Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for Montana wolves, with the approval of trapping and no quotas during the upcoming 2012/2013 wolf hunt, now the state is proposing to turn the day-to-day management of wolves over to Wildlife Services!!
From Center For Biological Diversity
For Immediate Release, August 23, 2012
Montana to Give Wolf Management to Federal Agency With Legacy of Wolf-killing
SILVER CITY, N.M.— The state of Montana is proposing to turn most day-to-day management of wolves over to Wildlife Services — the same U.S. Department of Agriculture agency responsible for exterminating wolves throughout the West before they gained federal protection in the 1970s.
In a draft protocol released this month to address wolf-livestock conflicts, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks proposes transferring its authority to decide which wolves will be killed for livestock depredations to Wildlife Services, the federal agency that has killed millions of animals — including thousands of wolves — as part of its work to eradicate and suppress animals considered livestock predators or agricultural pests. The state would retain jurisdiction over public hunting seasons; unlike citizen hunters, Wildlife Services is not limited in where, or how many wolves, it can kill.
“Montana proposes to hand over key decisions on wolves, including how many will survive above a barebones minimum number, to the very federal agency that originally wiped out the West’s wolves,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that has advocated for western wolves for more than 20 years. “With no one looking over its shoulder, a secretive branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, partially funded by the livestock industry, will once again serve as prosecutor, judge and, most especially, executioner.”
According to the proposal, Wildlife Services will respond directly to ranchers’ complaints of cattle killed by wolves and could initiate aerial gunning of the animals it deems guilty, informing Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks of how many it has killed only later. Wildlife Services is funded not only by federal appropriations but by matching funds from livestock associations and/or the state and local counties.
Wildlife Services’ only constraints would come if the wolf population drops below 150 animals or 15 breeding pairs. At the end of last year, 653 wolves, including 39 breeding pairs, survived in the state.
A series of investigative articles this spring by Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson found that just since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed millions of animals using methods that are inhumane, illegal and ignore science. In his 2005 book Predatory Bureaucracy: the Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West, the Center’s Michael Robinson documented multiple instances of the agency circumventing or outright breaking rules intended to protect wildlife.
“Putting Montana’s wolves fully in Wildlife Services’ hands will mean two things,” said Robinson. “More wolves will die, and fewer people will know why.”
As a result of hunting and trapping in Idaho and Montana that was intended to drastically reduce wolf numbers, 545 of the 1,900-plus wolves in the two states have been killed over the past year. Additional wolves have been killed by Wildlife Services under criteria loosened since the removal of wolves from the endangered species list in May 2011.
In its decision last year to circumvent the Endangered Species Act and delist wolves by attaching a rider to a budget bill, Congress bypassed the Act’s requirement to adhere to the best available science. Federal courts had previously ruled that wolf delisting was illegal because the Fish and Wildlife Service disregarded scientific findings that wolves in Yellowstone National Park could become genetically isolated and that the wolf population still occupied only a small portion of its historic range.
Wolves are vital to their ecosystems. By deterring elk from browsing on cottonwood sprigs in low-visibility areas alongside rivers, the return of wolves has resulted in more stream side trees, benefiting beavers, fish and songbirds. By controlling the numbers of coyotes, the presence of wolves has led to increased numbers of foxes and pronghorn. Wolves also provide carrion from their leftovers, which is relied upon by scavenging animals such as badgers, eagles and bears.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Sacramento Bee’s Exposé On Wildlife Services
The killing agency: Wildlife Services’ brutal methods leave a trail of animal death
First of three parts
The day began with a drive across the desert, checking the snares he had placed in the sagebrush to catch coyotes.
Gary Strader, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stepped out of his truck near a ravine in Nevada and found something he hadn’t intended to kill.
There, strangled in a neck snare, was one of the most majestic birds in America, a federally protected golden eagle.
“I called my supervisor and said, ‘I just caught a golden eagle and it’s dead,’ ” said Strader. “He said, ‘Did anybody see it?’ I said, ‘Geez, I don’t think so.’
“He said, ‘If you think nobody saw it, go get a shovel and bury it and don’t say nothing to anybody.’ “
Wildlife Services’ deadly force opens Pandora’s box of environmental problems
Second of three parts
Like the prow of a ship, the Granite Mountains rise sharply from the creamy-white playa of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
Here, in rugged terrain owned by the American public, a little-known federal agency called Wildlife Services has waged an eight-year war against predators to try to help an iconic Western big-game species: mule deer.
With rifles, snares and aerial gunning, employees have killed 967 coyotes and 45 mountain lions at a cost of about $550,000. But like a mirage, the dream of protecting deer by killing predators has not materialized.
“It didn’t make a difference,” said Kelley Stewart, a large-mammal ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno.
For decades, Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has specialized in trapping, poisoning and shooting predators in large numbers, largely to protect livestock and, more recently, big game.
Now such killing is coming under fire from scientists, former employees and others who say it often doesn’t work and can set off a chain reaction of unintended, often negative consequences.
Unforgiving Snares and How They Work
Long struggles in leg-hold device make for gruesome deaths
No tool in Wildlife Services’ arsenal kills more non selectively – or slowly – than the leg-hold trap.
Since 2000, more than 90 species of wildlife have died by mistake in agency traps, including pronghorn antelope, mule deer, river otters, swift foxes, badgers, porcupines and federally protected bald eagles, government records show.
But whether animals are caught accidentally or not, they often struggle for days and die of exposure, injuries and other causes long before a trapper returns to the site.
And this is the agency Montana is going to entrust Montana wolves?
I’m proposing a write-in campaign to the 81 Senators who sold wolves out in the Northern Rockies and delisted them via budget rider. All US Senate Democrats voted for this horror except three, Wyden, Leahy and Levin. I will have more on the write-in campaign soon. We must hold them accountable for what they did and let the world know that Democrats, who say they support the ESA, betrayed wolves, while President Obama signed the bill into law. Obama has delisted wolves twice since he took office, a feat even George Bush couldn’t accomplish.
Now is the perfect time to hold them responsible for throwing wolves under the bus. There’s an election in just 2 1/2 months. We must demand they correct the terrible wrong perpetrated against wolves, letting them know wolves must be placed back on the Endangered Species list, where they won’t be subjected to wolf hunts and brutal state management. We can remind them if they choose to do nothing we won’t pull be pulling the lever for them come November.
Photo: Courtesy James Balog
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Montana wolves, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife
Tags: Wildlife Services, persecution of Montana wolves, MFWP, stand up for wolves, Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity