I haven’t posted in several days and some of you may wonder why? It’s not that I’ve given up or am less interested in justice for gray wolves. It’s because fighting the relentless persecution of wolves is tiring. I’ve written thousands and thousands of words about the gray wolves’ plight; many, many nights not turning off the lights until the sun had started to rise on a new day. But that’s what being a passionate wolf advocate is all about. I do it because I care.
Let’s take a look back at some of the things, not all, that have happened to wolves and wolf advocates in the last 26 months.
In the Spring of 2009 the Obama administration unceremoniously kicked wolves off the endangered species list, Just mere months after that fateful decision, wolves were being hunted in Montana and Idaho. Has that EVER happened to a newly delisted species?? EVER?? Then to make matters worse, Montana opens its hunt right outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park, which decimated the park’s iconic and studied Cottonwood Pack. Hunters were waiting near park borders for wolves to cross over. Those wolves were sitting ducks, not as wary of people as they should have been because they’d been habituated by the presence of millions of visitors that frequent the park each year. If that wasn’t bad enough, three wolves were poached in Montana during the hunt and not added to the 75 wolf quota. And of course Wildlife Services was busy killing wolves in Montana as well.
Meanwhile, even though the Idaho wolf hunt was supposed to end on December 31, 2009, the commissioners decided to extend it all the way to March 31, 2o1o, right through wolf breeding and denning season. That’s a seven month-long hunt. Who cares if pregnant or lactating females die along with their pups? Apparently not anybody at fish and game. But then we all knew that didn’t we? That’s why wolf advocates have been shouting so loudly. Don’t turn wolves over to these people, they want to kill them!!!
Environmentalists fought back with a lawsuit, filed in the fall of 2009, challenging the delsting of wolves in the Northern Rockies. It took almost a year to settle but in August of 2010, Judge Molloy placed wolves back under the protection of the ESA. That’s when the real fun began. The anti-wolf crowd was losing in court so they decided to switch tactics. They teamed up with Western politicians, itching to score points with hunters and ranchers on the “wolf issue”. So the 111th Congress got involved. I can’t even count the number of anti-wolf bills that were introduced. But because it was late in the Congressional year, none of the bills went anywhere. A little back room dealing was reported. Apparently there was an effort to delist wolves by appropriation rider but it fell flat.
Wolf advocates were EXHAUSTED, the delisting, the relisting, the poaching, the hunts, the lies, the demonization of wolves and on and on. And more Wildlife Services ugliness against wolves.
It wasn’t long before Congress reconvened and the 112th picked up the persecution of wolves where the 111th Congress left off. Anti-wolf bills were piling up again. Then it got sinister. The Democrats and Republicans were engaged in a budget war. The sneaky wolf delsting rider started in the House of Representatives when Rep. Simpson (ID-R) introduced it into a must-pass- budget-bill. The bill passed the House and traveled to the Senate. Senator Tester (MT-D) convinced the Democrat leadership in the Senate to once again slip the wolf delisting rider into the budget bill. Sen Tester was locked in a tough campaign for his Senate seat against Denny Rehberg (R-MT), who also wanted wolves delisted. Basically they were trying to “out wolf” each other.
We all know how the story ended. 81 senators voted for the budget bill with the wolf delisting rider tucked safely inside. It passed overwhelmingly, only three Democrats voted against it.
Shockingly the Democrat Party betrayed wolves, just threw them under the bus. They did it in hopes of helping Senator Tester keep his Senate seat in the 2012 election and therefore secure their shaky Senate majority. Because of that treachery wolves and the ESA suffered together. Aside from the Senate’s actions being wholly wrong and disgraceful, they opened the door for other endangered species, who may inconveniently get in the way of someone’s agenda, to suffer the same fate. Who will be next? Grizzlies? Salmon?
Where do we stand now? Well Idaho is planning a no-quota wolf hunt in most of their state for 2011. They want to use baiting, calling, trapping, snares, archery and of course guns on those hapless wolves. Montana raised their wolf quota to 220 for the 2o11 hunt, with archery on the table as well. Of course WS continues to kill wolves the way they have been doing. If the hunts go forward, the pups of this year will only be 4 to 5 months old. They will die along with their parents either by starvation or outright killing.
There is a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the wolf delisting rider. It was brought by Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and then joined by WildEarth Guardians. The Center for Biological Diversity also filed suit and was joined by Western Watersheds Project. At the end of this month Judge Molloy will hold hearings on this litigation. We can only hope he reverses this horrific delisting-budget-rider by finding it unconstitutional.
Photo: Courtesy Eric Begin Flickr Commons
Posted in: Wolf Wars
Tags: wolf persecution, never ending story, wolf advocate, battle weary, Montana wolves, Idaho wolves, US Senate, wolf delisting rider, Judge Molloy