Save California’s Wolves – On Oct. 3, California’s Fish and Game Commission will be deciding the fate of protections for OR-7 and any other wolves that might venture into the Golden State in the future. Commissioners will be voting to accept or reject a petition to protect wolves under California’s Endangered Species Act. If they approve the petition, wolves will get immediate protection in the state while the California Department of Fish and Game develops a status review to determine whether wolves should be protected over the long-run. If they deny the petition, wolves could be on their own against some hunters, ranchers and others who still see wolves as an unwanted nuisance once federal protections are lifted.
Currently, wolves are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but there’s no guarantee they’ll remain protected. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made it abundantly clear by their actions in the last couple years that they’re ready to get out of the wolf protection business. Further, recent discussions with federal biologists suggest that a delisting for gray wolves nationwide is likely waiting in the wings. If that happens, California is on its own.
Tell the California Fish and Game Commission to help ensure a future for wolves in California by approving statewide protection (here’s how to submit comments and information on the wolf petition). The Feds may be ready to give up on wolf recovery, but that doesn’t mean California should too.
Why Wolves Matter – With wolf hunting underway in Idaho and Montana and starting in Wyoming in a couple weeks, it’s important to take stock of what’s at stake. This beautiful video from our colleagues at Greater Yellowstone Coalition puts wolf recovery in context with an excellent interview with Yellowstone National Park’s top wolf biologist Doug Smith. It reminds us why considerable efforts were undertaken to bring wolves back into the ecosystem. Watch below:
Good breeding — Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that yet another of the state’s wolf packs has pups. Photos taken with a remote trail camera show at least two pups traveling with eight adults in the Walla Walla Pack. That brings the total number of breeding packs in Oregon to six, and the total number of wolves to at least 58—twice the number of wolves that were counted at the end of 2011.
Oregon Wildlife Services needs to shape up – Defenders has long had serious concerns with USDA Wildlife Services, the elusive federal agency noted for killing wildlife that comes into conflict with livestock. We’ve repeatedly asked the agency to focus its efforts instead on implementing nonlethal wildlife deterrents, to no avail. So we took the latest opportunity in Oregon to weigh in on an environmental assessment of Wildlife Services’ wolf management activities in that state. Here’s the crux of the comments we submitted:
- Wildlife Services should engage in nonlethal wolf management efforts, but they will need to provide more training, different resources, and possibly more experienced personnel to accomplish this goal;
- Lethal control measures alone are ineffective over the long term and should only be used as a last resort to temporarily address livestock and wolf conflicts;
- The Oregon Wildlife Services program has significant and ongoing problems with misidentifying unrelated causes of death or injury as wolf predation. This inaccuracy in determining actual cause of death has led to a substantial lack of confidence in the program and immediate actions should be taken to rectify this serious problem;
- Until the significant problems with investigation procedures are fully addressed, the agency should limit their involvement to nonlethal control methods.
Yellowstone gateway goes anti-wolf — Montana’s Gallatin County is the primary gateway to Yellowstone National Park. As such, it benefits greatly from wildlife tourism to the region. But that didn’t stop local county commissioners from proposing a predator policy this week that supports reduction of the wolf population from over 600 statewide to just 150. This is in stark contrast to Wyoming’s Teton County, another gateway to Yellowstone, where residents identified wildlife as their number one value in the county’s comprehensive plan, and commissioners petitioned Wyoming Governor Mead to prevent wolves from being killed as predators anywhere in the county (though he dismissed their request).
The Gallatin commission tries to justify killing off wolves and other predators in order to protect people and livestock, and to artificially boost elk, deer, and moose herds for hunting. Yet attacks on people are extremely rare, and there has never been a confirmed livestock lost to wolves in the county.
Defenders’ Rockies and Plains Director Mike Leahy, a resident of Gallatin County, was quoted in the local news opposing the Gallatin County Commissions anti-predator proposal:
“You have the Gallatin County saying they’re gonna prioritize one species over others and so they’re getting into micro-managing predator and prey relationships and those are better left alone. Predator and prey will figure out some sort of balance between the two and we already have one government agency that’s responsible for managing wildlife, that’s Fish Wildlife and Parks and so now we have another layer of bureaucracy, the Gallatin County Commission getting involved in predator management and I think it’s a waste of resources,” said Leahy.