Something disturbing is going on. Montana FWP is pulling out all the stops to find a way to circumvent the ESA and kill wolves. They are desperate to have a wolf hunt THIS YEAR. Wolves in the Northern Rockies just regained their protections on August 5th, after a horrific year of slaughter. Now they are facing new, very real threats.
What Montana FWP is up to and why you should be very concerned:
1. They’ve formed a coalition with the anti-wolf crowd. On August 20th, at the Helena Red Lion Colonial Inn, Montana FWP met with ten hunting and ranching groups with the purpose of forming a coalition to explore ways to strip gray wolves of their ESA protections.
One of the hunting requests involves asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services for an “enhancement of survival permit application” to be processed and issued by Nov. 30, which would allow wolves to be hunted this year. Under that request, the state is saying that a conservation hunting season for wolves would enhance the survival of the species, according to Dave Risley, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks fish and wildlife division administrator. (So they want to kill wolves to save wolves. Hmmm where have I heard that before? Click here)
“The 10(a)(1)(A) permit is a mechanism under the Endangered Species Act that allows for the lawful taking of a listed species,” Risley said. “It would allow us to salvage some type of hunting season.”
“FWP also is making a simultaneous request that the federal agency downlist wolves in the northern half of the state from endangered to threatened, which could allow a statewide conservation hunt in 2011. They’re listed as an experimental population in the southern tier of Montana.”
(They can’t accept that wolves in Northwestern Montana are now fully protected, not an experimental population. Wolves south of I-90 are labeled experimental, which is a terrible concession to ranchers dating from the original wolf recovery plan, making it easier to kill wolves for minimal depredations.)
“We view the use of public hunting as the optimum population management tool,” FWP Director Joe Maurier wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Rowan Gould, the USFWS acting director.
He added that while Montana wants to work with the USFWS in a “collaborative, proactive manner,” that “time is of the essence” and asked for a written response to the requests by Sept. 10.
On a separate track, FWP has drafted legislative language asking Congress to reaffirm its original intent in enacting the Endangered Species Act and its subsequent amendments. In particular, the state wants Congress to say that species can have different classifications in different significant portions of the species’ range. That legislation would have to be carried by Montana’s congressional delegation.
The FWP Commission also passed a resolution saying they believe the Endangered Species Act needs to be reformed, and will send that statement, along with a cover letter, to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“We’re using a shotgun approach, rather than a BB gun,” noted Bob Ream, commission chairman.
This list doesn’t include Representative Rehburg’s declaration that he will support House Bill 6028, which was introduced by a Congressman from Texas. It aims to re-write the ESA, excluding gray wolves from it’s protection.
Just days before a federal judge reinstated protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, a Texas lawmaker introduced a little-noticed resolution that would prohibit wolves from being considered a threatened species. H.R. 6028, introduced by Republican Congressman Chet Edwards on July 30, basically adds one line to the Endangered Species Act.
Here’s the bill:
Montana Senators Baucus and Tester, both Democrats, vow to introduce legislation in the Senate similar to House bill 6028. Once upon a time I believed Democrats were better on the environment but after the Obama administration picked a rancher to head the Interior and then delisted wolves, I’ve lost faith in them. Now two Democrat Senators are turning their back on the ESA. I never thought I would see that in my lifetime. Shame on them for playing politics with wolves lives, pandering to ranching and hunting lobbies, trying to gut one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation. If it wasn’t for the ESA, wolves would never have made a comeback! Do they so easily forget wolves were exterminated in the West by the feds?
What are we to make of all this? The power of the state of Montana ganging up on wolves in a big way, unable to accept Judge Molloy’s decision, frantically searching for any loophole to allow a wolf hunt. All this over 500 wolves in a state that has more cows than people. Minnesota’s wolf population exceeds 4500. Wisconsin and Michigan each have over 700 wolves. The Great Lakes Region is home to millions of people, ten million in Michigan alone, yet Montana, the third largest state in the lower forty-eight thinks 500 wolves is too many. They are so afraid of offending hunters, ranchers and outfitters they’ve apparently forgotten they represent ALL the citizens of the state, not just a few interest groups.
Where is the media on this? When was the last time you read a positive editorial about wolves? Can you remember? The majority of articles revolve around the opinions of Montana FWP and the triad of ranchers, hunters and outfitters. Occasionally there will be a blurb from a wolf advocate or environmental organization, expressing their concern or outrage but that’s it, a few little lines. Why isn’t the media looking into or writing about the “anti-wolf coalition”? Is the press even mildly curious to determine if it was even legal? Is investigative journalism dead?
Ironically Montana Commissioner Dan Vermillion made this statement, not understanding how foolish it sounded:
Changing the Endangered Species Act sounds like a tough, uphill job, but it’s important when you look at other species like grizzlies and sage grouse,” said Commissioner Dan Vermillion. “Montana has done a good job managing wildlife and we need to make sure we are not penalized because of other states’ actions.” (The only thing I agree with in this statement is changing the ESA will be more than an uphill job, it will be a battle!! Frankly, people are sick and tired of the abusive way America’s wildlife is being exploited. Just think about the millions of wildlife killed, especially our native carnivores at the hands of the ridiculously named Wildlife Services, the extermination arm of the USDA.
When did they get the idea our wildlife belongs to them, to use and abuse as they see fit? They work for us, not the other way around.)
Oh yes, Montana has done a wonderful job “managing wildlife”. First could they drop the word “manage” and just say kill? When you hear the word “manage” in reference to wolves, you can “bet the farm” it means kill wolves. So let’s stop playing word games.
Do the “wolf managers” truly believe they’ve done a sterling job concerning wolves in Montana? Are they so deluded they actually believe their own rhetoric? From my perspective it seems they believe wolves are a nuisance needing to be ‘managed” down to ridiculously low numbers. What type of scientific studies are they basing this thinking on? I remember reading a wolf report written by Montana FWP that discusses Cristina Eisenburg, the wolf biologist, leading a three-year study on trophic cascades. I fleetingly thought this was a positive step , that FWP recognized wolves have a positive effect on the environment, until I read what they were looking for. The question they wanted answered is how many wolves would it take to produce the effect? In other words, how few could they get away with and still benefit from trophic cascades? My optimism quickly faded.
What upsets me is many of the people who work for the state game agencies are biologists. People that sought to educate themselves about nature, to study wildlife and do good. What the heck happened to these people? If you examine almost any fish and game agency, they are stocked with biologists who seem to have no problem carrying out mis-guided policies that get wolves and other native carnivores killed. I don’t understand it. I think of Gordon Haber, the biologist who spent his life studying wolves, specifically the wolves of Denali in Alaska. When he was killed in a plane crash last year, the wolves lost their champion. He’s the type of biologist I admire, true to his convictions, he stood up for what he believed in and he believed in those wolves!
Ever since Judge Molloy reinstated ESA protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, there has been a steady stream of whining, hand wringing, complaining and frantic behavior that I can only describe as sour grapes. This is the way poor losers act. Even if FWP didn’t agree with the Judge’s decision, there is a right way for state government to conduct itself. This is not it. Frankly, it’s embarrassing to watch. Any harebrained scheme will get consideration as long as it results in wolves losing their federal protections, leaving them defenseless against this onslaught.
Forget all the other crazy stuff going on, the fact a state agency formed a coalition with anti-wolf groups in one day, without any public comment, is egregious. The facade, that they represent all Montanans, has been swept away. We know where they stand.
This is not science, its pure politics. The revenues and interest the state received last year from the wolf cull (hunt) is something they desperately want to repeat.
Wolf advocates must fight back. I’m posting the links to the contact information of every member of the House of Representatives and Senate, so you can let them know we do not want anyone meddling with the ESA. No re-writing the language to exclude wolves. If they are allowed to get away with this, I can guarantee the next species targeted will be the grizzly bear. They are subject to the same persecution as wolves. Chris Servheen, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator, predicts the Continental Divide grizzlies will be delisted in 5 years. He pushed the delisting of the Yellowstone grizzlies, which Judge Molloy reversed. We all know how this will turn out for grizzlies. Even though the bears are protected under the ESA they are still shot and killed by hunters every year, who can’t seem to tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly. Grizzlies are hit by trains because grain often spills from railroad cars, causing bears to congregate around the tracks, increasing the likelihood they’re run over. The bears become habituated to garbage that people carelessly leave unsecured or bird seed scattered around. We’ve all heard the saying “a fed bear is a dead bear.” Grizzlies have one of the lowest birth rates among mammals, because they keep their babies with them for at least two years. It takes time to teach baby grizzlies how to navigate in their hazardous world.
Several years ago a Montana newspaper printed an opinion piece on grizzlies titled Grizzly Heaven/ Grizzly Hell. To paraphrase the article, Grizzly Heaven is anywhere there are zero people, Grizzly Hell is when bears come in contact with humans, which usually ends up badly for the bear. The same could be said for wolves. Wolf heaven is being away from people, free to raise their pups, hunt, care for each other and do what wolves should be doing. Wolf hell is being managed by a state agency that only seems to care about what a few interest groups want, without consideration of the wolf families destroyed by their policies, the puppies killed, the disruption of pack cohesiveness and the havoc they are wreaking.
Wolf Warriors now is the time to stand for wolves. Please support the National Wolf Recovery Petition, submitted to the Interior Secretary by the Center for Biological Diversity. Please take the time to read it. It moves wolf recovery away from numbers and concentrates on wolves repopulating their historic range. This is true wolf recovery, not wolves held hostage in states hostile to canis lupus, wanting to “manage them” out of existence. It moves wolf recovery away from “the numbers game” paradigm that’s haunted wolf recovery from the beginning. The clock is ticking, we must be pro-active, wolves need us more than ever.
Please write to Congress and express your outrage over the threats coming out of Montana, to strip wolves of their ESA protections. They need to hear the voices of the American people, not just a few special interest groups.
Congressional Contacts: (Please remember this Congress will expire on December 31, 2010 and a new Congress will be sworn in thereafter. Republicans may take the majority back in the House. If this happens we have to remain vigilant and continue to write and call concerning the ESA. I personally don’t think whoever controls Congress has the stomach to meddle with the ESA but nothing surprises me anymore.
The battle will be epic. The ESA is the bible of environmentalism. It would be similar to taking on the NRA over gun rights.
House of Representatives:
Senators of the 111st Congress:
HOWL for protecting gray wolves!!
State scrambling to revive wolf hunt
Photo: Courtesy Sigma Eye
Posted in: Montana wolves, Howling for Justice
Tags: ESA, Montana FWP, USFWS, Department of the Interior, anti-wolf coalition, wolf hunts, wolf persecution