An Otter emergency — Looks like our concerns were well placed about returning wolves to state management without requiring a science-based minimum population. Idaho Gov. “Butch” Otter signed a bill Tuesday authorizing the state to declare a wolf “disaster emergency” declaration based on the mere presence of wolves. The bill lists threats from wolves to humans while berry picking among other things (though there have been ZERO recorded injuries in Idaho caused by wolves), threats to livestock (though depredations are down significantly this year and remain under one percent of livestock mortalities) and threats to game (though there are more than 100,000 elk in the state) as the need to reduce wolf numbers immediately. The bill even includes more misinformation that wolves carry diseases that pose serious health risks to humans. Idaho has cried wolf a number of times in the past. How long before the state government is held accountable for fear-mongering based on such obvious politically driven propaganda?
“Is this what state management of wolves is going to look like? By authorizing a wolf ‘emergency,’ Governor Otter is pandering to the anti-wolf crowd and reinforcing ridiculous falsehoods about wolves. He is setting the tone for wolf management based on unjustified hysteria rather than sound science. We need our leaders to focus on resolving conflicts, not perpetuating them.” –Suzanne Stone, Defenders Northern Rockies representative
Double dose of debunking — Our wolf expert Suzanne Stone did some serious debunking on East Idaho News yesterday on the Neal Larson Show. Neal asked her about the mythical “Canadian wolves,” the science behind wolf recovery goals and the proper role of the states in wolf management. Listen to the full interview below (jump to the 30-minute mark when Suzanne joins the conversation)
Bi-coastal wolf opinions — In a brilliant editorial yesterday, the New York Times takes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to task for promoting a “legislative solution” for delisting wolves in the Northern Rockies. NYT points that the budget rider is not only bad for wolves but also for other animals that still need protections: “For the sake of his own reputation as a conservationist, Mr. Salazar has to hope that Congress’s meddling stops with the wolves.”
Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen hit many of the same points with his op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. In the wake the wolf rider, several western congressmen, led by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), are already angling to undermine protections for endangered species in California’s Bay Delta:
“California’s salmon fisheries have been collapsing, reaching all-time lows in the past three years which has resulted in the loss of 20,000 jobs and more than a $1 billion a year for the state economy. Yet just last week, Costa and a number of his congressional colleagues held a hearing in Fresno at which they made it abundantly clear that a legislative fix was on the way — one that would deprive the Bay Delta of much-needed water, endangered species and fishermen be damned.” –Rodger Schlickeisen, Defenders president
Experts sound off — Environmental Law Professor David Cassuto gives his perspective on the Christian Science Monitor about why the wolf rider was so bad for endangered species conservation, pointing out where the arguments of hunters and ranchers fall flat: “While it is true that wolves take a certain amount of livestock, it is also true that ranchers annually lose more cattle to lightning strikes, dog attacks, and noxious weeds than they do to wolves.”
Rocky Barker, long-time environmental reporter for the Idaho Statesman, gave his take on the path forward for wolves and other conservation issues on Boise State Radio. He says now that wolves will be delisted, it’s time to start getting serious about protecting other critters from the impacts of climate change.