Another wolf rider? Déjà vu all over again
It’s down to crunch time for funding the federal government, which means the rumors are flying around Capitol Hill about what is happening in largely behind-closed-door negotiations. A whole raft of anti-environmental riders are still being considered as key Members of Congress make a last-minute push to reach agreement on a comprehensive budget bill. At this point, Public Enemy #1 is a rider that would make it virtually impossible to challenge the removal of federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming, the western Great Lakes and all or part of 29 states in the eastern U.S. (See pg. 15 of our ESA attacks report for more details.) The provision would prevent judicial review of pending wolf delistings in those states, denying American citizens their right to hold the government accountable for following the law. That means there would be no way to challenge Wyoming’s current plans to allow wolves to be killed by any means at any time in prime wolf habitat in the state – including on our National Forests! This is yet another attempt by Congress to politicize the Endangered Species Act and circumvent what should be a science-based process for protecting wildlife. We urge all our supporters to contact their local congressman immediately and tell them to oppose any budget bill that includes anti-environmental riders, especially this ill-conceived wolf rider.
Wyoming budgets $200,000 for wolf killing
Perhaps in anticipation of the rider mentioned above, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead set aside more than $800,000 in his budget for wolf management over the next two years, including $200,000 to kill wolves in response to livestock depredations. Rather than encouraging proactive, nonlethal strategies to prevent wolf attacks, Gov. Mead is fueling anti-wolf hysteria by blowing the livestock loss issue way out of proportion.. Only 60 head of livestock were verified lost to wolves in the entire state of Wyoming last year. Yet Gov. Mead’s budget will pay ranchers up to seven times the fair market value for every single calf that is killed out on the open range!
Here’s what Defenders had to say about this proposal in our comments opposing Wyoming’s wolf plan:
“There is no quantifiable justification for paying up to seven times the confirmed loss of livestock,” Defenders of Wildlife said in comments to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on Wyoming’s wolf management plan. “This type of inflated compensation is extremely troubling and will likely encourage poor livestock husbandry as producers are better rewarded for losing livestock than taking preventative measures to avoid predation.
“The state of Wyoming does not compensate other species at such an exaggerated rate of loss,” the comments said. “Instead, [Game and Fish] should use these funds to create incentives for good management practices that help producers prevent livestock losses and pay compensation based on a fair market value for those losses that cannot be prevented.”
Help from our friends in Washington
Here’s another big THANK YOU to all Defenders supporters who weighed in on Washington’s wolf recovery plan that was approved earlier this week (see full press release). In particular, we’d like to thank Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen for attending the final meeting in Olympia and talking to the Washington Fish and Game Commission about his community’s positive experiences in central Idaho coexisting with wolves through our Wood River Wolf Project. Commissioner Schoen gave a strong endorsement for nonlethal tools and deterrents as effective means for minimizing wolf and livestock conflicts to manageable levels. And thanks again to Defenders’ President’s Council member Melinda Hirsch and long-time Defenders’ supporter Ruth Musgrave and her daughter Story who all testified in support of wolf recovery.
OP-ED: Wolf wars rage on, Obama stands by
Sociology professor J. William Gibson is a strong wolf advocate who doesn’t like to mince words. His op-ed in the LA Times this week lays out the persistent mythology that continues to fuel the “war on wolves,” which he says has begun a new chapter this fall with the hunting of wolves. Gibson laments the decline of wolf recovery efforts and challenges President Obama to live up to his 2008 campaign promise:
“”Federal policy toward animals should respect the dignity of animals and their rightful place as cohabitants of the environment.”