Gray Wolves in the Crosshairs

Mt_Emily_male_wolf_brown_odfw

Mt. Emily male wolf/odfw

September 9, 2014

Howling for Justice turns five on September 16 and “Gray Wolves In The Crosshairs” was my first post.

It’s hard to believe all that’s happened  to wolves in the past  five years, much of it bad. We had such high hopes of prevailing in the courts, because we were winning! After the initial delisting in the Spring of 2009 and sadly losing 500 wolves the first year, Judge Molloy relisted wolves on August 5, 2010. But the victory was short-lived, the anti-wolf forces knew they were losing so they turned to Congress to trump the ESA and delist wolves. And Congress listened.  In the Spring of 2011 the US Senate  betrayed wolves. Apparently they valued holding onto their Senate majority more than the lives of wolves. The wolf delisting rider, attached to a must pass budget bill, will forever live in infamy as a part of each Senator’s legacy who voted yes.

For the next few days I’ll be revisiting my earlier posts, written in 2009, to take us back five years and help us remember what a hard-fought battle we’ve waged for wolves.  Just remember, wolf blood continues to flow, as another year of hunting wolves spans six states. Even wolves who remain “protected” are not safe, as the accidentally/on purpose killing of  Washington’s  Huckleberry Pack alpha female clearly shows.  That’s why we cannot stop fighting for wolves!

For the wolves, For the wild ones,

Nabeki

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Gray Wolves In The Crosshairs

gray wolf in snow wallpaper

September 16, 2009

The gray wolf stands at a crossroads in the lower 48.  Stripped of their Endangered Species status by the Obama administration, they are left unprotected from the guns in Montana and Idaho. The first federally sanctioned wolf hunts in the Continental US are taking place as I write this.  Thanks Ken Salazar for allowing the de-listing of wolves to stand.  I thought a Democratic administration would be different, apparently it’s business as usual in wolf country.

Idaho’s hunt started on September 1st, with a quota of 220 wolves from a population of 875.  That’s one-fourth of Idaho’s wolves.  Montana’s hunt began Sept 15, 75 wolves are slated for execution. How did it come to this?

The purpose of this blog is to explore that question and try to understand why this magnificent apex predator is so misunderstood and hated, merely because they exist. I welcome your comments and opinions wolf lovers.

Meanwhile a federal judge in Missoula, Montana holds the fate of gray wolves in his hands. Thirteen environmental groups filed a lawsuit opposing the de-listing and asked Judge Molloy to grant an injunction to stop the wolf hunts, while the lawsuit was pending.

The judge issued a partial ruling on September 8th denying the injunction to stop the hunts but stated the plaintiffs opposing the de-listing were likely to prevail on the merits of the case. Small comfort for the wolf as it’s being hunted. Male, female wolves and pups of the year can be taken. Yes, apparently it’s OK to hunt PUPPIES!!

The war against wolves continues unabated.

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Photo: wolf wallpaper

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Howling for Justice

Tags: gray wolf/canis lupus, Montana wolves, Idaho wolves, wolf intolerance, wolf myths

Looking Back: Remembering The Sage Creek Pack..

July 23, 2014

This week I’m re-posting tributes to fallen wolves and wolf packs, some killed before the 2009 delisting, like the 27 member strong Hog Heaven Pack, slaughtered in 2008 by Wildlife Services, outside of Kalispell, Montana.  It makes no difference to me whether they are famous park wolves or wolves who remain faceless and nameless, they are all equal in my eyes and I love them. To think of the thousands who’ve died  breaks my heart. I can’t help them now but I can honor them through remembrance. Sleep well beautiful souls.

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The Sage Creek Pack was eliminated by aerial gunners in 2009.  It was a huge loss. Yellowstone wolves are genetically isolated, the  Sage Creek Pack could have provided them with important genetics but that means nothing to the wolf killers. Wildlife Services was aerial gunning wolves even as the first wolf hunt was taking place outside the park, which decimated the famed Cottonwood pack.

“The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.”

Sage Creek Pack Wiped Out By Aerial Gunners in Montana

October 9, 2012

Aerial gunners wiped out the remaining four members of the Sage Creek Pack, which will serve to further genetically isolate Yellowstone’s wolves. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement concerning this outrageous event. This pack was originally targeted because it killed ONE SHEEP!!

“The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho”

It always comes back to grazing livestock on public lands and who pays the price? The Wolf!

Montana FWP recently closed the backcountry area WMU-3 (which encompasses the wilderness outside of Yellowstone) in part due to the loss of nine wolves in that area, including the Cottonwood Pack. This pack was part of ongoing research on Yellowstone’s famous wolves. The hunts eliminated the pack because buffer zones were not in place for the wolves, who can’t read boundary signs. Their only crime was leaving the protection of the park. So that’s two wolf packs gone in a matter of weeks. One lost to hunters and the other to FWP aerial gunners.

For Immediate Release, October 9, 2009

Aerial Gunning of Wolf Pack in Montana Isolates Yellowstone Wolves, Undermines Recovery

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week’s aerial gunning of the last four members of the Sage Creek wolf pack in southwestern Montana contributes to the genetic isolation of wolves in Yellowstone National Park – even as, on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission suspended the public wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone in order not to isolate the national park’s wolves.

Said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity: “We are saddened by the loss of the Sage Creek Pack. Suspending the permitted wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone will not be enough to save these animals as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to gun down entire packs from the air.”

The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho.

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project sued the sheep station for its failure to disclose the impacts of, and analyze alternatives to, its operations, which has occurred in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The sheep station settled the lawsuit with an agreement to disclose and analyze and to decide its future via a public process.

“The USDA Sheep Experiment Station is undermining gray-wolf recovery and should be shut down,” said Robinson.

Genetic isolation of the Yellowstone wolves, which may be exacerbated through the federal killing of the Sage Creek Pack, is at issue in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies seeking to place wolves back on the endangered species list after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the list this spring. Such genetic isolation was part of what led a federal court, in July 2008, to order the relisting of wolves after a previous delisting action.

The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.

A 1994 environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and central Idaho identified genetic exchange between sub-populations as key to wolf recovery.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/wolves-10-09-2009.html

Top photo: kewlwallpapersdotcom

Photo courtesy James Balog/www.goagro.org

Categories posted in: aerial gunning of wolves, biodiversity, Wolf Wars, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: wolves or livestock, aerial gunning of wolves, wolf intolerance, Sage Creek Pack, genetic diversity loss

Remembering The Hog Heaven Wolf Pack…

Hog Heaven wolf pack

February 3, 2014

I wrote this post in October 2009, a month after  Howling For Justice was created and mere months after wolves in the Northern Rockies were delisted by the Obama administration. The first wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho had just gotten underway  but the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack wasn’t killed by hunters, they were wiped out by Wildlife Services in 2008.

27 members strong, with two breeding females and 15 puppies, they are now just a memory, as so many wolf packs are. Today they barely have names, they’re anonymous wolves, who live and die without any recognition. But I remember when Wildlife Services gunned down one of the largest wolf packs to roam Montana. Here’s a look back at the doomed Hog Heaven Pack. In their memory please vow to work harder than ever to stop the slaughter of wolves.

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Hog Hell: The Demise of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack

October 23, 2009

In 2008, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming killed 245 gray wolves in the name of ”livestock depredation”.

Twenty seven of those wolves were members of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack, residing southwest of Kalispell, Montana, in the Browns Meadow/Hog Heaven area. They had been accused of preying on a few calves, some llamas and a bull.  The decision was made in November 08 to take out the entire pack.  Eight members of the pack had already been shot from the air by Wildlife Services.

In a three-day period, December 3rd, 4th and 5th of 2008,  the remaining 19 members of the Hog Heaven pack were gunned down, an almost unprecedented event, causing public outrage. Many articles were written  and opinions voiced, opposing the action. FIFTEEN PUPPIES AND TWO BREEDING FEMALES were among the slain.  The Hog Heaven pack was “the seventh entire wolf pack to be killed by Montana in 2008.”

The zero tolerance wolf management plan is just plain wrong and senseless, especially since cattle deaths by wolves are minimal.  Domestic dogs killed five times the number of cows than wolves in 2005.  I don’t see Wildlife Services taking out Labs and Huskies from the air?

The average number of cattle losses specific to wolf predation in these States is less than 0.7%.  This compares to an average of 1.6% of cattle losses due to predation by coyotes and an average of 90% of losses due to non-predator related causes such as health problems and disease.”

*The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), reports on cattle losses in the lower 48 States every five years.  Nationally, health issues such as respiratory problems, digestive problems, calving complications and disease were overwhelmingly the most significant causes of cattle death in 2005.  (The year for which we have the most recent detailed data.)”

“Only 0.11% (about 1/10 of 1%) of all cattle losses were due to wolf predation in 2005. Coyotes killed 22 times more cattle than wolves killed that year.  Domestic dogs killed almost 5 times as many cattle, and vultures killed almost twice as many cattle as wolves in 2005.  Theft was responsible for almost 5 times the cattle losses as were lost by wolf predation.”

http://www.everythingwolf.com/news/readarticle.aspx?article=234

The Hog Heaven pack was special, one of the largest wolf packs ever recorded in Montana, (the once mighty Yellowstone Druid’s had 37 members at their peak).

Instead of trying non-lethal methods to preserve the pack, the state  eliminated them!  AND this all happened while wolves still had ESA protection!!

The anti-wolf crowd wants you to believe wolves are hanging around ranches waiting to prey on livestock, when in reality most of the miniscule depredations take place on our vast public lands, where cattle and sheep are left unprotected.

George Wuerthner, the famed ecologist, calls cows, “walking picnic baskets”. What would you do if you were a predator surrounded by an ocean of cattle and sheep?  Would you munch on them or go after more difficult prey? We already know the answer. Yet the wolf pays the ultimate price for lazy, sloppy ranching practices and the federal government’s refusal to pull public land grazing permits, even though cattle pollute streams, trample riparian zones and over graze the land.

Wolf supporters realize the unfairness of what’s happening.

In 2008, when the Hog Heaven pack was lethally removed, people spoke out:

“Gunning down an entire pack of wolves — a species that is supposed to be protected under the endangered species act — borders on criminal,” said Jerry Black of the Missoula group Wildlife Watchers.

“We are outraged by this senseless slaughter of one of nature’s most majestic animals.”

Added Whitefish resident Roger Sherman: “It seems to me the so-called ’scientific management’ of wolves boils down to simply killing them to conciliate the livestock industry.”

“Brian Vincent, communications director for the group Big Wildlife, insists that the elimination of the Hog Heaven Pack could have been avoided.”

“Why should an entire pack of wolves pay the fatal price for a situation that could probably have been avoided?” he said.

“Both agencies are acting like it’s the Wild West with all guns blazing.”

Yellowstone_Wolves

It’s too late for Hog Heaven, they’re not coming back. This unique pack, was wiped out by Wildlife Services before Montanans could react. Is it any wonder wildlife advocates question the motives behind so many wolves losing their lives for so little reason? Why are the lives of predators held so cheaply?

If the failed policies of the states and feds to “manage wolves” continue, it’s certain they will never fully recover. We’ll be left with fragmented populations of wolves, genetically isolated, constantly under the gun.

What’s behind the intolerance of wolves?  It’s certainly not because they’re killing large numbers of livestock, wolf predation on livestock is minimal.  It’s not because wolves are decimating elk populations. Elk in Montana and Idaho are strong, with numbers way up.  Idaho has 105,000 elk and Montana numbers are even higher at 150,000 plus.

Yet the war on wolves continues. This year the Sage Creek Pack and Yellowstone’s Cottonwood pack were gunned down, one wiped out by Wildlife Services and the other shot in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness at the beginning of Montana’s wolf hunt.  They join the Hog Heaven Pack and many others in the ever-increasing death toll of gray wolves.

Will it be Hog Heaven or Hog Hell for wolves in the Northern Rockies?

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Wolf photos: Courtesy Wikipedia Commons, All About Wolves, Wolf Wallpaper
Categories posted in: Montana Wolves, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife
Tags:  gray wolf, wolves or livestock, wolf intolerance, Wildlife Services, Hog Heaven Wolf Pack, National Agricultural Statistics Service

The Wolf In Your Living Room…

Wolves are wild dogs and dogs are domesticated wolves.

“Wayne (1993) elucidated the genetic affinities of three of the members of this canid division, as follows: “The domestic dog is an extremely close relative of the gray wolf, differing from it by at most 0.2% of mtDNA sequence…. In comparison, the gray wolf differs from its closest wild relative, the coyote, by about 4% of mitochondrial DNA sequence.” To summarize, these data suggest the following: (1) gray wolves and coyotes are closely related; and (2) gray wolves are 20 times more closely related to dogs than they are to coyotes”….Dr. Robert K. Wayne, canid biologist

Our dogs are wolves closest relatives, they can breed and produce puppies. Though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years they still retain many of their wolf-like qualities and behaviors, which is demonstrated in the video, The Wolf In Your Living Room.  It begs the question why are wolf hunters so disconnected from their feelings that they can love and treat their dogs with kindness. yet kill a wolf puppy, a wolf mother, a wolf family without feeling any remorse?  How deep in denial does one have to be to kill a wild dog? What deep-seated rage motivates someone to torture and kill an innocent animal ? Think about it!

Anti-wolf lies and myths are spread like viruses, specifically that wolves are a  serious danger to humans. While any wild animal can be dangerous, in North America, over the last hundred years, wolves have been accused of just two fatalities, both un-witnessed and controversial, yet our dogs kill approx. 30  people a year in the US and bite millions more.

“It is estimated that two percent of the US population, 4.7 million people, are bitten each year. In the 1980s and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities per year, while in the 2000s this has increased to 26. 77% of dog bites are from the pet of family or friends, and 50% of attacks occur on the dog owner’s property.”….Wiki

Each year hunting accidents claim the lives of almost a hundred people in the US and Canada and wound another 1000. Yet many hunters are the very people who spread vicious lies and rumors about wolves. How hypocritical!

“According to the International Hunter Education Association, approximately 1,000 people in the US and Canada are accidentally shot by hunters every year, and just under a hundred of those accidents are fatalities. Most victims are hunters, but non-hunters are also sometimes killed or injured. Although some other forms of recreation cause more fatalities, hunting is one of the few activities that endangers the entire community, and not just the willing participants”…Aboutdotcom

Wolf Wars has been fueled by the same groups who were responsible for the wolves first extermination. They hate without reason. The wolf in your living room is far more dangerous than any wild wolf could ever be, yet we love our dogs and treat them as family. The disconnect between dog and wolf, that allows wolf killers to justify their reprehensible actions,  is nothing short of criminal.

Look how similar wolf and dog puppies are. While it would be a crime to kill a Malamute puppy, wolf pups are killed every year with abandon. We learned that lesson recently in Washington state when the Wedge Pack was slaughtered. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming wolf pups are being killed  RIGHT NOW. What kind of society allows the wanton slaughter of wolves and their families?

Malamute Pup

Wolf Pups

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Video: Courtesy You Tube.

Photos: Wiki

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: Wolves, Dogs, unfounded wolf hatred, dog bites, fatal dog mauling, wolf intolerance, anti-wolf agenda. wolf slaughter

Dispelling The Canadian Wolf Myth

This is an April 2010 post that deserves another look. I wrote it after the 2009 wolf hunts had finally ended. Five hundred wolves were dead.

In light of the massacre I wanted to lay waste to one of the most idiotic anti-wolf myths that has grown legs and repeated over and over by the wolf hating crowd. Its goes something like this: The government reintroduced super wolves from Canada in 1995 who are bigger, more aggressive and alien to the US, wolves who previously had never stepped one toe in the Northern Rockies until 1995.   It’s a common mantra spread by the anti-wolf crowd and is not grounded in fact. But hey why bother with pesky facts? They just get in the way of demonizing wolves.

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Dispelling The Canadian Wolf Myth

April 12, 2010

If I had a dollar every time I heard the derogatory term “Non-Native Canadian wolf”, I’d be rich.

The myth goes something like this. Wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone and Central Idaho in 1995 were a larger, non-native, more aggressive wolf then the wolves who roamed the Northern Rockies before the Western extermination. This kind of thinking and rhetoric is what fuels wolf hatred in the first place. When nasty rumors and stories get started they develop legs. Pretty soon people are repeating it as if it’s fact. My advice would be to do a little research on the history of wolves and their morphology, instead of repeating rumors and innuendo. But this myth has nothing to do with the search for truth, it’s all about demonizing wolves. Please make it your business to shed light on these fairy tales. The wolves will thank you.

I wonder how many people who make these claims have ever seen a wild wolf? I’ve been lucky to view wild wolves. One of my Malamutes, who passed away several years ago, was bigger and weighed more than any wolf I’ve ever encountered. He was 180 lbs full-grown. He was so tall he could actually eat food right off the kitchen counter. But unlike the wolf his body was stockier. Wolves have long legs, big feet and large heads, their bodies are also longer than dogs. This gives them the appearance of being bigger then they actually are. Wolves in the Northern Rockies weigh on average between 80-110 lbs. Wolves also weigh more when their bellies are full. That’s because after a kill wolves gorge on a meal because they may not eat again for several days. It’s feast or famine for the wolf. Remember, only one in ten wolf hunts is successful. They expend a great deal of energy during the hunt and very often have nothing to show for it.

Did you know 31% of the wolves killed in Montana’s hunt were under a year of age (juveniles) and weighed an average of 62 lbs.  31% were yearlings and weighed about 80 lbs. 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! Shocked? Only 38% of wolves killed in Montana’s hunt were adults, weighing an average 97 lbs. The largest wolf weighed 117 lbs. Again way smaller than my Malamute. The average weight of wolves killed in the Idaho hunt was under a 100 lbs.

There is strong evidence the two subspecies of wolves that roamed the Rocky Mountains north and south of the Canadian border for tens of thousands of years (Canis Lupus Occidentalis – The Mackenzie Valley wolf) and (Canis Lupus Irremotus -The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf) mixed their genes. Some believe the Mackenzie Valley wolves bred the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf out of existence, instead of the government eliminating them.

It’s a specious argument, not grounded in science, to state Canis Lupus Occidentalis is a non-native wolf from Canada who was foisted upon the Northern Rockies region. In fact wolves know no boundaries and regularly cross back and forth between Canada and the US. There is no doubt sub-species exchanged DNA, making it almost impossible to tell how much of one subspecies is contained in another.

The number of wolf subspecies has been debated in the scientific world for some time, ranging from 24 to just 5. The one thing we do know is different subspecies of wolves mate and share their DNA. The truth is, wolves are wolves, with slight variations in height, weight or fur color.

Think how silly the notion is when you consider humans created the boundaries between Canada and the US. To wolves it’s all the same landscape. They do what wolves do, breed, form packs and when they’re old enough,  strike out on their own, looking for new territory and a mate. It’s really that simple. Wolf thy name is wanderlust.

Wolves have large territories and travel great distances to establish a place for themselves. Does anyone truly believe wolves didn’t freely cross borders before they were exterminated in the West? Invisible lines created by humans have no meaning for wolves. They go as they please, truly free yet horribly persecuted, never knowing why.

Wolves are great wanderers and can travel an average of 25 miles per day while hunting. One Scandinavian wolf, pursued by hunters, traveled 125 miles in 24 hours. Wolves have runners bodies, lean and sleek. David Mech, the wolf biologist once stated “Wolves are fed by their feet.” Covering ground, exploring, seeking new territory, is bound to the wolves’ soul.  One only has to read the tale of wolf 314f, just a year and a half old, who traveled from her home in Montana to a lonely hillside in Colorado  called No Name Ridge, where she was found dead under suspicious circumstances. She logged a thousand miles on her GPS collar during her amazing journey. Wolves are great adventurers and travelers.

Do wolf haters think there is some imaginary line at the border between Canada and the US that wolves didn’t dare cross? How ridiculous is that?

Long before the reintroduction, wolves made their way back to the US in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, dispersing from Canada to Glacier National Park,  They formed the Camas, Wigwam and Magic packs and these packs were not small, some numbering twenty to thirty wolves. Does this sound like an animal who’s afraid to cross an invisible line they’ve been navigating for thousands of years, long before Canada and the United States were even a thought?

It follows that sub-species of wolves will mix their genes and basically become a combination of both. The myth that wolves reintroduced from Canada are somehow enormous super wolves who never set foot on American soil before reintroduction, is ludicrous. If you don’t believe me listen to experts on the subject, who have worked with wolves for years and understand their morphology.

Carter Niermeyer Interview (Outdoor Idaho) Spring 2009 (Carter Niermeyer was the Idaho Wolf Recovery Coordinator for USFWS from 2000 to 2006)

Q.There are those who say we brought the wrong wolves into Idaho in 1995 and 1996, that they’re bigger wolves than the ones that were here.

CN: I have to support the science again, and specialists in morphology and genetics on wolves indicate that the wolf that was brought down from Canada is the same wolf that lived here previously. And I did some research into books on early wolves that were captured in the Northern Rockies, even as far south as Colorado during the days that wolves were being hunted down in the 1930s; and the body weights were very much the same.

So I feel that this wolf that was brought from Canada is the same species and genetics as the wolves that lived here once upon a time. I think people have to remember that the northern Rockies — we call it the northern Rockies in Idaho and Montana, but actually we’re a southern extension of the northern Rockies out of Canada — and all of those wolves in Canada have the potential and the ability to disperse. I believe what happened over the last 50-60 years is that individual wolves have come from Canada following the Rocky Mountain chain and ended up periodically in places like Montana and Idaho.

Or Mike Jimenez (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and Wyoming wolf recovery coordinator)

Jimenez disputed claims that the wolves reintroduced from Canada in the mid-1990s are a larger, more aggressive breed than had historically lived in Wyoming.

While scientists once divided wolves into 24 subspecies, he said more recent DNA evidence shows five subspecies in North America. Further, given the fact that wolves tend to disburse hundreds of miles, he said wolves from Canada likely interbred with Wyoming wolves and vice versa before they were exterminated from the region.

“The idea that those Canadian wolves are different … the argument gets weak,” he said. “Where they transition from one subspecies to the next is totally up for grabs.”

People cling to anti-wolf myths because wolves have become scapegoats for anti-government feelings. Many anti-wolfers believe reintroducing wolves was forced on them even though bringing wolves home to the Northern Rockies was not a rogue scheme dreamed up by a few government biologists. It was supported by many Americans. In fact a poll taken in 1990 found two-thirds of Montanans supported bringing wolves back to the state. Even so, it was a huge battle that waged for decades because the same, small, vocal minority that opposes wolves today were against them then, IE: ranchers, hunters and outfitters.

The feds finally compromised and classified wolves as an non-essential experimental population, which meant they could be shot and killed for agribusiness.

The little known fact is Wildlife Services has been killing wolves for years, along with the wolf hunts in 2009/2010. Still without ESA protection wolves would NEVER have been able to make any kind of comeback. It’s been their saving grace and now sadly they are at the mercy of their enemies once again.

What’s behind the giant Canadian wolf myth that’s passed off as truth? I believe it’s fear of competition. Many hunters don’t want to share the woods or compete with wolves. They liked it when wolves were gone and elk were complacent, standing around all day, munching down aspen trees, never allowing them to get any taller than a few feet. Apparently hunters like lazy, slow elk, ones that are easier to kill.  Since the return of the wolf, elk are no longer complacent, their old nemesis is back and they know it.  I think Carter Niermeyer hit the nail on the head when he said:

“Hunters look at the wolf from many angles and perspectives, too, and I have to emphasize that I’m a hunter. Certainly wolves compete, but I don’t think they’re any excuse for not being a successful hunter. There’s tremendous numbers of game animals available to sportsman and with a little effort and sleuth, you still have great potential to collect a wild animal from hunting. I don’t know what the excuse was before wolves, but it has become the main excuse now for unsuccessful hunters. I mean, there are just so many other issues involved in why hunters are not successful, but the wolf is a lame excuse.”

It’s necessary to spread untruths about wolves to further the agenda of getting rid of them or make excuses for why a particular hunter wasn’t able to “get his elk” during hunting season. I’ve reported over and over that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trumpeted in the their Spring 2009 press release that elk numbers were up 44% nationally since 1984, when the organization was founded. They stated the elk herds in Montana, Colorado and Utah  increased between 50-70 percent.  The Montana elk population stood at 150,000 and Idaho at 105,000.  I guess that wasn’t good news to everyone, since it doesn’t fit in with the “wolf is decimating all the elk” argument. Hunters whine that elk numbers may be up in the state but down in some areas. Ummmmmm that’s how nature works. And I hate to break it to the elk hunters but it’s not all about them. Wolf advocates opinions are being ignored. We’ve had to watch in horror as wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List and hunted almost immediately.

This was unforgivable behavior by the states and certainly didn’t earn any points with wolf supporters about the states intent to “manage” wolves fairly.  It’s not a secret  a conflict of interest exists when it comes to state game agencies “managing/killing” predators.  They want to please their customers, the hunters, who demand more game. The saddest part of this story is wolves were brought back only to be used for target practice fifteen years later.

Carter  Niermeyer states:

It’s a little late now, but I wish that when the states assume management of wolves that there could have been some kind of a moratorium where the states took the responsibility and didn’t jump right into a wolf harvest, or a wolf culling, or whatever you want to call it. It would’ve been nice, I think, to establish some credibility with wolf advocates and conservationists, environmentalists and people who appreciate wolves for other values. And just sort of get a handle on things and get a feel for managing the wolf. Because there’s this perception that suddenly we’re going from a listed animal to a hunted animal and I think a lot of the public is having a struggle with coming along with that.

The other thing I wish could happen, too, is there’d be more dialogue between the broad term wolf advocates and the Fish and Game Department and talk about these issues more openly, because the conservation groups have been a close ally in getting wolf recovery moving forward and actually being partners, and now there seems to be this falling out and a relationship that’s deteriorating.

Wolf advocates are rightly upset to see wolves hunted at all, especially freshly off the Endangered Species List.

I wonder how hunters would feel if over 40% of the elk herd was killed in one season. What would they think of a seven month-long elk hunt like the state of Idaho imposed on wolves?

Are Canadians laughing at us when they hear the Canadian super-wolf myth? Does this mean Canadians are superior hunters, who seem to have no trouble bagging game with their Canadian monster wolves roaming the countryside?

The truth is wolves in the Northern Rockies today are the same wolves that were here before the extermination.  It’s not about how tall wolves are or how much they weigh or the color of their fur. This myth arose to turn wolves into aliens, to assert they don’t belong here, when in reality wolves have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, this is THEIR home.  In contrast to cattle, a non-native species, that destroys native grasses, releases methane and tramples the landscape. Of course I don’t blame cattle, they are just another exploited animal.

Hunters by their very nature are in the business of killing and not all hunters can shoot straight or are ethical. There are people who hunt out of their rigs, while drinking.  Gut shot deer roam the forest during hunting season, leaving blood trails until they finally collapse and die. I’ve seen deer with arrows sticking out of them, barely able to stand.

If anyone has seen Predator Derby pictures of bloody dead coyotes, or dead wolves displayed by their killers, who show  no respect, smiling like they’ve just won the lottery, understand it’s not the wolf that’s the deadliest predator. Wolves kill to survive. The cruelest predator of all is man. No giant wolf myth can compete with that!

HOWL for speaking the truth about wolves!

“May we all never be judged by anything so harshly or hold to as strict a life or unremitting of borders as the ones we try to place on and around wolves”…Rick Bass 1992 

Photo Courtesy Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Posted in: Wolf myths, Wolf Wars

Tags: wolf subspecies, wolf myths, wolves in the crossfire, wolf intolerance, demonizing wolves

Looking Back: Remembering The Sage Creek Pack..

May 27, 2012

The Sage Creek Pack was eliminated by aerial gunners in 2009.  It was a huge loss. Yellowstone wolves are genetically isolated, the  Sage Creek Pack could have provided them with important genetics but that means nothing to the wolf killers. Wildlife Services was aerial gunning wolves even as the first wolf hunt was taking place outside the park, which decimated the famed Cottonwood pack.

“The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.”

Sage Creek Pack Wiped Out By Aerial Gunners in Montana

October 9, 2012

Aerial gunners wiped out the remaining four members of the Sage Creek Pack, which will serve to further genetically isolate Yellowstone’s wolves. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement concerning this outrageous event. This pack was originally targeted because it killed ONE SHEEP!!

“The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho”

It always comes back to grazing livestock on public lands and who pays the price? The Wolf!

Montana FWP recently closed the backcountry area WMU-3 (which encompasses the wilderness outside of Yellowstone) in part due to the loss of nine wolves in that area, including the Cottonwood Pack. This pack was part of ongoing research on Yellowstone’s famous wolves. The hunts eliminated the pack because buffer zones were not in place for the wolves, who can’t read boundary signs. Their only crime was leaving the protection of the park. So that’s two wolf packs gone in a matter of weeks. One lost to hunters and the other to FWP aerial gunners.

For Immediate Release, October 9, 2009

Aerial Gunning of Wolf Pack in Montana Isolates Yellowstone Wolves, Undermines Recovery

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week’s aerial gunning of the last four members of the Sage Creek wolf pack in southwestern Montana contributes to the genetic isolation of wolves in Yellowstone National Park – even as, on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission suspended the public wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone in order not to isolate the national park’s wolves.

Said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity: “We are saddened by the loss of the Sage Creek Pack. Suspending the permitted wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone will not be enough to save these animals as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to gun down entire packs from the air.”

The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho.

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project sued the sheep station for its failure to disclose the impacts of, and analyze alternatives to, its operations, which has occurred in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The sheep station settled the lawsuit with an agreement to disclose and analyze and to decide its future via a public process.

“The USDA Sheep Experiment Station is undermining gray-wolf recovery and should be shut down,” said Robinson.

Genetic isolation of the Yellowstone wolves, which may be exacerbated through the federal killing of the Sage Creek Pack, is at issue in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies seeking to place wolves back on the endangered species list after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the list this spring. Such genetic isolation was part of what led a federal court, in July 2008, to order the relisting of wolves after a previous delisting action.

The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.

A 1994 environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and central Idaho identified genetic exchange between sub-populations as key to wolf recovery.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/wolves-10-09-2009.html

Top photo: kewlwallpapersdotcom

Photo courtesy James Balog/www.goagro.org

Categories posted in: aerial gunning of wolves, biodiversity, Wolf Wars, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: wolves or livestock, aerial gunning of wolves, wolf intolerance

Locked And Loaded: Wildlife Services Takes Aim At Wolves & Other Predators

aerial gunning of wolves

UDATE: May 2, 2012

In light of the Sacramento Bee’s explosive expose on Wildlife Services and the lawsuit filed against the agency by WildEarth Guardians, I felt it would be important to re-post this 2009 piece.

 Remember this is a repost, reflecting what was happening in 2009,  so a few of the links are outdated but Wildlife Services hasn’t changed, they’re still doing what they’ve been doing for decades, killing wildlife.

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October 19, 2009

Who is Wildlife Services? If you asked the majority of Americans, they probably couldn’t tell you.  It was formerly known as “Animal Damage Control (ADC)”. The agency is the extermination arm of the Department of Agriculture.

“It’s just a subsidy to agriculture.. Somehow we’ve decided  as a culture that agriculture should be subsidized through the death of animals and this agency is particularly destructive because it robs the public of wildlife and doesn’t even do that much good.” (Jay Tutchton, Environmental law clinic, University of Denver School of Law)

They have the authority  to trap, poison, shoot and aerial gun animals, done mainly for the livestock industry.  Because Wildlife Services keeps a low profile, most people have no idea their tax dollars are paying a federal agency to kill off predators and other wildlife to “protect ranching.”

If you’ve ever wondered, as I have, what’s happened to all the foxes, raccoons, beavers and coyotes, just to name a few, well now you know.  A good many of them are being blown away each year by this agency.  And most of us, have absolutely nothing to say about it.  Does that seem right to you?

The statistics are shocking:

Wildlife Services killed 1456  gray wolves nationally from 2004 to 2008.  That’s an average of 364 dead wolves per year.  They even killed 9 Mexican Gray wolves in that same time period, one of the most endangered animals in the US, they only number 52 wolves.

“The governments own figures again show that mammalian carnivores kill very few livestock (0.18%)  Of the 104.5 million cattle that were produced in 2005, 190,000 (or 0.18%) died as the result of predation from coyotes, domestic dogs, and other carnivores (USDA, 2006). In comparison, livestock producers lost 3.9 million head of cattle (3.69%) to all sorts of maladies, weather, or theft, respiratory problems, digestive problems, calving, unknown, other, disease, lameness, metabolic problems, poison (USDA, 2006)

Coyotes were the primary cattle predators — they killed 97,000 cattle in 2005, followed by domestic dogs — which killed 21,900 cattle. Wolves killed remarkably few cattle, 4,400 head, as did the felids (USDA, 2006)” http://www.goagro.org/index.html

So let’s get this straight. DOMESTIC DOGS killed more cattle than wolves!. That’s from the USDA, 2006 numbers.  Coyotes, who killed the most cattle, 97,000, which still is a very small percentage, paid dearly with their lives.  696,936 coyotes were eliminated by Wildlife Services between 2004-2008.

Truth really does put everything in perspective and when you see how little damage wolves really do compared to other factors,  it’s mind-boggling that we’re having organized wolf  hunts, management plans, aerial gunning, poisoning, denning and  trapping of wolves with whole federal and state agencies devoted to making sure the wolf population doesn’t get any bigger.  You have to ask yourself why? Can you guess?  It’s called irrational fear, intolerance of another species and appalling arrogance.

just another day for wildlife services

Photo: courtesy James Balog

“Wolves killed in Polaris, Montana in 2004 for the purposes of livestock protection. Wildlife Services agents, school children, and teacher pose with dead wolves.”

Photo Courtesy:  http://www.goagro.org/

2005

“In just one year, your tax dollars helped kill 252 gray wolves, 72,816 coyotes, 1.2 million starlings, 6,832 skunks, 330 mountain lions, 2,172 red foxes, 33,469 beavers, 356 black bears, three bald eagles and two grizzly bears. Have you heard of Wildlife Services?” (excerpt from The Exterminators)

2006

“Wildlife Service kill totals for mammals were up sharply from previous years:

  • A record number of gray wolves (278), the subject of a highly publicized reintroduction effort, were killed in numbers that are up more than six-fold since 1996;

Another 116,610 mammalian carnivores, including 87,000 coyotes, 10,000 raccoons, 2,500 bobcats, 500 badgers, and 318 black bears were taken by federal wildlife agents who also killed 1,184 house cats and 512 dogs; and

  • Approximately 50,000 animals from the rodent and rabbit families—the largest toll came from beavers (28,000), followed by nutria (2,500), and marmots and woodchucks (3,700).”

2004-2008

Click this link to see the number of  mammalian carnivores  killed by Wildlife Services from 2004 through 2008:  Beavers aren’t included on the list because they’re in the rodent family  but we know Wildlife Services kills large numbers of them each year, 28, 000 in 2006.

http://www.goagro.org/index.html

Photo courtesy James Balog/www.goagro.org

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We’ve seen the brutal statistics.  How do they accomplish this mass killing of  America’s wildlife?

From all-creatures.org:

Wildlife Services utilizes killing methods that are non-selective, haphazard, and brutal, including:

Trapping and Snaring

Trapping may be the most inhumane method used by Wildlife Services. Traps can go unchecked for days, allowing the animal to suffer. When not killed outright by the trap, animals can endure physiological trauma, dehydration, exposure to severe weather, and predation by other animals. Most traps are notoriously indiscriminate, capturing almost any animal who triggers them. Non-target species found in traps include endangered species, raptors, dogs, and cats. The most commonly used trap is the steel-jawed leghold trap, a restraining device with spring-loaded jaws that clamp on an animal’s foot or leg when triggered. Leghold traps can cause fractures, self-mutilation, limb amputation, and death. A desperate animal will even try to chew off a limb to escape. Snares are primitive wire nooses that tighten around an animal’s leg or neck. When snared, an animal may struggle for days.

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Aerial Gunning

Alaskan wolf shot by aerial gunner

“Wildlife Services uses helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to shoot animals from the air. In 2007, the agency killed over 37,000 animals using aircraft. An agency Environmental Assessment revealed many wounded animals may be left to die.[4] Because Wildlife Services uses snowfall to track coyotes in early spring, agents may kill pregnant or lactating females. Deaths of the latter leave pups to starve. Aerial gunning is also used for “preventative predator control,” permitting agents to shoot as many carnivores as they can prior to domestic animals entering an area. The price tag for shooting carnivores from the sky can be high: killing one coyote can cost $1,000.

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Poisoning

M-44s

Photo courtesy USDA

In 2005, Wildlife Services used M-44, small devices that shoot cyanide gas into an animal’s mouth when triggered, to kill more than 12,700 animals nationally.

danger

Wildlife Services prefers two toxins to kill predators: Sodium Monofluoroacetate (aka Compound 1080), a rat poison developed by the Nazis during World War II, and sodium cyanide. To distribute 1080, the agency uses Livestock Protection Collars – rubber bladders attached to the neck of a goat or sheep that, when pierced, releases the poison. 1080 is so lethal a single teaspoon can kill 100 people. Wildlife Services also sets M-44 devices, spring-loaded, baited mechanisms that release sodium cyanide into the mouth of any animal who disturbs the device. 1080 and sodium cyanide present serious national security risks. The FBI has listed both as “super poisons” that are “most likely to be used by terrorists or for malicious intent.”

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Denning

wolf pups 2

Denning is the practice of tracking carnivores to their dens then killing pups inside. Poisonous gas canisters are placed in dens to asphyxiate pups. Or government agents dig pups out and shoot, club, or decapitate them. Pups have even been burned alive in their den.

Wildlife Services’ lethal control programs ignore the importance of carnivores. As “keystone species,” carnivores play a pivotal role in sustaining ecological integrity and preserving species diversity. For example, large carnivores regulate deer and elk, as well as smaller mammal, populations. The disappearance of top carnivores triggers the loss of other species and the intricate connections among the remaining residents begin to unravel. Many carnivore species need big, wild areas to survive. Wide-ranging animals like grizzly bears are considered “umbrella” species. By protecting habitat for such predators, we save places for many more animal and plant species.””

http://www.all-creatures.org/alert/alert-20081206.html

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The Exterminators

June 7, 2007

Missoula Independent

mountain lions killed

In just one year, your tax dollars helped kill 252 gray wolves, 72,816 coyotes, 1.2 million starlings, 6,832 skunks, 330 mountain lions, 2,172 red foxes, 33,469 beavers, 356 black bears, three bald eagles and two grizzly bears. Have you heard of Wildlife Services?

http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/the-exterminators/Content?oid=1137944

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HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Predator Defense

Support HR 4775, (UPDATE: It’s now  HR4214)“The Compound 1080 & M-44 Elimination Act”, sponsored by Predator Defense. It’s stalled in Congress and needs our help.  Please call your representative and ask them to support this important legislation.  Eliminating the use of these deadly poisons against wildlife is critical!! Barbarous methods like these do not belong in the 21st century.  Make your voice heard!!

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Conservation groups have continually called on the USDA to end Wildlife Services’ mass killing of predators and other wildlife, yet they still operate with impunity at the bidding of big ranching.  What will it take for a policy change in Washington?

Contact President Obama and ask him to abolish this destructive agency, who is poisoning, trapping and shooting America’s wildlife.

President Obama

White House Phone Numbers

202-456-1414 (switchboard)
202-456-1111 (white house comment line)

comments@whitehouse.gov

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

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Group Calls for End to the War on Wildlife

WildEarth Guardians

Seeks End of Aerial Gunning & Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

http://idahostatejournal.com/news/national/article_3254d8c6-db91-11de-b8ab-001cc4c002e0.html

wolf pack in winter

FOR THE WOLVES, FOR THE WILD ONES

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Photo: Courtesy The Missoula Independent

Posted in: Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, Wolf Wars, gray wolf

Tags:  wolf intolerance, wolves or livestock, USDA, Wildlife Services, M-44, Compound 1080

Wolves…

Wolves – IMAX  enlightens us  regarding the true nature of  this iconic apex predator.  Some information is quite dated, traveling back to the heady days of wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies, specifically central Idaho.  The Nez Perce tribe, like other wolf advocates, had high hopes for the wolves’ return, after their long absence.  How the worm has turned.

Looking back, I see how we were all duped into thinking wolf reintroduction would have a happy ending.  In reality, it’s clear there was never any real intent to maintain a viable, robust population of wolves outside the national parks.  It seems “the plan” all along was to slaughter wolves  in trophy hunts or kill them outright when they  “recovered”.  Recovery is never defined, except in the outdated, original capitulation to ranching and hunting interests, of 100 wolves and ten breeding pairs per wolf state (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho) Those numbers are not based on science but politics and were never revised to reflect scientific findings or what constitutes a healthy wolf population in the Northern Rockies.  Wolf recovery is whatever the “wolf managers” deem it to be.  Ten wolves, a hundred, thousands?  That’s not a question the states seem interested in answering on their relentless march to decimate wolves .

The arrogance of  hunters and ranchers who think they have the right to dictate which animals will be allowed to exist on public lands,  is stunning.  These lands belong to us all. They’re  lucky Americans have been “asleep at the wheel”, allowing the anti-wolf crowd to dictate policy to Western politicians, ready and eager to do their bidding.

Things won’t go their way forever.  Congress demonstrated that by stripping the Lummis wolf/ delisting rider from the budget bill. I’m sure it was due in large measure to the outpouring of anger and outrage by conservationists at the stunt Congress pulled this past Spring, delisting wolves in five Western states via budget rider. Doing the same thing again in the same year was not something the Dems were willing to risk, not this close to the 2012 elections.

I hope to see more victories for the wolf in the coming year.

During this holiday season, please take a minute to renew your pledge to do all you can for wolves in 2012. Please remember the 286 fallen wolves, taken so far in the brutal Idaho and Montana hunts. The hunts have splintered, divided and disrupted wolf families, leaving those who remain to struggle on, with no guarantee they’ll live to see another Spring.

For the wolves, For the wild ones,

Nabeki

Video: YouTube Black7Cloud, IMAX Wolves – HD

Photo: Courtesy kewlwallpapers.com

Posted in: gray wolf, biodiversity

Tags: IMAX – Wolves HD, gray wolf, trophic cascades, Yellowstone National Park, wolf pack, wolf intolerance, Nez Perce

The War Against Wolves Continues Unabated…

I first posted this on September 29, 2009, just as the first wolf hunts were getting under way. I changed the title and photo but the content remains the same.

Nature Magazine examines reasons behind wolf hatred and the systematic campaign to remove them from the lower forty-eight.  It merits repeating that for thousands of years Native Americans were able to live with wolves and bears, while settlers saw them as a threat. Even the famed naturalist James Audubon partook in torturing wolves, which was particularly shocking to learn.

From “Hating Wolves”

“In 1814, John James Audubon watched a farmer torture three wolves. The farmer had trapped them in a pit after they had killed his sheep and a colt. The man jumped into the pit armed only with a knife, hamstrung each wolf as they cowered in fear, and tied it up with a rope. Then he hauled them out one at a time and set his dogs on them as they scuffled crippled along the ground. Audubon was astounded by the meekness of the wolves and the glee with which the farmer went about his revenge, but he was not distressed. He and the farmer considered torturing wolves a “sport,” something both normal and enjoyable. The sadistic behavior did not warrant comment.”

As noted in Michael Robinson’s “Predatory Bureaucracy:  The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West”, the federal government became the wolf killing arm for the livestock industry. 

By understanding the roots of wolf prejudice it’s clear to see why wolves have been demonized in American culture.  The wolf  has paid dearly for these attitudes. Even though the same outdated beliefs exist today, we are moving forward to a clearer understanding of the important role predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Man cannot continue to play god, deciding which animals are good or bad.  Predators do not have ulterior motives, they hunt because it’s what they were born to do and by so doing contribute to the health and stamina of their prey.

Currently wolves are being hunted in Idaho and Montana. Idaho has not set a quota in most of the state and wants to take their wolves down to 150 animals or lower.  Montana set a very high quota of 220 out of 5oo plus wolves. Wildlife Services continues to slaughter them for minimal livestock losses, poachers kill them, they’re hit by cars, shot by ranchers, subject to SSS (shoot, shovel and shut-up). Their lives are hard, made almost unbearable by the constant persecution.

We’ve learned nothing from the past. Wolves were wiped out in the West not long ago and it looks like we’re headed down that long dark road once more.

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From Nature Online:

Wolf Wars: America’s Campaign to Eradicate the Wolf

 Wolves have been feared, hated, and persecuted for hundreds of years in North America. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans incorporated wolves into their legends and rituals, portraying them as ferocious warriors in some traditions and thieving spirits in others. European Americans, however, simply despised wolves. Many, including celebrated painter and naturalist John James Audubon, believed wolves ought to be eradicated for the threat they posed to valuable livestock. This attitude enabled a centuries-long extermination campaign that nearly wiped out the gray wolf in the continental United States by 1950.

Origins of Wolf Hatred

In the New World, two top predators – wolves and men – that otherwise would have avoided each other clashed over livestock. In Vicious: Wolves and Men in America, Jon T. Coleman writes:

Wolves had a ghostly presence in colonial landscapes. Settlers heard howls, but they rarely spotted their serenaders. The fearsome beasts avoided humans. People frightened them, and colonists knew this: “They are fearefull Curres,” reported Thomas Morton in 1637, “and will runne away from a man (that meeteth them by chance at a banke end) as fast as any fearefull dogge.”

Because humans and wolves frightened one another, they logically avoided confrontation, opening space between the species. But that space closed when European colonists brought horses, cattle, sheep and pigs with them over the perilous journey across the Atlantic. Without these animals – sources of food and transportation for the European settlers – the colonies would have failed. But because most early colonial communities were small, livestock often grazed on the periphery of the settlements with little protection. Their pastures abutted and bled into the wild, exposing the animals to hungry wolves in search of prey. Wolves quickly learned that docile cattle and sheep made easy meals. Suddenly, colonists found their livelihoods in danger, and they lashed out at wolves, both with physical violence and folklore that ensured wolf hatred would be passed down from one generation to the next.

Amateur and Professional Wolf Baiting

The campaign to eradicate wolves in North America began with private landowners and farmers baiting and trapping wolves. Often, colonists turned wolf baiting into both sport and protection for their livestock. Jon T. Coleman describes an incident that took place in the winter of 1814 deep in the Ohio River Valley, in which John James Audubon assists a farmer as he mutilates trapped wolves.

During the fall, a pack of wolves had robbed [the farmer] of “nearly the whole of his sheep and one of his colts.” For him, it made sense to devote his winter labor to digging pits, weaving platforms, hunting bait, and setting and checking his traps twice daily. The animals had injured him, and “he was now ‘paying them off in full.’” Audubon’s reaction to the slaying of the wolves is less understandable … The ingenious pit traps amazed him, as did the fearsome predators’ meek behavior and the childlike glee the farmer took in his work. The violence Audubon witnessed, however, did not shock him. Watching a pack of dogs rip apart terrified and defenseless animals was a “sport” both he and the farmer found enjoyable.

Further west, in Yellowstone National Park, wolf baiting and hunting had become a lucrative profession. Paul Schullery, in his guidebook to Yellowstone wolves (The Yellowstone Wolf: A Guide & Sourcebook), describes the profession and the devastating affect it had on the Yellowstone wolf population: “At least as early as 1877, ungulate carcasses in the park were poisoned with strychnine by free-lance ‘wolfers’ for ‘wolf or wolverine bait.’ By 1880, [Yellowstone National Park] Superintendent [Philetus] Norris stated in his annual report that ‘…the value of their [wolves and coyotes] hides and their easy slaughter with strychnine-poisoned carcasses have nearly led to their extermination.’”

In the Southwest, as settlers depleted bison, elk, deer, and moose populations – the wolves’ natural prey – the predators turned more and more to picking off livestock. In states like New Mexico where cattle ranching was big business, ranchers responded by turning to professional wolfers and bounty hunters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports, “To protect livestock, ranchers and government agencies began an eradication campaign. Bounty programs initiated in the 19th century continued as late as 1965, offering $20 to $50 per wolf. Wolves were trapped, shot, dug from their dens, and hunted with dogs. Poisoned animal carcasses were left out for wolves, a practice that also killed eagles, ravens, foxes, bears, and other animals that fed on the tainted carrion.”

Government-Sanctioned Wolf Extermination Programs

Towards the end of the 19th Century, wealthy livestock owners increased both their demand for wider grazing ranges and their influence over policymakers in Washington, D.C. In 1885, the federal government established the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, initially chartered to research insects and birds. However, the livestock lobby quickly diverted the Bureau’s attention to wolves. Stockowners complained that their land was infested with wolves, calling them “breeding grounds.” They demanded the federal government secure their land for safe pasturage.

In 1906, the U.S. Forest Service acquiesced to the stockowners and enlisted the help of the Bureau of Biological Survey to clear cattle ranges of gray wolves. In other words, the Bureau became a wolf-extermination unit. Bruce Hampton writes in The Great American Wolf:

Government Wolf Trapper

That same year [1906], bureau biologist Vernon Bailey traveled to Wyoming and New Mexico to investigate the extent of wolf and coyote depredations. Upon Bailey’s return to Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt invited him to the White House to see what he had learned. Although there is no record of their conversation, immediately following Bailey’s meeting the President, the Biological Survey recommended that the government begin “devising methods for the destruction of the animals [wolves].”

By the middle of the 20th Century, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Only a small population remained in northeastern Minnesota and Michigan. Yet the Bureau of Biological Survey was still disseminating anti-wolf propaganda as late as 1940. One poster from the time read:

According to estimates of stockmen [the Custer Wolf, pictured in the poster] killed $25,000 worth of cattle during the seven years he was known in the vicinity of Custer, South Dakota … A local bounty of $500 failed to secure his capture. A Department hunter ended his career of destruction by a skillfully set trap. Many notorious wolves are known to have killed cattle valued at $3000 to $5000 in a year. More than 3,849 wolves have been destroyed by the predatory animal work of the Department and its cooperators since the work was organized in 1915.

It was not until the late sixties, when a greater understanding of natural ecosystems began changing attitudes in the scientific community and the National Park Service, that the plight of wolves in North America began to improve.

In 1973, Congress gave gray wolves protection under the Endangered Species Act. According to Douglas Smith and Gary Ferguson, in Yellowstone National Park, where the last gray wolf was killed in 1926, “the entire [gray wolf] restoration program was guided by directives contained in the Endangered Species Act – a law created to ground a decades-old cornerstone of science that says the healthiest, most stable natural systems tend to be those with high levels of biodiversity.”

Since then, wolf populations throughout the country have increased. In 1995 and 1996, researchers in Yellowstone National Park released 31 Canadian gray wolves back into the wild. The event was hailed as a testament to the conservation movement’s efforts to revive wild wolf populations in America. Yet antiwolf attitudes persist. Shortly after the release of the Yellowstone wolves a hunter shot and killed Wolf Number 10. Smith and Ferguson write about the incident: “As disturbing as the shooting itself was, more unsavory still was the reaction of a handful of locals who cheered the killing, calling it an act of heroism.”

Photos © Arizona Historical Society

Sources

Coleman, Jon T. Vicious: Wolves and Men in America. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2004.

Hampton, Bruce. The Great American Wolf. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997.

Robinson, Michael J. Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West. University Press of Colorado, 2005.

Schullery, Paul. The Yellowstone Wolf: A Guide & Sourcebook. Worland, Wymoning: High Plains Publishing Company, Inc., 1996.

Smith, Douglas W. and Gary Ferguson. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone. Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press, 2005.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Gray Wolf Fact Sheet. [updated January 2007; cited November 2008]

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/the-wolf-that-changed-america/wolf-wars-americas-campaign-to-eradicate-the-wolf/4312/

Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Wolf  Wars

Tags:  gray wolf, wolves or livestock, wolf intolerance

Published in: on October 28, 2011 at 5:06 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , ,

Political Wolf Hunts….

21 Idaho wolves and 7 Montana wolves have been killed in the hunts, that number is going to climb very quickly once the cold weather arrives and forest cover is gone.  Trapping in Idaho will lay wolves low. You will see the numbers of dead wolves skyrocket into the hundreds and all this is completely unnecessary.

There is no reason to hunt wolves, it’s a political witch hunt. The livestock industries’ hysteria concerning wolves is pure theater.   Here are the cattle loss figures for 2010:

 Cattle Losses 2010
Non-predation (NASS)
Idaho 86, 900
Montana 74,800
Wyoming 37,100

Total Non-Predation:  198,800 cows

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Wolf Predation (USFWS)
Idaho 75
Montana 87
Wyoming 26
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Total wolf predation: 188 cows

AND

Even though the hunts are in full swing, Wildlife Services is still killing wolves, paid for by the American people. Remember the recent aerial gunning of  3 wolves on the Peavey Flat Top Ranch in Idaho?

The livestock wolf paradigm is a fairy tale, told to justify the quest for a predator free landscape. Yet almost every media report concerning wolves concentrates on ranchers and cattle losses.

Coyotes are the number one predator of cattle, namely calves but even the little “song dog” does very little damage. Please stop listening to this drivel and arm yourself with facts. This wolf hunt is Salem, Massachusetts all over again.

Myth drives these political hunts.  One of the most repeated is,  “wolves are decimating game herds” , another over the top accusation. Did you know there are almost 400,000 elk in the three wolf states?

Montana 150,000 elk

Idaho 103,000 elk

(up from 101,000 in 2010)

Wyoming 120,000 elk.

That is a huge number of elk. The fish and game agencies are turning our forests into giant game farms. Are wildlife advocates expected to sit idly by while predators are decimated to placate hunters and ranchers?

On the PBS special,  “Cowboys vs. Gray Wolves: Predator Once Again Prey”, wolf biologist, Doug Smith, gave  this statement:

He was asked by the interviewer: Is it healthy enough to allow a certain amount of  (wolf) hunting?

Doug Smith: The short answer is yes. Wolves are tough to live with. they need tolerance from humans. Wolves aren’t going to get that unless problems can be solved. It appears, there’s not really hard studies on this, that social tolerance increases with wolf hunting.

Interviewer: You heard right. Doug Smith, the wolfman of Yellowstone. is OK with wolf hunting. within limits.”

So if there are no hard studies on the hypothesis that social tolerance of wolves increases with wolf hunting, why make that statement? In fact there is plenty of evidence that supports the opposite view. No matter how many wolves are killed it will never be enough for some. It’s convenient to have a voiceless, scapegoat to blame for an unhappy life.

All one has to do is visit FB and read the vitriol, view the tortured bodies of dead wolves, to know hunting wolves will never placate these people.  They hate without reason. It’s a repeat of the same attitudes that were present 100 years ago. It’s the very reason wolves need the protection of the ESA.

Pick up a newspaper and read the endless whining from ranchers about wolves. They are asking us to believe that losing 75 cows to wolves, compared to 80,000 from non-predation, is a wolf crisis? Totally ridiculous. Is this tolerance?

 In sixteen years, ranchers have not developed a “social tolerance” for wolves that I can observe.  There may be ranchers who don’t hold anti-wolf views but their voices are few and far between.

Hunters had their chance to hunt wolves in 2009 and the ugly rhetoric and demonizing of wolves has only increased in my opinion.  Idaho has a no quota hunt in most of the state, targeting 850 wolves.  Wyoming is planning a shoot-on-sight-plan, that would allow hunters or anyone to literally kill a wolf anytime, day or night, in any way possible.  No limits. Wolves are facing a blood bath of epic proportions in Idaho.  When the state takes their wolf population down to 150 animals will there then be tolerance? Do the majority of wolves have to die in the Northern Rockies before they are “accepted”?

This is the sad state of wolf politics.

Please visit Howl Across America. Channel your disillusionment and disgust  by organizing a protest or join an existing one. Think outside the box. You could plan a “run for wolves” if you’re a runner, a “bike for wolves” if you bike, a “motorcycle ride for wolves” if you’re a biker. Wolf advocate, Ann S., suggested a “dog walk for wolves”.  Whatever fits your comfort zone. The point is DO SOMETHING!! Think what a force we could be.

HOWL ACROSS AMERICA

http://facebook.com/howlacrossamerica

For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.
Simon Wiesenthal

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Top Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bottom Photo: Courtesy Howl Across America

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: Idaho wolf hunt, Montana wolf hunt, wolf slaughter, wolf intolerance, wolf persecution

Published in: on September 21, 2011 at 5:19 am  Comments (32)  
Tags: , , , ,
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