Can states be trusted to manage wolves? – Strongly worded opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s gray wolf delisting proposal continues to pour in, including this column from veteran writer and activist George Wuerthner. He says that states have proven that they cannot be trusted with wolf management. He points to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, where wolves have already been delisted and are now being aggressively hunted.
“…there is reason to believe that the state wildlife agencies are not capable of managing wolves as a valued member of the national heritage. For instance, in the Rockies, once wolf management was turned over to the states, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have all embarked on a rampage of persecution. Wolves are indiscriminately killed and trapped. State wildlife officials bemoan the fact that more wolves have not been killed.
I am not worried that hunting and trapping will cause wolves to be extirpated again in these states. I do not think that is the issue for most wolf proponents. Rather, I feel, as many do, that persecution is not a valid justification for managing any wildlife species.”
Further, he argues that states have a responsibility to debunk myths perpetuated by anti-wolf extremists.
“Nevertheless, the perception among hunters as well as ranchers in Montana and adjacent states is that wolves are destroying hunting opportunity and severely impacting the livestock industry. Because of this perception, the state wildlife agencies in all three states, instead of actively countering these flawed opinions with solid numbers and records, have instead chosen to ignore reality and adopted aggressive wolf reduction hunting and trapping policies.”
In the coming weeks and months, Defenders will be working hard to push back against this premature delisting proposal, using many of the same arguments that George outlines. We’ll be urging our supporters to attend public hearings and voice their support for continued wolf recovery. And we will be prepared to challenge the proposal in court if necessary. You can take action now by officially submitting comments to USFWS. See detailed instructions here.
Workshop at Wood River – Much of Defenders western staff, as well as many of our colleagues from the conservation community, are in central Idaho this week to learn more about how livestock and wildlife can coexist. We’re hosting our annual workshop for the Wood River Wolf Project, gathering our partners to discuss the successes and challenges of using nonlethal deterrents and other proactive strategies to limit conflict between predators and their potential prey. Our project is entering its sixth season and has an incredibly successful track record, yet we continue to look for ways to expand the use of these tools and techniques to other areas. This year, representatives from California, Washington and Oregon are joining us to see how they can apply these methods in places where wolves have only begun to recover. Such exchanges are vital to the future of wolf conservation and will hopefully foster more collaboration between wolf advocates, wildlife managers and the ranching community.
On the prowl in Montana — Tracking wolf packs is no small task, but the data from collared wolves provides wolf biologists and managers with vital information about the health and distribution of populations. A recent story from the Daily Inter Lake follows Ken Laudon, biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who is responsible for trapping and collaring wolves in the northwest part of the state. He likens tracking Montana’s wolf packs each year to putting together a puzzle, and his job is to find the missing pieces. Read on to learn more about what Ken is discovering.
Wolf runs after motorcyclist – Wild wolves are curious creatures, but they typically have a healthy fear of humans. However, around national parks and other places that receive a lot of tourists, wolves and other wild animals can quickly become habituated. Case in point: a wolf was recently photographed chasing after a man on a motorcycle! (You have to see the pictures to believe it.) The incident took place near Banff, Canada, in Kootenay National Park, and apparently the man was more thrilled than threatened by the close encounter. But clearly having wild animals running up to people is not a good thing over the long run and usually ends with the animal being removed. Since the incident was reported, others have come forward with similar stories of wolf encounters in the same area. While no one has been harmed by the wolf, its days are surely numbered. This is a good reminder that we all must do our part to make sure that wild animals stay that way. Never approach or feed wild animals. Always observe from a safe distance. And report any strange animal behavior to the proper authorities. It’s our responsibility to protect ourselves and the wildlife we care about!