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

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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

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