More wolves under fire in Washington – At the end of last year, there were only five confirmed wolf packs in Washington and an estimated total of 27 wolves. That didn’t stop state wildlife managers from killing the entire Wedge Pack in September and may not stop the Colville tribes from hunting wolves either. King 5 News in Seattle reports that the Confederated tribes of the Colville Reservation are ready to approve wolf hunting on 1.4 million acres in north-central Washington in order to save elk and deer for people to hunt. There are 10 known wolves on these tribal lands, and the tribes are planning to issue permits to kill nine of them. (More here from the Spokesman Review) Killing so many wolves is unjustified, and we hope to be able to work with the tribes to come up with alternatives. With such aggressive actions to kill wolves in Washington, it will be even more important that we have federal protections in place under the Endangered Species Act to ensure long-term wolf recovery across the state.
History of Montana conservation success – Despite ongoing concerns over the recovery of wolves and grizzlies, Montana has made tremendous strides in managing wildlife over the last 50 years. The Billings Gazette reports that populations of gray wolves, grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep and bald eagles are all doing much better than they were several decades ago (check out their excellent infographic). Landmark laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Wilderness Act deserve a lot of credit for making conservation a national priority and funneling federal resources into protecting land and wildlife. But the story also recognizes that a grassroots environmental movement that began in the ‘60s helped inspire an entire generation of Americans who fought to defend our natural resources.
Essential, or just iconic? – The debate continued this week over the value of Yellowstone’s wolves. Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone wolf project, told National Parks Traveler that hunting is unlikely to affect the overall population, biologically speaking. But he reiterated that the loss of collared wolves does hamper research efforts. Further, a beautiful story from Outside Bozeman reminds us that the thrill of getting to see wolves in the wild is reason enough to protect these iconic animals.
Sadly, yet another one of these well-known wolves was killed this week by a hunter 16 miles east of the park. 832F was the alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack. She was one of the most famous and highly visible wolves in Yellowstone and wore a GPS tracking collar that researchers used to monitor the pack’s behavior. She was also the subject of a short documentary by wildlife filmmaker Bob Landis.