George Wuerthner To Speak On Predator Ecology: the Ecological Niche of Wolves On the Landscape

Wolves/Trophic Cascades

April 12, 2012

Groups Sponsoring Predator Ecology Program Next Week

Moscow- ID – Friends of the Clearwater, the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance, and the Kootenai Environmental Alliance are each sponsoring events next week with ecologist, author, and wildland photographer George Wuerthner. The title of the program, Predator Ecology: the Ecological Niche of Wolves On the Landscape will focus on why some scientists believe that robust wolf populations increase biodiversity production and are important for ecosystem health, and how hunting and trapping the iconic predator may lead to social disruption within the pack, potentially causing conflicts between wolves and humans. Wuerthner will be delivering a program in Moscow on Tuesday April 17, 7pm, at the 1912 Center 116 E. Third Street, in Sandpoint on Wednesday April 18, 6pm, at the Sandpoint Community Hall 204 South First Avenue, and in Coeur d’ Alene on Thursday April 19, 12pm, at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill 407 E. Sherman Avenue.

“The more we study predators, particularly wolves, the more we realize that they are essential to maintaining resilient ecosystems,” said Brett Haverstick, Education and Outreach Director for Friends of the Clearwater. “This is a great opportunity for members of the public to learn why wolves are so important to have on the landscape.”

With over five hundred wolves killed in Montana and Idaho since federal delisting, the groups are concerned that wolves are not being allowed to fill their natural order.

“Predators like grey wolves keep ungulate populations on the move, which helps prevent over browsing in riparian areas and leads to an increase in biodiversity,” said Ann Sydow, lead organizer with the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance. “We need our state agencies to stop demonizing wolves and instead give them a chance.”

Questions abound on what type of impact hunting and trapping wolves will have on the animal. Some people think the management model employed by Idaho will have a negative effect.

“Wolves are socially dynamic animals. When older wolves are removed from a pack, that can lead to social disruption, possibly causing younger, less experienced wolves to kill livestock,” said Adrienne Cronebaugh, Conservation Advocate for the Kootenai Environmental Alliance. “The more wolves we kill, the more conflicts we may see in the future. It doesn’t make sense.”


Photo:  Courtesy Wyo/File

Posted in: Biodiversity, gray wolf

Tags: Friends of the Clearwater, Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance,  Kootenai Environmental Alliance,  George Wuerthner, trophic cascades,  predator ecology

Published in: on April 14, 2012 at 2:07 am  Comments (17)  

Earth Island Journal: Trappergate Update by James William Gibson Josh Bransford with the black wolf he trapped. (Earth Island Journal)

Blog: The EnvironmentaList

Idaho Fish and Game Report Says Trapped Black Wolf Not Shot, “Just Nicked”


Trappergate Update: Conservation Activists Encouraged. “Our Moment is Coming,” They Say

Why me, Bill” asked “Elizabeth.”. “Why should anyone care about what I think the Bransford photos accomplished?” I’m just a wee, grubby misfit. I don’t even have one fancy title to my name.” Elizabeth (not her real name) lives in northern Idaho. She grasped that the photos showing smiling hunter Josh Bransford with a trapped black wolf standing in blood-drenched snow in the background would soon disappear. She saved the images and through the North Idaho Wolf Alliance network, got the photographs to Earth Island Journal in late March (Read the original story, Wolf Torture and Execution Continues in the Northern Rockies).

A light has been released, a light beyond my expectations,” Elizabeth says. “We have many new eyes peering into the gap between the ethical treatment of wildlife and legality in the state of Idaho… Josh Bransford is the face of but one man being used to render wolves functionally extinct region-wide, and since his disturbing actions are legal, officials won’t budge unless we the people demand change.”

Despite the worldwide publicity, the Bransford pictures got little attention in the  Idaho news media for the first two weeks after the story’s release. Bill Ross, a wolf handler at the Wolf People sanctuary in Cocolalla, Idaho, observed, “I don’t think the story’s really gotten off the ground yet. It’s not circulated among the general public here.” Ross fears that Bransford and the black wolf are “today’s news” and that “a week from now it won’t be news anymore.” Still, Ross soldiers on. “It can be discouraging, but if we don’t continue to fight, obviously there won’t be a fight,” he explains.

But Ross and the other Northern Rocky advocates got unexpected help on April 12, when the Idaho Fish and Game Service released its official report on Bransford’s “Wolf Trapping in the Red River area.”  (Bransford is a Nez Perce National Forest employee.)

photo of a man in the foreground kneeling, behind him a wolf is chained by a trap, a circle of bloodstained snow beneath
The photo in question. (Earth Island Journal)

While the photograph clearly shows the black wolf standing in a large blood-stained pool of snow, fish and game officials concluded the blood came from “nicks,” not bullets. Moreover, the report says: “the Forest Service officer and the deputy did not observe anyone shoot at the wolf and did not receive any indication that any of the individuals they contacted shot at the wolf.” Thus, since no law enforcement officer saw the wolf shot, and no one confessed to the shooting, then the wolf simply suffered “nicks” to its lower hind legs, and the nicks bled.

The report ignores Bransford’s own blog account about the incident on Trapperman: “I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS [Forrest Service] cop that I know. He said that You got one and you better get up here as there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already! Lucky they were not real good shots.”   Bransford, writing under the name “Pinching,” explains that once on the scene he talked to the boys who fired: “I was not mad, and when the boys told me the story I kind of chuckled… I would have done the same I think. They also did go out of there (sic) way to make sure I was called, and they didn’t hide from what they were doing.”

There’s also a serious problem between the report’s conclusion and the pictures of the black wolf. Gary MacFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director, of northern Idaho’s Friends of the Clearwater, contends that only two possible circumstances could lead to a wolf’s losing so much blood. One, the wolf could be shot. Second, the wolf could have tried to chew off its trapped leg.  But look at the photo of the wolf’s paw caught in Bransford’s trap. “It doesn’t look like the animal is trying to chew off its leg,” he says. “Somebody is lying. There’s a contradiction in the accounts.

Read More:


Photos: Courtesy Earth Island Journal

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Idaho Wolves, Animal Cruelty, Howling for Justice

Tags: Earth Island Journal,  Bill Gibson,  IDFG, trapped and tortured wolf,  Trappergate

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