California Wavering on Protection for Gray Wolves under State Law: On Wednesday, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to delay a decision on establishing state protections for gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act. If the commission votes against a state listing after this 90-day deferral, the decision could undermine recovery of imperiled wolves in California. While California does not currently have a permanent wolf population, wolves have historically thrived in the state.
In 2011, wandering wolf “OR-7” became the first known wolf in California since 1924. OR-7 has visited the state on multiple occasions over the past four years, and his movements through northern California have prompted discussions by scientists and stakeholders about the imminent return of gray wolves to the Golden State. In response, Pamela Flick, California representative for Defenders said: “Gray wolves are just beginning to make their way back to California, and these iconic, highly endangered animals deserve as much protection in our state as the law can provide. Right now is a critical time for California to be proactive in protecting wolves, especially with threats of a federal delisting looming.” The next 90 days will be a waiting game, but we’ll make sure to keep you updated here with any news. Check out a great blog post by Pamela Flick on this topic.
Defenders of Wildlife Featured on the HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell Show Tonight: Governor Otter’s persecution of wolves has gone too far, and we are not sitting quietly! Our very own Don Barry, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs, will be featured on Jane Velez-Mitchell’s Friday night show at 7:00 p.m. EST, April 18th, to discuss Idaho’s war on wolves. Tune in to hear Don explain Defenders’ concerns with the state’s endless persecution of the species. In just three years, Idaho has managed to turn a healthy wolf population into a declining population, including a significant decline in breeding pairs. But state officials are still not satisfied. Idaho’s war on wolves is about to reach new heights as even more drastic killing programs are implemented to drive the population down to 150 animals statewide. We are putting national focus on Governor Otter. Click here to support our work.
A Close up Look at the Science: Wolf Breeding Pairs in Idaho: Wildlife biologists regularly look at the number of “breeding pairs” in a wildlife population to assess the overall health of the population. While overall population numbers are important, just looking at the population count doesn’t tell the whole story about the population’s reproductive health. The number of breeding pairs in a population sheds more light about how healthy the wolf population will be in the future.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines a breeding pair as an adult male and an adult female wolf that produce at least two pups that survive until December 31 of the year of their birth. Since hunting began in 2009, the number of breeding pairs in Idaho has declined by 59 percent. Currently, there are only 20 breeding pairs in the state! There are now fewer wolf breeding pairs in Idaho than in either Montana or Wyoming, despite Idaho’s larger overall wolf population and greater amount of habitat compared to these other states.
Idaho is required to keep its wolf population above 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs for three years to avoid a status review leading to possible relisting under the Endangered Species Act. If the state kills five more breeding pairs, they are on the road to relisting. With Governor Otter’s new wolf control board, tasked with killing all but 150 wolves, losing just five more breeding pairs is highly likely.
Arizona Senate Passes Laws Permitting Killing of Mexican Gray Wolves: We’ve been updating you over the last several weeks about several pieces of harmful legislation for Mexican gray wolves making their way through Arizona’s state legislature. Unfortunately, this Thursday, state lawmakers passed a bill that gives Arizonans permission to kill endangered Mexican wolves on public land. This law is likely unconstitutional, because state law cannot trump federal law. Adding insult to injury, a second bill headed to the Governor’s desk calls Mexican gray wolves “varmints” and treats these native animals as if they do not belong in Arizona. This bill states that the legislature should consider ending state participation in Mexican gray wolf recovery and requires the removal of all Mexican gray wolves from Arizona if the federal government does not pay private interests for a wide, vague range of “losses” related to wolf recovery. Bills such as this reinforce that the misguided Arizona legislature would like to force the Mexican gray wolf, which once ranged widely in Arizona and New Mexico, completely out of the state. If you are an Arizona resident, you can help the lobos by submitting letters to the editor and writing and calling or emailing the Governor asking her to veto these bills.