjustice: Sign this.
Help shut down Congress’ sneak attack on wolves via NRDC: Sign this
Protect the ESA From Political Attacks via Earthjustice: Sign this
Stop this anti-wildlife assault on Capitol Hill, new petition from Defenders: Sign this
Photos with permission by Chris Montano Jr.
Federal delisting and subsequent hunting, as well as the imminent extinction of a key food source, due to global warming, spell disaster for the iconic grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Grizzly bears feel the effects of climate change in more ways than just an untimely end to hibernation; as the whitebark pine tree succumbs to the effects of global warming, the grizzlies primary food source (nuts from the tree) is rapidly disappearing with the tree facing possible extinction from the park (80 percent of the stands are dead or dying). Once common in harsh mountain environments, the tree is being pushed out of its sub-alpine habitat thanks to a warming climate, causing the treeline to migrate to higher elevations.
The whitebark pine is also a victim of the pine beetle, the insect responsible for the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of forests across the West. Pine bark larvae have higher survival rates in warmer winters and the infestation, at this stage, seems unstoppable (In 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the tree warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act). In the Yellowstone park area the tree is nearly gone: “No amount of science or management will bring the trees back in our lifetime.”
In 2007, this massive die off of whitebark pine trees added hardship to the misery which the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem distinct population segment of grizzly bear population had to face, as they were removed from the threatened species list, and the “Conservation Strategy” was implemented. Our warming planet’s effect on grizzly bear habitat and food source was obviously of no great concern to Fish and Wildlife when making this choice to delist the Yellowstone grizzly.
FWS argues that whitebark seeds are not a naturally reliable food source, and that grizzlies have been coping for millennia by switching to other foods when whitebark pine seeds are unavailable by consuming other “readily available” foods such as ungulates, ground squirrels, insects, roots, mushrooms, and other vegetative matter. However, what must, and should, be emphasized is the fact that the grizzly bear population increases at a slower rate when the whitebark seed is scarce. It is well documented that good whitebark cone crops decrease grizzly mortality and increase the number of bear cubs per litter. For Grizzlies, one of the world’s slowest-reproducing mammals, this issue cannot be ignored when considering delisting this iconic species.
Directly after removal from protections, in 2008, Grizzlies died in record numbers, there were virtually no penalties for killing them. Bear management had been turned over to fish and game agencies of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana who more than welcome the “opportunity to kill a Grizzly”, a bear whose life was made less valuable by delisting. Some 54 grizzly bears — including 37 shot by humans — were known to have died that year, the highest mortality ever recorded; exceeding the extensive killings of 40 years ago when Yellowstone National Park closed down its garbage dumps leaving the bears to search for food sources in towns and campgrounds.
Thankfully, in 2009, in a strongly worded order, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, overturned the delisting ruling, placing grizzly bears back on the threatened species list claiming: (1) the Conservation Strategy was unenforceable, and (2) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not adequately consider the impacts of the potential loss of whitebark pine nuts.
As if we hadn’t learned our lesson from prior grizzly strategies, we find ourselves at the crossroads of further endangering the very existence of our beloved Grizzlies by delisting a species struggling to survive in our ever-changing and warming world. Further complicating the situation (as if it wasn’t bad enough, already) the Yellowstone grizzly bear population suffers from increasingly fragmented and disconnected habitats, according to a report released by the Endangered Species Coalition, which highlights ten rare or endangered species that lack safe, navigable corridors to connect them to important habitat or other populations. Without wildlife corridors, migration routes, and other connected habitat, wildlife like grizzlies cannot continue to reproduce, find food, disperse, and maintain enough diversity in their populations to survive into the future.
Before I continue, let’s take a moment out to watch and enjoy a Yellowstone National Park Grizzly Bear Mother and her cubs on Vimeo.
Delisting Grizzlies in the face of undeniable threats to the bear’s future as a species is hardly a decision based on sound science. Turning the bears’ management over to the fish and game agencies of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, who not only accept practically any hunter explanation (self-defense or otherwise) for taking a grizzly but who find it perfectly acceptable to “euthanize” a 13 year old mother grizzly, who had cubs by her side for eating apples from a tree! The officials in Idaho determined the adult bear had become “habituated to human-related food”.
And what of Grizzly 399, an elderly 20 year old grizzly, who has brought joy to countless park visitors, famous for tolerating people and for teaching her cubs how to live amicably near roads and developed areas? What will happen when 399 and other park bears lose their Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections—possibly as soon as this spring—when the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho jump at the opportunity to implement a “sport” hunt that could kill as many as 30 bears in the next year alone? I shudder at the thought of the betrayal these bears will face. From Counterpunch:
“The first bears to be killed in a trophy sport hunt are likely to be celebrities such as Grizzly 399 that make their living along roadsides in Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks, where they give thousands of visitors the thrill of a lifetime. These tolerant bears, which live partly on National Forest lands outside parks, would be especially vulnerable to hunting if federal protections are lifted later this year. These bears are comfortable with people and would be relatively easy to find. Moreover, certain local thugs have stated outright that they will be out to kill these much-beloved grizzlies—out of spite.”
With the quality of grizzly habitat eroding due to global warming, and whitebark pine nuts almost completely eliminated from grizzly bear diets, grizzlies in this island ecosystem will be severely stressed. Yellowstone grizzlies will require more public land to roam, not only for “readily available” food sources but also so they can maintain genetic diversity by breeding with other grizzly bear populations.
The most important move the government could make (other than an effective plan to help people and bears avoid conflicts) would be to keep the grizzly population of Yellowstone protected under the ESA.
Please submit your comment against removing ESA protections for the grizzlies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem here. Please note that submissions merely supporting or opposing a potential delisting, without supporting documentation, will not be considered in making a determination.
Comments are due May 10 2016, at 11:59 PM Eastern time.
Please sign these petitions:
Facebook pages devoted to Yellowstone bears: Hey Bear | GOAL Tribal Coalition and Greater Yellowstone Bears. Also reach out to Campaign for Yellowstone’s Wolves who will be holding rallies this summer for the benefit of the park bears and wolves.
.@USFWS @DirectorDanAshe Please maintain Endangered Species Act protections 4 #GrizzlyBears #DontDelistGrizzlies pic.twitter.com/PRsBST6s4w Send a tweet for grizzlies
All images used in this blog post are of Grizzly 399 and are by Bradly J. Boner (with the exception of the vimeo)
Op-Ed by Doug Peacock who has been writing and lecturing about Yellowstone bears for more than 40 years.
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.
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.
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:
*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
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.
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.
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
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.
No charges were pressed against the Utah cougar hunter who killed Echo the wandering wolf a year ago today, December 28th, 2014… “I had a shot and took it.” “Echo” | YouTube
The wolf known as 914F and later dubbed “Echo” (named by a 10-year-old boy from Oregon) was shot and killed outside Beaver, Utah, by a hunter who “mistook” the collared female wolf for a coyote. USFWS Investigators concluded, at that time, that the hunter honestly “mistook” shooting the collared, 89 pound, 3 year old female wolf for a 20 to 50 pound coyote — coyotes are not only legal to hunt year-round in Utah, but are subject to a $50.00 bounty.
The wildlife managers’ decision not to prosecute simply reinforces a double standard when it comes to killing endangered wildlife: All hunters have to do is claim they thought they were aiming at something legal to kill.
The gray wolf remains a protected species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act outside of the three state Northern Rockies recovery zone of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Federal law provides criminal penalties for those who “knowingly” kill protected animals. But “unknowingly” is a completely different.
The so-called “McKittrick Policy” was enacted after a Montana man gunned down a wolf and later claimed he had thought he was firing on a dog. He was prosecuted, though the Department of Justice later decided to accept his self-exoneration by claimed ignorance, and has clung to that policy of inaction for years. Sign a petition here, to direct the Department of Justice to revise its self-imposed restriction on prosecutions of those who kill an endangered species and later claim to have not intended to do so.
“The Federal Wildlife Services’ (FWS) recent decision not to imprison, fine, nor even revoke the hunting license of the cougar hunter who killed wolf 914f, aka Echo, is illustrative of the hold that evolution has on us when it comes to predators.
The decision also illustrates how our irrational behavioral biases permeate our institutions and often lead to poor policy decisions, e.g., the Division of Natural Resources’ Predator Control Program, which offers a $50 bounty for each dead coyote and, ultimately, serves as the context and justification for the destruction of wolf 914f.
However, the facts of 914f’s killing underscore the extent of the hunter’s folly and, indeed, the folly of the FWS, for whom a dead wolf, the rule of law and the designation of endangered species would appear to mean less than the hunters’ highly dubious explanation of what occurred”…
“Wolves, coyotes and humans are very different animals, but we are all predators. That our own behavior as such is viewed any differently is not the result of humanity’s inherent or God-given uniqueness or superiority, but of accident, whereby we, as the benefactors of conditions and natural forces we personally had nothing to do with creating, get to say and do anything that we want to our fellow creatures and to the environment, no matter how outrageous, irrational and destructive.”~ Maximilian Werner
Conservationists and environmental groups have long sought Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves of the Alexander Archipelago. The fight over Tongass wolves goes back at least two decades. Secretary Sally Jewell, of the Department of Interior, is expected to make a decision regarding the endangered status of the Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales islands by the end of this year. Encourage ESA protection for this imperiled species with another email, and/or a phone call. At the bottom of this post you will find the contact information you need.
Feel free to cut and paste my email, send as is, or personalize to your liking, and, as always, thankyou for your efforts on behalf of the little dark wolves on Prince of Wales.
Dear Secretary Jewell,
Please list the Alexander Archipelago Wolf (Canis Lupus Ligoni) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Sadly, despite a confirmed 60 percent population decline on Prince of Wales and accompanying islands, ADF&G and the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) opened the wolf hunting and trapping season with a 9 wolf quota. The season closed when 5 wolves were reported “harvested” (slaughtered). The very fact that the season opened with such a very small quota is evidence that officials are well aware of the fact that this is an imperiled species. The closure was an attempt to ensure the slaughter does not exceed the combined Federal/State kill quota set at 9 wolves.
Meanwhile, as the Alexander Archipelago Wolves slip towards extinction, ADF&G and the USFS continue to “refine population estimation techniques used to establish Guideline Harvest Levels for Unit 2 wolves”. With the Federal Subsistence Management Board setting a “skin sealing” requirement of 14 days and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game setting a skin sealing requirement of 30 Days, the total legal “take” of the wolves will not be established until the 3rd week of January and does not include the number of wolves poached, which could be substantial.
With a population as low as possibly 50 individuals, this year’s season may have pushed 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/was 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 (prior to this year’s season). 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; weakened immune systems unable to fight off disease, skeletal deformities, and/or smaller litters with higher mortality, to name a few. Genetic diversity is always a crucial factor with isolated species.
This drastic decline in numbers must be arrested and a recovery plan should be immediately established. Without ESA protection 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.**
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.
A 75% decline in population is most immediately caused by the direct take of wolves from significant poaching and the unsustainable legal take. However, the underlying cause is extensive logging and roads (The POW Complex has over 4,200 miles of roads, and the average distance to roads within GMU2 is 2.1 miles and, disgracefully only 1.7 miles on POW Island itself.) contributing to a marked increase in poaching of the
that initiate many harmful effects, including the overharvest of wolves. Certainly this situation underscores the importance of endangered or threatened status for the wolves on Prince of Wales islands. Without immediate policy changes on the part of the state and federal governments, the Alexander Archipelago Wolves on Prince of Wales and satellite islands future is grim, as they do, indeed, appear to be on their way to extinction.
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. The time has come for the Forest Service to manage the Tongass for a host of public values that support the Southeast Alaska tourism. The time has come for this diminished, and unique, population of wolves to finally get the protection they so desperately need if they are to survive.
Alexander Archipelago wolves are a symbol of wilderness and ecological integrity. They are important in their own right and as a key part of a functioning predator- prey system. In Southeast Alaska, wolves bring significant economic benefits to communities as part of the package that lures more than one million visitors to the Tongass National Forest every year and that contributes more than $1 billion to the Southeast Alaska economy.
Please provide protection for the POW wolves under the ESA.
Thankyou for your time and consideration of this extremely urgent matter,
Here are a few ways you can contact the U.S. Department of the Interior and Secretary Jewell:
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Phone: (202) 208-3100
or directly to Mrs Jewell’s office: 202-208-7351
Or directly to Mrs. Jewell: Secretary_jewell@ios.doi.gov
Or through the DOI Feedback form
Thankyou for your support!
When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct, including wolves. With the exception of the red wolf and mexican gray wolf, the USFWS determined the wolves a recovered species in 2013, proclaiming that “the current listing for gray wolf, developed 35 years ago, erroneously included large geographical areas outside the species’ historical range”.
The wolf cannot possibly be considered a recovered species when the estimated population is only 5,000 in the lower 48, occupies below 15 percent of their historic range, and when the Endangered Species Act dictates wolves be restored to a “significant portion” of that original range before they are ready for delisting.
“Historic range”, which, broadly stated, refers to the area a species occupied before humans began exterminating them. Yet in an interview with Lance Richardson, the Assistant Director for Endangered Species at the FWS, Gary Frazier said: “Range, is the range at the time at which we’re making a determination of whether a species is threatened or endangered.” In other words, range is where an animal lives at the particular moment the Fish and Wildlife Service decides to list it, not where it used to live before it was widely persecuted. This notion, coupled with delisting because of a taxonomic revision, a revision Fish and Wildlife Service previously rejected as representing “neither a scientific consensus nor the majority opinion of researchers on the taxonomy of wolves” is plainly undermining the ESA, as well as a convenient way for the USFWS to delist the gray wolf.
History has demonstrated that societal values ultimately determine the survival of a species as controversial as the wolf. Wolf management evokes a wide range of public attitudes, polarized views, and prolonged contention. 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 (with stand alone bills, or riders on must pass legislation) into what should be science based decisions:
- 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)
- H.R. 2822 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2016 which contains numerous anti-wildlife and anti-environmental riders including a rider (Sec. 121) which would remove gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming from the Endangered Species Act and prevent judicial review of this action.
These proposed legislations 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. The exigency for a natural balance in our ecosystems cannot be overemphasized, as well as the need to acknowledge that this balance is not possible without apex predators, such as the wolf.
Wolves were rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1970s. But in 2011 the government began stripping their protection under the Endangered Species Act, which transferred “management” to the states, and by December 2014 over 3,400 wolves had been slaughtered in just six states.
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, and is very similar to the recently introduced legislation. That rider negated a federal court decision overturning the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist gray wolves in those two states. The rider precluded the possibility of judicial review, making the delisting of wolves in Montana and Idaho virtually permanent (the delisting was enabled by an unprecedented legal maneuver in which legislators from Montana and Idaho circumvented the usual delisting process by attaching a rider to a federal budget resolution. Not only did the rider effectively remove federal protection from gray wolves, but it also ensured that this decision could not be challenged in federal court).
In the three years that followed, more than 1,956 wolves had been killed in the two states.
Reid Ribble (Republican member of Congress representing Wisconsin’s 8th District) authored one of the aforementioned bills, HR 884, a bill which would allow the decision of the Fish & Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act to stand. Reid Ribble states in a recent op-ed: “It is my belief that allowing trained professionals to make decisions based on years of research is the best path forward in achieving that goal, and my legislation, HR 884, would do just that.” Reid Ribble also stated: “I am pursuing a bipartisan legislative fix that will 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 Reid Ribbles’ 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.
Wolves have been feared, hated, and persecuted for hundreds of years in North America. In an attempt to extirpate them permanently from the landscape, wolves were hunted venomously (poisoned, trapped, snared, and shot from helicopters). This centuries-long extermination campaign nearly wiped out the gray wolf in the lower 48 by 1950. Sadly, wolves disappeared from most of their former range, today occupying barely 15 percent of it.
After three decades of federal protection, the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, and painstaking efforts of federal biologists, the wolf was able to return to portions of its native range. Gray wolves are now just beginning to reestablish stable populations needed for genetic sustainability, and although wolves have recovered in some states, the North American population as a whole is nowhere near “recovered”. Judges have repeatedly overturned rules which were stripping wolves of their federal protection. In December 2014, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said the management plans of the three states that allow sport hunting of the wolf (Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota) don’t provide enough protection, and noted that the animal had not repopulated its historic range. With such a small percent of suitable wolf habitat currently occupied and almost constant threats to their survival, these apex predators still urgently need the Act’s protection to survive.
Wolves are essential.
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). Disruption of large carnivore populations has led to crop damage, altered stream structures, and changes to the abundance and diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. Game animal populations have greatly increased without large carnivores, 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. In order to maintain the resiliency of forest ecosystems, (especially in the face of a rapidly changing climate), the recovery and preservation of large carnivores is essential. Wolves are endangered in most of the nation and need continued protection to survive and recover.
The wolf, a highly social animal is in peril. Hunted down relentlessly, the wolf mourns the loss of family members viciously and unethically trapped, snared, and murdered in droves. He must run for his life daily, year after endless year because man”kind” will not be bothered by the small concessions it would take to oversee harmonious coexistence.
Lost in these bitter arguments over wolf management is any attempt to clarify state agencies’ obligation to their citizens. Scientists and conservationists assert that wolf populations are not yet viable, and that distributions are not sufficient to constitute recovery. More importantly, existing regulations are not adequate enough protection to ensure persistence of population numbers. The Wildlife Trust Doctrine, a branch of the Public Trust Doctrine, defines the obligation of the states responsibility and obligation to its citizens, and dictates that wildlife has no owners at all, and therefore belongs to all citizens equally. As a result, states have a “sovereign trust obligation” to ensure that wildlife resources are protected and managed responsibly, not just for the benefit of current citizens, but also over the long term. The Wildlife Trust Doctrine imposes a duty to ensure proper protection for the gray wolf, as well as any other species no longer (or never) protected by the federal government.
This has become a war on wolves, with the wolves suffering terribly. Now is the time for Americans to step up and be a voice for the protection of this beautiful, amazing and iconic species before it is too late, and before we lose them. 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. Tweet this here and here.
“As they have demonstrated time and again, large carnivores will not stay within human defined safe zones. We need to learn to share the land and its bounty with them, to live with them, or we will lose them—and with them a considerable part of what makes us human.” Mark Derr, Saving The Large Carnivores, Psychology Today
Be a voice for the gray wolves. Voice your opposition to the aforementioned bills (simply tap on the links). You can also contact your members of Congress via social media easily here: House social media links, and the Senate social media links. If you are having trouble with either of these links you will find both Senate and House social media links here. For petitions and additional tweets please see this blog post.
More information regarding the Wildlife Trust Doctrine can be found here.
Thankyou for your anticipated support on these critical issues ~Intheshadowofthewolf
Copyright © 2015 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved.
“I think people expected better of Oregon.
Most Oregonians did, that’s for sure. So, the appointed managers entrusted with preserving Oregon’s grand and diverse wildlife heritage need to reconvene and reverse course. Right away.
Or Gov. Kate Brown needs to intervene in defense of our wild animals and to uphold the will of Oregonians.
Today, there are only 90 wolves in the whole state. By any measure, and most of all by the metric of common sense, that is the very definition of endangered. Wolves deserve the protection that Oregon affords animals on the brink.
But the state Fish and Wildlife Commission has decreed otherwise. Turning back the clock a century, the commission has cracked open the door to trophy hunters who want to add another glass-eyed stuffed head to their living room wall. Commissioners voted to eliminate endangered-species protections for our wolves in big swaths of our wildlands.
As they say in the comedy shows, I’m not making this up. Ninety wolves. Go get ’em!
You can make up your own mind whether commissioners lived up to their responsibility. As they themselves put it: to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.
Future generations. Ha! This is a nasty, back-door win for a small number of trophy hunters. A fatal loss for wolves. A thumb in the eye to countless thousands of Oregonians who understand the simple truth: The state’s eco-system has been imbalanced. Nature knows best.
Commissioners, do your job: Protect the 90.
And while you’re at it, you can reverse your equally wrong-headed decision to allow the wholesale slaughter by trophy hunters of all cougars living in target zones located on 6,236 square miles of Oregon’s wildlands.
Commissioners will say that lifting endangered species protection for wolves doesn’t automatically signal a return to trophy hunting. Then why do it? Perhaps in hopes that the people of Oregon will be busy paying attention to other matters as the demise of the wolf plays out step-by-step?
What a cynical, lopsided approach to governance.
Commissioners would like people to believe that 90 wolves are taking too many deer away from 1.7 million licensed hunters. Really — 90 vs. 1,700,000?
Either commissioners don’t understand nature, or don’t want you to. To the extent that wolves prey on deer, they remove the old and the weak. Hunters are gunning for the big and the strong. So which is the better strategy for healthy deer populations?
The truth is simple: Oregon’s native carnivores keep our ecosystems healthy and diverse. Countless eons of history prove it. Oregonians want wildlife to flourish. Wolves and cougars have a far better track record than these few appointed officials doing the bidding of trophy hunters.
Commissioners, please meet again and vote for nature, not against it. For all Oregonians, not just the few with “trophy” rooms.
Governor, please lend your good office to the cause. The people of Oregon deserve better than they got this time.” ~Scott Beckstead
Scott Beckstead of Sutherlin is senior Oregon state director for the Humane Society of the United States. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted by The Statesman Journal
Photo By Jeremy Weber