20 September 2013 Wolf Weekly Wrap-up Posted by: John Motsinger | 6 comments | Share: Poll shows strong support for wolf recovery in Pacific Northwest – Most residents of California, Oregon and Washington believe wolves should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, according to a new poll released by Defenders of Wildlife. The poll, conducted in early September for Defenders by Tulchin Research, shows that most Californians, Oregonians and Washingtonians want wolf recovery efforts to continue: More than two-thirds in each state agree that wolves should be protected in their state and are a vital part of the America’s wilderness and natural heritage (OR – 68%; WA – 75%; CA – 83%) More than two-thirds in each state agree that wolves play an important role in maintaining deer and elk populations, bringing a healthier balance to ecosystems (OR – 69%; WA – 74%; CA – 73%) At least two-thirds in each state support restoring wolves to suitable habitat in their states (OR – 66; WA – 71%; CA – 69%) Large majorities in each state agree that wolves should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act until they are fully recovered (OR – 63%; WA – 72%; CA – 80%) Read our full press release here. What’s an “eastern wolf”? – Part of the scientific controversy surrounding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s current gray wolf delisting proposal involves the classification of wolves in the eastern United States. Historically, wolves ranged all across North America — from the Arctic Circle down to the Chihuahua Desert of Mexico, East Coast to West. This includes places like northern Maine and upstate New York, where suitable habitat still remains. But FWS has determined, based on limited genetic and morphological evidence, that wolves occupying the Northeast were a distinct species. What difference does it make? As the Boston Globe points out, if eastern wolves are classified separately as a unique species, then they can be treated differently under the Endangered Species Act. The eastern United States would no longer be included as part of the broader gray wolf range being considered for delisting, and the subspecies currently occupying parts of the Rockies and Great Lakes would therefore represent a greater portion of its range. The net result is that FWS would have a stronger case for delisting wolves by treating eastern wolves as a separate species. Ultimately, expert scientists will have to determine whether eastern wolves are truly a unique species. So far, genetic studies yielded mixed and inconclusive results. What’s troubling though is that FWS is moving forward based on just one study – one conducted by FWS biologists and published in its own journal, which hadn’t published an article since 1991 prior to the publishing of this study. It’s hard to see how that qualifies as the “best available science,” especially when contradictory studies have been published by university researchers in well-respected, peer-reviewed journals. Read more about the ongoing debate in the New Scientist. Senator Bennet from Colorado Talks to our Volunteers on Capitol Hill CO Senators call for local hearing – Thumbs up for Colorado Senators Michael Bennett and Mark Udall who requested a public hearing on wolf delisting in their state. The two called on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe to host a hearing in Denver to hear directly from local residents who are concerned about the implications of a national delisting on Colorado. Read their letter here. Colorado holds the largest, best wolf habitat in the lower 48 states but not a single known wild wolf exists there today. Despite this fact, the Service has proposed to change the status of wolves there from fully endangered to fully recovered in the western USA. A hearing in Denver is more than warranted given the importance of this decision. The hunt is on – Wolf hunting seasons are now open in both Montana and Idaho, and about 20 wolves have already been killed so far. There is no statewide quota in either state, but Montana hunters are limited to harvesting seven wolves in two management units adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. Montana also raised its “bag limit” to five wolves per hunter and extended the season by a month and a half. The hunting season runs until March 15, while trapping is allowed Dec. 15 to Feb. 28. Read more in the Great Falls Tribune. 6 Responses to “Wolf Weekly Wrap-up” John Platt September 20th, 2013 Thanks for bringing up the “eastern wolf.” The confusion over wolf taxonomy, which remains disputed and inconclusive, has really gummed up the works in all of this. Betty Newton September 20th, 2013 Save the wolves. They are part of our Natural Heritage and a necesssary part of a healthy ecosystem. Don’t deprive our descendents of nature in one of it’s most beautiful forms. Re-locate them instead of murdering them in inhumame traps. In your “great wisdom” you brought unneutered coyotes into georgia because all the predators were gone and deer were starving. Now our companion animals are not safe from them in our own yards. Coyotes were never endangered. Wolves were hunted almost to extinction and you want to endanger them more? They have never recovered from your hunts before. Shame on you bureaucrats who do not understand beauty! Joyce Alfrey September 20th, 2013 Save ALL Wolves. They are part of our Ecosystem!! Protect them!!! debra taylor September 21st, 2013 It is ridiculous to continue with delisting and allow hunting.. wolves usually hunt the weak.. yes, there are exceptions.. to everything in life. Waldo Montgomery September 27th, 2013 I hope CO gets a public hearing and more importantly I hope the state will one day have wolves in the wild. That’s going to happen only if the gray wolf remains on the Endangered Species List. Don’t wait to see if CO is going to get a USFWS public hearing. If you want to protect America’s wolves come to the USFWS public hearing in Albuquerque, NM on Oct 4th at the Embassy Suites from 6 to 9 P.M. And submit your comments. My wife and I live in Central Texas but we’ll be there to support the wolves. This may be the last chance we have to keep them from being delisted nationwide. Please attend. Gray wolves don’t need our sympathy, they need our involvement! Ruth Begley September 30th, 2013 Instead of hunting an Endangered Grey wolves, why not hunt the vicious coyotes who are in no way endangered and so much more destructive? I have raised several grey timberwolves for the past eleven years and they have been wonderful! They are in no way as horrible and destructive as the coyotes! They need our protection, Now!! Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in The Votes Are In… You voted, and we listened – now the winners of Defenders’ 2014 Photo Contest are here! See if your favorite won, and take a look at some of the amazing runner-ups. We’ve Got to Protect What’s Left of the Sagebrush Sea New research shows that after a fire, the Sagebrush Sea (home to the imperiled greater sage-grouse) could take up to 20 years to fully recover. With other factors already threatening so much of this habitat, what does that mean for the species that call it home? California prepares to welcome wolves home, but delays on providing state protections Now, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves throughout most of the rest of the country, gray wolves are once again at risk. Delisting would short-circuit wolf recovery in the Pacific West and would effectively mean giving up on one of our country’s most important and iconic species. Fortunately, California has an opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping the gray wolf continue to recover in the coming months and years.