USFWS 2009 Wolf Report…Just Peachy!

According to the newly published USFWS 2009 report on wolves, all is peachy in the Northern Rockies with wolves. The report touts the wolf population in the Northern Rockies grew in 2009 but the tiny 4% increase is the smallest since wolves were reintroduced in 1995. That’s because over 500 wolves were lost in 09 due to hunting, lethal control, SSS (shoot, shovel and shutup) and general wolf mortality. Yellowstone wolf numbers are below 100, from 124 in 2008.  The famous and studied Druid Peak Packwho once numbered 37, are now down to just one wolf, sadly the Druids are finished and so a legend fades into history. (Although we can hold out hope the missing six Druids will resurface)

USFWS states wolves are fully recovered and conveniently all the counting adds up so nicely for them.

Wolves were delisted by the Obama administration in Spring 2009. Since that time wolves have been hammered by Wildlife Services even though cattle depredations were lower then 2008. Yet 272 wolves died in the Northern Rockies in 2009 for killing 214 cows out of SIX MILLION COWS.  The irony is ranchers complaining about their tiny livestock losses were reimbursed $457,785 in 2009 by private and state agencies.

How many cattle have ranchers sent to their deaths? That would be 100%, unless they raise them as pets. It’s the ranchers not the wolves killing all the cows because cattle are raised to be killed for profit. Once cattle are old enough they are sent to feed lots to be fattened up, then sent off to the slaughterhouse. Over 41 million cows die horrible deaths every year in this country for the cattle and dairy industries. 

Since wolves were delisted over fifteen years ago the feds have killed 1300 wolves for 1300 cattle depredations. Don’t you find that tit for tat style “management” simply appalling?   How many cows do you think died in the last fifteen years from disease, weather, theft and reproductive issues? Millions! Yet the government continues the war against wolves, spending close to four million dollars last year counting wolves, controlling wolves, stalking wolves, darting wolves and killing wolves. All that federal spending for a non-problem. Their 2010 wolf budget is projected to be $4,200,000. More wolf killing coming up.

Wolves do not deserve this kind of scrutiny or lethal control. This is a PR campaign to appease constantly complaining ranchers and hunters who blow the wolf issue completely out of proportion and everyone knows it. The key statement in the USFWS wolf report is: 

“Although wolf depredation results in a comparatively small proportion of all livestock losses in the NRM DPS, wolf damage can be significant to some livestock producers.” 

Get it? Wolves kill miniscule numbers of livestock but because ranchers complain, wolves are killed. Does this make any sense to you? What kind of management is this?  What about the non-ranching, non hunting public that would like to view wolves in the wild? Apparently our feelings and opinions don’t matter.

Cattle Losses From AGRO’s Website
In 2005, U.S. producers raised 104.5 million head of cattle (USDA, 2005a). Approximately every five years, NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service)reports on unintentional cattle deaths as a result of predation, weather issues, disease etc. The latest cattle death report was released in May 2006 (USDA, 2006). The government’s own figures again show that mammalian carnivores kill very few livestock (0.18%) 

Cattle Deaths from other causes: 3.5% (3,861,000)

Respiratory problems, Digestive problems, Calving, Unknown, Weather, Other Disease, Lameness/Injury, Metabolic Problems, Mastitis, Poison, Theft


In  2005 104,500,00 cattle were produced in the United States 

Carnivores killed  0.18% (190,000) Cattle

Coyotes (51%, 97,000), Other Unknown (21%), Domestic Dogs 21,9000), Felids (8% 14,700), Vultures (5%), Wolves (2% , 4400), Bears (1%)

The statistics don’t lie. Wolf kills on livestock are a blip on the radar screen. Heck vultures killed more cows then wolves in 2005. Coyotes were responsible for most of the kills by far but predation only accounted for 0.18% of cattle mortality, while other causes accounted for 3.5% or 3,861,000 dead cows.

Predation by mammlian carnivores is a tiny part of cattle mortality. Wolves are barely in the picture. Yet we have a huge federal program to track wolves like they are terrorists. The new USDA NASS cattle mortality figures will be out this year. I will be posting them. Is anyone in the wolf killing business really interested in these stats or is it simply about keeping wolf numbers low to boost ungulate populations and appease ranchers?  This is why I will repeat once more, State Game Agencies Should Not Be Managing Predators, period!

The USFWS report is all about wolf and livestock numbers but what it doesn’t include is a report on the hysteria that’s building in Idaho and Montana around wolves. The Idaho legislature actually passed a resolution asking their governor to declare a State of Emergency in Idaho concerning wolves. Idaho has already stated they want to reduce the wolf population from 850 to 500.  Montana FWP recently decided Wildlife Services can operate on their own to kill wolves, no longer needing permission from Montana FWP. Wolves can now be shot on sight by Wildlife Services for being near a dead cow. Joe Maurier, head of Montana FWP, stated hunting quotas would likely increase next year if wolves are not relisted. We all knew that was coming.

From the Missoulian:

“In a hearing before the Environmental Quality Council, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks director Joe Maurier said federal Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites.

The agents also will be able to immediately kill any wolves that are trapped when they return to those sites to feed on dead livestock.

“For the amount of conflict we have in all sectors today, we probably have too many wolves on the landscape,” Maurier told the council. “We had tolerable conflict on the landscape; now it’s intolerable. Now we have to go back to the point where it’s tolerable at all levels but we still have a viable population.”

Maurier added that he expects the wolf hunting quota to be increased next season from the initial statewide quota of 75 as another way to lower the wolf population. Initial estimates put Montana’s wolf population at 500 animals this year, which is about the same as last year.

IDFG has been given permission to land in the Frank Church wilderness to dart and collar wolves, which I believe is clearly a violation of The Wilderness Act. The Idaho hunt is  ongoing. It’s now the beginning of wolf denning season in Idaho and pregnant alphas are returning to their dens. Will they be killed in their dens before giving birth? I have to ask this question because Idaho extended it’s hunting season SEVEN LONG MONTHS, to March 31st, 2010.  I wonder what next years wolf count will look like if wolves are not relisted, because make no mistake this is an all out war on wolves. 

Things are most certainly not peachy for wolves in the Northern Rockies no matter how bright a picture USFWS wants to paint. The stark reality is wolf persecution has only increased since the hunts started. Wildlife Services has gotten bolder, wolf haters are crawling out of the wood work and I predict if wolves are not relisted we will see serious declines in wolf  numbers in 2010.

There is also nothing in the report about the effect the hunts have had on wolf packs, except to report  numbers. Wolves are highly socialized animals. When alphas or the mothers and fathers of a pack are killed the packs almost always disband. Twenty eight total wolf packs disappeared in 2009, 64% killed for livestock depredation. Oregon killed one entire wolf pack  for cows and they only have three total. Fairly amazing coming from a state I thought was progressive in it’s thinking. I guess ranching interests trump everything else, even in Oregon. Are any of the state game agencies prepared to fine ranchers for poor animal husbandry practices, ie. not protecting their investment, leaving livestock unattended? Will public grazing leases be pulled when ranchers refuse to remove dead cow carcasses not killed by wolves but left to rot?  If a wolf is caught feeding on one, they can be killed.

Did the hunts drive down the average age of wolves? If wolves are subjected to the Russian roulette (as Daniel MacNulty, wolf researcher calls it) of hunting and Wildlife Services killings each year, what chance do they have to retain cohesiveness and stability among packs?  Daniel MacNulty, the Yellowstone wolf  researcher, has stated hunting wolves pushes the age of wolves downward, resulting in younger and younger wolves.

 “It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,” he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.”

Despite the peachy picture painted by the USFWS 2009 wolf report, wolves need ESA protection, without it they will continue to be killed and persecuted, there is no middle ground on this.

2009 was a horrendous year for wolves and 2010 isn’t shaping up to be any better unless Judge Molloy rules to relist them. If he doesn’t there is no telling what fresh hell will reign down on wolves in the Northern Rockies.


Posted in: gray wolf /canis lupus, howling for justice, wolf 2009 delisting

Tags:  USFWS 2009 Interagency Wolf Report,  wolves or livestock, Frank Church Wilderness, aerial gunning of wolves, endangered species act

Scapegoating Wolves

Scapegoating: “Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilised in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group(wolves); the amount ofblame being unwarranted.”

Wolf haters never seem to take the day off.  They are busy as can be hating wolves and trying to make sure wolves pay.  As wolf advocates await Judge Molloy’s decision on restoring wolves ESA protections, we watch in disbelief at what is happening to wolves.  The Idaho state legislature passed a resolutionasking the Governor to declare a state of emergency in Idaho because among other things, wolves could become a threat to people, especially children. I’m not kidding.

Wolf attacks on humans are exceedingly rare. The wolf is the least dangerous of large carnivores of the same size and weight. They are extremly shy and fearful of  humans and with good reason.  Any wild wolf would  rather be a hundred miles away from people.

I hate to break it to the resolution makers in the Idaho State Legislature but domestic dogs are a bigger threat to people and children  then wolves will ever be and I’m a dog lover but facts are facts.

Dog attacks are attacks on humans by feral or domestic dogs. With the close association of dogs and humans in daily life (largely as pets), dog attacks—with injuries from usually very minor to significant, and very occasionally severe to fatal—are not uncommon. Attacks on the serious end of the spectrum have become the focus of increasing media and public attention in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It is estimated that two percent of the US population, 4.7 million people, are bitten each year.In the 1980s and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities per year, while in the 2000s this has increased to 26. 77% of dog bites are from the pet of family or friends, and 50% of attacks occur on the dog owner’s property.

Are we going to be issuing edicts to lock up all the children because dogs are a threat to them?  I’m kidding of course but does anyone see how hysterical the rhetoric has gotten?  It’s like a badly written fairy tale.

Next we have US District Court Judge Winmill giving the green light to IDFG so they can land helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness to collar wolves.

Let’s throw The Wilderness Act out the window because IDFG needs to gather more information about wolves.  The Wilderness Act states:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Wolf collaring is such a priority in the Frank Church. Uh-huh.  The one place wild enough where wolves can actually get away from people. We can’t have that. They must be perpetually harassed and tracked and of course collar GPS signals are used to locate wolves for “control actions”, IE. killing them. All so necessary.

Once again, another example of state game agencies doing the bidding of the rancher barons, who refuse to be pro-active protecting  their livestock.  Instead it’s much easier to call Montana FWP or IDFG to come and kill the wolves.

So who is looking out for wolves interest in state government? I’m hearing crickets. It’s the same scenerio that got wolves exterminated the last time around. The ranchers hated them and wanted them gone, so the feds went out and poisoned, trapped and shot all the wolves. Now the same climate of hate is rearing it’s head again.

Wolves are the ultimate scapegoats for people who apparently are unhappy with their lives. Sometimes angry people will kick their dogs if they’re mad at the world, or yell out their car windows in fits of road rage if someone cuts them off?  Well instead of kicking the dog, they can kill the wolf, or kick the wolf, or curse the wolf. or blame the wolf. or damn the wolf, or persecute the wolf.  It must be nice to have the wolf to kick around, since they have no voice, it’s so easy.

It’s the same mantra repeated over and over again.  The wolves are eating all the cattle, the wolves are killing all the elk when this is patently untrue

Wolves, large grazing animals, and beaver have successfully lived side by side for thousands of years. It is only when the first Europeans arrived in North America that this balanced co-existence changed. When prey species drop in number because of food availability or weather conditions, wolf numbers drop as well. Wolves have smaller litters or may even starve to death.

But people can repeat anything they want and call it truth. By changing the subject and constantly talking about livestock and elk it takes the focus off wolves and what’s best for them.

I for one am sick of the whining, the lies and biased media reports about wolves. And they call wolf advocates emotional.  Please.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, howling for justice, Wolf Wars

Tags: wolves in the crossfire, Wilderness Act, Frank Church Wilderness

Finally Hope For Idaho’s Wolves

There is good news to report!!  Western Watersheds Project and the The Wolf Recovery Foundation are suing to prevent helicopters from landing in the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness.  

The forest service recently gave Idaho Fish & Game the green light to land helicopters up to twenty times this winter in the Frank Church Wilderness, to dart as many as twelve wolves for collaring.  The Frank Church is a designated wilderness and this violates the Wilderness Act of 1974 which states:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

The lawsuit also targets Wildlife Services for their slaughter of wolves in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, for the livestock industry. They want SNRA grazing leases pulled.

Each year cattle are trucked in to graze the SNRA.  This is a national recreation area, cattle are the trespassers here, not wolves.  But time and again wolves are subjugated to livestock. The slaughter of the Basin Butte Pack during Thanksgiving week was an example of the arrogance Wildlife Services has shown, when they gunned down seven wolves from helicopters in broad daylight, like some surreal wild west show.

Finally this out of control agency is being challenged.  Their practice of killing entire packs of wolves is a travesty. The same thing is happening right now in Montana, where four wolf packs have lethal orders on their heads.  WS is intent on completely removing The Elevation Pack, The Miners Lake Pack, The Battlefield Pack and the Mitchell Mountain Pack. This lawsuit couldn’t have come at a better time.  Wolves are dying in record numbers.

I hope this will be a new beginning for wolves, not just on the Sawtooth but in the Northern Rockies. Over five hundred wolves died in 2009 and now their howls will be heard in court.

Thank you Western Watersheds Project and The Wolf Recovery Foundation.  This has given me new hope we can finally have justice for Idaho’s wolves and in turn for all the Northern Rockies wolves.  As one of my readers stated: Please stop killing wolves!  Just stop!

To read the full lawsuit click here


WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Litigates Big to Protect Wolves in Central Idaho

January 6, 2010 — Brian Ertz 


Groups sue to end helicopter landings in Idaho wilderness

By the Associated Press | Posted: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:50 pm

Posted in: wolf recovery, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, biodiversity, gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: SNRA, WWP lawsuit, Frank Church Wilderness, Forest Fervice, aerial gunning of wolves, intrusive collaring of wolves, wolves or livestock

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