Killing Wolves In The Bitteroot…

The Scapegoat

UPDATE: December 18, 2010. 

 I’m reposting this to remind you there is still time to comment on this shadow wolf hunts. Comments are being accepted until January 3, 2011.

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October 30, 2010

Well another day, another plan to kill wolves!

Bitterroot

Where Have All The Elk Gone?

by Alex Sakariassen

October 28, 2010

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) filed a proposal with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month to remove 12 wolves from the Bitterroot’s West Fork population. The agency backed its request by citing a dramatic decline in elk numbers in its West Fork Elk Management Unit, stating that wolf kills are “needed to restore [calf] recruitment rates.”

Low calf recruitment was the same argument FWP made this July in support of a costly three-year study to determine why the elk population in the Bitterroot Valley has dropped 21 percent in four years. However, at the time FWP said it wasn’t sure how much—or even if—wolves had contributed to the decline.

The sudden blame placed on wolves in the agency’s most recent proposal contradicts much of what FWP has stated in the past. Kelly Proffitt, the biologist heading the elk study, told the Indy in July that the decline may be due to habitat and body condition issues. FWP Wildlife Biologist Craig Jourdonnais pointed to extensive wildfires and increased subdivisions on winter range as potential factors. Wolves are certainly part of the puzzle, he said, but he was “not convinced.”

“It’s not at all saying wolves are the problem,” Jourdonnais says of the proposed wolf kill. “It’s saying wolves are part of the predation issue that we feel is happening there, and we definitely want to get some management authority over wolves in the West Fork.”

Derek Goldman, an Endangered Species Coalition field representative in Missoula, is as dubious of the wolf question now as FWP seemed to be this summer. The elk population in the West Fork reached similar lows even before the reintroduction of wolves, he says, referencing data from FWP’s proposal. In light of the study—which has yet to even begin—Goldman believes FWP could be putting “the cart before the horse.”

“I don’t know that 12 wolves are eating 700 elk,” he says.

Even the U.S. Forest Service has noted FWP’s doubt over the impacts of wolf predation on elk, as shown in the August 2009 environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Bitterroot National Forest’s draft travel plan.

“FWP feels that the decline in elk numbers in the Bitterroot is likely primarily due to increased antlerless harvests achieving a planned management reduction,” the EIS states, “and that there is no evidence that wolves or combined predator numbers have much to do with the decline of elk counted through 2008.”

http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/bitterroot/Content?oid=1321680

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Here are a few key points of the Montana FWP proposal:

“Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (MFWP) proposes to obtain a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for wolf take under Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. Wolf removal would occur in the West Fork of the Bitterroot (Elk Hunting District 250), beginning as soon as possible for a period of 5 years. (In a hurry are they? Are they worried Judge Molloy will  rule to strike the 2008 “prey decline” revision from the 10j, effectively ending their “wolf hunt”?)

Wolf numbers in Elk Hunting District (HD) 250 would be reduced from the minimum of 24 counted in December 2009 to a year-end minimum of 12 wolves represented by 2 – 3 packs from 2010 through 2015. The level of removal would be dependent on pre-treatment wolf abundance in an adaptive fashion based on annual wolf and elk population monitoring data. MFWP would be accountable to the USFWS for maintaining a minimum year-end count of 12 wolves through 2015 unless MFWP proposes and the USFWS accepts a new or amended proposal prior to 2015 in response to new information, or wolves are delisted.”

 

 

I believe the real reason behind this “plan” is to hold a “shadow wolf hunt”. Judge Molloy stopped the hunt this year and Montana FWP has been pulling their hair out trying to find a way to have one.

“For year 1, the removal action would begin on December 15, 2010 or as soon thereafter as approvals are obtained, and would conclude no later than February 28, 2011.

MFWP would randomly select 100 individuals from a list of applicants to each take one wolf in HD 250 until the quota of 12 is filled or the removal action ends. MFWP may designate additional individuals if needed to complete the prescribed removal. An Automated License System (ALS) number would be required for application. Nonresidents would not exceed 10% of the successful applicants. The take of a wolf must be reported to MFWP within 12 hours via a mandatory telephone reporting line and followed by a mandatory pelt and skull check by FWP staff within 48 hours for collection of biological data. Pelts and skulls will be retained by MFWP unless authorized individuals also purchase a valid wolf license prior to harvest. Pelts and skulls retained by MFWP may be dispersed for education purposes or destroyed at a later date. The removal action may be closed on 24 hours notice if the quota is reached or anticipated to be reached, or if the wolf management objective is otherwise achieved. Authorized take of wolves must take place from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. Wolves may be taken with a firearm or bow and arrow. Wolves may not be taken by baiting, or with the aid of electronicrecording/amplification of calling or howling.”

To read the full disgusting proposal CLICK HERE

Montana FWP is taking public comments on this “shadow wolf hunt” until November 10th, 2010, 5pm. Tell them to leave these poor wolves alone and stop trumping up reasons to kill them. Especially egregious is the use of bow and arrows. The thought of  a sentient wolf, shot full of arrows, sends shivers up my spine. Montana FWP wanted to add a wolf archery season to their proposed wolf hunt for 2010 before it was shut down. Now they will be allowing archery to kill wolves in the Bitteroot. Coincidence? I think not!

PLEASE take the time to write and express your outrage over killing wolves for absolutely no reason other than the trumped-up excuse concerning elk declines in the West Fork. Think about this, they want to kill wolves for eating elk, their natural prey species. There is no definitive proof that wolves have significantly impacted elk in the Bitteroot and that was Montana FWP’s opinion in an August 2009 EIS (environmental impact statement).

“FWP feels that the decline in elk numbers in the Bitterroot is likely primarily due to increased antlerless harvests achieving a planned management reduction,” the EIS states, “and that there is no evidence that wolves or combined predator numbers have much to do with the decline of elk counted through 2008.”

CLICK HERE to comment on this egregious attempt to kill wolves.

The only bright light at the end of the tunnel is “the killing of wolves for prey declines” is being litigated. Judge Molloy is presiding over the case.

The lawsuit was brought in January 2008 by seven environmental groups: DOW, The Sierra Club, NRDC, HSUS, Center For Biological Diversity, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and Friends of the Clearwater. It was stayed when wolves were delisted in the Spring of 2009 but has now gone forward since wolves were relisted by Judge Molloy on August 5th, 201o.

To read the brief filed on August 10th, 2o1o CLICK HERE

The nexus for this lawsuit was the 2008 change in the  10j rule allowing greater flexibility to kill wolves for “prey declines”.

“The groups are challenging the 2008 10(j) rule change which lowered the bar to allow states to kill wolves for causing “unacceptable impacts” to ungulate populations if they can show “only that a wild ungulate population is failing to meet state or tribal management objectives – however defined by the states – and that wolves are one of the major causes for that failure.” The previous 10(j) rule defined “unacceptable impact” as a “decline in a wild ungulate population or herd, primarily caused by wolf predation, so that the population or herd is not meeting established State or Tribal management goals.” The USFWS felt that the states could not show that to be the case and, without proper review, changed the regulations to give the states more flexibility to kill wolves.”….Wildlife News

The lawsuit seeks to strike the 10j revision. This would mean Montana’s plan to kill wolves in the Bitteroot for “prey declines” would be stopped dead in its tracks if Judge Molloy rules in favor of the plaintiffs.

The war on wolves continues unabated.

The wolf and bears were just out in the woods minding their own business when this hunter decides it’s so great to take their lives. They died for nothing!!

Listen to the wolves’ pack mates howling in the background for their fallen loved one. How much sadder can it get?

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Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Montana wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: 10j rule litigation, killing wolves, wolf scapegoating, Montana FWP, archery is cruel

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