28 January 2013 Wolf Advocates Across the West Posted by: Suzanne Asha Stone | 70 comments | Share: Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies Representative The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for wolf advocates in the West. My colleagues and I have been traveling from city to city and state to state organizing wolf supporters to attend meetings set by state wildlife commissions and agencies. Some of these were set to vote on proposals that could be particularly dangerous to wolves, while others opened up a broader conversation about wolf management. But for all of these meetings, it was important that people who care about the future of wolves in the region were in attendance to testify, to question, and to learn. Boise, Idaho On January 16, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission held a public hearing. There were many important issues on the docket, but we were most concerned about agenda item #6 – a measure to set aside $50,000 exclusively to have the federal government kill more wolves in order to boost elk numbers for hunters. We sounded the alarm to our members in the area, and they answered the call. I met a group of them at a reception before the meeting, and we talked about the challenges that often come with advocating for wolves in an area where myth and misconceptions about these animals are still widely regarded as fact. The hearing was amazing. The first hour of public testimony on agenda item #6 was nothing but 100% positive support for wolves. In fact, everyone who spoke about this issue opposed the measure and supported more protection for wolves. Our members were respectful, eloquent and well-informed, and the commission was visibly blown away by their testimonies. When my turn came, I was able to focus on specific concerns with the measure, including the fact that the proposal could allow for the use of more controversial “management” practices, like aerial gunning. And the fact that lethal control fails to work in the long term – no matter what the reason for wanting more elk, killing wolves is not a solution. I spoke about our Wood River Wolf Project and its success in protecting 27,300 sheep living among three resident wolf packs with only one incident that resulted in the loss of 4 sheep. I asked them to use the $50,000 for nonlethal methods of preventing predation on livestock instead of just continuing this endless and wasteful cycle of loss and killing. Sadly, when it came to the vote the following morning, the commission approved the proposal. Even though they heard that so many residents were staunchly against it, they still designated $50,000 for federal wolf killing. Defenders is working to raise twice that amount to put toward protecting wolves and other wildlife in the region. Though the commission approved the proposal, I think our collective testimony surprised them. To have so many people willing to speak out on behalf of wolves here in Boise is unprecedented, and at a public hearing like this one, it showed the decision-makers that the people of Idaho care about how wolves are managed, and we’re watching their actions closely. The days of passing awful management proposals without public opposition is over. Seattle, Washington Later the same week, I set out for Seattle. After the fiasco with the Wedge Pack last summer, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is making an effort to keep the public better informed about their management methods. We let our members in the area know about this great opportunity to learn more about wolves in their state and to ask questions of the agency in charge of managing them. The meeting was a bit of a challenge. First, the location of the meeting was moved, so we sent out an update. Then, the new location proved very difficult to find, so we posted signs along the road to point the way. Once WFDW arrived they quickly realized the space was far too small and moved the meeting to a warehouse across the street for the more than 300 people who attended! It was incredible to see so many people interested in wolves in a state that is still welcoming the species back to parts of its native range that have been wolf-free for over a century. Carter Niemeyer, retired wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was one of the key speakers and did a great job answering questions and providing an expert overview of the challenges and opportunities of restoring wolves in Washington. Similar meetings took place in Spokane and Olympia, and we were able to have someone from Defenders attend each one. We have some great supporters here in Idaho, out in Washington, and across the nation who are invested in the future of wolves in the U.S. Wolves are still looking at a tough year ahead, with premature hunting paring down their numbers, and dangerous legislation in most states in the region threatening to strip them of their remaining protections. But it’s encouraging to know that despite the misinformation out there about wolves, and the many industries and agencies interested in halting their recovery, there is still a growing number who want to see these majestic animals protected and restored to their rightful place in the ecosystem. We’re going to have to unite with other like-minded residents in the West and build a great network of activists who will work together to safeguard the future for wolves in the region. 70 Responses to “Wolf Advocates Across the West” « Older Comments Judith Mitchell February 9th, 2013 Well, nice try, Ed Michaels — unfortunately, the record[s] show that 99.9% of politicians who support unwarranted killing of predator species ARE Republicans. It is true here in my adopted state (Maine), where (fortunately for the wolves) we have no viable wolf population, but across the board, it is the Republicans who are responsible for maintaining savage butchery against our coyote population. I have spoken with Democrats in the legislature about this. Republican actions regarding extirpation of predators are based upon ignorance and love of hunting “prey animals” no matter how that upsets the balance of life. If you can give me the names of half-a-dozen Republican legislators who are NOT in favor of wolf-killing, in states that have/had stable wolf populations, I will recant. The ball is in your court. Pointing the finger at political figures does not destroy Carmen Winter’s credibility for me. Judith Mitchell February 9th, 2013 GO, CRAIG!!! — I will join any boycott I hear about. We have pretty much given up consumption of “livestock” (e.g., animal) products anyway and use local wood sources for heat. If enough citizens act like you and also, vote these ignorant politicians out of office — maybe wolves, wolverines, bears, coyotes, et.al, will have a far better chance at re-establishing their places in the natural scheme of life’s circle. I absolutely applaud you! Judith Mitchell February 9th, 2013 “In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.. all things tell of Tirawa.” -Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee Priscilla February 9th, 2013 Loved the article, but I have to agree with Marsha’s comments. Idaho heard from loads of advocates and still refused to address the real issues of a balanced wilderness. Political or not, “Idaho is just not smart enough for more than potatos.” Since most issues that come up for a vote are politically influenced, we shouldn’t be surprised when we sometimes fail. I suggest that all who look for a tangible way to help write their own letters – paper is good, but so are e-mails – to the powers that be in their own states first, other states (like Idaho) next, and federal government entities last. Petitions are always good, but they usually send a single message with many signatures. Personalized messages pack much more meaning, especially to politicians. I’ve even had some replies – and promptly – offering varying levels of support. I wish all of you success in your personal appeals and certainly our wild brothers on the mountains. Juliet B February 9th, 2013 It’s absolutely true that Republicans tend to be more anti-wolf than Democrats; Idaho, for example, is obviously a very conservative state where many of the politicians and people hate wolves. That aside, however, I definitely think that rather than voting along party lines alone, we should try to support candidates who show an ability to be reasonable, humane, and willing to listen to actual facts rather than outdated myths/preconceptions. Frank Wolf, PhD February 9th, 2013 Hi folks, it is great to hear such support, such impassioned support, for protecting wild wolves. A great deal of my life has been spent studying the wolf and its place as keystone predator, it’s vital importance to the overall vitality of every ecosystem it inhabits, and the loss of such vitality with the wolf’s absence. However, until you have faced, and faced-off against those who hunt the wolf you have no real understanding the depth of enmity such people possess. Perhaps a partial quote from one Idaho hunter I met in a bar one night might better acquaint you with the mentality we are up against: I don’t care about the law, I love to kill things. I don’t care about species conservation, I love to kill things. I don’t give a damn about you or your opinion, I love to kill things, especially when I make money from selling their fur, teeth, paws, tail, skull. At heart I am a savage beast, and proud of it, I love to kill things. I love the sound of the high powered rifle, and its feel impacting my shoulder almost as much as I love the sight of the slug impacting the wolf, splattering its blood all over the area. It’s better than sex for me, I love to kill things. I’ve been raised by killers, my dad loved to kill things and so did his brothers and all their friends, I love to kill, I live to kill, and there’s no better kill than to kill a defenseless wolf, from hundreds of yards away with a weapon he has no defense against; God all mighty, that makes me feel like a real man! Just let me get a wolf-lover alone up in the forest and I’d put him in my cross hairs, too. I love to kill things. Perhaps this is a bit over the top for many of you. However, if we are afraid of facing the core reality of what drives many of those who hunt the wolf then, I fear, we will never prevail…we will not save the wolf from once again being extincted here in the West…that is, perhaps, unless those who persist on hunting the wolf themselves become the hunted… dourad February 9th, 2013 (A) “Idaho is a Democratic state” Really? Since when? (B) killing wild critters is a rural thing, and very much western habit, regardless of party affiliation. Dan Colbert February 9th, 2013 Look, I’ve been a supporter and contributor to Defenders and other groups for years. Rounding up supporters for meetings is great..but you see it didn’t change the vote. Petitions..nice idea..many of them..not working. Litigation…temporary delays at best. then they are overturned. Two things are clear:1)You are not going to beat these powerful interests and their bought off pols and judges with these tactics alone. 2)Most of the public in non-wolf states has not the faintest idea what is happening ,much less how it is being done. The big national orgs like Defenders need to redirect their money and energy into national ad campaigns depicting very clearly what is happening and the equally horrific nature of it. People need to see the results of leg and neck traps and snares on their tv’s while eating dinner and during the local news cast.they need to see what aerial gunning and gassing dens is about. They need to remind people that these are the ancestors of their beloved Fido and Fifi.Buy air time ..speak to community organizations beyond the battleground states. Cause some outrage. The high road ain’t workin’ fellas. There are @1000 dead wolves and many more to follow. You can’t win this without a national stirring of the pot campaign. Until, I see this from the big wildlife and enviro orgs, they will see NO more of my money. Get Serious!!! Thomas Murphy February 10th, 2013 it seems the respectful approach to individual states is not working, the slaughter continues even with very strong opposition. So it looks to be a very political agenda to eliminate the wolves. pressure needs to go to Obama and a collective union of all of these wildlife defense orgs. They need to put the money issue for their individual orgs aside and have a massive movement on this issue or it will go nowhere, the individual states are for the special interest groups such as ranchers and hunters period. xzimppledink February 10th, 2013 I witnessed the rapid rise of prosperity created by Roosevelt’s NEW DEAL and as my family came out of survival mode and benefited from the more progressive climate all was well, we grew and began to establish wealth after 10 generations as subsistence farmers. Reaganomics changed all that, we experienced a brief glow from burning our candle at both ends then came the decline.We are financially headed back to depression days of the 30s but have not the family and friends or the land to at least provide subsistence we had at that time. In the 30s we could depend on multigenerational food producing land and social connections. today those are not present and even though we are financially better off we languor in discontent. we were happier on the farm and should never have left it. Suzanne Stone February 11th, 2013 Idaho has heard from wolf supporters only recently and in growing numbers but we are still only the silent majority. Until we can sustain our presence and build our ranks, we are still easily dismissed. This isn’t about one or two hearings. It’s about every hearing over the next decade and beyond. As Dave Mech so eloquently stated: “If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out financed, and out voted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes.” -L. David Mech Jeanine February 11th, 2013 I am an environmentalist and am a Naturalist by profession. I am all for restoring the wolves to their rightful place in the ecosystem and food chain. What I don’t understand is why the powers that be introduced the wrong species of Wolf to the Idaho territory. From what I understand, the Grey Wolf is the native species and instead the powers that be introduced the Red Wolf????? I understand that the Red Wold is a larger species and is throwing the population of Moose, Elk and Deer into peril. If I am mistaken, please correct me. If not, please explain why a non native was introduced. Defenders of Wildlife February 12th, 2013 Hi Jeanine, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. The wolves reintroduced to the Northern Rockies are gray wolves, the same species that is native to the region. Red wolves are a slightly smaller species native to the southeast. You can learn more about them here: http://www.defenders.org/red-wolf/basic-facts Diana Morse February 13th, 2013 Dear Carmen: I have relatives that are so deep into this wolf controversy. They are all Tea Party Republicans!! Very extreme!! They spread all the anti-wolf propaganda they get their hands on saying the wolves introduced in Idaho and other states are a huge variety of Canadian wolf NOT native to this region. So huge they attack and kill people. They are all diseased and the disease is spreading into humans. They are very political and also spread a lot of political propaganda about the Democratic party. I am a Democrat and have never believed and of this hateful garbage. Rosalind in Scotland February 14th, 2013 I live in Scotland where no wolves now survive.It breaks my heart to read of the wolf massacre happening in the US. Over here we see you Americans as gun toting ignorant imbeciles shooting anything that moves.That is unfair because many are like me.You adore the beauty of nature,the majesty of the wolf. Guns are destroying you. Please,please keep fighting for them. The hunters simply CANNOT win. Rosalind laura February 14th, 2013 I am disappointed and sad to see politics come into this by some commentors. Carmen, Ed, Diana… i have voted republican, i have voted democrat in my life. It has nothing to do with how I value wildlife and natural lands. How individuals are brought up and and taught to value the natural world is what changes a person’s opinion of the wild and the awesome wild creatures. You are wrong about party affiliations determining how one values all life and our planet. and i also live in a city now — 5 million people — but my life started in a central rural town in the USA. In all things it’s time to stop pigeonholing people and try to just get things accomplished, w/o discrimination and acrimony. Geria February 15th, 2013 These guys heading and staffing government agencies will eventually learn that ideas that were acceptable one hundred years ago were never right in the first place. I hope they are able to learn. I never want to see a repeat of the terrible extermination of wolves that went on in the 1800′s. Wolves were eradicated from most of their natural ranges in the US. I don’t have the patience to keep working on their narrow minds as these wonderful Defenders of Wildlife activists do. I appauld and support their efforts. Don Lipmanson February 18th, 2013 Wolf restoration seems to require a two-pronged approach. One part of our effort must be to awaken and educate the general public – especially kids – about the spiritual importance of wild lands, occupied by sizable populations of wild prey and predators. Part of this education will require getting people to understand that wolves are pack-dependent, and unlike coyotes or dogs, they cannot overcome high death rates at the hands of humans by more breeding until they refill their ecological niche. The other part of our effort requires focused political action. Along the West Coast, where state wildlife agencies are not entirely captive to the traditional “kill the varmint” mentality of farmer-rancher-hunter coalitions, we should demand and support bold wolf-recovery plans at the state level, including fair compensation for proven loss of livestock to wolves. WA and OR seem to be making progress in this direction, and I assume that approach will also work in CA and New England. For the rest of the country, we must pressure federal executive agencies to support full ESA protection for wolves, with vigorous federal prosecution for killing or otherwise harming wolves. Though wolves are taking terrible hits in a few Northern Rockies states, it’s a sign of major progress when OR and WA are arguing about the appropriate number of wolf packs instead of how to wipe them out, and when a lone adolescent could wander across a big stretch of NE California this fall and survive to tell its tale. starr March 15th, 2013 i love wolves and it breaks my heart that they are becoming extinct. i wrote a speech about them and trying to save them.defenders have inspired me sooooo much. Rick March 18th, 2013 Well put « Older Comments Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in A Place in the Sun for Right Whales Endangered North Atlantic right whales can breathe a sigh of relief! NMFS has made their slow-speed zones permanent, granting much-needed protection from ship strikes to these vulnerable whales. 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