Service delays national delisting…for now – We were all surprised and greatly relieved on Monday when the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was delaying indefinitely its premature national gray wolf delisting proposal (see our press statement). Hopefully, the delay means that the Obama administration is rethinking its position. Perhaps the 112,295 (and counting) email messages our wolf supporters have sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell haven’t fallen on deaf ears.
Or maybe it was convincing letters from independent biologists, the American Society of Mammalogists and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent to agency officials in the past week that made the difference. Whatever it was, we need to keep the pressure up to ensure that this isn’t just a temporary reprieve. Wolves still need federal protection to recover in vast areas with excellent habitat, such as the Pacific Northwest, northern California and the southern Rockies. You can help us secure a brighter future for wolves by supporting our latest outreach efforts, including an advertising campaign that launched today in the Washington Post Express!
Meanwhile, our colleagues at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a lawsuit demanding information from 2010 meetings between state and federal agencies regarding wolf biology and management. Their efforts may help reveal the motivation behind the premature delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and shed light on current plans to abandon wolf recovery nationwide. As PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said, “By law, Endangered Species Act decisions are supposed to be governed by the best available science, not the best available deal.” We couldn’t agree more, and Defenders Executive Vice President Don Barry emphasized that point on the air recently when he had the chance to discuss the importance of maintaining the integrity of the ESA and protections for gray wolves. Listen to his interview with KTVA near Los Angeles:
Gov. Inslee signs wolf funding bill — Washington ranchers will soon have more resources at their disposal to help wolves and livestock coexist, thanks to the state legislature. Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill this week that is expected to raise more than one million dollars for nonlethal wolf conservation management efforts and compensation for livestock producers. Champions of the bill included Representatives Hans Dunshee and Kristine Lytton and Senators Kevin Ranker and Christine Rolfes. Defenders regional wolf conservationist Suzanne Stone was present at signing and added, “This is a great example of the benefit of working collaboratively to tackle conflicts instead of just fighting over them. This legislation is a win for wolves and for ranchers.” Thanks to all our colleagues and supporters in Washington and across the country who helped get this key piece of legislation passed and signed!
Oregon livestock losses highlight need for nonlethal deterrents – According to the latest update from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state’s wolves have been getting into more trouble with livestock. Last week, OR-4 of the Imnaha pack was implicated in the death of a yearling cow, and at least one Umatilla wolf was involved with the death of four sheep. Overall livestock losses to wolves are still extremely low in Oregon, as well as across the rest of the West. But these incidents provide an important wake-up call for ranchers in the region who are turning their animals out on pasture this spring and summer. Using proactive strategies and nonlethal deterrents is essential to minimizing livestock losses in wolf country. Often all it takes is a few guard dogs, a range rider or portable fencing to ensure that livestock and wildlife can safely coexist. Such measures will be vitally important as wolves continue to expand into areas where they have been absent for nearly 80 years.
Discover wolves in North America – A new series called “North America” premiered on the Discovery Channel on Sunday, and of course wolves were featured prominently. Watch these incredible clips of wild wolves chasing bison and caribou, engaged in the perennial showdown between predator and prey: