***BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just released its national wolf delisting proposal. See our full press release here. Defenders is waging an unprecedented initiative to keep wolves protected – click here to get involved.
“Delistings are premature” – It may turn out to be too little, too late, but even the New York Times agrees that the feds shouldn’t give up on wolves so soon. An editorial from veteran Times writer Verlyn Klinkenborg on Sunday said Congress and the Interior Department are putting politics before science in pushing for delisting of almost all gray wolves nationwide:
“Interior’s plan has little to do with science and everything to do with politics. Congress bludgeoned President Obama’s first interior secretary, Ken Salazar, into delisting the Rocky Mountain wolf. But there is no reason his successor, Sally Jewell, has to accept a plan to delist the wolves everywhere. It is hard enough to protect species that occupy hidden ecological niches. Politics has made it harder still to protect an intelligent, adaptive predator living openly in the wild.”
More money for making peace – No matter what their status is under the Endangered Species Act, it’s clear that the future of the species depends on our ability to find ways for wolves and livestock to safely share the landscape. For more than two decades, Defenders has paved the way with our compensation and coexistence programs. It took a while for the federal government to catch up, but this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the renewal of a grant program that will provide $850,000 to states and tribes to benefit wolf conservation. The Wolf-Livestock Demonstration Project Grants provide funds for both compensation and projects to implement nonlethal deterrents and other proactive management strategies designed to prevent livestock losses to wolves.
Defenders assisted with the development of this program, and we insisted on the inclusion of a provision to make sure that half of the funds are used for coexistence, not just compensation. We are also offering to share our decades of expertise to help grant recipients carry out successful projects that protect both their livestock and our wildlife. Hundreds of state, federal and tribal representatives have taken our training programs to learn more about the use of nonlethal deterrents like fladry, carcass removal, livestock guarding dogs, lighting and sound scare devices. On June 20 and 21, we are offering another training workshop in central Idaho to teach about and demonstrate the use of these important wolf conservation methods. We are thrilled to see more and more ranchers, biologists and organizations using nonlethal coexistence strategies for safeguarding livestock and wolves.
A lion, a marten, a bear, oh my! – Speaking of successful coexistence, the sixth season of our Wood River Wolf Project in central Idaho is well underway. Our field crew has begun monitoring key areas where wolves and sheep are likely to cross paths this summer, and they’re setting up motion-activated cameras to see what animals are already passing through. No wolves have been caught on camera just yet, but they did capture images of cougars, bears, coyotes, foxes, martens, elk, deer, antelope, grouse, a raptor and some unidentified blurs across the screen. See photos below.
“Give wolves a chance” – Sometimes, when I get down about how wolves are being managed in the Northern Rockies, I simply look to the Southwest, where the situation is even more dire. Though numbers have increased slightly in recent years, there are still only 75 Mexican gray wolves spread out across southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. An editorial from The Arizona Republic this week reminded me how precariously this tiny population is perched, and how serious the challenges are facing Mexican gray wolves:
- Since 1998, at least 46 Mexican gray wolves have been killed illegally
- Many more wolves need to be released to solve genetic and demographic issues
- Additional populations need to be established — don’t keep all your lobos in one basket!
- There is still not an up-to-date, scientifically sound recovery plan in place
Be sure to watch the video included with article that encapsulates the views of many who are more inclined to shoot, rather than protect, the wolves are nation is still struggling to restore.