Oregon: USFWS issues kill order for 2 Imnaha Pack wolves

Kill order, called “retribution”-

Because there are not many wolves in Oregon, this is a big deal. The pack has 10-14 members.  There was one other wolf pack known on the Oregon/Washington state border in 2010 — the Wenaha Pack. It might have 6 members.  USFWS has ordered capturing and “euthanizing two un-collared sub-adults from the Imnaha pack.”  That wolf pack has killed some cow calves every once and a while over the last year.

Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said in a statement, “This kill order randomly targets any two wolves of Oregon’s Imnaha Pack. That is not wildlife management, it is retribution.”

My view is that, of course, it is retribution. After watching and writing about wolf depredations of cattle for over 15 years now, I’d say “wolf control” is almost always retribution of a kind. Wolves rarely kill enough livestock in any place to make the dead calf or sheep an economic issue, but it is always a political issue. Wolves killing livestock are treated with the same gravity as human homicides and political assassinations, reflecting the values of those who rule in western rural areas.

Here is the story in Sneak Cat. USFWS issues kill order for 2 Imnaha Pack wolves. May 3, 2011.

Update on Oregon wolf packs (taken from a news story). “Oregon currently has three wolf packs: the Imnaha (10 wolves at latest count), Wenaha (six wolves) and Walla Walla (three wolves). The Walla Walla pack is new and wildlife managers are still trying to determine their range, which could primarily be in Washington State.”

New Mexico’s Rep. Steve Pearce spreading lies and hysteria

Long time wildlife foe, Pearce spreading lies about protecting lizard and jobs-

Politics and reality clash in New Mexico. Posted on May 1, 2011 by Bob Berwyn. Summit County Citizens Voice.

Although he was out of office for a couple years, newly elected Pearce (R-US Rep)  is up to his old tricks, made meaner for these lean times.

Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says protecting the lizard will cost no jobs, Pearce says it will have a big effect.

My view is these people (Republican office-holders like Pearce) can play around with causing a default on the national debt without worrying about jobs, but they won’t let this get past them  — a lizard versus oil jobs is just too good for rabble rousing to let it pass.

Kiren Suckling executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity called, “Congressman Pearce’s campaign of misinformation and hysteria is a threat to democracy.” A healthy democracy requires good information and trustworthy politicians. When people like Pearce abuse their positions of power and promote hysteria with fear mongering, they undermine the foundation of democracy and civil society.” This is from “Group Calls on New Mexico Congressman to Recant False Statements About Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. News Release.

A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. NYT editorial

NYT condemns Salazar and his acquiescence to delisting the wolf by legislative rider-

A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. New York Times.

Montana judge halts the building of megaload turnouts in Western Montana

Another roadblock to the use of Idaho Highway 12 and Montana highways as corridors for moving Alberta bound tar sand equipment-

This is good news, although likely temporary.

The turnouts constructed on the Montana side of Lolo Pass appear to be larger than the oil giant said and closer to Lolo Creek which already suffers from highway runoff.

Judge stops construction of big-rig turnouts in western Montana
.  By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian

Wuerthner: Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard

Anti-Wolfer’s Success In An End-Run Delisting of Wolves MUST Ultimately Backfire

George Wuerthner wrote this now apt essay over a year ago, published in New West last September, suggesting that should anti-wolf interests succeed in delisting wolves and fail to exercise restraint in killing wolves that it would ultimately backfire.

Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard – George Wuerthner – NewWest.net

Demographically the country is changing to a more diverse racial, religious and age structure.  The majority of Americans who do not hunt only accept hunting if they believe the hunter is killing an animal to eat it. Public support for hunting declines rapidly if hunters kill animals for trophy mounts. When it comes to shooting an animal just to kill it as would be the case for hunters shooting wolves—and/or worse as a matter of vindication as in predator control, public support turns to public opposition.

Similarly, without the ESA ‘hook’ extending legal protection for wolves, some of the last, best remaining legal angles to protect wolves will be in preventing conflict with livestock on public lands that is ultimately responsible for government trapping and slaughter of entire packs of wolves.

Increased public scrutiny over public lands ranching at the land-use level – demanding that ranchers implement preventative measures as a condition of permit to use public lands to graze cattle and sheep is one tangible avenue wolf-advocates might pursue to accomplish wolf protections.

One thing is for sure – if wolves are to persist on the landscape in the ecologically relevant numbers that advocates have been promoting for years, outrage over the wanton slaughter of wolves must be felt by those responsible.

Obama signs budget bill into law.

Wolves will be removed from the Endangered Species List in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah within 60 days.

Wolves to come off endangered list within 60 days
Associated Press

Senate and House pass budget bill with wolf delisting rider.

President Obama will sign the bill into law and wolves will no longer enjoy the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The House and Senate passed a budget bill which included the rider to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah but leaves the status of wolves in Wyoming unchanged.  The rider, attached by Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), mandates that the Secretary of Interior republish the 2009 delisting rule in the Federal Register within 60 days of passage of the bill and restricts the rule from being challenged in court.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The removal of a species from the Endangered Species Act by Congress is an unprecedented move and is likely to be followed by more such moves in the future.  Congress has basically said that if a species becomes too inconvenient to industry then it shouldn’t be allowed protection and management of the species doesn’t have to subject to the best available science.

What comes next is anyone’s guess but surely there will be a great number of wolves killed in Idaho and Montana in areas where their respective game agencies have blamed wolves for declined elk populations. Those killings could begin immediately after the rule is published in the Federal Register and if they occur soon then they will undoubtably end up killing packs of wolves who are near their den sites.  Idaho has committed to maintain only 10-15 breeding pairs or 100-150 wolves in total and they recently passed a wolf disaster declaration which defines a wolf disaster as having any more than 100.  Even though that legislation is now moot because it only applied while wolves were not protected under the ESA, it is a signal of things to come from the legislature next year.

One thing should become abundantly clear.  The livestock industry, with the help of Democrats, did this. If anyone thinks that Democrats represent the interests of wildlife advocates or that the livestock industry presents anything other than a threat to wildlife then they are fooling themselves.  Now that you recognize this what do you do?  Do you hold them accountable?  Do you escape from your codependent behavior that so many of us used to avoid conflict with our families and understand that it is effective politically?  Really, this happened because the anti-wolf crowd was able to rile up people into a fervor using hyperbole and fear that was noticed by politicians who are only worried about their reelection.  That’s how politics works.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

At least one group is already blaming the non-settling groups for taking away “leverage to rally senators against Tester and Reid” even though the judge specifically pointed out that he did not have the discretion to “allow what Congress forbids”.  Of course I wasn’t pleased with the settlement deal and I don’t think that it would have provided any more protection than what wolves face today but I also don’t think that it is useful to blame anyone other than the people who orchestrated this gutting of the Endangered Species Act.  We could have that conversation but what purpose does it serve other than to feed one’s ego?

The real focus should be on making sure that wolves remain on the landscape and serve a meaningful role in the ecosystem and not just a token population that exists at artificially low levels.  I suggest that there are a few main targets to make sure this happens.  First, defund the Wildlife Services predator control program, they need to be grounded so that they can’t kill wolves from the air.  Second, conservationists need to recognize that the livestock industry is who orchestrated this and that they will be more scrutinized now that they have done this.  More focus should be placed on public lands ranching that depends so much on the good graces and taxes of the public. And Third, the politicians who take the votes of wildlife advocates need to held to account.  Western Democrats worked hand in hand with Republicans and the livestock industry to get this done.  They need to know that they will face primary challengers who are willing to scuttle their entire candidacy just to make the point.

Does the metaphorical Hayduke live?  I’m not so sure anymore.  Can he be resurrected?  I hope so.  As conservationists we have to give them hell.