Raising red flags in Oregon — Efforts to protect wolves and safeguard livestock are really taking off in eastern Oregon. Defenders and its partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Wallowa Resources have helped ranchers put up nearly six miles of fladry around five pastures—and they’re still asking for more! Recent studies (and decades of experience) have shown that wolves instinctively keep their distance when they see the bright red flag line flapping in the wind. Combined with increased vigilance from range riders and guard dogs, better husbandry practices and other nonlethal deterrents, fladry has helped keep livestock losses in Oregon to a minimum.
Wolf supporters, you’re not alone — If you ever feel like the only voice of sanity in what has become an increasingly wild-eyed debate, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Just take a look at the recent flood of excellent stories, op-eds and letters across the Northern Rockies, taking a stand for wolves against needless persecution:
“All plants and animals — and all other environmental factors — are interdependent. There are not independent species so much as there is an interdependent web of life. Humans are part of this natural web. We may not be able to easily see or understand it, but when we threaten the existence of a part of this life web, we threaten our own existence. The leaders who created the Endangered Species Act realized this truth. Actions designed to circumvent this act threaten us and the long-term health of our extraordinary Montana home. We are fortunate to be living in the era of the recovery of Montana. With wise stewardship, our Last Best Place will thrive as never before.” – Jonathan Matthews, Helena Independent Record
“And most hunters should support the Endangered Species Act, because it also protects habitat for other wildlife and game species that share habitat with listed ones. Then, why would the federation call for undermining the act by advocating for Congress to use legislation to delist the gray wolf? This seems like a slippery slope: if Congress delists the gray wolf because a few Senators have a problem with it, then what’s to stop another Congress from delisting another species when it is inconvenient, and so on.” – Marc Cooke, Ravalli Republic
“While wildlife scientists can advise on the likely outcome of any given hunting strategy, the decision whether or not to hunt a particular animal is largely ethical and must consider social, cultural, environmental and economic consequences. Hunting for the purposes of controlling the impacts of species (as is the case with wolf hunting) must have clear objectives directly related to damage mitigation. For example, if the reason for hunting wolves is to reduce livestock losses, then comprehensive scientific evidence must demonstrate a clear link between wolf population size and attacks on livestock, and show that control efforts will reduce these attacks. Hunting any species based on perceived risk is scientifically indefensible, especially if that species is endangered.” – Gary Luck, The Scientist
“Fear of wolves is the new political football for 2012. The Obama Administration, Western Congressmen, and lobbyists in the livestock and elk-hunting business want wolf hysteria to distract us from other more important issues.” – Steve Kelly, Helena Independent Record
“Endangered species don’t vote, don’t make campaign contributions, and don’t stand a chance if their fate is subject to the whims of politicians rather than sound science and habitat management. The Endangered Species Act simply cannot work if politicians are allowed to start cherry-picking which species they think should or should not be allowed to survive.” — Michael Brune, San Francisco Chronicle
It’s not too late to lend your own voice to the rising chorus. To find contact information for your local newspaper, visit http://www.westernwolves.org/index.php/letters-to-editors.
Ridiculous Russian rumors — State legislatures are picking up on a sensational report from Russia that a “super pack” of 400 wolves supposedly killed some 30 horses. The story has been refuted by wolf experts around the world, including Dr. Valerius Geist, who told Defenders over email that he was never interviewed for the story despite being quoted extensively. Large numbers of neglected horses die quite frequently in the harsh Siberian winters, and it would not be surprising if the dead carcasses brought in scavengers from far and wide. But once again, wolf hysteria leads people to ignore this more plausible explanation in favor of tabloid-worthy nonsense.
Montana poised to “nullify” ESA — Wholesale attacks on the Endangered Species Act are no longer rhetorical speculation. New legislation from Montana’s House of Representatives shows just how quickly anti-wolf sentiment and Tea Party antics can turn against America’s commitment to protecting all wildlife. Bolstered by Gov. Schweitzer’s move last week to ignore federal law on wolf recovery, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to “nullify” the ESA—a move that would cost Montana about $1 million in federal assistance. So far, Schweitzer has indicated he’s likely to veto the bill if it passes the Senate, but there’s no telling what other collateral damage will occur along the way.
Wolf poached in Washington — Sorry to leave on a sad note, but yet another wolf was poached in Washington.The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident after discovering a skinned carcass in Methow Valley near Lookout Mountain, but has revealed few details.