Proposed Removal of Gray Wolves’ Endangered Status a Case Study in the Politicization of Science by James William Gibson

NatureColdWarriors_Alpha male  Credit Courtesy of Jeff Turner River Road Films Ltd

The lengths USFWS has gone, to justify the delisting of wolves across the lower forty-eight,  is truly mind-blowing. Did someone drop a couple hits of LSD and come up with “the fairytale proposal”? 

car1 crackeddotcom

“Okay, Frank. Are you absolutely, completely, 100 percent positive you didn’t dose my coffee this morning? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure I just took an off ramp into the Metaverse here. I’m just sayin’…”…cracked.com

Thank you Bill and Earth Island Journal for trying to make sense of this mishegas!

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Proposed Removal of Gray Wolves’ Endangered Status a Case Study in the Politicization of Science

by James William Gibson – June 17, 2013

US Fish and Wildlife Service relies on taxonomical shenanigans to appease wolf haters

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent announcement that it is beginning the process for removing gray wolves across the country from the protection of the Endangered Species Act surprised no one. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s mid-1990s reintroduction of gray wolves — a species virtually extirpated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho marked a triumph for conservationists and ranks as one of the most striking fulfillments of the Endangered Species Act. But as I have reported here and here, the wolves quickly met enemies.

Photo by US Fish and Wildlife ServicesThe Fish and Wildlife Service is making a rather bizarre claim that the agency wasn’t really serious when, back in 1978, it listed gray wolves as endangered across its historical range.

By the early 2000s a loose coalition of hunters’ groups, outfitters, and ranchers — along with the many disaffected men embracing militia groups, local “sovereignty” and states rights, particularly rights to use public lands without federal regulation — coalesced around the idea that wolves represented icons of the hated federal government. The wolves, they all-but-screamed, constituted lethal threats to deer and elk, livestock, and ultimately, people. The long, bitter wolf war reached its climax in the summer of 2011, when Congress took the unprecedented act of removing the wolf populations of the Northern Rockies from the endangered species list. In May 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service, weary of the many problems involved in wolf management (or, rather, public relations management), delisted gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes states, where some 4,400 wolves resided.   Idaho, Montana and Wyoming subsequently initiated hunts and the use of government marksmen to reduce wolf numbers from around 1,700 to a much lower level.

The FWS’s proposed delisting of gray wolves across the country is simply the continuation of the agency’s long retreat in the face of wolf hater intimidation. Still, it’s important to understand how the FWS legitimizes its abandonment of wolves. A close examination of the FWS’ proposed rule change is a case study in the politicization of science. The FWS report excels at cherry picking, choosing certain scientific studies while rejecting others. It’s also an excellent example of bureaucratic hand-waving, simply dismissing long established facts whenever they become inconvenient. The final result is like a weird game of scientific Twister: The FWS bends itself into all sorts of contortions to conform to a political agenda.

Repetitive and often inconsistent, the 215-page proposed rule makes two stunning claims.  First, the FWS says “new information on C. lupus taxonomy” published in 2012 reveals that the gray wolves (C. lupus) do not constitute “either an entire species nor an entire single subspecies.” Simply put, C. lupus “does not represent a valid species under the [Endangered Species] Act”  — and thus cannot be listed as endangered. Having decided that gray wolves are not a valid species, the FWS then deconstructs the category, saying all wolves formerly called gray actually belong to one of three subspecies of wolves and one new species.

The FWS then makes the rather bizarre claims that the agency wasn’t really serious when, back in 1978, it listed gray wolves as endangered across an historical range covering most of the lower 48 states (except Minnesota, where it was listed as “threatened”). Rather, the agency now claims, the 1978 reclassification “was undertaken to ‘most conveniently’ handle a listing that needed to be revised because of changes in our understanding of gray wolf taxonomy, and in recognition of the fact that individual wolves sometimes cross subspecies [geographic] boundaries.” Now, the FWS argues, “this generalized approach to the listing … was misread by some publics as an expression of a larger wolf recovery not required by the Act and never intended by the Service.” Evidently the FWS never really had wolf recovery as a goal.

In place of this unintended “larger wolf recovery,” the FWS in its newly proposed rule lists three subspecies and alludes to one new wolf species, each with a limited population size and a clearly limited range.  Conceptually, deconstructing the gray wolf category constitutes a containment strategy, a way to scientifically legitimize small, remnant wolf populations restricted to finite ranges; wide-ranging wolf dispersal is eliminated as a possibility. This containment appeases politicians, government administrators, businesses, ranchers  and hunters — all those who fear disruption from  wolf recovery.

What the FWS used to call the gray wolves living in Northern Rocky Mountains, — a “Distinct Population Segment” in biology nomenclature —  is now conceptualized as the wolf subspecies,  C. l. occidentalis.  Wolves classified as occidentalis , according to the FWS, “currently occupy nearly the entire historical range of the species.” In what I can only call an act of scientific chutzpah, the FWS therefore argues that these wolves are considered fully recovered. And since they are fully recovered and are occupying their historical range, then any occidentalis  that disperse to Washington, Oregon or Colorado are classified as a non-native species. Although individual states might choose to list them as endangered—Washington and Oregon have done this — they will not qualify as a federally protected Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves. That’s because the FWS no longer considers gray wolves to be a valid species. Nice circular logic, that.

The FWS is also playing this same shell game in the Western Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Wolves living there formerly were classified as a Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves.  It used to be that if any of these wolves migrated outside these states — say to North and South Dakota — then they received protection by the Endangered Species Act. Now, under the proposed rule change, the wolves in the Western Great Lakes are classified as Canis Iupus nubilus. Although the FWS acknowledges that C. I. nubilus does not occupy all of its historical range — a vast area that once included the Southern Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the coastal ranges of the Pacific Northwest — the agency still makes the case that the subspecies is present in sufficient numbers in the Western Great Lakes and Canada to be considered fully recovered. So it shouldn’t be protected by the ESA, either.

Interestingly, although the FWS considers eastern Canada to be part of the range of C. l. nubilus, it now argues that no wolves of this subspecies ever settled south of Quebec, in New England and upstate New York.  Instead, the FWS says an entirely different wolf species, Canis lycaon, once lived there. No population estimates of Canis lycaon are given; nor does the FWS name areas where packs have been sighted. The FWS does not even propose listing at the present, saying “we must first address outstanding science and policy questions.” It’s not at all clear if real wolves belonging to Canis lycaon exist. But if the Northeast is classified as belonging to the historical range of Canis lycaon, then any gray wolves (C. l. nubilus) that migrate into the region will not be protected by the ESA.  Once again, the FWS proposes creating a new species in order to remove protection for another one.

 (If you’re having problem tracking all of these different species and subspecies, don’t feel bad. All of the taxonomical shenanigans seem designed to confuse the public.)

Click HERE to read more:

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We have until September 11, 2013 to comment on this outrageous insult to our intelligence. Don’t be  bamboozled by the USFWS word-games, this is wolf persecution pure and simple.

Speak out firmly against this. America loves wolves but sadly their recovery has been hijacked by a small group of well-funded-wolf-hating-zealots. Don’t let them get away with this!

HOWL FOR THE WOLVES…use the link below to flood the site with your comments!!

Removing the Gray Wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf by Listing It as Endangered

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073

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Snail Mail:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0073
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM
Arlington, Virginia 22203

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Top Photo: Nature Cold Warriors Credit  Courtesy of Jeff Turner River Road Films Ltd

2nd Photo: Courtesy crackeddotcom

3rd Photo: USFWS

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: USFWS, Who’s On First, Politics Trump Science, Earth Island Journal, James William Gibson, Wolf Persecution

Wolf Slaughter Continues in the Rocky Mountains by James William Gibson (Earth Island Journal)

06 Female Earth Island Journal

Hunters operating just west of Yellowstone National Park killed seven radio-collared wolves from
October through December, including the famous, often photographed 832F, the majestic female
alpha of the Lamar Canyon pack. Photo Flickr/CC BY 2.0 Earth Island Journal

January 31, 2013

Fantasies of killing become increasingly bizarre

Lynne Stone, longtime wolf advocate and executive director of Northern Idaho’s Boulder White Cloud Council in Ketchum, couldn’t help but laugh. For the last two years she has routinely petitioned the Idaho Dept of Fish and Game for every single “ Big Game Mortality Report” filed on wolves killed by hunters —several hundred of them since the animals lost Endangered Species Act protect. Hunters and trappers are required to send in the report along with the skull and pelt for examination. In mid-January Stone ran across a November 2012 report that stated, “DNA came back as a domestic dog,” a light-skinned one.

“Buy a wolf tag, shoot a dog, claim it was a wolf, get bragging rights and a dog-skin rug,” she chuckled “Life is wonderful in 3rd world Idaho. Is anyone missing a light-colored mutt? Maybe it’s time folks put orange vests and hats on their dogs.”

Gallows humor is all wolf supporters have left. In February 2011, Congress removed gray wolves in the northern Rockies from protection by the Endangered Species Act, the first time a species has ever been delisted for political reasons. Before that, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s reintroduction of wolves to the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s appeared to be one of the greatest conservation successes in decades. Wolves had been killed off in the West in the late nineteenth and early centuries. But while tourists from all over the country came to Yellowstone in hopes of seeing “Cinderella” or “Limpy” — many of the wolves became named — in the Rockies a reactionary political movement developed against the animals.

Click HERE To Read More

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Photo:  Courtesy Earth Island Journal ( Photo Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: Earth Island Journal, James William Gibson, Lynne Stone, Friends of the Clearwater, Brett Haverstick,Wolf Wars, right-wing crazies, wolf delisting political, wolf slaughter, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, O6 Female killed, Wolf delisting rider, Jon Tester D-MT

“Dead Wolves Walking” by James William Gibson

I broke down and cried like a baby reading this article. The situation is just so sad, especially when it’s laid out in black and white.

I want to thank Bill Gibson and Earth Island Journal for giving this story legs and keeping it real.

My wish is Howl Across America will move people out from behind their computers to protest the brutal treatment that is awaiting wolves in the Northern Rockies.  BUT if  Judge Molloy finds the wolf delisting rider unconstitutional,  it will put a stop to this horror.  His decision should come quickly, since he is retiring to Senior status in August.

This is playing out like a Greek tragedy. And to think this all happened because a Democrat president appointed a rancher to head the Interior.  What a disgrace!!

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Dead Wolves Walking

by James William Gibson – July 21, 2011

Wolf Hunts Scheduled in Idaho & Montana Unless Federal Judge Intervenes

Since April, when Congress removed gray wolves in Idaho and Montana from the protection of the Endangered Species Act by inserting a rider in a federal budget bill, state governments have been racing to prepare for wolf hunts this fall. (Read Gibson’s compelling report,  “Cry Wolf ” on the issue in the Journal’s Summer 2011 edition.)

So far, Idaho’s winning the race. In early July, the state’s fish and game director Virgil Moore announced a full seven-month hunting season — from the end of August to the end of March. Hunters can use any weapon they choose, utilize electronic calls to lure wolves within range, and kill two each.

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/dead_wolves_walking/

Photo: Courtesy First People

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: Idaho wolf hunt, Montana wolf hunt, Wyoming, gray wolf persecution, wolf wars, James William Gibson, Earth Island Journal

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