Earthjustice: Wolves in Danger: Timeline Milestones

Click here to visit the EARTHJUSTICEWolf Timeline.  The timeline follows wolves extermination in the West to their protection under ESA to their slow recovery and finally to their tragic delisting by the Obama Adminstration and the litigation to reverse it.

Over five hundred wolves died in the Northern Rockies in 2009/2010. The hunts claimed 263 wolves in Idaho and Montana. Wildlife Services, the extermination arm of the USDA, killed 272 wolves for agribusiness. Twenty five entire wolf packs were gone at the end of 2009, approx. 64% of them wiped out by WS.  Our tax dollars at work. 

The feds spent $3,763,000 on Northern Rockies “wolf management” in 2009 and their projected budget for 2010 is $4,206,000.  Lots more wolf killing coming up. 

When has a species been targeted in this way? Oh wait, I can think of one. WOLVES. Remember, that’s why they were listed  in the first place because ranching and the government teamed up to wipe them off the face of the Western map? They were exterminated in the West!!

Within months of wolves losing their ESA protection, the states of Montana and Idaho  initiated wolf hunts. This is almost unprecedented, that an animal coming off the Endangered Species List would be hunted immediately.  Minnesota, with a population of  3000 wolves,  has stated they would wait FIVE YEARS, if wolves were delisted, to consider if or when they would have a wolf hunt, with plenty of public input. 

“Under state law, no public hunting or trapping seasons on wolves is allowed for at least five years after delisting. Federal law also requires USFWS to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure recovery continues.”

It certainly puts the Montana and Idaho rush to hunt in perspective. What was the hurry? Where is the reasoned management we were promised?  It’s unbelievable behavior and shame on  US Fish & Wildlife Services for pushing for wolf delisting. They had to know this would happen. All the years of work and money spent on recovering wolves and it’s come full circle back to killing them again?

Once totaling more than 350,000 in the US West, wolves “were hunted and killed with more passion and zeal than any other animal in US history,” according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

As their numbers dwindled toward extinction in the contiguous 48 states, the gray wolf became protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1974.

The states couldn’t wait to start the wolf hunts. These are the people that are responsible for a newly delisted species? And we’re supposed to trust them with the welfare of wolves? Five hundred wolves died and that’s a success story?  

Oh but wait, they counted wolves again at the end of 2009 and TA-DA their numbers had grown 4% (still the lowest growth since wolves reintroduction.) 

Supposedly there are now 1706 wolves in the tri-state area, after all the killing. So how can this be you say, if there were approx 1500 wolves at the beginning of 2009 (that number fluctuates depending on who you talk to from a low of 1450 to a high of 1650). How did the population grow when five hundred gray wolves were slaughtered?

Their 2009 count was actually done at the end of 2008, before the pups were born in the Spring of 2009, the year they were delisted. So those pups weren’t included in the count. Here is what we are being asked to believe.  There were approx. 1500 wolves in the Northern Rockies at the beginning of 2009, pups of that year had not been counted yet. Over five hundred wolves were killed in 2009/2010 between the hunts and Wildlife Services.  That would bring their numbers down to 1000 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.  That’s 1/4 of the total wolf population. But somehow when they counted wolves at the end of  2009 they came up with 1700 wolves. So that means more then 700 puppies were born in the Spring of 2009 and they all survived.  Since wolf pups have a high mortality rate, it would have to be way higher then 700 pups to account for their high death rate. Wolf pups die from disease, predation and unfortunately starvation because Wildlife Services and now the hunts are making orphans out of  many of them.  Now pups have another danger, they can be shot.  31% of wolves killed in Montana’s hunt were under a year of age (juveniles) and another 31% were yearlings. 62% of wolves killed  in Montana’s wolf hunt in 2009 were a year old or under a year of age, in other words, PUPPIES!  My malamute puppy weighs a little over sixty pounds and he’s six months old.  That was the average weight of the puppies (juveniles) who were shot and killed. Shocked? Did you know the wolf  hunt included  killing  puppies? Only 38% of wolves killed in Montana’s hunt were adults. 

At the end of 2008 the US Fish & Wildlife Services reported there were 95 breeding pairs in the Northern Rockies. Wolf litter size varies from 4 to 7 pups, so using 5 as an average number of pups per litter and multiplying 95 breeding pairs by 5, it comes to 475 pups. Even being generous and using 6 pups as the average litter size you would still get only get 570 pups. And of course many of these pups died or were killed as I stated previously. 

The only other scenario that would increase the wolf population is dispersing wolves from Canada. Those are the only two possibilites.  In light of this information, are we buying these wolf counts?

Also if anyone thinks killing 500 wolves had no effect on pack structure, think again.  Of course in the world of  “wolf management”, a wolf is a wolf is a wolf.  They’re  interchangeable, didn’t you know?  Wolves just make more wolves and everything is peachy.  This is science? 

Wolf researcher, Dr. Daniel MacNulty states wolf hunts drive the age of wolves downward. resulting in younger and younger wolves.

 “It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,” he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.

Elk are doing just fine in Montana and Idaho according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 2009 press release but I wanted to point out just one of the effects wolf hunting has on pack dynamics. 

When Idaho Fish and Game started selling wolf tags, 3500 were sold in three hours. Eventually Idaho would sell  26,428 wolf tags at $11.50 a pop, hauling in $423,280 to kill 220 wolves. Montana sold 15,603 wolf tags, which filled state coffers to the tune of $325, 916, for a chance to kill 75 wolves. And they call wolves blood thirsty?

Mourn the 500 dead. Don’t believe the propaganda about livestock or elk. Wolves are in danger, make no mistake. Sadly, they are being persecuted once again in the West. What a surprise. Did anyone think anything different would happen once they were delisted?  They were on the Endangered Species List for a reason and now without ESA protection they are in danger of history repeating itself.  

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Idaho and Montana Wolf Hunts End

States plan to kill even more wolves next season

April 1, 2010

http://www.earthjustice.org/news/press/2010/idaho-and-montana-wolf-hunts-end.html

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02 April 2010, 12:07 PM Terry Winckler

Wolf Hunts End But Not The Fight

http://unearthed.earthjustice.org/blog/2010-april/wolf-hunts-end-not-fight

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Delisisting A Recipe For Conflict

Open Season On Wolves

BY GEORGE WUERNTHER

http://www.counterpunch.org/wuerthner04022008.html

========

 

Posted in:  gray wolf/canis lupus, Idaho wolf hunt, Montana wolf hunt,  Wolf Wars, Howling For Justice, wolf 2009 delisting

Tags: wolves in the crossfire, Wildlife Services, ESA lawsuit wolves, aerial gunning of wolves

Wolf Wars Part 2…..Wolves Under The Gun In Montana And The Rest Of The Northern Rockies!!

A hearing was held in Helena on March 5th.

Maybe you missed it but if you care about wolves you should pay attention.

The hearing was attended by Montana FWP, Wildlife Services and the Environmental Quality Council.  

Apparently it was concluded Montana has too many wolves. After more then 500 wolves lost their lives in the Northern Rockies in 2009 and the Idaho hunt still continues, there is a cry for more wolf killing from ranchers, hunters and wolf haters. I have never seen anything like this.

Montana, the fourth largest state, with a land mass of 147,165 sq miles, can’t accommodate 450 wolves. 

Montana is 255 miles wide and 630 miles long and has a tiny human population of 967,440, ranking Montana 44th in the nation. Here’s a map of the HUGE state of Montana that can’t accommodate 450 wolves. 

Why? Because most ranchers and hunters don’t want them. Everyone else be damned. You could spend all day pointing out that wolves kill very few livestock. That ranchers lose most of their cattle, over ninety percent to weather, disease and reproductive issues, yet it wouldn’t make any difference because people who hate wolves aren’t interested in facts. They’re interested in getting rid of wolves and repeating the same tired stories about dwindling elk herds and livestock losses. 

Their very own Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trumpeted last spring in their press release, that elk were flourishing.  Montana’s elk population grew 66% since 1984, Idaho’s 5 %. Hunters ask me where I get these numbers, don’t they read their own hunting organization numbers?  Apparently not.

In contrast to Montana, Minnesota has  3000 wolves. That’s right, THREE THOUSAND!! 

Minnesota is the 12th largest state with a land mass of  79,610 square miles, 250 to 300 miles wide by 400 miles long. A state almost half the size of Montana, with over 5 million (5,266,212) people can accommodate 5 times more wolves than the HUGE state of Montana.  

Furthermore, 40% of all wolves in Minnesota live in the Northeastern part of the state, which means 1200 wolves live in just one area of the state. Yet the entire state of Montana can’t live with 450 wolves.  How pathetic is that? 

If wolves are delisted in Minnesota they would not allow a wolf hunt for five years or maybe never. Yet Montana and Idaho couldn’t wait to get wolf hunts going mere months after gray wolves were delisted and had not been hunted in the lower forty-eight since 1974.

Minnesota’s Wolf Policy States:

There will be no public hunting or trapping seasons for wolves for at least five years. The endangered species act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure that recovery continues. 

(Why is this not being taken into consideration in the Northern Rockies?)

In fact the Great Lakes Region, which encompasses Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan has a total population of over FOUR THOUSAND WOLVESYES FOUR THOUSAND WOLVES.  

Michigan and Wisconsin each have approx. 600 wolves. Minnesota, 3000 wolves.

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin: Total land mass 65, 498 total square miles, 260 miles wide, 310 miles long.  Human population 5,363, 375.  Gray wolves 600.  Wisconsin has 5 times the human population of Montana and more wolves.

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MICHIGAN

Michigan: Total land mass 97, 990 square miles, 386 miles long by 456 miles wide with a human population of  10,045,697.  That’s ten times the human population of Montana.  Gray wolves 600.  Michigan has more wolves then Montana in a smaller land mass with many more people.

Here’s a map of the two regions:

NORTHERN ROCKIES: 1500 wolves    

GREAT LAKES REGION: 4000 Wolves

Looking at the above statistics between the two regions don’t you find it unbelievable that the Northern Rockies, which includes the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, with their tiny human populations and huge land mass, can’t handle 1500 wolves?

Compare the Northern Rockies to the Great Lakes Region.

They have TWENTY TIMES THE HUMAN POPULATION OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES a smaller land mass,  yet have FOUR THOUSAND GRAY WOLVES.

Somehow the people of the Great Lakes Region are able to live in relative harmony with 4000 wolves. I’m sure there are conflicts but they do co-exist with a very large population of wolves. 

Yet the Northern Rockies gray wolves, a much smaller population, who have hundreds of thousands of acres of public land on which to range, are being being hammered from all sides. It’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. 

Why are Minnesota farmers and ranchers able to live side by side with wolves while the West remains so intolerant?  This question can be answered by watching Lords of Nature, which should be required viewing for all who want to understand this dynamic and care about our native carnivores.

Especially important, wolf advocates must continue to speak out about the positive effect wolves have on the ecosystem.  A new study conducted on Isle Royale demonstrates how wolf/moose predation helps enrich the soil. 

 “,,,,,carcasses of moose killed by wolves at Isle Royale National Park enrich the soil in “hot spots” of forest fertility around the kills, causing rapid microbial and fungal growth that provide increased nutrients for plants in the area”  Science Daily November 3, 2009

Even though it’s been demonstrated over and over that wolves and other apex predators are necessary to a healthy environment, the same old, tired rhetoric about them continues to be repeated. This is directly related to the chokehold the livestock and hunting lobbies have on state game policy and why state game agencies should not be managing predators.  It shows the absolute intolerance of wolves in the Northern Rockies and the dismissal of other groups such as Wildlife Watchers, who want to view wolves and wildlife alive, not dead. 

Photo: Courtesy National Geographic

We are relegated to sitting helplessly by while the states kill our wildlife in the interests of agribusiness and hunting. The wants of the few trump the wants of the many. The West’s public lands do not belong to just ranchers and hunters, they belong to all Americans and frankly this American is tired of seeing wildlife treated with so little respect and eliminated for agribusiness.

Wolf advocates and Wildlife Watchers must be more vocal. We can’t be silent any longer. Remember:

If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out financed, and out voted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes……David L. Mech

These are the Nation’s wolves and wildlife, yet we have almost no voice in how they are managed. I and others have already called for a boycott of Idaho potatoes and other products, maybe it’s time to do the same in Montana. What other recourse do wolf advocates have then the power of the pocketbook, since nobody seems to hear us no matter how many letters we write or phone calls we make? 

The media feeds into the anti-wolf propaganda by constantly reporting on wolf depredation as if it was so widespread when they know,Wildlife Services knows, Montana FWP knows and IDFG knows that the main predator of cattle is not the wolf but the coyote and yet even the littlesong dog kills so few cows. 

Predation on livestock is a red herring.  Yes wolves kill livestock but in very small numbers and most is due to poor animal husbandry practices by ranchers that have no incentive to change their ways since Wildlife Services acts as their own private wolf extermination service, courtesy of the taxpayer.  How many Americans know there is a federal agency that kills off our native carnivores and other wildlife for agribusiness?

Turning back to the March 5th Helena meeting, it seems war has been declared on wolves in Montana and the Northern Rockies in general. Wildlife Services will have carte blanche to kill wolves without getting approval from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks:

From the Missoulian:

In a hearing before the Environmental Quality Council, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks director Joe Maurier said federal Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites.

The agents also will be able to immediately kill any wolves that are trapped when they return to those sites to feed on dead livestock.

Not only is Montana FWP going to allow WS to kill more wolves without first getting a directive from them but Joe Maurier, Director of Montana FWP stated:

“he expects the wolf hunting quota to be increased next season from the initial statewide quota of 75 as another way to lower the wolf population. Initial estimates put Montana’s wolf population at 500 animals this year, which is about the same as last year.”

This is not unexpected. Wolf advocates knew the states would show their true colors. I believe Montana kept their hunting quota low due to the ongoing delisting litigation. The longer this drags on the bolder anti-wolf policies become. This is why wolves need protection under ESA because the states cannot be trusted to manage them. The fact Wildlife Services has now been given increased power to kill wolves is a tragedy for wolves and the people who care about them. 

What next?  Will they be adopting the Wyoming shoot on sight plan?  At least Wyoming was honest and didn’t pretend they wanted to have a healthy wolf population.  They said outright they wanted wolves listed as predators with the ability to shoot them on sight in most of the state.  Idaho and Montana on the other hand, led everyone to believe they would be responsible stewards “managing” wolves. Well the blinders are off.

A special insincere thanks to Interior Secretary Salazar for unleashing this upon wolves by delisting them. Wolf advocates thought the election of  President Obama would put to rest the wrong headed Bush administration policies and wolves would remain protected. Instead what did we get?   Delisting of an animal that was already exterminated from the West once by the same thinking that is rampant here in the Northern Rockies today. 

Look at the sad situation the Mexican gray wolf is enduring. Only 42 animals survive in New Mexico and Arizona.  New Mexico only has fifteen of those wolves. Who is responsible for this? It’s the SSS crowd who can’t tolerate even that tiny number of wolves. Are poachers caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law?  I think not. 

Wolf advocates and all who care for wildlife wait patiently for Judge Molloy to rule on the delisting litigation. I sincerely hope his decision comes soon because wolf hatred is mushrooming exponentially.  How much worse can it get for wolves if this continues?  Nobody knows but what is happening in Montana and Idaho looks very similar to the persecution wolves endured in the 19th and 20th centuries.  SHAME!!!

The new new cause de jour of the anti-wolf crowd is the tapeworm scare, Echinococcus Granulosus. 

Even FWP has dismissed this as being of little concern and so have biologists. Yet the anti-wolf crowd will throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.

========= 

Tapeworm in wolves causes stir, but biologists say there’s little to fear

  Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 12:00 am

 http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/article_9cd68b1c-0df4-5655-b5d5-4a362c5e4a51.html

Wolf advocates predicted the hysteria and persecution wolves would be subjected to  if they were ever delisted and now it’s playing out just as we thought.  Wolves need ESA protection to survive and flourish.  They cannot withstand the climate of hate that is closing in on them. 

Who will speak for them?  Will you?

“Raven, a Gray Wolf who resides at Mission: Wolf, greeting a visitor enthusiastically”

*Italics Mine

Wolf Photos: Wild Wolf Photo Journals, Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, aerial gunning of wolves, Montana wolf hunt, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, Wolf Wars

Tags: Wildlife Services, wolf intolerance, wolf myths, wolves or livestock, ESA Lawsuit wolves

Sad Time For Wolf Advocates….

The wolf hunt in Idaho continues. My heart is heavy thinking about the packs that have been disrupted, the pups that have been killed or left as orphans to starve. I think of the pregnant alphas that will be shot as wolf breeding season is under way and wolves will be returning to their den sites in mid to late March in Idaho, well before the hunt ends. This is a disaster for wolf recovery in so many ways.

Wolves do not need to be managed. Lets be frank, managing wolves is a euphemism for killing them. Wolves are natural dispersers. They will seek new territory in search of good hunting grounds, if only they could cross state lines and claim new territory without being shot. They don’t need the states of Idaho, Montana or Wyoming to tell them how to be wolves. 

We’re killing wolves because ranchers have too much power in the West.  We’re killing wolves because elk hunters complain wolves are wiping out elk, which is patently untrue. I’ve refuted this so many times I feel like tatooing it on my forehead. But unfortunately state game agency budgets are funded by hunting fees, so wolves are culled to increase elk populations and please hunters. We’re killing wolves because many outfitters don’t like them.  Why do these groups have more clout then the rest of us? 

There doesn’t seem to be much conflict between wolf and man in Minnesota, with their large wolf population. When polled, the majority of Minnesotans support the wolf and want it to do well.  Western wolf  “managers” state the reason wolves are doing better in Minnesota is because the state has a dense deer population, large forests and few public land disputes. Well I agree on the public land disputes. I disagree that we don’t have enough game or forests to go around in the West.  The reason there are problems living with the wolf in the West is because a small group of people, that are anti-wolf, have tremendous political clout here. If you asked most Americans if they approve of wolf hunts the answer would be a resounding no. BUT because a small minority want wolves “managed”, the rest of us have to tolerate this brutal, senseless killing.  Montana, Idaho and Wyoming  could take a few lessons from Minnesotans on how live with wolves.

These things I do know.  Wolves are suffering and dying brutal, cruel deaths. The stability and structure of many packs have been disrupted.  The average age of wolves will be younger with the loss of alphas and older wolves. In effect all wolves are being forced to play Russian Roulette. Spin the barrel and shoot. Every wolf is at risk of being killed if the hunts continue, since the killing is indiscriminate. Younger wolves don’t have the hunting skills of older more experienced animals.  There will be a greater temptation for them to attack livestock as an easy kill. Which will lead to more wolves being killed by Wildlfe Services in the name of  livestock. 

The benefit of having an apex predator cull ungulate herds will be changed.  Hunters kill stronger, healthier ungulates, wolves kill easier prey, the sick, the weak, the old. They improve the health of the herd.  Wolves do a far better job managing ungulates then man.  The elk owes it’s fleetness of foot to the wolf, who has chased them through time.

It’s very clear the people that “manage” wolves aren’t paying attention to the science. They think it’s OK if wolves just replace themselves, every year.  Who cares about individual wolves or packs? They’re just focused on the numbers. That’s not how it should work. Wolves are highly organized social animals, there is order in the pack. They’re smart, they solve problems, yet they are being treated like deer and elk. WOLVES ARE NOT DEER OR ELK AND SHOULD’NT BE TREATED AS SUCH!!  It’s ridiculous.    

I know this is falling on deaf ears in the “management” community. The Idaho wolf hunt marches on.  If Judge Molloy finds for the plaintiffs and wolves ESA protections are restored  it will just be just a matter of time before Wyoming gets it’s act together and comes up with a plan similar to Idaho and Montana. Then we’ll be right back to square one, with wolves in the cross hairs.  The only way to have a different outcome is to address the science, which means there has to be proven genetic connectivity between the three Northern Rockies wolf sub-populations and I submit, killing over five hundred wolves in 2009 did not increase the likelihood of that.  Into this mix add Wildlife Services, who wipes out entire packs of wolves causing their genes to be lost forever. 

Yellowstone wolf numbers have dropped below 1oo, increasing the risk they could be vulnerable to inbreeding,  like the Isle Royale wolves, who are plagued by spinal deformities.

If Judge Molloy’s ruling encompasses more then Wyoming,  if it includes the genetics, then wolves may have a fighting change to stay listed for quite some time.  Then, just maybe we can redefine wolf recovery and stop playing the numbers game.

These are dark days for wolf advocates. Personally I abhor the designation of wolves as game animals to be shot for sport. They are so  much more then that.  They are a symbol and icon of freedom for so many Americans, people that appreciate the stark beauty and haunting presence of the wolf inhabiting what’s left of our wild lands.  This is a very sad time for wolf advocates. 

Photo wolf nursing her pups: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, Idaho wolf hunt, howling for justice

Tags:  Esa lawsuit wolves, biodiversity, wolf extermination

Deadline for filing briefs in federal wolf lawsuit closes

By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian | Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010 4:15 am

If gray wolves need any winter reading material, there’s stacks of it in U.S. District Judge Don Molloy’s office.

Thursday was the last day for filing final briefs in a federal lawsuit over removing wolves from the Endangered Species Act protection. The main contenders, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EarthJustice and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition all delivered their arguments in past weeks. Wildlife managers in Montana and Idaho, as well as the farm bureaus of both states, the Safari Club and the National Rifle Association all sent intervener briefs just before the deadline.

The case looks at whether federal authorities properly took away the wolf’s threatened status in Montana and Idaho, and whether it was legal to do so while keeping the wolf a protected species in Wyoming. Montana and Idaho instituted big-game hunting seasons on the wolf last fall, killing 72 and 145 wolves, respectively.

Molloy may call for oral argument or choose to rule based on the written arguments alone.

http://www.missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_eae1f720-0c83-11df-93ab-001cc4c03286.html

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, endangered species act,  howling for justice

Tags:  ESA lawsuit wolves, canis lupus, obama administration delisting wolves 

We May Have Lost The Battle But Will Likely Win the War

September 21, 2009

This speaks for all who are devastated by the killing of wolves in Idaho and Montana.  It reflects the hope and despair of the past few months in the latest round of Wolf  Wars that plague the Northern Rockies.  The decision by Judge Molloy to deny the injunction that would have stopped the hunts, was a blow to all wolf  lovers but all is not lost.  We may have lost this battle but will win the war and see wolves relisted. 

==============================================

Motion For Preliminary Injunction Denied; Wolf Hunts To Proceed Unabated

Wolf photo by SigmaEye on Flickr

Matt Skoglund

Posted September 9, 2009 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places
Wildlife Advocate, Livingston, Montana
 
Last night, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy denied our request for a preliminary injunction to stop the wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana and restore Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in both states while our underlying lawsuit challenging the delisting rule moves forward.

Judge Molloy’s ruling is both good and bad for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

In order to prevail on our motion, we needed to demonstrate that (1) we are likely to succeed on the merits of our lawsuit and (2) the wolf population in the Northern Rockies is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction (i.e., if the wolf hunts proceeded).

Noting that the standard for irreparable harm requires injury that is significant to the overall population of Northern Rockies wolves, the court found that killing 330 wolves in Montana and Idaho does not constitute irreparable harm.

As such, the wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho will transpire this fall unabated, which is horrible news for wolves in the region.

The good news is that the court found we demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of our case.  Judge Molloy’s order focused on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to leave wolves in Wyoming on the endangered species list but to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho.  Specifically, the court stated:

The [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service has distinguished a natural population of wolves based on a political line, not the best available science.  That, by definition, seems arbitrary and capricious.

In our lawsuit, NRDC and 12 other conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, are challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s March 2009 decision to remove wolves in Idaho and Montana prematurely from the endangered species list.  Notwithstanding the denial of our motion for a preliminary injunction, the lawsuit will continue and a hearing on the merits of the case is now expected in early 2010.

The court’s finding that we demonstrated we are likely to succeed on the merits of our case is absolutely great news.  If, in the merits phase of the case, Judge Molloy deems the Fish and Wildlife Service’s state-by-state application of the Endangered Species Act illegal, as his order signifies he will, then wolves in Idaho and Montana will return to the endangered species list.

That said, the next few months will be grim for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

On September 1st, Idaho’s wolf hunt began in two of its twelve hunting zones.  Four wolves have been reported killed thus far, one of which was killed illegally.  Two more zones will be open for wolf-hunting on September 15th, and the remaining zones will open on October 1st.  Idaho’s quota for the wolf hunt is 220 wolves for the general hunt and another 35 wolves for the Nez Perce Tribe. 

In Montana, the backcountry wolf hunt begins on September 15th, and the general hunt begins on October 25th.  Montana’s quota for the wolf hunt is 75 wolves.

While we are thrilled with part of Judge Molloy’s ruling, the fact remains that 330 wolves in the Northern Rockies are slated to be killed this fall. 

And forever silencing the howls of so many wolves has left a palpable sense of despair in those who love wolves, wilderness, and wildness.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mskoglund/motion_for_preliminary_injunct.html

Posted in: 2009 Wolf Delisting, Wolf Wars

Tags: Endangered species act, ESA lawsuit wolves, gray wolf/canis lupus, wolf intolerance, wolf recovery

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