Oregon’s Bad Wolf Management Plan Coming Home To Roost (As Predicted)

Wolves Howling Tumblr Gif

November 1, 2015

 Oregon is ready to delist wolves.

Anyone who’s read the Oregon wolf “management plan” could see this coming a mile away. There was major push-back against “the plan”  in 2010 because the number of breeding pairs needed to reach delisting was and is ridiculously low. So here we are, five years later and Oregon’s woefully inadequate wolf “management plan” is ready to kick in.

Please attend the ODFW meeting in Salem, Oregon on November 9th to speak out against the plan and delisting.

“ODFW staff believe gray wolves have met the criteria to be delisted from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will recommend this action to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their Nov. 9th meeting in Salem.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. at ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem. It is open to the public and public testimony will be accepted during the meeting. Consideration of wolf delisting is the only item on the agenda. Written comments will also be accepted until Friday Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. and can be sent to odfw.commission@state.or.us More information about the meeting is available at” http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/15/11_november/index.asp

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Washington state has a far superior wolf “management plan”. 

To reclassify from state threatened to state sensitive status: 12 successful breeding pairs present for 3 consecutive years, with 4 successful breeding pairs in each of the three recovery regions.

To delist from state sensitive status: 15 successful breeding pairs present for 3 consecutive years, with 4 successful breeding pairs in each of the three recovery regions and 3 successful breeding pairs anywhere in the state.

In addition to the delisting objective of 15 successful breeding pairs distributed in the three geographic regions for 3 consecutive years, an alternative delisting objective is also established whereby the gray wolf will be considered for delisting when 18 successful breeding pairs are present, with 4 successful breeding pairs in the Eastern Washington region, 4 successful breeding pairs in the Northern Cascades region, 4 successful breeding pairs distributed in the Southern Cascades and Northwest Coast region, and 6 anywhere in the state.

http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00001/

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But Oregon only requires four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in Eastern Oregon  to “be considered for statewide delisting”.  In Western Oregon, the goal is also four breeding pairs. The plan is divided into three parts. Phase three states:

“Under Phase 3 a limited controlled hunt could be allowed to decrease chronic depredation or reduce pressure on wild ungulates if confirmed wolf predation leads to declines in localized herds.”

Even in a state as progressive as Oregon, wolves are not safe. They will eventually be subjected to a wolf hunt and probably much sooner than everyone thinks. This proposed delisting will open a wolf Pandora’s box that will never close.

But let’s be blunt, the ONLY reason wolf management plans exist is to placate ranchers and hunters. Wolves don’t need managing. What we’ve done, by bringing wolves back from the brink in the lower 48, is place them in a cage they can’t escape. Wild wolves are not free. As I type this wolves in Montana and Idaho are being hunted and trapped. And if the USFWS has their way, all wolves across the lower 48,  will lose their ESA protections.

Rick Bass put it most eloquently, when describing the untenable conditions we force wolves to live under:

MAY WE 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 & AROUND WOLVES…Rick Bass

Wolves have been poached in almost every state they disperse to with the exception of California. Remember Echo, the little wolf who traveled hundreds of miles to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, only to be shot by a trophy hunter, using the “coyote excuse“? This is one of the deadliest threats to dispersing wolves Those two words, give the shooter a perfect alibi. It’s “he said, he said”. Or “she said, she said”. The wolf is dead, it’s the shooter’s word that counts.The sad stories go on and on, we all know them. And of course, even though wolves are still “supposedly protected” by the ESA across the continental US the USFWS does virtually nothing to curb or stop poaching. Poaching investigations go nowhere,  and most poachers go unpunished. The “coyote excuse” is accepted again and again by the USFWS as gospel.  But we all know the real reason why there are few prosecutions of wolf poachers, the USFWS isn’t interested in wolves dispersing out of the Northern Rockies/Pacific Northwest or Great Lakes, to reclaim lost habitat. Wolves currently inhabit less than 5% of their former range. Yet does it come as a surprise that wolf dispersal has been stopped cold outside of the areas I mentioned?   The odds are stacked against them as they face the likes of Wildlife Services, poachers, hostile state governments, hunters and ranchers. Wolves are trapped by man-made boundaries they dare not cross. Boundaries that hold no meaning for them but ultimately contribute to their deaths.

Wolves are unique, sentient beings, incredibly smart wild dogs devoted to their families. Yet hunted wolf populations are subjected to a deadly game of annual Russian Roulette, where wolf mothers, fathers, puppies and pack mates are brutally killed in the name of “management”.

Once pack structure is disrupted, it’s very difficult to keep the family together, as the plight of the alpha male of the Lamar Canyon Pack (755m) demonstrates. After losing his mate, the iconic, 06 Female, to a hunter’s bullet in 2012, he’s still attempting to restore his pack, trying to connect with his FOURTH potential mate. We have Rick Lamplugh, the author of In The Temple of the Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion In Wild Yellowstone, for shining a light on wolf 755m’s sad story.

One Bullet Kills an Entire Pack

Apr 02, 2014 | Rick Lamplugh
Wolf 755M alpha male of the Lamar Canyon Pack_Rick Lamplugh
Wolf 755M (right) was the alpha male of the Lamar Canyon Pack seen here with 889F (left) the fourth wolf with whom he has tried to restart a pack after his mate was shot and killed outside Yellowstone Nat’l Park.
 The results of legal wolf hunt are presented to the public as palatable statistics. Officials tell us, for example, that in the 2012-2013 hunts outside Yellowstone National Park twelve park wolves were killed. Six were collared wolves that–when alive–provided valuable research data. One of those collared wolves was the famous alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, dubbed “06” by wolf watchers.

Such statistics don’t begin to tell the whole story of the impact of one bullet on the delicate social structure of a pack, an arrangement much like that of an extended human family.

http://www.oregonwild.org/about/blog/one-bullet-kills-entire-pack

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Can you imagine, in human terms, someone randomly killing your mother, father, or children and still remaining a whole, functional family? The answer is obviously no. But because wolves are at the mercy of fish and game agencies who manage wildlife for hunters, the wolf’s family structure and what happens to those bonds is never considered. A wolf, is a wolf is a wolf as far as they’re concerned. Knock one down and they’ll just make more. How primitive, how insensitive, how backward. And that is what the wolves in Oregon are facing and what Montana and Idaho wolves are experiencing. And what the wolves in the Great Lakes were suffering until a federal judge placed them back on the Endangered Species List in December 2014. Don’t expect them to remain protected if the Obama USFWS has their wayy.

To treat wolves as disposable, never considering their family bonds and tight social order, is a grave injustice. BUT as long as they are “managed” under the iron fist of fish and game agencies, who DO NOT represent their interests, they will remain prisoners in their ancestral home.

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ODFW Believes Gray Wolf Should Be Delisted

Salem, Ore.— ODFW staff believe gray wolves have met the criteria to be delisted from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will recommend this action to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their Nov. 9th meeting in Salem.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. at ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem. It is open to the public and public testimony will be accepted during the meeting. Consideration of wolf delisting is the only item on the agenda. Written comments will also be accepted until Friday Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. and can be sent to odfw.commission@state.or.us More information about the meeting is available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/15/11_november/index.asp

Wolf management in Oregon is guided by the Wolf Plan, which was originally crafted in 2005 by a broad group of stakeholders balancing competing interests. The Plan called for initiating a process to consider delisting wolves from the state ESA when eastern Oregon had a population of four breeding pairs of wolves for three consecutive years, an objective met in January 2015.

State ESA law gives the Fish and Wildlife Commission authority to list and remove species from the Endangered Species List.

http://www.mycentraloregon.com/2015/10/29/odfw-believes-gray-wolf-should-be-delisted/

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Eastern Oregon Wolves Could Be Facing Delisting In 2015

OR11_odfw

OPB | Sept. 16, 2014 2:21 p.m. | Portland

Gray wolf populations are on the rise in Oregon, but that may not necessarily be good news for the animals.

The Statesman Journal reports  that the state may have enough potential wolf couples in 2015 for the minimum requirements to delist the animal.

“We were told in the beginning that when wolves first came to the county, we were waiting for that day,” said Todd Nash, wolf committee chairman for the Oregon Cattleman Association, in an interview with the newspaper.

According to Oregon’s Endangered Species Act, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife must verify four breeding pairs in eastern Oregon for three consecutive years.

In 2012, there were six pairs and last year the organization located four pairs. It’s predicted that 2014’s count won’t be complete until early next year, but early reports show more than four couples.

By removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list, ranchers would be permitted to use lethal force to defend their animals in more situations.

According to ODFW , shooting a wolf is considered a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of $6,250 fine and a year in jail.

https://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com/?p=27382

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Help Change Oregon’s Wolf Management Plan

June 21, 2010

Oregon Yearling Wolf Killed By Wildlife Services 2009

Guest Post by Katie, Oregon resident and wolf advocate.

June 21, 2010

The Oregon Wolf Management Plan is currently under a 5-year review and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments from the public until June 30th. However, before I tell you about the plan and its obstacles, here is a brief history of the Oregon wolves.

In Oregon, the last gray wolf was eradicated from the state by the 1940s. It was almost 60 years before another one was seen. The first wolf to migrate to the state in 1999 was recaptured and sent back to Idaho. In 2000, two more gray wolves made the journey, but sadly they were both killed; one by a car and one by bullet. The fact that wolves were returning was undeniable, so the state decided they needed a plan. The ODFW sat down with wolf advocates and livestock owners to decide what should be done. Though the livestock owners may have gotten more say in the plan, wolf advocates seemed glad to simply be getting wolves back in the state. The result was a wolf management plan that everyone agreed on. Oregon became one of the first states to willingly open the doors for gray wolves to return.

In 2008, a female Idaho wolf was located in Oregon using the signals from her radio collar. The gray wolf was identified as “B-300”. To bring more attention to wolf recovery in Oregon, the members of a local environmental group, called Oregon Wild, nicknamed the wolf “Sophie”. Eventually finding a mate, Sophie soon became the alpha female of the largest pack in Oregon with 10 wolves total; the Imnaha Pack. Another pack of four wolves was also discovered in 2008. Together, the two packs made up Oregon’s known gray wolf population of 14 individuals.

The plan seemed perfect. Wolves were returning and things seemed to be going well. However, in 2009, two yearling wolves were convicted of killing 29 domestic animals from five different incidents. When non-lethal techniques failed, Wildlife Services was sent in and killed both wolves. Personally, I don’t blame the wolves, they were just pups. Being too young to hunt elk, it was either that or starve. They had no known pack and just seemed to have traveled into Oregon from Idaho on their own. It is possible that their family was killed by a rival pack, but I believe it is more likely that they were killed for “management” purposes.

Now, in 2010, history seems to be repeating itself as two more wolves are being targeted by WS. With only 14 known wolves in the entire state, killing two individuals would be a huge loss. ODFW has also issued seven kill permits to local ranchers, which could spell disaster for such a fragile population.

CURRENT PLAN

Oregon current Wolf Management Plan included three phases for population recovery:

PHASE ONE

 “Wolves may be considered for statewide delisting once the population reaches four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in eastern Oregon…. The plan calls for managing wolves in western Oregon as if the species remains listed until the western Oregon wolf population reaches four breeding pairs.”

This means when there are four packs in eastern Oregon and four in western Oregon, wolves will be stripped of ESA protection statewide.

The average gray wolf pack size is about 8 wolves. If packs in Oregon follow the norm, then roughly 64 wolves will be present when they are delisted. A recent study suggests Oregon could support up to 2200 wolves and still maintain a healthy ecosystem. I don’t know about you, but 64 wolves doesn’t sound like recovered to me.

PHASE TWO:

 “Once the wolf is delisted, more options are available to address wolf-livestock conflict. While there are five to seven breeding pairs, landowners may kill a wolf involved in chronic depredation with a permit. Five to seven breeding pairs is considered the management population objective, or Phase 2.”

Five to seven breeding pairs? Oregon currently has two breeding pairs and seven landowners have been given permits to kill wolves. Again, five to seven breeding pairs is 40-56 wolves if they are the average pack size.

PHASE THREE

“Under Phase 3 a limited controlled hunt could be allowed to decrease chronic depredation or reduce pressure on wild ungulates if confirmed wolf predation leads to declines in localized herds.”

Sound familiar? Idaho and Montana initiated hunts mere months after wolves were delisted. The difference is there were 1500 wolves in Montana and Idaho when the first hunts began. In Oregon the hunt could start with less than 100.

To read the full Oregon Wolf Management Plan, go to http://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/docs/wolf_plan.pdf

As you can see, the Oregon Wolf Management Plan is weak and gives livestock owners plenty of tools to deal with wolf depredation. However, the Oregon Cattle Association wants more power. Since the plan is under a 5-year review, OCA is suggesting changes to the plan that will suit the cattle industry, not wolves.

OCA’S TESTIMONY

1. Delisting rules (combine the whole state and begin delisting when there are 4 breeding pairs statewide)”

Four breeding pairs would be approximately 32 wolves. Even if each pack was as big as Sophie’s that would still only be 40 wolves, which is definitely not recovered.

2. “Relocation, location, and translocation eliminated”

The current management plan allows for “problem” wolves to be relocated to the closest wilderness area. The closest wilderness area is usually where the wolf came from before it found the livestock. This part of the plan needs to be strengthened, not weakened.

3. Ownership of lands ,IE; state lands is the only lands the Oregon ESA has authority on”

They are asking to change Oregon’s ESA. Not only would this be bad for wolves, but it would also allow anyone to shoot any endangered animal if it was on their property. Remember, these are changes they want now, not when the gray wolf population is 60+, but when there are only 14 wolves in Oregon.

To see the full testimony from the Oregon Cattle Association, go to: http://www.oregonwild.org/fish_wildlife/bringing_wolves_back/OCA_Testimony.pdf

To see the testimony from Oregon Wild, a local environmental group, go to: http://www.oregonwild.org/fish_wildlife/bringing_wolves_back/oregon-wild-wolf-plan-review-testimony-3-12.10/

ODFW is currently accepting comments from the public about changes they should make to the plan. ODFW has not said what they are thinking of changing but the first draft is scheduled to be done some time in August. The deadline to comment is June 30th.

Email your comments to ODFW.Comments@state.or.us

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Talking Points:

 1. Make sure to let them know you want the wolf plan STRENGTHENED, not weakened. Tell them eight breeding pairs statewide are NOT enough. Mention the study that states Oregon could support 2200 gray wolves on its landscape.

 2. Wildlife officials need more options to relocate wolves. Suggest national or state parks, or larger wilderness areas.

 3. Ranchers need to do everything possible to protect their livestock before any action against wolves is even considered. Suggest proper fencing, fladery, radio collar activated sounds, guardian animals, lambing and calving sheds, frequent patrols of pastures, placing livestock in barns at night, and tracking packs to avoid placing cattle in areas where wolves are known to be.

4. Tell them wolves are more valuable alive than dead, because they are. Support this idea by stating Yellowstone Park makes $7-10 million annually from just wolves (The GYA brings in $35 million wolf generated dollars). Explain the positive impacts wolves have on the environment, like increasing beaver populations (beavers are Oregon’s state animal). Wolves keep ungulates moving, which prevents them from over-browsing vital beaver and songbird habitat. Wolves keep ungulate herds healthy by culling the weak, sick and old.

5. Tell them to increase the funding of the wolf plan. Currently the wolf plan is very underfunded and only has a few members on its management team.

6. If you don’t live in Oregon, you can choose to boycott the state if they weaken the management plan. Tell them you will not buy anything from Oregon or visit the state unless the plan is strengthened.

7.  Think of the Imnaha wolf pack and how much they need our help. Their exigence as a pack is in danger. How sad it would be to lose the only breeding pair of wolves in Oregon.

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Don’t forget to email your comments to ODFW and voice your opinion about the Oregon Wolf Management Plan. Comments@state.or.us

Sources Cited:

http://www.oregonwild.org

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

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/docs/wolf_plan.pdf  

http://www.oregonwild.org/fish_wildlife/bringing_wolves_back/OCA_Testimony.pdf  

http://www.yellowstonepark.com/MoreToKnow/ShowNewsDetails.aspx?newsid=132 

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Top Wolf Gif: Tumblr

Middle Photo: ODFW

Middle Photo: Courtesy Rick Lamplugh

Bottom Photo: ODFW

Posted in: Oregon wolves, Ranching and Hunting, Wolf Wars

Tags: Oregon, bad wolf management plan, delisting, ODFW, ranchers, poachers, wolf dispersal

URGENT!! Comment To Stop Buffalo Slaughter, Comment Period Ends Today, February 13, 2012

From the Buffalo Field Campaign

Comment to Stop Montana’s New Buffalo Firing Line!

Click Here To Comment

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Bison, Animal Cruelty, Action Alerts

Tags: Yellowstone Bison, Buffalo Field Campaign, Bison Slaughter, Montana FWP, Bison under fire

ODFW Extends Wolf Kill Permit Two More Months…..

May 2010 recording of the Imnaha wolf pack howling.  Click link below to listen.

wolves-holwing-4_08_102.mov

Courtesy Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Well so much for progressive thinking in Oregon. Cattle trump wolves again.  The ranchers are whining about six calf depredations when they’ve lost hundreds probably thousands of calves to coyotes, weather, disease. Why aren’t they complaining about that?

I want the figures on cows and calves lost to non-predation and predation other then wolves,  since the beginning of 2010.  The new NASS numbers should be out but won’t cover 2010.  Stop acting like this is a big crisis. I’m sick of it. WOLVES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. PEOPLE ARE THE PROBLEM!!

Why is Wildlife Services being allowed to relentlessly track two Imnaha wolves for two more months when the last depredation was on June 4, almost a month ago? Let’s hear the reasoning ODFW??  Don’t forget to publish the number of dead cows from other causes.  This is kabuki theater to get wolves killed. SHAME!!! 

Kabuki Theater

Oregon is turning out to be just as hostile to wolves as the rest of the Northern Rockies. How pathetic they can’t co-exist with FOURTEEN WOLVES??? Also the alpha male or father of the Imnaha wolf pack is STILL MISSING. I’m convinced  he’s dead, although I hope I’m wrong.  No way would he stay away from his mate and their pups this long.

BTW, Oregon’s Governor denied a direct appeal to grant clemency to the two wolves Wildlife Services is hunting.  Write to him!

FROM NATURAL OREGON: 

Oregon Wolf Hunt Extended Two More Months, ODFW Defends Its Actions

June 25, 2010

By Dennis Newman

Still missing. The alpha male of the Imnaha pack hasn’t been seen or heard from since May 31st. ODFW photo.

The hunt for two wolves in Wallowa County could last all summer long. That’s the latest word from Oregon Fish and Wildlife.

ODFW is now giving federal agents until the end of August to kill two members of the Imnaha pack. It’s the third time ODFW has extended the hunt.

Also new, ODFW is answering critics in the environmental community who think the agency is violating its own rules, and letting the wolf hunt drag out for too long.

“Chronic Depredation”

ODFW has extended the wolf hunt to stop what it says is “chronic depredation” of livestock in Wallowa County. There are six confirmed cases of wolf kills so far this year, and a few more unconfirmed cases. And even though there haven’t been any new attacks since June 4, ODFW says wolves are still being spotted in the area. In last week’s announcement, ODFW said it believed the wolves were moving away from private land.

Spokesperson Michelle Dennehy says all of this is allowed under the Wolf Management Plan which says wildlife officials can kill wolves to stop repeated attacks on livestock.

Rules Remain The Same

The rules governing the hunt remain the same. USDA Wildlife Services is only allowed to kill wolves without tracking collars. That’s designed to protect the breeding pair of the Imnaha Pack. Both the alpha male and female should be wearing collars. So should three other pack members. That leaves five of the ten member pack vulnerable to being killed.

The hunting is limited to privately owned pasture land near where the earlier attacks took place, and the size of the area where hunting is allowed hasn’t changed since June 9th.

 By the way, the alpha male is still missing. His collar stopped operating May 31st and ODFW has had no contact with him since then.

 Ranchers Are “Cooperating”

 Part of the dispute is about whether ranchers are doing everything they should to prevent wolf attacks. The wolf plan says non-lethal methods must be tried first, before wolves can be killed. The Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Oregon Wild say ranchers could be doing more. For example, they say some ranchers are leaving carcasses out in the open where they attract wolves, when they should be burying them.

 Dennehy says ODFW is getting good cooperation from Wallowa County ranchers. Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail she sent earlier.

 “Yes carcass piles can be a problem but ODFW believes ranchers have been very cooperative in carrying out non-lethal measures. We’ll continue to work with ranchers on non-lethal measures; it’s an ongoing project.”

 “Unfortunately, the non-lethal measures weren’t very effective–we have had six confirmed losses to wolves.”

Environmentalists Say…

 Oregon Wild tells me they’re not surprised by today’s news. Rob Klavins writes…

 The best that can be said now is that at least ODFW is being honest that this is essentially an open-ended kill order that won’t be rescinded until 2 of Oregon’s 14 endangered wolves are killed.  ODFW has violated both the spirit and letter of it’s own Wolf Conservation & Management Plan.  We have reluctantly supported the compromise plan in the belief that it would lead to science-based management of wolves that would only turn to lethal control as an option of last resort.  Trying to “send a message to the pack” through revenge killings weeks later is not science-based management.

 Time Running Out For Wolf Plan Comments

We’re now in our final days to comment on Oregon’s Wolf Plan. It’s undergoing a five year review period. ODFW is taking public comments until June 30, or Wednesday. Email them to ODFW.Comments@state.or.us. It will incorporate those comments into a revised plan that will be released later this summer.

http://www.naturaloregon.org/2010/06/25/oregon-wolf-hunt-extended-for-two-more-months-odfw-defends-its-actions/

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Time To Speak Up For Oregon’s  Wolves

http://www.naturaloregon.org/2010/06/08/time-to-speak-up-for-oregons-wolves/

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Contact: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski

http://governor.oregon.gov/Gov/contact_us.shtml

OR

“To get a message to the governor contact the office of Mike Carrier, Natural Resources Director: Jo Bell, Executive Assistant, 503-986-6525, jo.l.bell@state.or.us   Assistant to Mike Carrier “

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

3406 Cherry Avenue N.E. 

Salem, OR 97303

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ODFW WILDLIFE DIVISION STAFF DIRECTORY

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/directory/wildlife_division.asp

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Main Phone (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-ODFW [6339]

Comments:  odfw.info@state.or.us

To Enter Your Opinion About This Issue Into Public Record: Contact: odfw.comments@state.or.us

 

Photo: Courtesy ODFW

Photo: Kabuki Courtesy Nihon Daisuki

Posted In: Oregon wolves, Wolf Wars, Ranching and hunting influence

Tags: Imnaha Wolf Pack, wolf intolerence, ODFW bows to ranching pressure

A WEST WITHOUT WOLVES……The Livestock Industry Hamstrings Wolf Recovery

On public lands in the great western ecosystem, livestock will not have priority. The grazing of livestock will and must be subordinated to the natural order of the bison and the predator……

 Former secretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt, speaking at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, January 2001

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Ranching has tremendous power and influence in the West, shaping policy and politics in the region. This has effected wolves for over a  century and until the balance of power shifts, wolves will continue to be caught in the crossfire.  

Michael Robinson explains how the livestock industry has done everything in it’s considerable power to rid the West of wolves. Their influence hangs over wolf recovery like a shroud, hampering it’s progress and causing countless wolves to lose their lives.

The article is dated but it clearly makes the case wolves are considered pests by agribusiness to be eliminated not recovered.  He wrote this piece while he was finishing his ground breaking book,Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and The Transformation of the West, published in 2005

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The Livestock Industry Hamstrings Wolf Recovery

By Michael Robinson

In the early twentieth century, the livestock industry lobbied for a government-sponsored campaign to eliminate wolves from the West. Today, the livestock industry is the major obstacle to wolf recovery. Cases in the northern Rockies and the Southwest illustrate how wolf management remains highly biased in favor of stock growers, even on public lands. Wolf predation was once a significant ecological force in many western ecosystems; public lands livestock grazing is at odds both with full wolf recovery and with ecosystem restoration.

Wolves were exterminated from the American West by a concerted campaign mounted by federal hunters and funded with local, state, and federal revenues. Using poison, traps, and bullets, the government pursued each wolf with the avowed goal of wiping the species off the face of the Earth.

The livestock industry was the sole beneficiary of, and the greatest political impetus for, this campaign. Today, the livestock industry stands at the heart of the opposition to wolf recovery and has blocked, hampered, and sabotaged reintroduction programs throughout the West. Unfortunately, the industry’s political clout has profoundly shaped wolf recovery programs that are supposed to be guided by science. (*instead it’s guided by pressure from ranching and hunting lobbies)

The Northern RockiesWolf reintroduction in the northern Rocky Mountains of Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho was contested by the livestock industry and its supporters in Congress for over two decades. Under the Endangered Species Act, critical habitat for a listed species is supposed to be designated, and the species protected from being killed-whether it is reintroduced or recovering through natural recolonization. However, because of the power of the livestock industry, the plan to reintroduce wolves to parts of Idaho and Wyoming resulted in a compromise that designated the wolves as an “experimental, nonessential” population. This designation meant there would be no special protections for wolf habitat and that wolves that preyed on livestock would be killed or removed from the wild. Provisions were even made to allow ranchers themselves legally to kill wolves rather than waiting for government agents to show up and do the job.

The fact that cattle require huge quantities of water means they will always be vulnerable to wolves in the American West. For in this largely arid region, water and water-loving vegetation are so scarce, and scattered over such wide areas, that cattle must be similarly spread out, and that makes protecting them from wolves uneconomical; thus, as their forebears did, ranchers rely on federal agents to kill or remove wolves. Domestic sheep, much less numerous in the West than cattle, are even more vulnerable to predators, especially when flocks are not well protected. Thus, although wolves are a federally listed endangered species, their containment and control by the federal government constitutes one more subsidy that taxpayers provide the livestock industry in the West. (Some ranchers would no doubt happily dispense with this subsidy, as long as they were free to kill wolves at will, including putting out poison baits for them, as was common in the nineteenth century.)

Since gray wolves were released into Idaho and Wyoming in 1995, the federal government’s “Wildlife Services” has executed numerous “control actions” because of wolf-livestock conflicts, killing a few dozen wolves (now thousands of wolves) either known or suspected of attacking cows or sheep. Particularly egregious has been the capture or “lethal control” of wolves on public lands. Privately owned livestock grazing on public lands clearly take priority over endangered gray wolves, restored at public expense. In addition, somewhere between ten and twenty wolves have been killed illegally in the reintroduction areas. In most of these cases, the perpetrator was never identified or charged.

Read the rest of the article:

Wolf Photos: Courtesy SigmaEye Flickr

Cattle Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Public Land Degradation by Livestock, gray wolf/canis lupus, ranching and hunting influence, Wolf Wars

Tags: Wolves or livestock, wolf intolerance, Revised 10j rule bad for wolves, cattle, wolves in the crossfire

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