We’re Still Waiting…
There are just over two weeks to go until the end of the public comment period for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to delist gray wolves across most of the U.S., and we’re still waiting impatiently to see when the Service will announce the dates and locations of the public hearings. This proposal will decide the future of wolf conservation in our country, and the American people are eager to know when and where we will be able to speak face-to-face with decision makers. As soon as we get word about where and when these hearings will take place, we’ll let you know! Until then, don’t forget to submit your comments on the national delisting and the Mexican gray wolf 10j rule proposals, and check out our campaign page to see other ways you can get involved.
Wildfires Near Wood River
Severe wildfires continue to burn in our Wood River Wolf Project area northwest of Hailey, Idaho in the Sawtooth National Forest. The Beaver Creek fire raged through our project area in the last few weeks, but today is 67% contained. The Forest Service has limited access to authorized personnel only, and most of the sheep have been moved from the project area. We have had to suspend the project while the fires are still active for the safety of our field crew. We’ll provide more updates on the 2013 field season in the coming month.
We would like to thank the more than 1,700 firefighters who helped save the town of Hailey and continue to help protect area residents and their homes. Western forests need fire to help maintain healthy habitat including the regrowth of native trees, but fires are hard to manage during years of significant drought, which makes them larger and more severe. Wildfires are natural occurrences in this ecosystem and large land animals like wolves are more capable of avoiding the path of fire. Thankfully, it does not appear that the fires affected the areas where we documented the wolverine family last month either.
Young Mexican Gray Wolf Dies During Capture
This week was another rough one for the embattled Mexican gray wolf population. Defenders received word on Monday that a yearling female died over the weekend after being trapped by the members of the Service’s Interagency Field Team in order to place a radio collar on her. While the Service was engaged in what it describes as “routine management activity,” the loss of yet another young female Mexican wolf is nothing short of devastating when only about 75 wolves remain.
The loss of this wolf also points to yet another reason why the Service’s proposed rule changes are not enough to lead to recovery of the imperiled species. The proposal would involve the trapping and moving of any wolf that is found outside of an arbitrarily designated area, which not only inhibits the animals from reaching suitable habitat, but also creates the increased potential for more accidents like the one this past weekend.
Eva Sargent, Defenders’ Southwest Director reiterated concern about the proposal and the havoc it could wreak:
“Although deaths as a result of trapping are rare, the Service’s current proposal to trap and move any wolf that wanders south of I-10 or north of I-40 worries me,” said Sargent. “This means more trapping, and more trapping means more chances for unfortunate deaths like this. Mexican wolves are on the edge of extinction and can’t stand more risks. The Service needs to abandon its proposal to capture and return wolves that disperse north or south, and must release many more wolves from captivity.”