Bloody Budget Bill….

Here’s a dead on opinion piece, from the Christian Science Monitor. It explains how Congress played “let’s make a deal” with wolves lives in a BUDGET BILL.  This was especially egregious because Democrats led the charge, betraying wolves and their base.

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True cost of budget deal will be paid in blood – of gray wolves

By David N. Cassuto APRIL 19, 2011

Many words have been spent on the budget compromise struck between Republicans and Democrats in the 11th hour a couple weeks ago, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. In the days since, details of this budget agreement have slowly emerged, but few actually know what it fully entails – and what it really means for Americans. Perhaps this is because Congress and the president appear to have had a similarly limited understanding of the nature and scope of the cuts they agreed upon.

Nevertheless, President Obama and members of Congress did know that they agreed on a few things having nothing whatsoever to do with the budget, budget cuts, or with federal spending at all. One of the most unfortunate of these “budget” agreement riders is the decision to strip the gray wolf of the protections of the Endangered Species Act. In the 37-year history of the Act, no species has ever been delisted for purely political reasons. Prior to last week, science guided such decisions. Now, science will be subordinated to political instrumentalism, setting a dangerous precedent for the future.

A political, rather than scientific, agenda

The gray wolf was reintroduced into the Northern Rocky Mountains in 1995. Today, there are approximately 1,700 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, andMontana – a significant resurgence, albeit a relatively small number of wolves for 328,417 square miles of territory. Nevertheless, those three states have campaigned tirelessly to delist the wolf in order to legalize wolf hunts and thereby cut back their allegedly unmanageable populations. Under such pressure, the Bush and Obama administrations agreed to delist the wolf, but the plan did not survive legal challenge.

The court found the delisting agenda to be based on political rather than scientific reasons, an approach that did not withstand scrutiny under the plain language of the Endangered Species Act. Still, the anti-wolf contingent (including the governors and congressional delegations from all three states) persisted, arguing that the wolves needed culling because they were killing livestock and decimating the elk population. The diminishing number of elk, the argument goes, interferes with the rights of hunters.

Hunters complain that the wolves – who hunt for survival using only their bodies – impede the hunters’ ability to hunt for fun with high-powered rifles. It bears noting that before wolves were extirpated from the region, they coexisted with humans with little incident. Those humans also hunted elk, but did so with bows, arrows, and spears. Despite the challenges posed by wolves, fewer elk, and low-tech gear, they managed to find enough game to survive.

It seems reasonable to assume that today’s hunters, whose survival depends more on supermarkets than elk, and who enjoy competitive advantages and a far larger elk population, could do likewise.

Benefits of wolves outweigh ranchers’ concerns

The ranchers’ argument against wolves also withers under serious scrutiny. While it is true that wolves take a certain amount of livestock, it is also true that ranchers annually lose more cattle to lightning strikes, dog attacks, and noxious weeds than they do to wolves. The leading causes of livestock deaths are not wolves or other predators but bad weather, disease, and birthing complications. Even so, there are nonprofit groups with compensation programs in place to partially compensate ranchers who do suffer losses from wolf predation.

The benefits of having wolves in these ecosystems – even for ranchers – far outweigh livestock losses. Since wolves have been reintroduced to the region, the deer and elk populations have been brought under control, which has enabled nearly wiped out native tree and plant species to grow back. Concern for the ranchers might be better expressed by maintaining the health of the ecosystem – of which wolves are a vital part – and the range, thus protecting the ranchers, the ranchland, and the rest of the regional environment. Many ranchers are already making efforts in these directions.

Why are wolves part of a budget deal?

But perhaps more important than the weakness of the arguments for delisting the wolf is the fact that there is no good reason for this discussion to have taken place during these budget negotiations. The issue at hand was (or was supposed to be) the federal budget. There are legitimate policy differences about the ways, means, and even the need to bring federal revenues in line with spending, but this important national conversation has nothing to do with wolves.

Yet in defiance of logic and sound wildlife management, the two sides negotiated an agreement under which endangered wolves will die, and the deficit will remain. As the rest of the particulars of the deal come to light, one thing will remain clear: The true cost of this agreement has nothing to do with money. It will be paid in blood.

David N. Cassuto is the Class of 1946 Distinguished Visiting Professor of Environmental Law at Williams College and professor of Environmental Law at Pace Law School. He is the founder and chief contributor to the Animal Blawg, a blog on animal law and policy.


Photo: Courtesy of All About Wolves

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: wolves sold out, playing politics with wolves, bloody budget bill, infamous 81

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35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Like you quoted in your latest mail – when a man leaves nature his heart becomes hard. it is sad but true. Humans are the worst creatures of prey on this planet.
    Living in Denmark, apart from signing petitions, sharing and telling around me, there is not much more I can do, except donate when I can afford it. Please continue the struggle followed by all my hopes and wishes.

  2. Having vacationed several times in Montana, I never will again after what’s been done. Any political entity that blatently ignores an entire segment of the population, and abuses a trust, can not be trusted in other matters of civilization, and personal importance. These actions of politicians send a message; we will return the favor. Revenue from tourism is unimportant. We’ll keep our part of that. Environmental responsibility is unimportant. We will use our voices to raise awareness of issues, and discourage everyone we know from spending any tourist money in that state or Idaho. It seems to be money that has the voice; very well, we will boycott all things Montanan. That is our voice. Representatives aren’t listening to anything else, it seems, other than personal agendas. Let’s see if Boycott helps the economy.Their will be no revenue from this end to further their slaughter of wolves.

    • Dianna,kudos! Your truth and candor says it all. Those who feel as we do are legion, and our voices will never be silenced. We vote with our dollars and our informed choice….it is time to show them we mean business.

      Real men never, and I emphasize never, feel the need to prove themselves. America once stood for something, now we fall for anything. As if the betrayal, from both sides, weren’t enough. The blatant lies and outrageous deceptions still continue.

      And this is the mentality behind the behavior of those who consider themselves to be “rugged individualists”? I have had it with Idaho’s lack of common sense and human decency, as well as “Montana values.” These “attributes”, or lack thereof, are nothing more than maladjusted strategies and excuses to abuse power.

      As for tall tales and fables…how convenient to use a natural predator and thrust upon him our own sinister behaviors and darkest urges. Unscrupulous, irredeemable, oh, the “big bad wolf” still thrives alright, in concept. Although he is man, NOT wolf.

    • For anyone who doesn’t know what to boycott..where do we start. We need a list of products posted, we already know Idaho potatoes. We need to get this going …now!

      • Idaho potatoes
        Montana, Idaho, Wyoming beef and lamb (ask your butcher where it comes from and if they can’t tell you, buy some veggies)
        Fast Food… the largest buyers of beef in the country
        Sporting goods, including hunting/fishing equipment, camping equipment (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act or Pittman-Roberson Act of 1937 (11%) & Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act or Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950)… a percentage of all sporting goods purchased is used to fund multiple fish and game activities.
        Tourism – whatever you do, don’t come visit me in Montana… stay away from Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. (If you want to see what Glacier looks like, I’ll send you some pictures, haven’t been to Yellowstone yet, but was planning on it this summer. Those plans have been changed.)
        Made in Montana Product Directory-

        http://www.madeinmontanausa.com/ProDir.asp

        Idaho products-

        http://www.buyidaho.org/members.htm

        Wyoming products-

        http://www.wyomingfirst.org/2010%20Wyoming%20First%20Catalog/3dissue.swf

        That should be a good start…

    • Dianna, with very little editing, your comment would make an excellent petition to add to our boycott. It should also be faxed to the Governors of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and posted wherever possible.

      Nabeki, what do you think? Dianna, would you give your permission to do so?

      • Something like this: maybe also include President Obama,Secretary Salazar, and all Senators. Anyone involved.

        Any political entity that blatently ignores an entire segment of the population, and abuses a trust, can not be trusted in other matters of civilization, and personal importance. These actions of politicians send a message; we will return the favor. Revenue from tourism is unimportant. We’ll keep our part of that. Environmental responsibility is unimportant. We will use our voices to raise awareness of issues, and discourage everyone we know from spending any tourist money in that state or Idaho. It seems to be money that has the voice; very well, we will boycott all things Montana and Idaho. This is to include revenues for Yellowstone/Glacier National Parks. That is our voice. Representatives aren’t listening to anything else, it seems, other than personal agendas. Let’s see if Boycott helps the economy. There will be no revenue from this end to further the slaughter of wolves.

      • I think it’s a great idea. Both states rely on tourism, especially Montana. People flock to Yellowstone and Glacier every year. The hunts coming up are going to be much worse then the first time around. The haters can’t wait to get out there and start shooting. We have to stay united and think as one. Boycotts will definitely help. A lawsuit would be great just about now.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,
        Nabeki

      • Nabeki, awesome. Would you be able to send Dianna an email and ask her permission to use her comment? If it’s alright with you, I would really like to get this into petition format and send it out to fax/post along with the links Terence so kindly provided.

      • Will do White Wolf.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,
        Nabeki

  3. People from Idaho and Montana complain that the wolf is taking food out of the mouths of their children. Their deer and elk populace is up, and I seriously doubt that the majority of people go out hunting. It’s just not cost effective in this day and age. Unless you can afford the license, days off of work, and equipment needed to sustain you throughout the hunting trip. Wolves get possibly 1 kill out of 10 hunts, which takes the entire pack to do. 1 hunter will take out 2 or more in one hunting session, so I have to question the validity in their complaints. Not to mention when the deer and elk start over grazing due to lack of predator control, they go in and kill thousands citing that they’re destroying the environment. Idaho complains it has 3000 wolves it can’t get rid of. This is a far cry from the #’s I’ve seen for Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming combined. These people need serious education, not childhood stories meant to frightened young children into behaving. Wolves are being used as a scapegoat by politicians and special interest groups. This is unacceptable behavior, and should be viewed as such.

    • If these people are so concerned about not being able to afford food, then why are they spending their money on licenses, guns, equipment, gas in the car, time off work, etc. Hunting is not a cheap activity and by my calculations is not even a solid argument for not being able to feed your family.
      @ Dianna- just a small edit to your comment, with all due respect: Entire packs of wolves do not hunt together, but the Alpha does lead the hunts with the stronger pack members. The other members are busy taking care of the young and the sick/injured/lame of the pack. Packs consist of newborn pups, yearlings (some may be ready to hunt), adults (2.5+ years), and usually grandparents of the young (7+ years). Packs range in size from 2-20 wolves, although the latter is not as common. Average wolf pack size is 7.1 members. You are correct that it does take a lot of work to have a successful hunt, and the average success rate is ~10%, depending on population density of prey animals, weather conditions, other predators, and a variety of other criteria.

    • The only numbers an elected official or individual state really needs to be concerned about now, are those of the millions of registered voters/consumers whose hackles have been raised in protest, and will no longer tolerate “their” agenda or economy of slaughter.

    • Dianna-
      You are correct. We have dispelled the falsehoods of decimated game numbers. Game animals are on the move more often due to wolf pressure. Nabeki can correct me if I’m wrong, but the ELF foundation’s own numbers state there arte well over 150,000 elk in Montana, and well over 100,00 in Wyoming and Idaho. The rednecks as I have stated before think that their game herds can be shot from the back of their pickup truck’s in between beer burbs.
      Overhunting and habitat degeneration are by far the largest factors that influence herd numbers

      • Sorry should be ELK not ELF. It mine as well be elf though

    • Dianna…so well said. Both Idaho and Montana are dominated by ranching and hunting interests in state government and on the federal level. Wildlife watchers are ignored and have no “seat at the table” concerning wildlife in either state. The endless ramblings about elk numbers is mind numbing. Our wild places are being turned into giant game farms, with over inflated numbers of elk (almost 400,000 in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming). Of course many hunters don’t want predators, they like to hunt elk that are lazy and complacent. For seventy years, before the wolf returned. hunters were used to slow, plodding elk who were easy to hunt.

      What do we do about politicians who are willing to do the bidding of these small, vocal special interests who don’t represent the majority of Americans? We watched on Cspan as 81 US Senators sold wolves down the river. The Democrats voted in favor of the rider in the misguided attempt to save a Senate seat and retain their majority. Democrats did this, not Republicans. It’s just mind blowing.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

  4. I know people have a sour taste for Defenders of Wildlife but this may be of some use to people in regards to who voted for what. This is the report card that will tell you what your elected officials are doing in your state.

    http://www.defendersactionfund.org/report.html

    • Terrence, thank you so much for all your valuable information concerning products, etc. We should post/share this wherever we can.

  5. I don’t buy Idaho potato that I am aware of. I generally read where the potatoes are packaged. I have been buying russets..I know that one of my grocery stores buys fron local farmers.I live in Indiana.Farmer markets are a nice place to start for one could be direct with people and one could ask questons.

  6. I have long regarded myself as a political realist, but even so, I am shocked that Obama let his people jump on this bandwagon. Also, political trends Stateside have a nasty habit of being copied here in Europe, and I do have serious concerns about what this will mean for European wolves in the long term.

    I wish I could add a positive to this, but I do fear that the Grey Wolves south of the Canadian frontier will, within a few years, loose most if not all of their numbers.

    Furthermore, this sounds sick (it *is* sick), but what we need is for wildlife services and/or hunters to actually kill some pups. The public can be swayed by scare stories of the big bad wolf, but everyone loves puppies.

    • Neb…they kill puppies every year. It’s nothing new to them. Still we’re back to wolf hunts again. Wolves cannot live without the protection of the ESA, they’re barely making it with it.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

  7. It looks grim at this moment but,Neb,I ,along with the wolf warriors, will have to continue even threw the dark days.The rancher will always find something to complain about,the hunters will never be satisfied,and some politician that will say or do anthing to get re-electected. Self importance,self gratificaton,and self glorificaton seems to go hand in hand these days.Things must change for the survival of the wolves and for all creatures including man.

    • Very true, Rita. When things look bleakest is the time when the need to fight these moves is all the stronger.

      • Yes,Neb,”the need to fight these moves is all the stronger”.

      • Neb…darkest before the dawn, so true.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,
        Nabeki

  8. Makes you sad to know that so many Animals die everyday, just because someone wants to eat they muscles or put them on the wall of their houses or wear their skin as a fashion statement!

    God help all his Animals and bring them peace!

  9. Canis lupus and any other, to quote N., “politically incorrect” species can be stripped of their protection for purely political reasons. Reasonable science has been locked in a chest to be ignored and barely taken into account.

    We’re in a huge tangle here, people. What are we gonna do now? These wolves are going straight to that locked chest alongside reasonable science.
    This is going to be disastrous if we don’t figure out something now.

    Sickening, just sickening. America’s reputation of being ‘scientific’ is going to get really stained here.

    We got to keep fighting.

    • Loua…it’s so true we lost a huge battle but we certainly haven’t lost the war. We will continue to fight for wolves and brainstorm. Boycotts will definitely help but they won’t stop the wolf hunts. We need the cavalry to ride in right about now.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

  10. It may be from Australia but let this be a wake up call to the U.S.
    This is what happens when farming and hunting lobbies get their own way. For all that bawling over human safety, livestock and lost hunting opportunities, this is one of the levels of depravity these special interest groups are willing to sink to. Keep in mind this was all done for $50 per animal.

    (GRAPHIC)

    Scalped wild dogs

    Strung up Pup

    • John….Yikes horrific, that is so sickening. We are the worst species on earth and we kill with such ferocity. When is this madness going to stop? That is animal cruelty plain and simple.

      For the wolves, for the wild ones,
      Nabeki

    • Deep sigh….it’s never a pleasant thing to see pictures like this, but unfortunately it is the best way to make an impact and get the message out. As a society, have become so tragically disenfranchised from life, and disconnected from nature,what price paradise?

      We live in a fraudulent world preserved by artificial means, and we tend to treat our terrestrial home like we treat everything else, including one another, viewing it as merely something else to be used, abused and discarded. From the perspective of enlightened self interest, there are those who really don’t care, and it’s always easier to look the other way.

      If those responsible for crimes such as this were to suddenly find themselves in their victim’s perspective, then you can be certain that things would change. Seems we are only able move into action when something directly affects us.

  11. It looks like nobody gave credit where credit is due. jon tester, IDIOT-MT who is also a democrat, authored the rider to the budget bill that opened Pandora’s box to all the hunters and “sportsmen” who slaughter wolves, including the tax-payer supported USDA Wildlife Services, a handmaiden to cattle and sheep ranchers we’re already supporting with nearly free grazing on public lands.

    • J Lawell…oh I’ve posted ad nauseum about Tester, believe me. We all know he slipped the rider in the bill but Harry Reid is just as culpable because he wouldn’t pull it out. There were two other riders in the budget bill, one on defunding Planned Parenthood and the other to defund Obamacare. Both of those riders were pulled out of the bill by Reid, allowing the Senate to vote on each one, both were defeated but Reid left the wolf rider in the bill. You know why? Because none of the Democrats wanted to be on record voting up or down on delisting wolves. So Reid left the delisting rider in the bill and the Senate looked like they were just voting on the budget bill. It was one of the most underhanded things the Senate has done and that’s saying something.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      • Dear Nabeki,

        Thank you for your response! I didn’t know about the Harry Reid contribution to this mayhem. I’ve been following Howling For Justice for just a little while now and appreciate all the information you provide and your dedication to wolves.

        Take care! Julie

      • You’re welcome Julie and thanks for the words of support. Yes Harry Reid could easily have pulled the rider out of the bill but he knew his cowardly party wouldn’t want to be on record voting to delist wolves. He is just as bad as Tester, maybe worse, because he has more power and could have done the right thing. But consider, he’s the Senator from Nevada, where most of our wild horses live. Look how he’s allowing them to be treated. Gone are the days when you could count on Democrats to do the right thing on the environment. Pretty sad.

        It’s been a long, tough road but it’s good to know advocates appreciate Howling For Justice. Many howls to you.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,
        Nabeki


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