Compromise reached in Oregon – Ranchers and wolf advocates have tentatively reached an agreement with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that should allow people and wildlife to better coexist. The agreement resulted from a lawsuit a year and half ago that prevented the state from killing wolves involved in livestock depredations. In 2011, two wolves in the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon were slated for removal after repeatedly killing livestock. But several conservation groups filed suit, arguing that killing the Imnaha wolves was a violation of the state’s Endangered Species Act. Soon thereafter, the parties to the lawsuit entered negotiations to look for a compromise.
The agreement reached last week will require ranchers to demonstrate that they have implemented nonlethal deterrents and other proactive strategies to reduce conflict before any wolves are killed. Further, only wolves involved in four or more depredations in a six-month period can be removed, and information regarding the incidents must be made readily available to the public. While this does mean that some wolves are likely to be removed later this year based on current trends, ranchers will now be responsible for protecting their herds before the state will intervene.
Read more from our friends at Cascadia Wildlands, who were part of the settlement.
MT, WY move in opposite directions – Montana and Wyoming are both moving forward with changes to their wolf hunting regulations for next season, but the two states are moving in opposite directions. Wyoming plans to cut their quota in half, reducing the number of wolves that can be killed in the trophy management area from 52 to 26. Last year, a total of 42 wolves were killed by licensed hunters in Wyoming. Another 43 wolves have been killed already in the so-called “predator zone,” dropping the total population by about 16 percent. With only an estimated 277 wolves left in the entire state at the end of 2012, including 83 in Yellowstone, wildlife managers are concerned that another aggressive year could bring the overall population dangerously close to the minimum of 100 to 150 wolves per state, which will trigger a status review to see if wolves should be relisted. Without that safety net in place, there’s no telling how low each of the states would go.
Meanwhile, Montana is ratcheting up its wolf-killing efforts by extending the season by a month and allowing hunters and trappers to kill up to five wolves instead of just three. Last year, Montana hunters and trappers killed 225 wolves, dropping the overall population by about four percent. Though that is a relatively minor decline, we’d rather see the state focus on maintaining wolves at current levels instead of trying to drive numbers farther down.
There’s still time to comment on both the Wyoming and Montana wolf hunting regulations. Comments on the Wyoming proposal are due June 12 and can be submitted here online. Comments on the Montana proposal are due by June 24th and can be submitted here online.
Fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy – We often like to brag about our Wood River Wolf Project, but never before have we felt worthy of biblical allusion… until now!
Last year, 27,000 sheep were in the project area around the Wood River Valley; two or three packs of wolves were on landscape. They lived in harmony with only one late incident when the bands of sheep came upon wolves no one knew were there. Four sheep were killed.
What they had achieved on a small scale was the prophesy of Isaiah: “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together.” – Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman
A recent incident with a Blaine County sheep producer emphasizes our success. The owner of the Flat Top Ranch has lost 31 sheep already this year by ignoring our advice and leaving unguarded animals spread across public lands in the heart of wolf country. Sadly, his losses offer the perfect counterexample of what can happen when appropriate steps aren’t taken to prevent conflict.
Seeing signs – Traveling to Yellowstone National Park this summer to see wolves? Then, you might notice something new on your drive in. Our friends at Predator Defense have paid for billboards that remind park visitors that Yellowstone’s wolves are now at risk of being shot the moment they step outside the park’s boundaries. A handful of these iconic animals have already been killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, including some of the park’s most famous wolves, beloved by wolf-watchers worldwide. That’s part of the reason we continue to fight against the premature delisting of gray wolves– to make sure the same fate doesn’t befall wolves in other parts of the country. If you haven’t already, please support our campaign to maintain federal protections for gray wolves.