Remembering the Basin Butte Pack Thanksgiving Week Massacre….

Basin Butte wolf “Little Sis”

July 22, 2014

It’s been almost five years since the Basin Butte pack was gunned down, during Thanksgiving week, in Stanley, Idaho.

I hope you will remember these wolves and the cruel, disgusting agency that took their lives. Wildlife Services must be abolished and defunded. They’re an extermination arm of the Department of Agriculture, killing millions of animals annually for agribusiness. They do horrific damage to gray wolves and other native wildlife.

I will be paying tribute this week to the wolves and wolf packs who’ve have been slaughtered in wolf hunts, by Wildlife Services, poachers and ranchers.

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Thanksgiving Week Massacre of The Basin Butte Wolves

basin butte wolf pup 1

A Basin Butte wolf pup, 6 months old.

December 6, 2009

This is an account of Idaho’s popular Basin Butte wolves and their tragic end, as told to me by Idaho friends.

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Thanksgiving week 2009, everyone was busy planning their holiday with family. It was a time for reflection and thanks. But over a two-day period, November 23 & 24, in Stanley, Idaho, Wildlife Services launched a covert operation that is now known as the Thanksgiving Week Massacre. Wildlife Services (WS) is a misnamed federal agency that kills wildlife for the benefit of agriculture, mainly the livestock industry.

Locals watched in horror as WS agents, in a plane and red helicopter, chased down and shot dead seven members of the Basin Butte wolf pack. Two wolves were killed on a rancher’s private property, the rest on National Forest land.  Among the Thanksgiving week victims were the pack’s mother, B171 “Alpha Fe”, her three seven-month old PUPS and three other wolves. A total of ELEVEN Basin Butte wolves have been killed since late July.

Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountain country, called the Sawtooth National Recreation Area(SNRA), was once in line for National Park status. Instead, in 1972, it became an “NRA” (National Recreation Area). As a result, cattle and sheep graze across much of the 756,000 acres. Cattle ranchers have tremendous political power in this area, which is the reason for the Basin Butte wolves demise on that fateful Thanksgiving week shoot-out.

Background:

The Basin Butte wolf pack was formed in 2006 with three adults and five pups. Wolf supporters stepped in to keep the wolves away from the thousands of cattle that summer in the high country around Stanley, Idaho. This continued for the next three years. There were no depredations in 2007, but some close calls. Sick or injured cows and calves are easy targets for wolves. Things started going to hell in 2008 after a ranch hand shot a Basin Butte wolf called “Little Sis”. She was hunting squirrels 200 yards away from a herd of cows. The cow hand was given a warning by Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game (IDFG) law enforcement, which apparently upset the hand’s boss, a powerful rancher.

Next, the pack, now consisting of 13 wolves, were seen moving toward a remote area, behind private property. Suddenly the wolves were accused of killing cows and calves belonging to the irate rancher. In July 2008, Wildlife Services convinced IDFG to give the ok to spring into their deadly trapping and killing mode. Before the 2008 grazing season was over, up to 8 Basin Butte wolves were dead. One beautiful wolf, “Uncle” – the babysitter to the pack’s pups, was mangled and crippled, shot by a Wildlife Services agent using an automatic 12 gauge.

One last winter:

The wolves had one last winter in the scenic country they called home. Many locals and visitors alike, delighted in seeing the wolves and hearing them howl. The pack was highly visible, as the Druids are in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone. The wolves were known by their given names: Alpha Fe, Papa, Bobtail, Red, Marymag, Smoky and more.

Tourists come in winter to Stanley, a tiny town of 100 people and one of the coldest places in the Lower 48, to ski, wildlife watch, snowmobile and see the Basin Butte wolves. But, it’s still tough for businesses to make it, and many locals were hoping wolf viewing would eventually bring more tourists and their dollars. Summer is the only time when tourists come in numbers, over two million people, according to SNRA staff. Wolf watching is the untapped golden egg that could make Stanley boom in the winter months, especially since much of the terrain around town is wide open. It’s perfect for setting up spotting scopes and watching wolves. But in 2009, the ranchers and Wildlife Services had other plans.  When wolf supporters scared the wolves away from cattle on public land, the ranchers went to law enforcement and complained. Surveillance cameras were set up by the local deputy to try to catch anyone driving by or stopping near the cattle, even on PUBLIC land!

The wolves were accused of killing a calf and a cow in July. Wildlife Services, who had been lurking around Stanley waiting for action, trapped and shot two yearling wolves. The angry rancher allowed WS to cross his private property, so they could access a remote area where traps could be set, mostly out of view of the public.

Then on September 1, Idaho opened their seven month-long hunting season, adding to the Basin Butte Pack’s problems. Two pack members were shot by hunters. One was the Basin Butte alpha male, and another was a pup. The little pup was shot by an employee of the rancher.

October arrived, the weather turned freezing cold, with rain and snow. The pack was accused of killing two more cows. The cows may have been sick or hurt, no one knows. With thousands of cattle, some are always on the decline but now the stage was set for an aerial massacre. You know the rest of this tragic story. Two wolves are said to have survived. They have been heard howling mournfully for their pack.

Basin Butte ”Uncle Wolf”

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There are 71 million wildlife watchers in the United States., who generate 45 billion dollars in revenue.. Wildlife viewers come to Idaho to watch wolves and other wildlife, not livestock. Slaughtering wolves is bad for Idaho’s reputation and hurtful to state tourism.

We don’t control what ranchers do on their private land BUT the American public has the right to demand fair PUBLIC LAND policy.. This land belongs to all our citizens, not just ranchers.

Americans do not want wildlife eradicated for the livestock industry. Ranchers must be held accountable for managing their livestock.

Like any business venture, ranching has risks. If ranchers aren’t willing or able to care for their investment, without using the federal government as their own wolf extermination service, they should get their cattle off our public lands. 66% of Idaho is public land. Wolves are native to the SNRA, not cattle. Why should the wolf pay the ultimate price because of sloppy ranching practices, or be subjugated to cattle?

Myself and my friends, are BOYCOTTING Idaho products, businesses, including big game outfitters until this wolf killing madness stops.

SPEAK UP AND PROTEST THE THANKSGIVING WEEK SLAUGHTER!

Idaho Wildlife Services has a long list of wolf packs in their sights, will the killing be repeated this winter with a green light from IDFG?

Please E-Mail Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the IDFG wolf managers:

http://gov.idaho.gov/WebRespond/contact_form.html

cal.groen@idfg.idaho.gov

jon.rachael@idfg.idaho.gov

jim.lukens@idfg.idaho.gov

jim.unsworth@idfg.idaho.gov

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STOP WOLF KILLING

Petition From change.org…Please sign.

http://www.change.org/actions/view/stop_wolf_killing

Photos: All Photos by Idaho WildWolf Images Copyright 2008.

Posted in: Idaho wolves, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, aerial gunning of wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: aerial gunning of wolves, wolves in the crossfire, wolf extermination, Stanley, Idaho, Basin Butte Pack, Wildlife Services

Idaho Lawmakers Pass Bill to Kill Hundreds of Wolves

dead wolf flickr commons

Center For Biological Diversity
For Immediate Release, March 20, 2014

Idaho Lawmakers Pass Bill to Kill Hundreds of Wolves

$400,000 to Be Spent Wiping Out 500 Wolves, Setting Up Wolf-killing Board

BOISE, Idaho— The Idaho Legislature today passed House Bill 470, a bill to create a new lethal “Wolf Depredation Control Board” to administer a fund for widespread killing of wolves in the state. The bill, expected to be signed into law by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, sets aside $400,000 in state funds to kill roughly 500 wolves, leaving just 150 in the entire state.

The new board will consist of members appointed and overseen by Otter, who said in 2007 that he wanted to be the first to kill an Idaho wolf after federal protections were taken away. The board will be made up of representatives of the agricultural, livestock and hunting communities. The bill does not require any members of the board to represent the wolf conservation community.

“Political leaders in Idaho would love nothing more than to eradicate Idaho’s wolves and return to a century-old mindset where big predators are viewed as evil and expendable,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The new state wolf board, sadly, reflects that attitude. The legislature couldn’t even bring itself to put a single conservationist on the board, so the outcome is predictable: Many more wolves will die.”

Congress in 2011 stripped Endangered Species Act protection from wolves in Idaho and Montana. Since then, 1,592 wolves have been killed in those states.

The bill is the latest in a series of anti-wolf actions in Idaho that could ultimately backfire and force the return Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. Other commitments made by Idaho, including promises to maintain refugia for wolves in remote areas and wilderness, have been rolled back. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game sent a hunter-trapper into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness this winter to eliminate two wolf packs. It recently announced a new predator-management plan designed to kill 60 percent of the wolf population in the Middle Fork area over the next several years, and contracted with USDA’s Wildlife Services to gun down 23 wolves in the Lolo management zone in February.

“Yet again, Idaho has put a black eye on decades of tireless work to return wolves to the American landscape,” said Weiss. “This bill sets aside $400,000 in state funds to wipe out as many wolves as legally possible in Idaho. Reducing these wolf populations to below even the absolute bare minimum sets a dangerous precedent and ensures that true wolf recovery will be little more than a pipe dream in Idaho.”

In combination with mortality from annual hunting and trapping seasons, the wolf population in Idaho is under serious threat of dropping near — or even below — minimal recovery levels that Idaho promised to maintain when wolves in the northern Rockies lost federal protections in 2011. The sponsor of H.B. 470, Rep. Marc Gibbs (R-Dist. 32), says the intent of the bill is to reduce Idaho’s wolf population to as few as 10 packs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required by its own delisting criteria to review the population if changes in Idaho law or management objectives significantly increase the threat to the population. It must then decide whether to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections or extend the post-delisting period for federal oversight.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/wolf-03-20-2014.html

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Photo: Dead Wolf Flickr Commons

Posted in Wolf Wars, Idaho Wolves

Tags: wolf extermination, Idaho’s brutal tactics, wolf killing board, $400,000 dedicated to killing wolves in Idaho, Governor Butch Otter, stop the wolf killing,  Idaho House Bill 470, stop the madness

Stand Up For The Wolves, Who Will Speak For Them If We Don’t?

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WOLVES ARE DYING!!

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Video: Courtesy Animal Connection You Tube

Photo: Courtesy Thinkstock

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: Stand up for wolves, wolf scapegoating, wolf slaughter, wolf extermination, TAKE ACTION

Vicious Wolf Wars….

wolf dog grizzled

This is a look at the origins of wolf hatred from Nature Online and the systematic campaign to remove wolves from the lower forty-eight. This is an important story because the same entrenched, wolf-hating attitudes, are fueling the current wolf persecution, moving us down that long, dark path once more.

It merits repeating that for thousands of years Native Americans were able to live in harmony with wolves and bears, while settlers saw them as a threat.

Even the famed naturalist James Audubon partook in torturing wolves, which is particularly hard to understand.

From “Hating Wolves”

“In 1814, John James Audubon watched a farmer torture three wolves. The farmer had trapped them in a pit after they had killed his sheep and a colt. The man jumped into the pit armed only with a knife, hamstrung each wolf as they cowered in fear, and tied it up with a rope. Then he hauled them out one at a time and set his dogs on them as they scuffled crippled along the ground. Audubon was astounded by the meekness of the wolves and the glee with which the farmer went about his revenge, but he was not distressed. He and the farmer considered torturing wolves a “sport,” something both normal and enjoyable. The sadistic behavior did not warrant comment.”

Shocking isn’t it? The wolf has been demonized in American culture and paid dearly for these attitudes. For four hundred years wolves have been the target of pathological hatred.

The early European settlers brought their loathing of wolves with them and set out to kill everything that crossed their path, including the wolves prey base of deer, elk and buffalo, replacing them with the “new buffalo”, cattle. The wolves were left with few choices.

“Granted wolves killed livestock, but the reaction was out of all proportion to their predation. We didn’t merely kill them. We feed them fishhooks so they would die of internal bleeding, we dragged them to death behind horses, we set live wolves on fire, we released trapped wolves with their mouths and penises wired shut.”

These horrific facts are documented in Jon Coleman’s book, “Vicious” Wolves and Men in America” and the word vicious doesn’t refer to wolves. The author is not shy about explaining why humans enjoyed torturing wolves.

“Some of their motives were comprehensible. But once they caught their animal foes, why did they beat, bait, torture and humiliate them? What explains the pleasure so many found in wolf abuse? One answer: human nature. They may smile, hug, rescue kittens, write thank you notes, and attend support groups, but people are vicious at the core.”….Jon Coleman, Vicious, Wolves and Men In America, 2004

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From Nature Online:

The Wolf That Changed America
Wolf Wars: America’s Campaign to Eradicate the Wolf

Wolves have been feared, hated, and persecuted for hundreds of years in North America. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans incorporated wolves into their legends and rituals, portraying them as ferocious warriors in some traditions and thieving spirits in others. European Americans, however, simply despised wolves. Many, including celebrated painter and naturalist John James Audubon, believed wolves ought to be eradicated for the threat they posed to valuable livestock. This attitude enabled a centuries-long extermination campaign that nearly wiped out the gray wolf in the continental United States by 1950.

Origins of Wolf Hatred

In the New World, two top predators – wolves and men – that otherwise would have avoided each other clashed over livestock. In Vicious: Wolves and Men in America, Jon T. Coleman writes:

Wolves had a ghostly presence in colonial landscapes. Settlers heard howls, but they rarely spotted their serenaders. The fearsome beasts avoided humans. People frightened them, and colonists knew this: “They are fearefull Curres,” reported Thomas Morton in 1637, “and will runne away from a man (that meeteth them by chance at a banke end) as fast as any fearefull dogge.”

Because humans and wolves frightened one another, they logically avoided confrontation, opening space between the species. But that space closed when European colonists brought horses, cattle, sheep and pigs with them over the perilous journey across the Atlantic. Without these animals – sources of food and transportation for the European settlers – the colonies would have failed. But because most early colonial communities were small, livestock often grazed on the periphery of the settlements with little protection. Their pastures abutted and bled into the wild, exposing the animals to hungry wolves in search of prey. Wolves quickly learned that docile cattle and sheep made easy meals. Suddenly, colonists found their livelihoods in danger, and they lashed out at wolves, both with physical violence and folklore that ensured wolf hatred would be passed down from one generation to the next.

Amateur and Professional Wolf Baiting

The campaign to eradicate wolves in North America began with private landowners and farmers baiting and trapping wolves. Often, colonists turned wolf baiting into both sport and protection for their livestock. Jon T. Coleman describes an incident that took place in the winter of 1814 deep in the Ohio River Valley, in which John James Audubon assists a farmer as he mutilates trapped wolves.

During the fall, a pack of wolves had robbed [the farmer] of “nearly the whole of his sheep and one of his colts.” For him, it made sense to devote his winter labor to digging pits, weaving platforms, hunting bait, and setting and checking his traps twice daily. The animals had injured him, and “he was now ‘paying them off in full.’” Audubon’s reaction to the slaying of the wolves is less understandable … The ingenious pit traps amazed him, as did the fearsome predators’ meek behavior and the childlike glee the farmer took in his work. The violence Audubon witnessed, however, did not shock him. Watching a pack of dogs rip apart terrified and defenseless animals was a “sport” both he and the farmer found enjoyable.

Further west, in Yellowstone National Park, wolf baiting and hunting had become a lucrative profession. Paul Schullery, in his guidebook to Yellowstone wolves (The Yellowstone Wolf: A Guide & Sourcebook), describes the profession and the devastating affect it had on the Yellowstone wolf population: “At least as early as 1877, ungulate carcasses in the park were poisoned with strychnine by free-lance ‘wolfers’ for ‘wolf or wolverine bait.’ By 1880, [Yellowstone National Park] Superintendent [Philetus] Norris stated in his annual report that ‘…the value of their [wolves and coyotes] hides and their easy slaughter with strychnine-poisoned carcasses have nearly led to their extermination.’”

In the Southwest, as settlers depleted bison, elk, deer, and moose populations – the wolves’ natural prey – the predators turned more and more to picking off livestock. In states like New Mexico where cattle ranching was big business, ranchers responded by turning to professional wolfers and bounty hunters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports, “To protect livestock, ranchers and government agencies began an eradication campaign. Bounty programs initiated in the 19th century continued as late as 1965, offering $20 to $50 per wolf. Wolves were trapped, shot, dug from their dens, and hunted with dogs. Poisoned animal carcasses were left out for wolves, a practice that also killed eagles, ravens, foxes, bears, and other animals that fed on the tainted carrion.”

Government-Sanctioned Wolf Extermination Programs   

  

Government Wolf Trapper

Towards the end of the 19th Century, wealthy livestock owners increased both their demand for wider grazing ranges and their influence over policymakers in Washington, D.C. In 1885, the federal government established the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, initially chartered to research insects and birds. However, the livestock lobby quickly diverted the Bureau’s attention to wolves. Stockowners complained that their land was infested with wolves, calling them “breeding grounds.” They demanded the federal government secure their land for safe pasturage.

In 1906, the U.S. Forest Service acquiesced to the stockowners and enlisted the help of the Bureau of Biological Survey to clear cattle ranges of gray wolves. In other words, the Bureau became a wolf-extermination unit. Bruce Hampton writes in The Great American Wolf:

That same year [1906], bureau biologist Vernon Bailey traveled to Wyoming and New Mexico to investigate the extent of wolf and coyote depredations. Upon Bailey’s return to Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt invited him to the White House to see what he had learned. Although there is no record of their conversation, immediately following Bailey’s meeting the President, the Biological Survey recommended that the government begin “devising methods for the destruction of the animals [wolves].”

By the middle of the 20th Century, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Only a small population remained in northeastern Minnesota and Michigan. Yet the Bureau of Biological Survey was still disseminating anti-wolf propaganda as late as 1940. One poster from the time read:

According to estimates of stockmen [the Custer Wolf, pictured in the poster] killed $25,000 worth of cattle during the seven years he was known in the vicinity of Custer, South Dakota … A local bounty of $500 failed to secure his capture. A Department hunter ended his career of destruction by a skillfully set trap. Many notorious wolves are known to have killed cattle valued at $3000 to $5000 in a year. More than 3,849 wolves have been destroyed by the predatory animal work of the Department and its cooperators since the work was organized in 1915.

It was not until the late sixties, when a greater understanding of natural ecosystems began changing attitudes in the scientific community and the National Park Service, that the plight of wolves in North America began to improve.

In 1973, Congress gave gray wolves protection under the Endangered Species Act. According to Douglas Smith and Gary Ferguson, in Yellowstone National Park, where the last gray wolf was killed in 1926, “the entire [gray wolf] restoration program was guided by directives contained in the Endangered Species Act – a law created to ground a decades-old cornerstone of science that says the healthiest, most stable natural systems tend to be those with high levels of biodiversity.”

Since then, wolf populations throughout the country have increased. In 1995 and 1996, researchers in Yellowstone National Park released 31 Canadian gray wolves back into the wild. The event was hailed as a testament to the conservation movement’s efforts to revive wild wolf populations in America. Yet antiwolf attitudes persist. Shortly after the release of the Yellowstone wolves a hunter shot and killed Wolf Number 10. Smith and Ferguson write about the incident: “As disturbing as the shooting itself was, more unsavory still was the reaction of a handful of locals who cheered the killing, calling it an act of heroism.”

Photos © Arizona Historical Society

Sources

Coleman, Jon T. Vicious: Wolves and Men in America. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2004.

Hampton, Bruce. The Great American Wolf. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997.

Robinson, Michael J. Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West. University Press of Colorado, 2005.

Schullery, Paul. The Yellowstone Wolf: A Guide & Sourcebook. Worland, Wymoning: High Plains Publishing Company, Inc., 1996.

Smith, Douglas W. and Gary Ferguson. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone. Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press, 2005.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Gray Wolf Fact Sheet. [updated January 2007; cited November 2008]

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/the-wolf-that-changed-america/wolf-wars-americas-campaign-to-eradicate-the-wolf/4312/

Photos: “The Wolf That Changed America: Courtesy PBS, Nature Online

Posted in: Wolf  Wars

Tags:  gray wolf persecution, wolf torture, wolf extermination

Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 11:22 pm  Comments (26)  
Tags: , ,

Wolves Being Hammered On Two Fronts

It’s not a good time to be a gray wolf in the Northern Rockies.  They are being hunted for the first time since their reintroduction in 1995 AND 21 entire wolf packs were wiped out in 2008 by Wildlife Services, the federal agency that killed almost five million animals and birds in 08, for agriculture.

Mere months after the Obama Administration’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, delisted wolves in the Northern Rockies, Idaho and Montana initiated wolf hunts. Now wolves are running for their lives from hunters AND Wildlife Services, in the escalating War On Wolves.

As a rancher, landowner, and member of the Cattlemen’s Association, Salazar comes from the old school generation, which believes prairie dogs are nothing but worthless pests and wolves are only seen as vicious animals that prey on cows and sheep. We need an Interior Secretary, who can make wildlife management decisions based on science, not politics, or personal bias.”

Montana and Idaho’s rush to hold wolf hunts so soon after wolves were delisted, speaks volumes about wolf politics in the West.  Compare Minnesota, who has 3000 wolves and a much smaller land mass then Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Yet game managers in the “North Star State” have said if or when the wolf was ever delisted in Minnesota, they would wait FIVE YEARS, with lots of public comment, before even considering a wolf hunt or whether to have one at all.  That is sound management, reasonable management.  The western states could learn something from Minnesota about living with wolves.

Montana’s hunt ended on November 17.   Seventy two wolves fell to hunter’s bullets and three more were poached in the North Fork of the Flathead.  But wolves are still in trouble in Montana.  Wildlife Services has been give the green light from Montana FWP to take out the Mitchell Mountain wolf pack, who’s territory encompasses the Sieben Ranch, north of Helena.  The ranch is owned and run by John Baucus, brother to Senator Baucus.  This is a huge ranch, approx 125,000 acres bought by Henry Sieben, in 1897.  The Mitchell Mountain wolf pack killed guard dogs on the Sieben ranch, which is part of the pack’s territory.  It’s well known dispersing wolves, at this time of year, can be aggressive toward dogs, who they consider competition.  For that an entire wolf pack must die???

Recent letter writing campaigns, initiated by Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC and other environmental groups, have appealed to  President Obama and Ken Salazar to call of the guns, yet the message seems to have fallen on deaf ears. 

Wildearth Guardians filed a petition to ask President Obama to issue an executive order ending the poisoning and aerial gunning of our carnivores on public lands.

WildEarth Guardians asked President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order and/or that the Departments of Interior and Agriculture develop an administrative-rulemaking process to implement a new management paradigm for native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.

The petition highlights the science documenting the critical role that carnivores play in ecosystems and also asserts that lethal control methods reflect an outdated value system that inappropriately elevates livestock production above wildlife.”

Wolves are being hammered on two fronts in Idaho and Montana.  Hunters killed 122 wolves in Idaho, with 98 more slated to die in the hunt.  Idaho Fish and Game commissioners, extended the wolf hunt, FOR THE ENTIRE STATE, minus the three closed zones,  through wolf breeding and denning season.  A SEVEN MONTH LONG HUNT, ending March 31, 2010.   

Meanwhile Wildlife Services continues their deadly toll on wolves in the Northern Rockies.  In 2008, TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY FOUR WOLVES were killed by WS for the livestock industry.   8 packs in Idaho, 9 packs in Montana and 4 packs in Wyoming, all dead in ONE YEAR.  Why the carnage?  Ask ranchers how many cattle they lose to reproduction, disease and weather?  Heck, 75,000 cattle die each year across the West from ALTITUDE DISEASE.  Are wolves responsible for that too? 

It’s not wolves killing all the cattle.  In 2005 carnivores were responsible for just 0.18% of cattle deaths but that fact doesn’t seem to matter.  The states monitor wolves like they are dangerous criminals.  Data is constantly collected from private citizens or hunters about wolf sightings. Ranchers report suspected wolf kills on livestock, WS tracks wolves with flyovers, trapping and collaring and even track and howl surveys.  The states spend thousands upon thousands of dollars harassing a species that just want to roam and be wolves.  When are we EVER going to talk about what’s best for wolves or the people that care about them and want to view them in the wild?  When??

How many ranchers leave their cattle and sheep to graze on public lands and don’t monitor them? Why aren’t wolves given any quarter on the land they’ve roamed for thousands of years?  This is THEIR HOME…not cattle, who are being raised for food. These are not beloved family pets but animals slated to die a cruel death in a slaughterhouse and end up on someone’s dinner plate as hamburger.  This is the very reason I don’t eat meat.  The easiest way to become a vegetarian is to watch an undercover slaugtherhouse video.  I can tell you it’s much more graphic and disturbing then wolf predation. 

The first rule of business is protect your investment.  It’s the rancher’s responsibility to watch over their livestock in wolf country, not the American taxpayer, who picks up the tab for Wildlife Services war on wolves and other wildlife.

The lawsuit, brought by environmental groups to restore gray wolf protections, is making it’s way through federal court in Missoula, Montana and scheduled to be heard sometime after the first of the year.  It can’t come soon enough for me.  Judge Molloy stated the plaintiffs will likely prevail on the overall litigation,  even though he denied the injunction to stop the hunts.

In the meantime, wolves are dodging  hunters bullets in Idaho while the ever present threat of Wildlife Services hangs over them.  How did things get so bad so quickly?  Can anyone even imagine how much worse it could get if we don’t speak out and stand up for wolves?

Contact the wolf managers and let them know you’re not happy with current wolf policy and would like to see a new paradigm where wolves are valued for their contribution as apex predators, not viewed as a nuisance to be managed for the livestock industry!

Montana Wolf Managers…click here

Idaho Fish and Gameclick here

Wildlife Services……Jim Lukens 1-208=756-2271

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: howling for justice,  Idaho wolf hunt, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, wolf wars

Tags: aerial gunning of wolves, wolves or livestock, wolf extermination, wolf myths

 
 

And The Wolf Killing Continues

Another wolf pack has been slated for execution, this time in Montana.  The Mitchell Mountain pack, who roam the Sieben Ranch, north of Helena have a kill order out on them.

The 125,000 acre ranch is owned by the Baucus family and operated by John Baucus, brother of Senator Max Baucus.. 

This wolf pack will be eliminated for killing a few goats and several guard dogs on the Sieben Ranch between 2008 and 2009.  Well this pack didn’t last long.  They just formed in 2008. 

No word yet on the Mitchell Mountain pack’s demise or when Wildlife Services will strike and gun these wolves down, probably using automatic twelve gauge shotguns.   I can’t imagine how terrified the wolves will be or how painful their deaths, being chased from the air, with bullets reigning down on them.  I’m sure they will be howling in pain as they suffer and die.  This sounds like something that happens in war but this is an action that will be taken against a wolf pack.

The kill order was given by Montana FWP to ….who else…. Wildlife Services.  They have the green light to wipe out the remaining members of the pack.  Seven members  have already been shot dead, including the Alpha female in 08. They also collared a pup in 08,  according to Montana FWP 2008 Wolf Report.  You see that’s how they find them.

Between Wildlife Services and the wolf hunts, we’ve had almost daily reports of wolf killings in the news.. When is this going to end?  Until every last wolf has been eliminated? 

The worst thing that can ever happen to a wolf is to wear a radio collar.  They are tracked constantly, their every movement watched.  I don’t know of any other animal that faces this kind of scrutiny?  I wonder if  Montana tracked every predator within it’s borders, the way they track wolves, what they would find?  

It’s a lose/lose situation for wolves.  Wolf packs are relentlessly monitored/harassed, with the states waiting to pounce whenever possible wolf kills occur. Who will be next on the list to die?  Maybe we should build  a memorial wall with the names of dead wolf packs?  We could call it Wolf Wars!

Wolf Pack North of Helena Will Be Killed

http://www.helenair.com/news/local/article_332066a6-e354-11de-a187-001cc4c002e0.html

Posted in: aerial gunning of wolves, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, Wolf Wars

Tags: wolves in the crossfire, wolf extermination

Thanksgiving Week Massacre of Basin Butte Wolves…..Stanley, Idaho

A Basin Butte wolf pup, 6 months old.

All Photos by Idaho WildWolf Images Copyright 2008.

December 6, 2009

This is an account of Idaho’s popular Basin Butte wolves and their tragic end, as told to me by Idaho friends.

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Thanksgiving week 2009, everyone was busy planning their holiday with family. It was a time for reflection and thanks. But over a two day period, November 23 & 24,  at Stanley, Idaho, Wildlife Services launched a covert operation that is now known as the Thanksgiving Week Massacre. Wildlife Services (WS) is a misnamed federal agency that kills wildlife for the benefit of agriculture, mainly the livestock industry.

Locals watched in horror as WS agents, in a plane and red helicopter, chased down and shot dead seven members of the Basin Butte wolf pack. Two wolves were killed on a rancher’s private property, the rest on National Forest land.  Among the Thanksgiving week victims were the pack’s mother, B171 “Alpha Fe”, her three seven-month old PUPS and three other wolves. A total of ELEVEN Basin Butte wolves have been killed since late July.

Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountain country, called the Sawtooth National Recreation Area(SNRA), was once in line for National Park status. Instead, in 1972, it became an “NRA” (National Recreation Area). As a result, cattle and sheep graze across much of the 756,000 acres. Cattle ranchers have tremendous political power in this area, which is the reason for the Basin Butte wolves demise on that fateful Thanksgiving week shoot-out.

Background:

The Basin Butte wolf pack was formed in 2006 with three adults and five pups. Wolf supporters stepped in to keep the wolves away from the thousands of cattle that summer in the high country around Stanley, Idaho. This continued for the next three years. There were no depredations in 2007, but some close calls. Sick or injured cows and calves are easy targets for wolves. Things started going to hell in 2008 after a ranch hand shot a Basin Butte wolf called “Little Sis”. She was hunting squirrels 200 yards away from a herd of cows. The cow hand was given a warning by Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game (IDFG) law enforcement, which apparently upset the hand’s boss, a powerful rancher.

Basin Butte wolf “Little Sis”

Next, the pack, now consisting of 13 wolves, were seen moving toward a remote area, behind private property. Suddenly the wolves were accused of killing cows and calves belonging to the irate rancher. In July 2008, Wildlife Services convinced IDFG to give the ok to spring into their deadly trapping and killing mode. Before the 2008 grazing season was over, up to 8 Basin Butte wolves were dead. One beautiful wolf, “Uncle” – the babysitter to the pack’s pups, was mangled and crippled, shot by a Wildlife Services agent using an automatic 12 gauge.

One last winter:

The wolves had one last winter in the scenic country they called home. Many locals and visitors alike, delighted in seeing the wolves and hearing them howl. The pack was highly visible, as the Druids are in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone. The wolves were known by their given names: Alpha Fe, Papa, Bobtail, Red, Marymag, Smoky and more.

Tourists come in winter to Stanley, a tiny town of 100 people and one of the coldest places in the Lower 48, to ski, wildlife watch, snowmobile and see the Basin Butte wolves. But, it’s still tough for businesses to make it, and many locals were hoping wolf viewing would eventually bring more tourists and their dollars. Summer is the only time when tourists come in numbers, over two million people, according to SNRA staff. Wolf watching is the untapped golden egg that could make Stanley boom in the winter months, especially since much of the terrain around town is wide open. It’s perfect for setting up spotting scopes and watching wolves. But in 2009, the ranchers and Wildlife Services had other plans.  When wolf supporters scared the wolves away from cattle on public land, the ranchers went to law enforcement and complained. Surveillance cameras were set up by the local deputy to try and catch anyone driving by or stopping near the cattle, even on PUBLIC land!

The wolves were accused of killing a calf and a cow in July. Wildlife Services, who had been lurking around Stanley waiting for action, trapped and shot two yearling wolves. The angry rancher allowed WS to cross his private property, so they could access a remote area where traps could be set, mostly out of view of the public.

Then on September 1, Idaho opened their seven month long hunting season, adding to the Basin Butte Pack’s problems. Two pack members were shot by hunters. One was the Basin Butte alpha male, and another was a pup. The little pup was shot by an employee of the rancher.

October arrived, the weather turned freezing cold, with rain and snow. The pack was accused of killing two more cows. The cows may have been sick or hurt, no one knows. With thousands of cattle, some are always on the decline but now the stage was set for an aerial massacre. You know the rest of this tragic story. Two wolves are said to have survived. They have been heard howling mournfully for their pack.

Basin Butte “Uncle Wolf”

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There are 71 million wildlife watchers in the United States., who generate 45 billion dollars in revenue.. Wildlife viewers come to Idaho to watch wolves and other wildlife, not livestock. Slaughtering wolves is bad for Idaho’s reputation and hurtful to state tourism.

We don’t control what ranchers do on their private land BUT the American public has the right to demand fair PUBLIC LAND policy.. This land belongs to all our citizens, not just ranchers.

Americans do not want wildlife eradicated for the livestock industry. Ranchers must be held accountable for managing their livestock.

Like any business venture, ranching has risks. If ranchers aren’t willing or able to care for their investment, without using the federal government as their own wolf extermination service, they should get their cattle off our public lands. 66% of Idaho is public land. Wolves are native to the SNRA, not cattle. Why should the wolf pay the ultimate price because of sloppy ranching practices, or be subjugated to cattle?

Myself and my friends, are BOYCOTTING Idaho products, businesses, including big game outfitters until this wolf killing madness stops.

SPEAK UP AND PROTEST THE THANKSGIVING WEEK SLAUGHTER!

Idaho Wildlife Services has a long list of wolf packs in their sights, will the killing be repeated this winter with a green light from IDFG?

Please E-Mail Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the IDFG wolf managers:

 http://gov.idaho.gov/WebRespond/contact_form.html

cal.groen@idfg.idaho.gov

 jon.rachael@idfg.idaho.gov

 jim.lukens@idfg.idaho.gov

jim.unsworth@idfg.idaho.gov

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STOP WOLF KILLING

Petition From change.org…Please sign.

http://www.change.org/actions/view/stop_wolf_killing

Posted in: Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, aerial gunning of wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: aerial gunning of wolves, wolves in the crossfire, wolf extermination

The Politics Of Wolf Extermination….

September 21, 2009

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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A WEST WITHOUT WOLVES

The Livestock Industry Hamstrings Wolf Recovery

Michael J. 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.

Michael J. Robinson works on predator recovery for the Center for Biological Diversity, headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. He holds a master of arts degree in literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has authored dozens of articles and opinion pieces on conservation issues that have appeared in publications ranging from High Country News to the New York Times. He is currently finishing work on a book about the wolf extermination campaign of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He lives in Pinos Altos, New Mexico, next to the Mexican wolf recovery area.

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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.

The Northern Rockies

Wolf 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 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.

Gray wolves that migrate naturally from Canada into Glacier National Park and surrounding areas of northwestern Montana-animals that were supposed to have complete protection under the Endangered Species Act-have likewise suffered at the hands of federal government hunters whenever livestock have been killed. As a result, their numbers are not likely to reach the threshold of ten breeding pairs set out in the official wolf recovery plan. So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now proposes lowering the bar on wolf recovery by counting wolves in Idaho and Yellowstone toward recovery objectives in Montana, to remove the species from federal protection entirely and assuage the intense opposition of the livestock industry.

The Southwest

In the Southwest, Mexican wolf reintroduction began in 1998, almost two decades after the last five individuals were removed from the wild for an emergency captive breeding program. The Mexican wolf, a separate subspecies from the gray wolf inhabiting regions to the north, originally roamed throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as northern Mexico. It, too, was extirpated from the United States by the federal government. Although the Mexican wolf is the most imperiled mammal in North America, it was designated “experimental, nonessential” like its kin in Idaho and the Yellowstone region, in an attempt to buy off livestock industry support for reintroduction.

It didn’t work. Soon after the first eleven wolves were released, five were shot, two disappeared, and the remainder were recaptured for their own protection. The livestock industry cheered the killings, and the New Mexico Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers Association filed suit to remove the wolves but were rebuffed in court.

Over the next two years, government management of the Mexican wolves in conformance with their diminished protected status did even more damage than had the poachers. In 1999, the first released Mexican wolves to reproduce successfully in the wild were recaptured from the Apache National Forest in Arizona after they killed a couple of cows on national forest lands. In the course of that recapturing, three of the wild-born pups died from parvovirus. According to the veterinarian who necropsied them, the pups were already in the process of overcoming the disease at the time of capture, but the stress of that event likely caused them to succumb. After the survivors were re-released into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, two of the surviving pups dispersed from the pack at a younger age than is normal for wolves, and one is missing and presumed dead. Biologists do not know whether their period of captivity altered their behavior.

Another pack of Mexican wolves also preyed on cattle on the Apache National Forest, but in this case the cattle were illegally present, having been ordered out by the Forest Service because of severe overgrazing. There was so little forage present that deer and javelina had already been displaced. The rancher failed to remove his cattle, and Forest Service officials failed to enforce their own order-which they later rescinded. Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, unable to force the Forest Service to uphold its own decisions, managed to draw the wolves away to another (overgrazed) allotment on the Gila National Forest. But the wolves had become habituated to cattle, and a week after they discovered and scavenged on a dead cow in the Gila, they began killing cattle again. As a result, seven wolves were trapped, and one pup and a yearling disappeared; both likely died.

A third family of wolves didn’t kill livestock at all. But they were also recaptured after scavenging on a dead cow and horse left out on the forest. It was feared that the wolves might learn to prey on livestock after they had tasted beef. In the course of the government’s trapping effort, the adult female’s leg was injured in a leghold trap and had to be amputated. The pack was re-released into the Gila, but again, a previously tight family unit broke apart soon after. Two pups were subsequently trapped and returned to cages.

Stock Growers’ Appropriation of Western Ecosystems

The conflict between the livestock industry and wolf recovery is more deeply rooted than the seemingly simple question of how to protect stock from predators. For even though a handful of ranchers-representing a tiny minority of the industry as a whole-have forsworn killing wolves and pledged themselves to living with the species, their cattle still displace elk, deer, and other native prey animals. Each blade of grass eaten by a cow means that much less for elk, and each cow shipped to market represents the removal from the ecosystem of hundreds of pounds of biomass that would otherwise take the form of deer, elk, moose, or pronghorn-all of which wolves might otherwise eat.

And when wolves prey on any cattle or domestic sheep, whether they belong to the most recalcitrant predator hater or to a “New Age” rancher, the government’s response is the same: removal or killing of the wolves.

In all too many wild places, however, politics precludes recovery efforts even before such conflicts may arise. The livestock industry has so far successfully delimited not only the terms of wolf recovery but also where wolves will be allowed to roam. Thus, the southern Rockies of northern New Mexico, Colorado, and southern Wyoming have been excluded from wolf recovery consideration because the Colorado Wildlife Commission, an appointed body dominated by ranchers, browbeat the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into omitting this region. (Activists then persuaded Congress to mandate a habitat evaluation study of Colorado, which revealed that the state could support over 1,100 wolves, but even so the federal agency will not act on its own study and propose recovery.) As a result, wolf recovery on the limited terms proposed by the government will resemble small islands of predators surrounded by lethal “rangelands” dominated by the livestock industry.

The ongoing toll on predatory mammals from the livestock industry’s federal killing campaign has skewed one of the fundamental relationships that shapes ecosystems. Wolves provide carrion for other animals, including bears, eagles, crows, magpies, raccoons, skunks, and wolverines. As scavengers, all of these species were decimated in the original, completely uncontrolled wolf poisoning campaign and its follow-up iteration as a coyote poisoning campaign. Today, with poisoning more limited but with wolves still absent from almost all western landscapes, these carrion eaters have lost one of their more reliable original providers.

Wolves kill coyotes, evidently regarding them as competitors. Coyotes similarly kill foxes. The diminutive kit fox of the western deserts and plains is imperiled today partly because of coyote predation. Biologists have speculated that the absence of wolves allows excessive coyote exploitation of kit foxes.

Predators, of course, also influence their prey species. As poet Robinson Jeffers noted, “What but the wolf’s tooth whittled so fine / The fleet limbs of the antelope?” Indeed, the speed and keen eyesight of the pronghorn antelope, along with the fortitude of elk and moose, the sense of balance of bighorn sheep on mountain ledges, and the alertness of deer, evolved through predators’ culling from the gene pool animals without such survival attributes. Today, with the absence of many predators and the diminishment of others, that predatory force has been profoundly altered. Will the deer, elk, and bighorn of future centuries sport the same traits that for millennia have helped define their very beauty to our species?

What we need are vast, wild landscapes in each type of western ecosystem, free over long periods of time from cattle and sheep, while well stocked with every native predator, including-and perhaps especially wolves. Without such areas as scientific controls, many of the complex ecological relationships on western landscapes may remain forever closed to our perception and understanding.

In the face of the vast damage done to the American West by livestock production, predators would serve to help heal the natural landscape, to bring ecosystems back toward homeostasis. The systematic killing of predators keeps our otherwise wild places forever artifacts of our own civilization.

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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

http://www.publiclandsranching.org/htmlres/wr_without_wolves.htm

Photo: fanpop

Posted in: graywolf/canis lupus,  Wolf Wars, wolf intolerance

Tags: wolves or livestock, wolves in the crossfire, wolf extermination

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