Niemeyer’s “Wolfer” wins prestigious book award

Carter Niemeyer’s memoir, Wolfer, has won the 2011 IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Awards) gold medal for regional nonfiction.

Since its release, I have run into quite a few folks who have read it. All of those I met commented on its evenhandedness. Many said their eyes were opened about the pressure that is applied to pin a “killed by a predator” report,  especially by a wolf, on a rancher’s dead livestock.

Oregon’s assumptions on cougar hunting misplaced

George Wuerthner critiques the assumption that cougar hunting will decrease conflict with humans.

Oregon’s assumptions on cougar hunting misplaced – George Wuerthner,

Oregon, like many western states, allows cougar hunting. Part of the justification for hunting is the assumption that killing cougars will reduce livestock losses and increase public safety.  There is, however, growing scientific evidence that suggests that sport hunting is more likely to increase cougar predation on livestock and may even increase the likelihood of cougar attacks on humans.

Wildlife Service’s aerial predator control is grounded

At least in South Dakota. Hopefully more generally-

With all the budget problems, finally here is a good one — USDA Wildlife Services is running out of funding for aerial predator control.

Aerial predator control is grounded. AP

Write to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl to cut USDA Wildlife Services Funding

American Sheep Industry Association asks key U.S. Senator not to cut funding for notorious wildlife killing agency-

The President has proposed cutting the budget of USDA Wildlife Services by 10-million dollars. President Obama said there needs to be shared sacrifice although so far it seems to be teachers, police, sick people, students, science, reproductive health, food inspection, and pollution control that is doing all the sacrifice under GOP pressure.

The sheep and cattle industry certainly doesn’t want to be cut, and they are working their classic strategy of contacting a key U.S. Senator asking for a quiet restoration of funds. In this case they are contacting U.S. Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. He heads the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies on the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. Senate.

If you want to fight back effectively for once, contact Senator Kohl, asking for deeper cuts, especially for aerial gunning of wildlife. bigger cuts for so-called “livestock protection,” and no funding for the use of poisons like the poison 1080. Kohl’s web site only accepts Wisconsin email contacts, but here are the telephone and fax numbers for his Washington office (202) 224-5653; Fax: (202) 224-9787

Read the rest of this entry »

American Sheep Industry: President’s budget cuts impact area Wildlife Services

Want to take action to cut funding for this agency that kills so much of our wildlife-

This story is from Tri-state Livestock News. It is from trade publications like this that agencies often get cuts restored unbeknown to the public.

American Sheep Industry: President’s budget cuts impact area Wildlife Services. Tri-state Livestock News.

Niemeyer: Wolves didn’t kill cow near Eagle last week

It died of birthing problems

Last week there was a big story about how wolves had killed a cow in the foothills above Eagle, Idaho, which most of you probably know is just west of Boise. Well, Carter Niemeyer, – the Montana western supervisor for Wildlife Services from 1975-1990 and the Wildlife Services Montana wolf specialist for the following 10 years until he took a post in Idaho as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator – did his own investigation and says that wolves didn’t kill the cow.

Here are the comments that I received today from Carter about the findings of his own investigation: Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife Services revises Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment

Drops gassing of pups in their dens and sterilization but continues heavy handed killing of wolves.

Public Comments accepted until January 3, 2011

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

In anticipation of Monday’s federal court hearing of a case brought by Western Watersheds Project, Wildlife Services has revised its Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment. While the new EA drops gassing of wolf pups in their dens and use of sterilization, the preferred alternative does not consider exhaustive use of non-lethal methods to prevent wolf conflicts by intimating that it would be too expensive for ranchers to use proper animal husbandry techniques to avoid such conflicts.

Wildlife Services [sic], formerly Animal Damage Control, is an agency under the Department of Agriculture which responds to wildlife threats to agriculture. They are not related to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is under the Department of Interior and who manages endangered species, enforces the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and manages National Wildlife Refuges.

Read the rest of this entry »

Carter Niemeyer strongly questions Wildlife Services report.

Calls recent Montana report “misleading”.

Carter Niemeyer’s recent book “Wolfer” described, in great detail, the inner workings of Wildlife Services for whom he worked as their Montana western supervisor from 1975-1990 and as their Montana wolf specialist for the following 10 years until he took a post in Idaho as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator. In the book he describes how the incestuous relationship between the livestock industry and Wildlife Services works to maintain hegemony over how predators are blamed for livestock deaths so that they can be managed and killed and so that the taxpayer funds flow freely. He goes on to describe how the reporting of livestock depredations is routinely influenced by the higher ups in the department so that blame could be squarely placed on any number of predators instead of what usually boils down to poor animal husbandry practices.

Often times he was called to the scene of a “wolf depredation” only to find out, upon investigation, that the animal had died from other causes or that dogs had been behind the incident. When he would write up his report he would skin the animal out to look for hemorrhaging caused by the bites of a wolf or other predator, he would take pictures, he would look for tracks. This was frowned upon by his superiors and he was told to use only the small space on the investigation report form to describe whether the livestock had been killed by predators or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Do ranchers have a right to predator free landscape?

George Wuerthner nails it again, questioning the chief assumption that informs livestock-wolf conflict management.

Do ranchers have a right to predator free landscape? – George Wuethner, NewWest

One of the unquestioned and unspoken assumptions heard across the West is that ranchers have a right to a predator free environment. Even environmental groups like Defenders of Wildlife more or less legitimize this perspective by supporting unqualified compensation for livestock losses to bears and wolves.

Only when the answer to George’s question is “yes” do any of the management prescriptions currently taking place, including compensation, “control”/eradication via tax-payer appropriations to Wildlife Services (sic), and other absurd de facto subsidies make any sense at all ~ particularly *but not uniquely* on public lands that belong to all of us.

WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation: “Wildlife Services” slaughter of wolves in Idaho is Unlawful

Advocates for the West‘s Laurie Rule (best known for her esteemed success in the Payette National Forest on behalf of bighorn sheep) has filed another brief on behalf of Western Watersheds Project & The Wolf Recovery Foundation’s lawsuit against Wildlife Services’ wolf control activities in Idaho (complaint & associated filings).

This lawsuit asks the court to stop Wildlife Services from engaging in wolf “control” efforts until the agency fully analyzes its impact to Idaho wolves and a host of other environmental values that it affects.

Plaintiffs’ Response/Reply In Opposition to Defendants’ Cross Motion and in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion For Summary Judgment

This brief makes three basic arguments with respect to WWP & The Wolf Recovery Foundation’s claim that Wildlife Services’ wolf control program should be shut down in Idaho for failure to comply with NEPA and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) Act:

  • Wildlife Services has never adequately analyzed a range of alternatives to its existing wolf control activities and their effects, in violation of NEPA
  • Wildlife Services unlawfully relies on “Categorical Exclusions” (from NEPA) for its Wolf Control Actions
  • Wildlife Services failed to consider whether its wolf control actions within or near the SNRA cause “substantial impairment” of SNRA values, including wildlife

Thanks Laurie !!

Wolf Control/Compensation: Midwest vs. The West

Mitigating the “Moral Hazard” of Government Intervention via Wolf/Livestock “Control” & Compensation Programs

Earlier, I wrote about the special treatment ranchers get via private and public compensation programs, and how these government interventions into private property management issues creates what economists call a “moral hazard”, obscuring free-market incentives that would otherwise encourage behaviors that prevent wolf depredations from occuring in the first place.

State Pins Hopes for Wolves on Compensation :

Moral Hazard

Question: Why would a livestock producer go to the extra effort of pursuing predator-friendly grazing techniques when it’s cheaper to forgo the bother ? That’s what compensation does, it makes it cheaper to forgo the bother.

Compensation is a wonderful response to the livestock industry’s only rational, interest-based qualm. It eliminates financial loss. But is it about time to start asking how well this good-faith response is being received in Idaho ? Wyoming ? New Mexico ?

How does it motivate the behaviors that are necessary to practically co-exist with wolves ?

It doesn’t.  In fact, just the opposite.  The same would be true for any pest control program.  If I was a rose-farmer and a government agency promised to intervene … say, pay for and spray my entire property for aphids should a problem arise, I might be apt to sacrifice a rose-bush or two on the periphery rather than employ any prophylactic myself.  It is no different for publicly financed wolf extermination programs executed by Wildlife Services.  Many ranchers are more than happy to let go an initial lame calf or two if it means an end to the local wolf pack.

Previously, Ralph gave his take on Brodie Farquhar’s essay which explored the very real difference in attitude toward wolves in the mid-west versus the west.

That difference plays out in very tangible ways with respect to policy.  For example, in Minnesota regulatory conditions compliment government interventions into livestock/wolf management that are crafted to compel reponsible behavior, rather than dispel it.

Farmers are required to implement non-lethal and animal husbandry practices to prevent future attacks before any wolves are killed or farmers are eligible for compensation for wolf depredation. Read the rest of this entry »

Ranching “custom and culture”….

of Death.

This coyote was found hanging from a fence post on the Mud Flat Road in Owyhee county.  Graphic. Read the rest of this entry »

Welfare Ranchers, Wolves, and the Externalization of Costs

Did a cow get your elk?

George Wuerthner has written another great essay about how ranchers are asking us to pay for the protection of their livestock on public lands by killing predators. They are also asking us to give up elk production on public lands when their cattle are using up vast amounts of forage needed to maintain healthy elk herds.

Welfare Ranchers, Wolves, and the Externalization of Costs.
George Wuerthner, NewWest.Net

Wildlife Services wants your comments.

Wolf management plan examines killing of pups and sterilization of wolves.

Wildlife Services has issued a draft Environmental Analysis which examines a myriad of ways to kill wolves. Comments on the plan are accepted until August 31, 2010.

Idaho Wolf EA

“Management strategies would be developed for individual situations by applying the WS Decision Model (Slate et al. 1992). When appropriate, farm management practices (animal husbandry), frightening devices and livestock guarding animals would be recommended and utilized to reduce wolf damage to livestock. In other situations, WS might potentially utilize foothold traps, snares, ground shooting, chemical immobilization and euthanasia, and aerial shooting to remove individual problem wolves. An additional potential management method under the Proposed Action would be the infrequent taking of pups in or near the den, in those cases where removal of adult wolves due to chronic depredations on livestock might leave the pups defenseless and subject to starvation. Another potential management method under the Proposed Action, as an alternative to total removal of some chronic depredating wolf packs, would be removal of most or all wolves except the alpha pair from a chronic depredating pack. One (or both if possible) of the alpha animals would concurrently be live-captured, surgically sterilized, radio-collared, and released to maintain and defend their territory against other wolf packs which might be more likely to prey on livestock. This approach would only be considered on a case-by-case basis, and only with the concurrence of IDFG and potentially affected livestock producers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Mountain lion management plan angers conservationists

Rare lions are to be killed to protect rare bighorn sheep.

Ron Kearns, a frequent commentator on this site and retired wildlife biologist of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, was recently interviewed for a story about mountain lion management on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. The refuge has set a policy which requires mountain lions which have killed more than two bighorn sheep in a 6-month period be lethally removed. Meanwhile bighorn hunting is allowed on the refuge.

Mountain lion management plan angers conservationists.

Imnaha pack’s breeding pair to be protected in Oregon control action

Wildlife Services authorized to kill only two uncollared wolves after pack kills 5 head of livestock-

The state of Oregon seems to be to be taking a reasonable, measured bit of action after that state’s only confirmed wolf pack killed a handful of livestock in the upper Wallowa Valley.

According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “The lethal action is aimed at killing wolves that are showing an interest in livestock, not wolves simply in the area, and will be limited to an area where three of the confirmed livestock kills are clustered. Under the terms of the authorization, the wolves can be killed a) only within three miles of three clustered locations with confirmed livestock losses by wolves and b) only on privately-owned pasture currently inhabited by livestock. ODFW’s authorization will be valid until June 11, 2010.”

If Idaho and Montana took this kind of approach, the wolf controversy would be much less.

ODFW authorizes lethal removal of wolves
Breeding pair to be protected

News Release from ODFW

More livestock subsidies by the Federal Government

5-year “demonstration project” to compensate ranchers and fund proactive, non-lethal activities.

The USFWS has announced how it will disperse $1 million annually to the states with wolves for 5 years. This funding was approved in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 which created several wilderness areas such as the Owyhee Wilderness in southern Idaho.

The law specifies that equal amounts of the funding must be used “(1) to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by wolves; and (2) to compensate livestock producers for livestock losses due to such predation.”

No doubt there will be pressure to change how the money is spent so that more of it will go towards compensation of ranchers rather than proactive, non-lethal activities.

U.S. grants $1 million for wolf project
Great Falls Tribune

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $1 Million to States For Wolf Livestock Compensation Project
USFWS Press Release

State Proposed Allocation
MN $100,000
MI $90,000
WI $140,000
ID $140,000
MT $140,000
WY $140,000
AZ $60,000
NM $60,000
OR $15,000
WA $15,000

Biologists seek ouster of new Alaska wildlife conservation chief

They say that the director doesn’t even have the background for an entry-level position.

In February, Corey Rossi, the Alaska Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Director, wrote an opinion piece for the Anchorage Daily News which opined that wildlife should be managed under the abundance-based management model which “requires man to work with the land to produce the maximum sustainable yield”. In other words a model which essentially treats wildlife as an agricultural crop to be “harvested” at maximum capacity.

In response, several former Alaska Division of Wildlife biologists have called for the removal of Corey Rossi as the Department’s Wildlife Director. They state that “Mr. Rossi appears to be a single issue advocate who lacks the education background necessary for an entry-level biologist position with the Division.”

The kind of management style which treats wildlife in this fashion ignores the necessity to manage wildlife with an understanding of simple ecological concepts. It also ignores the welfare of sensitive species and ecological systems which are vitally important to the welfare of wildlife and humans alike.

Biologists seek ouster of new wildlife conservation chief
Anchorage Daily News

Someone in Nevada has it right about the uselessness of predator control

NDoW opposes killing of predators says habitat is the issue.

There is a battle raging in Nevada about predator control under the guise of helping deer and sage grouse. As it turns out the problem isn’t about predators but about habitat quality. For years the BLM and the ranchers have colluded in an effort to make more grass available to livestock under the guise of “habitat improvement projects” which destroy piñon/juniper forests and sagebrush needed for cover while ignoring the fact that overgrazing has eliminated essential grasses from vast areas of the landscape and greatly impacted valuable bitterbrush.

When one looks at grazing permit renewal documents from the Nevada BLM, the habitat needs of wildlife are given only cursory analysis and the BLM always makes sure that when there are problems there are never any real cuts in AUMs but only what are commonly referred to as paper cuts, or animals that aren’t really grazed. Utilization standards often allow for utilization of native perennial grasses and shrubs or half shrubs of 50% which, as with the case of blue bunch wheatgrass, often kills the plants or greatly hinders their vigor in these arid environments.

Back in December came news that mountain lions, coyotes, badgers, skunks and ravens would all be targeted in an effort to improve deer and sage grouse survival using $866,000 from the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Heritage fund. The money would have been used to fund operations of Wildlife Services. Since then Nevada Department of Wildlife has come out in opposition saying that these issues revolve around habitat issues rather than predators and that the science doesn’t justify the wanton killing of predators.

Tony Wasley, NDOW mule deer specialist, said controlling predators won’t stop the disappearance of the sagebrush-covered terrain that deer depend on in Nevada and much of the West.

“We’re talking about a landscape-scale phenomenon here,” Wasley said. “The population is limited by habitat.”

Where there is insufficient habitat, “all the predator control in the world won’t result in any benefit,” Wasley said.

Feds, Nevada officials clash over deer predator control
Reno Gazette Journal

Interview: “Predatory Bureaucracy” author Michael J. Robinson

Howl gets a very interesting and important interview-

If you are interested in the politics and history of government animal killing for the livestock industry, Robinson’s book, Predatory Bureaucracy is a must. I think this interview with its author is too. Also, interviews are easier to digest than a grim journey through a long history.

Interview: “Predatory Bureaucracy” author Michael J. Robinson.


Why top predators matter

An in-depth look at new research

Top predators such as wolves, lions, and jaguars play very important roles in the ecology. From control of mesopredators like coyotes and hyenas to control of ungulate populations and how they use the land.

Why top predators matter: an in-depth look at new research
Jeremy Hance

Wildlife Services Releases Strategic Plan

Inadequate funding, lack of understanding and support cited in report

The agency that touts that it “provides Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts and create a balance that allows people and wildlife to coexist peacefully has released its Strategic Plan for 2010 – 2014.

They have a list of “Key Challenges” where they lament that people are becoming detached from the interests of agriculture.

1. Limited Resources for Wildlife Damage Management and Research:
2. Increasing Suburban Growth and Detachment from Agriculture and Wildlife:
3. Strengthening Communications with Stakeholders:
4. Increasing Wildlife Populations:

Populations of Canada geese, white-tailed deer, double-crested cormorants, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, wolves, beaver, and other wildlife species have increased significantly in many parts of the United States. The increases have been the result of land use changes, relocations by State wildlife agencies, and decreased hunting and trapping by the public, in addition to a variety of other reasons. These overabundant populations [emphasis added] of animals in close proximity to humans often result in increased wildlife damage to property and increased human health and safety concerns.

5. Increased Role in “Emergencies” Lead to Erosion for WS
6. Keeping Pace with Evolving Information Technology
7. Workforce Diversity in the Wildlife Management Field:

You can read it here: Strategic Plan for 2010 – 2014

Advocates push change in working conditions for isolated immigrant sheepherders

Workers only paid $750/month to live in extremely isolated conditions and are exposed to many dangers

Public Lands sheep grazing not only creates conflict with bighorn sheep, wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, numerous other wildlife species, habitat degradation, weed proliferation, human conflict with guard dogs, and disease spread, it is responsible for the exploitation of migrant workers who “don’t speak English, don’t know where they are, and depend entirely on their employers for food, water and contact with the outside world.”

A job search for the word “herder” brings up a list of 10 jobs in Idaho and Wyoming which pay $750/month except for the job in Wyoming which pays $650/month.

There is another, less talked about, issue relating to sheepherders. Q-fever, which is carried by sheep, is known to cause infections in humans and possibly result in death. The spores can persist in the environment for years and people and livestock can become infected by breathing dust. These immigrant workers are disproportionally exposed to Q-fever and are at risk of becoming infected.

Advocates push change in working conditions for isolated immigrant sheepherders
Associated Press Writer in the LA Times

260 Human Caused Wolf Mortalities in Idaho for 2009

Preliminary wolf mortality numbers from the Idaho Fish and Game released.

Wolf © Ken Cole

Officially, a total of 273 wolves died in Idaho from all causes. 260 were human caused mortalities which is up 120 from last year resulting in a 178% increase in overall mortality.

Also from the report:

From September 1 through December 31, 135 wolves were legally harvested. During this period three wolves were documented to have been either shot illegally or wounded and not retrieved, another was killed in a closed area, and a fifth wolf was accidentally killed in a snare legally set by a trapper. These wolves were all counted against the harvest limit for the zone in which they were killed. The heaviest harvest occurred October 10-12 when 16 wolves were taken by hunters over the three-day weekend when deer season opened in most of the state. Hunters harvested 21 wolves in December.

94 packs present in Idaho at the end of December. Reproduction was confirmed in 62 packs, and 50 packs are believed to meet Breeding Pair criteria (at least two pups produced and currently surviving). Biologists documented 15 new packs during 2009. Three packs were eliminated by control actions to address livestock depredations, and five previously documented packs were dropped from the count because of a lack of confirmed activity during the year.

Idaho Wolf Management Progress Report December 2009
Idaho Fish and Game Department

Groups target Nevada predators

Mountain lions, coyotes, badgers, skunks and ravens will all be targeted in an effort to improve deer and sage grouse survival using $866,000 from the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Heritage fund.

Rather than tackle the main issues related to sage grouse declines, livestock grazing, sagebrush killing projects, and energy developments, groups in Nevada are going after predators instead. Guess who will do the killing? Wildlife Services.

Just another subsidy to the livestock industry.

Groups target Nevada predators

Sage Grouse © Ken Cole

Sage Grouse © Ken Cole

Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife Services: The Most Important Wildlife Agency You’ve Never Heard Of

Wildlife Services, the agency that does the killing

“The USDA’s own statistics show that most livestock losses come from weather, disease, illness, and birthing problems, not predation.”

Wildlife Services: The Most Important Wildlife Agency You’ve Never Heard Of
Andrew Wetzler NRDC Switchboard

Chuck Carpenter is the district supervisor for central Idaho for the U.S. Wildlife Services.

Chuck Carpenter is the district supervisor for central Idaho for the U.S. Wildlife Services.

Read the rest of this entry »

WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning, Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

Obama asked for executive order-

This is clearly something the President could do quickly to rehabilitate his tarnished image on wildlife. Ironically, it was President Richard Nixon who in 1972 issued Executive Order 11643 banning the use of poisons to control predators on Federal land. Reagan later weakened this. In addition, there is plenty of poison available. Much of it is left over from the 1970s.

While in the Senate, now Interior Secretary Salazar was one of those who opposed efforts to ban the use of compound 1080, an extremely poisonous, colorless, tasteless, odorless, substance that creates an agonizing death, and which would be an ideal poison for use by terrorists to put in a municipal water supply.

Meanwhile, as far as aerial gunning goes, USFA’s Wildlife Services killed off a famous Idaho wolf pack this week (more on this later). They used one or more of their aerial gunships.

Update 11-28.2009. A lot of newspapers picked up the AP story by John Miller on the petition.

Petition from WildEarth Guardians-

WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning & Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

Denver, CO. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should stop sending its agents up in aircraft to shoot coyotes and planting lethal cyanide booby traps on the nation’s forests and other federal lands, according to a formal request filed today by WildEarth Guardians with the Obama administration.

“Federal wildlife-killing programs are unsafe, illegal, and reckless,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “We call upon the Obama administration to protect our native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife Services Montana kills twice as many wolves on Blackfoot Reservation than entire wolf hunt so far

23 wolves in pack killed for some reason-

So far 12 wolves have been killed in Montana’s wolf hunt. It has generated a lot of controversy because most were taken in a small area just north of Yellowstone Park. Montana’s wolf hunt quota is 75.

I read in the latest Montana Wolf Weekly Report today that in contrast to the 12, twenty-three wolves in the Livermore Pack on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation were killed by Wildlife Services this year. Fifteen were killed in September alone. These wolves were said to be responsible for an unstated number of livestock losses. I read a number of their past wolf weeklies and could find no information why 23 wolves had to die for killing something.

Here is the URL of the wolf weekly that reports this

While the focus remains on the wolf hunt, I must emphasize again the real threat to wolves is not hunters, but Wildlife Services with its huge budget, high tech gear, and a mandate to aid and comfort the noblemen of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse

There are going to be predators. Do you want a few big ones, or lots of smaller ones?

Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse. Oregon State University news lease on research by Dr. William Ripple.

My comments . . .

Although in a few places such as Idaho and Montana large predators like wolves and grizzly bears are being increased against formidable political resistance, the worldwide trend is for them to disappear and be replaced by a larger number of medium sized or smaller predators.

Most people don’t understand that predators will never disappear, nor will parasites, etc. Human pressure to exterminate them shifts the advantage to another animal that tends to fill that ecological niche, although often with many unanticipated and undesirable side effects.

Ethics concerns raised at NV wildlife commission

Killing predators to “conserve” other more “desirable” wildlife has been a consistent topic of conversation on this forum.  It’s ugly enough in it’s own right in my mind – single-species conservation runs into such ethical dilemmas, especially when most wildlife managers don’t see a problem at all.  It appears one wildlife manager in Nevada doesn’t see an ethical problem with much of anything :

Ethics concerns raised at NV wildlife commissionAP

The projects before the Nevada Wildlife Commission seemed simple enough: spending about $160,000 to kill ravens and coyotes to protect sage grouse and mule deer from the predators.

But the situation has since turned into an ugly soap opera, with ethics questions raised over ties between one commissioner’s mother and backers of the predator projects.

Yet, from my perspective, it’s frustrating that a story about “ethics concerns” of a wildlife management agency could miss the mark so fundamentally.  Here we have a wildlife agency slaughtering coyotes & ravens in such a nasty way with public dollars and the ‘ethical question’ is about whether it is wrong that one of the commissioner’s family members might be the one to get the contract for the wildlife slaughter ?

Fencing, Bright Lights and Loud Noises Keep Wolves at Bay

314 livestock were lost to wolves last year. Between 5000 and 10,000 head lost to other predators-

This feature ran on a number of radio stations.

Non lethal management of wolves, which keeps both wolves and livestock alive is feasible.

However, most livestock operators are not like Mike Stevens (see in story) because the U.S. government will kill the wolves for free for you and it looks like Idaho is about to get a million dollar slush fund to compensate operators for animals that were or might have been killed by wolves — a pretty strong incentive to conduct livestock business as usual.

. . . and In Wyoming, if a wolf kills your lamb or cow calf, steer, etc. you get compensated seven times its value! That is one royal payoff.

Barker: Death of celebrity wolf may be an omen

Statesman environmental reporter writes confusing story about Wood River Valley and the wolf pack that lives there-

Barker: Death of celebrity wolf may be an omen. Idaho Statesman

Rocky Barker, who was written numerous books and articles about conservation, seems to have let some kind of barely suppressed animosity toward Idaho’s Wood River Valley motivate him to write what must be a clever article about the local wolf pack. Those who don’t know the area, however, might need some background.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Wood River Valley of south central Idaho is narrow stream valley beginning in the Boulder Mountains and widening out onto the Snake River Plain. Like most similar Idaho valleys it has a lot of wildlife. In this case even though parts of it are densely populated (by central Idaho standards) by people.

There are four towns. Bellvue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. The upper reaches of the valley have few permanent residences because in the early 1970s, Idaho conservationists and green senators like Frank Church had set aside the headwaters of the Wood River as part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to be managed for recreation, scenery, open space, wildlife, and where compatible the grazing of livestock. Wildlife have the clear legal priority over livestock, and the Western Watersheds Project has won several lawsuits on the issue against the government who seemed to get confused about the law’s priorities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Animal kills by Wildlife Services more than double in ’08

Animal kills by federal agency more than double

Associated Press Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The number of animals poisoned, shot or snared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than doubled last year, and environmentalists who are critical of the killings renewed their effort Tuesday to limit the agency’s funding for such activities.

AP EXCLUSIVE: Wildlife whistleblower case in NV

Wildlife Services employee fired for reporting the illegal killing of two mountain lions from an airplane by co-workers.

How much of this kind of thing actually happens? I’ve definitely heard of cases where wolves were shot at and injured by WS.

AP EXCLUSIVE: Wildlife whistleblower case in NV
Scott Sonner, Associated Press

Montana FWP to set wolf quotas Thursday

FWP to set wolf quotas Thursday

By EVE BYRON – Independent Record

Montana’s 2009 wolf hunting season could have quotas ranging from 26 to 207 under three options that will be presented to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission Thursday.


Addition by Ralph Maughan
I received this today. It is background on setting the wolf hunt quota.


Meeting DateMay 14, 2009 Agenda Item2009 Tentative Wolf Quotas

Action Needed: Approve Tentative Rule Time Needed for Presentation30 minutes

Background: Regulated public harvest of wolves, first endorsed by the Governor’s Wolf Advisory Council in 2000, was included in Montana’s wolf conservation and management plan. In 2001, the Legislature authorized the Commission to reclassify wolves under state law from an endangered species to a species in need of management upon federal delisting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to delist the gray wolf in Montana from the Endangered Species Act, will be effective May 4, 2009.  Litigation challenging the federal delisting decision is expected. Read the rest of this entry »

Rare pelicans to be “managed” (killed) in Idaho

Notice: for those who want to comment on this, the comment period has been extended until noon on May 12, 2009.  You can also provide oral testimony to the Fish and Game Commission the evening or the 13th. The Fish and Game Commission meeting begins at 7:00PM in the ISU Student Union Bldg – Big Wood River Room.

-When the state of Idaho (and other western states) express the need to “manage” a wildlife species – that usually perks the ears of wildlife advocates in the state.  That’s because “manage” is so often a word used to soften the state’s real intention – i.e. the intent to ‘kill’ wildlife.  Ralph and many others note this is particularly true with wolves and we’ve seen it with bighorns and others.

White Pelicans Fishing

White Pelicans Fishing

So how about pelicans ?

F&G Seeks Comments On Pelican Management Plan

Pelicans are a “critically imperiled” species in Idaho occurring in two colonies located on Blackfoot Reservoir and the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge.  Unfortunately :
2009 Draft Pelican Management Plan(page 1)

In some areas, pelicans predominately forage on abundant populations of nongame fish resulting in non-consequential or acceptable impacts. However, in some areas pelican predation is measurably impacting native trout populations and recreational fisheries resulting in resource conflicts.

Read the rest of this entry »

IDFG appropriation provision that includes depredation control falls victim to Idaho governor’s veto rampage

Governor “Butch” Otter is upset that the Idaho legislature won’t increase revenue for state highways and has reacted by vetoing 10 bills.  One of those bills on the chop block, Senate Bill No. 1177, would have slipped $200,000 into the Depredation Control Fund :

In accordance with the provisions of Section 36111(c), Idaho Code, the Department of Fish and Game shall transfer $200,000 from the Big Game Winter Feeding Setaside Fund to the Winter Depredation Control Setaside Fund as soon as practicable. Such moneys may be used for the control of depredation of private property by antelope, elk and deer and control of predators affecting antelope, elk and deer.

(Emphasis Added).

This while they’re cutting funding for education.  The Governor’s veto is a political move, and it is likely the money will be appropriated in the future anyway, but it sheds some light on one of the places where money to kill wolves and other wildlife comes from in the state of Idaho.

The War on Predators

Why Fish and Game Agencies Can’t Manage Predators

George Wuerther writes an insightful piece about Fish & Game departments failure to manage predator species like other wildlife across the country.

The War on PredatorsCounterpunch

Why We Need Wolves In Our Parks

. . . and about “the Ripple Effect.”

Why We Need Wolves In Our Parks. Todd Palmer and Rob Pringle. The Huffington Post.

Balyeat bill would cap wolves in state

Senate Bill 183 would limit the number of wolves in Montana to 225.

Montana State Senator Joe Balyeat (R-Belgrade)

Montana State Senator Joe Balyeat (R-Belgrade)

Montana State Senator Joe Balyeat (R-Belgrade) has introduced Senate Bill 183 which would limit the number of wolves in Montana to just 225. Currently the estimated number of wolves in Montana is around 500 according to the recently released Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2008 Annual Report.

“I acknowledge it’s strong medicine, but I believe we need strong medicine to deal with this wolf crisis”

This kind of “medicine”/legislation would likely scuttle the current delisting process all by itself and hand management of wolves in Montana back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, maybe for good. Perhaps there is something to love about this bill by all sides. 😉

Balyeat bill would cap wolves in state
Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Salazar’s Wolf Decision Upsets Administration Allies

Salazar’s failure to consult POTUS gives new Administration a headache (as it should)-

Salazar’s Wolf Decision Upsets Administration Allies
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post

It appears that Salazar wasn’t interested in consulting anyone but the Bush Administration personnel and some other agency folks for the “good science” they have already “produced”.
He only consulted governors with less than favorable attitudes on predators, wolves in particular. He had no intention of hearing anything other than what he wanted to hear to make this decision.

Fortunately, not everyone in our halls of governing agree with him. Perhaps due to the fact that they are not ranchers.  He didn’t seem to think that his boss needed to be consulted either, even directly following commitments by Obama himself to uphold the ESA and scientific integrity in speeches within 48 hours of announcing this “Friday night” ruling.

Perhaps the same comments on commitment to scientific integrity made by Obama on stem cell research should be applied to the ESA and wolves.

Idaho looks to remove wolves

Anywhere from 104 to 120 wolves will be killed in the first year under the weakened 10(j) rule.

The current version of the 10(j) rule reduces the burden of proof on wildlife managers so they don’t have to demonstrate that wolves are THE MAJOR cause of elk declines.

Wildlife Services is also seeking permission to kill an additional 26 packs of wolves in Idaho. This could amount to killing 200+ wolves.

Presently there are an estimated 824 wolves in Idaho and agencies seek to kill as many as 300 wolves overall.

The Idaho Fish and Game study to justify killing wolves in the Lolo area is yet to be released to the public.

Idaho looks to remove wolves
Ravalli Republic

Report estimates revenue loss from Idaho wolves

Study uses 1994 data-

Report estimates revenue loss from Idaho wolves

The Associated Press

The report relies heavily on a 1994 environmental impact statement related to the introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and then extrapolates those numbers.

*Update: Read the Report

– – – – – –

Additional commentary by Ralph Maughan.

This is the most simplistic analysis. Idaho Fish and Game assumes that every elk killed by a wolf is 1/5 fewer elk for hunters (they assume a 20% hunter success rate).

1. Wolf predation can be both additive or compensatory. Idaho Fish and Game is assuming it is all additive. This is known to be false. Compensatory predation is when is wolf kills an animal that would have died regardless before spring calving.

2. It is also well known that in many areas wolves almost stop hunting on their own during human hunting season. The gut piles are much more attractive to them. Moreover, wolves take down the wounded animals. Most of these would die without predation.

3. With outfitters telling how wolves have killed all the elk, beginning in about 1998 when there were not very many wolves in Idaho, with Idaho Fish and Game now joining the poormouthing chorus, is it any wonder elk tag sales are down? The numbers in a state could actually be up, but if the outfitters and the state wildlife agency says, “the hunting in our state has gone to hell,” what do they expect?

Call for end to USDA’s wildlife killing agency

115 groups call for the end of the agency which kills 1 million animals each year.

Call for end to USDA’s wildlife killing agency
The Associated Press

Wildlife advocates condemn Challis coyote killing “tournament”

The “tournament” is scheduled for Saturday Feb. 21st, in Challis

After reading about the coyote killing contest this Saturday, Feb. 21st, in Challis, sponsored by the Bent Rod Sports, I guess I’ll not be doing any more business there. If you are willing, the groups that put out the press release below, encourage you to call Bent Rod Sports (208.879.2500) and register your protest over the coyote “tournament” described below. Perhaps suggest that a PHOTO CONTEST featuring the best LIVE photo of wildlife taken around Challis, would be a better idea.

*Update: Feb. 23, 2009 on Challis Rod and Gun Coyote “Tournament”:

Before dawn on Saturday, Feb. 21, an observer noted a small number of vehicles in front of Bent Rod Sports in Challis. Eventually about 13 men walked out and headed somewhere to find some coyotes to shoot. The number of coyotes killed is not known. The store isn’t saying, and the local newspaper says it won’t run a story, despite all the protest calls to the Bent Rod and the Challis Chamber of Commerce. There might have been more than 13 hunters, but the event became so secretive, no farther information is known. The location of the evening viewing of the dead coyotes and prize giving was not disclosed by the Bent Rod. There was no opportunity for observers to photograph the hunters and their coyotes.

*Update: Idaho wildlife advocates protest coyote hunt

Read the rest of this entry »

Conservationists: USDA should stop killing wildlife

Report: Wildlife Service’s “War on Wildlife” needlessly slaughters America’s valued wildlife costing taxpayers $100 million per year

Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians, and others have been compiling the facts, gathering the support of 115 conservation groups, and building a solid case to end the wasteful War on Wildlife currently being waged by the out-of-control ‘Wildlife Services’.

Conservationists: USDA should stop killing wildlifeAP :

Authors of the 108-page report being presented to USDA, members of Congress and the White House on Tuesday described it as the first comprehensive, national, independent assessment of the agency in 40 years.

View the ‘War on Wildlife’ Report (108 page pdf)

Clearwater Wolves Targeted for First ESA 10(j) Rule Killings


Member of Mollies Pack next to Yellowstone Lake© Ken Cole

Friends of the Clearwater sent out this Action Alert:

In January 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) adopted the revised regulations of section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This new rule substantially supports justifications for killing reintroduced, endangered gray wolves to nominally protect herds of elk, deer, and other wild ungulates in the Northern Rockies. Prior section 10(j) regulations, adopted in 2005, allowed states and tribes to kill wolves if they caused “unacceptable impacts” on an ungulate herd or population. The involved agencies were required to document both a decline in ungulate numbers and wolf predation as the primary source of this loss. The revised ESA section 10(j) regulations, however, eliminate these requirements and instead hold as their major criteria only the failure of a wild ungulate population to meet management objectives and wolves as one of the major causes. The new rule greatly expands the definition of unacceptable impacts to include wolf effects on ungulate behavior, movements, nutrition, cow-calf ratios, and other characteristics beyond population size. State or tribal managers are authorized to kill wolves to accommodate “appropriate” ungulate management goals, even those developed to reduce or eliminate predators in areas with plentiful game animals. Moreover, the modified 10(j) regulations allow not just landowners and federally permitted agents but also any citizen to kill wolves caught attacking their livestock or domestic animals. Read the rest of this entry »

Nevada plans to remove “animals with big teeth in order to promote the animals hunters like to shoot”

State solicits Wildlife Service to do what it does best – slaughter wildlife

USDA National Wildlife Research Center

Cougar - photo: USDA National Wildlife Research Center

When wildlife like elk or deer numbers decline, that is usually indicative of something.  Often it can be a temporary decline – a response to a natural event such as a fire, drought, or really cold winter – the natural ebb and flow of things.  Sometimes it’s symptomatic of something else, like diminishing habitat or a game department that issued too many tags in a region.  Mostly, it’s likely a combination of many variables.

Whatever the reasons, one gets the lion’s share of the blame – and the retribution.  Predators are the proverbial ‘whipping-boy’ of wildlife managers (and livestock producers).  Much like the irrational management that is promised for wolves in Idaho, cougars are subjected to political decisions  made by state wildlife managers.  And when state managers decide to abate hunter’s competition, they call Wildlife Services.

Unfortunately, it is often more politically expedient to call for ‘control’ of wildlife that competes with hunters than to restrict the number of tags issued to hunters – by far the largest variable reducing elk and deer numbers – or to call for the patience it takes to put a decent amount of resource into habitat restoration – whether active or passive (passive restoration involves removing human causes of habitat degradation – such as livestock grazing, ORV access, fencing, etc.).

Nev. plans more lion hunts in effort to save deerAP

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners told agency staff last week to employ the help of sport hunters and contract employees from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services for the state wildlife department’s new “program of intensive, sustained predator reduction.”

Schweitzer appoints 2 to FWP Commission

Terms are up for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commissioners Workman and Doherty, Colton reappointed.

Schweitzer appoints 2 to FWP Commission

By Gazette News Services


Wyoming House committee recommends a new state wolf bill

Little change from the past-

By Matt Joyce. Associated Press writer

House Bill 32 would emphasize protecting livestock and wild ungulates from wolves and would continue to classify wolves as predators in most of the state. The bill also authorizes the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to work in cooperation with Idaho and Montana to move wolves as necessary to assure genetic interchange among the states’ wolf populations.

Wyoming House committee had five Bills offered this week and only one, with little change and a seemingly obstinate set of intentions to derail any progress or offer any acceptance of the federal role in this ongoing saga was agreed upon.  Read More…

Ashley Judd Slams Sarah Palin For Promoting Aerial Killing Of Wolves

Judd helps kick off Defenders Action Fund’s new web site,

Ashley Judd Slams Sarah Palin For Promoting Aerial Killing Of Wolves. Huffington Post. Marcus Baram.

Posted in predator control, Wolves. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Ashley Judd Slams Sarah Palin For Promoting Aerial Killing Of Wolves

115 Groups urge Ag Secretary Nominee to End Wildlife Service’s mass killing of wildlife

Groups want lethal control programs ended-

Here is the news release:

WILLIAMS, Ore.– Today, 115 conservation, animal protection, ranching, and faith-based organizations submitted a letter to Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary nominee, urging him to end the federal government’s systematic killing of wildlife, including wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars, and prairie dogs. Members of the coalition – comprised of Big Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Creation Care Study Program, Christians for Environmental Stewardship, Humane Society of the United States, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Sierra Club, and Ranchers for Rural Responsibility, among many others – said that each year the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services kills millions of wild animals, primarily on behalf of agribusiness. Coalition members said halting the agency’s “lethal control” programs should be one of the nominee’s first steps once he is confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture. (See complete list of signatories below.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Livestock as four legged picnic baskets

George Wuerthner wrote a letter to the editor making a great point about the double-standard regarding livestock/wolf conflicts – especially on public lands :

In our national parks it’s illegal to leave out picnic baskets because it will lead to human-bear conflicts. To save bears, humans are fined if they fail to put away food.

But when it comes to ranchers, we have the exact opposite approach. Instead of fining them for leaving four legged picnic baskets scattered all over the landscape — including most of our public lands — we hold the wolves accountable [for] any losses that are largely due to the livestock industry’s poor management.

The whole letter :

Livestock as four legged picnic basketsWuerthner on the Environment

Endangered Species Act 35th anniversary and wolves

Today is the 35th anniversary of the ESA. Michael J. Robinson wrote the essay below for this forum-

Thirty five years ago today, on December 28, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act, intended not just to stave off extinction, but more broadly to conserve the ecosystems on which endangered species depend.

Natural ecosystems can exhibit a tremendous resilience as plants and animals adapt to new opportunities and threats to their survival and reproduction. The Endangered Species Act itself displays some of the dynamic resilience of ecosystems.

As the Bush administration attempts for a fourth time to remove from the endangered species list one of the first creatures placed on the list – the gray wolf – it is worth noting that the federal agency that originally brought wolves to the brink of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with a stroke of a pen thirty-five years ago was charged with protecting them. Its old habits have been hard to change.

Read the rest of this entry »

[Montana] Legislator wants state to fight feds over wolves

Some pretty reactive folk in Montana are looking to take on the feds with state legislation to “manage” wolves.

Legislator wants state to fight feds over wolvesDaily Inter Lake

– – – – – –
These are the usual suspects: “Friends of the Northern Range Yellowstone Elk,” an anti-wolf state senator (Joe Balyeat) who poached an elk on private property in 2006, and the Montana Shooting Sports Association that wanted to secede from the United States back in the 1990s. They are probably on a fundraising/membership drive.

I found this on Balyeat and the people he associates. They’re Back: The Montana Legislature’s Right-Wing Presence. Dec. 2000. Montana Human Rights Network News.

The wolf is an organizational tool for their extremist political and right wing religious views. Ralph Maughan

Killing of Hog Heaven pack draws cries of protest

Fortunately the Hog Heaven Pack’s slaughter is not going away. You can bet more of this is planned-

Killing of Pack Draws Cries of Protest. By Jim Mann. Northwest Montana Daily InterLake.

In the article, it reads “Laudon [of MT Fish, Wildlife, Parks] said he can imagine what it would be like if the state completely ignored the concerns of livestock owners and the costs they incur due to wolves.

” ‘There would be a hell of a do-it-yourself club out there,’ he said. ‘We can’t have that. Now that would be a trigger-happy Wild West.’ ”

In fact, without their radio collars and aircraft, a do-it-yourself-club would be far less lethal than Wildlife Services. The problem is Wildlife Services and their “toys.” These need to be taken away from them.

This level of livestock loss is trivial, and would be of no public interest at all were it not wolves.

I have it from a pretty good source that slaughter of this pack (assuming it even was just one huge pack) was a trial run. More will be in order and soon, including Idaho if they get away with this.

With all of the truly bad news out there, what looks like an impending depression, they might think there is enough noise in the news that their actions won’t be noticed.

– – – – –

Related. Wolf kills rise in Rockies. Bush administration set to remove gray wolves from endangered species list [again]. By MATTHEW BROWN. AP

Interior Update: Grijalva’s support balloons among grassroots groups

106 117 130 grassroots groups (and growing) from around the country signed a letter to President-elect Obama’s transition team officially endorsing Grijalva for Secretary of the Interior.

Green Groups Galvanize Behind Grijalva For Interior Secretary Press Release – PEER

Read the letter [pdf]

As a decision approaches, the other name heavily floated as among those on Obama’s short-list for the position, Blue-Dog Democrat Mike Thompson, has a record that sheds some light onto previous uncertainty as to how he might lead at Interior.  Of particular interest to among those of us here is Thompson’s past vote rejecting a congressional attempt to prevent federal expeditiures on Wildlife Services lethal predator control.

More history on Dailykos Diary

*Update 12/10: AP shows Grijalva on top of list Name by name, Obama’s Cabinet taking shape, Thompson & John Berry, National Zoo director, former executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also on AP’s list.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wolf population in MT, WY, ID is decreasing or ‘static’

Wolf population maybe declining in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana !!

We thought the politicians said they always grew.

Wolf numbers are down compared to last year’s number with as many as 250 being killed to placate Livestock.  Whether or not wolf populations are leveling off is uncertain given this is just one year, what is certain is that this demonstrates that “explosive wolf populations” myth that is parroted is ridiculous;  Wolves are subject to population regulation including disease, carrying capacity (biological/sociological) which is unfortunately heavily diminished by sustained intolerance.

Wolf population shrinksCasper Star-Tribune

Wolf population in MT, WY, ID is decreasing or ‘static’Montana’s News Station

Oregon Cougar-Killing

Some are saying that Oregon’s strategy of killing cougars to reduce complaints about cougars (whether it be in urban interfaces, to increase elk calf survival, or for fear of loss of livestock) isn’t working… In fact, it may be counter-productive, destabilizing the cougar population by encouraging younger, less experienced cougars to move into areas formerly

Oregon lawmakers keeping tabs on cougar killingAP

Wielgus’ lab monitored the results, and in a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Wildlife Biology, concluded that, “increased hunting could actually result in increased cougar complaints because of the younger age structure of the cougar population and the higher proclivity of young animals to encounter humans and cause complaints.

Coyote killing jumps in Wyoming: Infusion of WY state funding leads to record killing by federal agents

Agency makes it tough to keep tabs on animal kills

Wildlife Services has done away with easily accessible national tolls of the all the wildlife it kills for the livestock industry and others.  Now, you have to tally up the state tabs and do the math yourself yourself – carnivore “controls” keeps trending upward :

Agency makes it tough to keep tabs on animal killsAP

Suit to uncover human hazards of federal wildlife eradication

For Immediate Release: July 16, 2008
Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

SUIT TO UNCOVER HUMAN HAZARDS OF FEDERAL WILDLIFE ERADICATION — Secret Agency Review of Poisonings, Crashes, Explosions and Terror RisksPEER :

Washington, DC — What you don’t know surely can hurt you is the theory behind a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) against the federal agency which kills “nuisance” wildlife to force release of information about the inadvertent dangers of its activities to humans. The lawsuit seeks documentation on perils posed by agency operations ranging from stockpiles of high-powered poisons to airplane crashes during aerial coyote hunts.

The agency is Wildlife Services, an obscure, euphemistically-named arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which spent $108 million to kill more than 1.6 million animals in 2006, the latest year for which figures are available. Wildlife Services acts as an all-purpose exterminator for ranchers, farmers, and others by engaging in “lethal removal” of a Noah’s Ark of animals spanning the alphabet from armadillos and beavers to vultures, weasels, and wolves.

Read the rest of this entry »

[Mexican] Wolf recovery can succeed

Mexican Gray WolfBenjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has published an Op-Ed in the Arizona Republic:

Wolf recovery can succeed

The Op-Ed is released, likely to smooth things over, amidst recent controversy in response to inaction on the part of FWS including at least 2 lawsuits and a recent poll demonstrating southwesterners [overwhelmingly] want wolves (77 percent of Arizonans and 69 percent of New Mexicans support wolf reintroduction on public lands).

The Mexican gray wolf is considered by scientists as the most endangered mammal in North America and efforts at restoration have been stymied, the greatest threat to Mexican wolves being predator control actions enforced on behalf of the livestock industry.

Federal Cash Brings Reward for Information on Illegal Wolf Killings to $50,000

For Immediate Release, July 3, 2008

Contact: Rob Edward, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 573-4898 ext. 762,
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 534-0360,
Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project, (520) 623-1878
Daniel R. Patterson, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, (520) 906-2159

Federal Cash Brings Reward for Information on Illegal Wolf Killings to $50,000

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the illegal killing of Mexican gray wolves, adding to the $40,000 already pledged by wildlife and conservation groups. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed three additional wolf deaths due to illegal killing.

The announcement comes at a time when conservationists are redoubling efforts to end federal killing and capture of Mexican wolves to address ongoing population declines.

Read the rest of this entry »

Project [Phantom Hill wolf pack] seeks peace among sheep and wolves

Project seeks peace among sheep and wolves. Diverse group says collaboration could be a model for other wolf-occupied areas. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

This high profile project is a semi-official attempt to keep both sheep and the very popular Phantom Hill wolf pack alive. The pack’s territory is mostly in the headwaters area of the Big Wood River inside the Sawtooth National Recreation area.

While I am usually very critical of Wildlife Services, Wildlife Services wolf management specialist Rick Williamson gets a lot of credit as one of the people setting this up. The same true with Carter Niemeyer, who so successfully managed wolves in Idaho when the federal government was running the show.

Credit goes to Defenders of Wildlife who is putting money on the ground and volunteers into this.

Last year this pack did get some short time help (the deterence in the midst of lots of sheep) both formally and informally.

In their official year end report, the Idaho division of Wildlife Services was very negative on this pack, saying it had gotten too many chances, but this project shows what local political support can do.

One reason there is public support for this pack is because, as in Yellowstone, it is visible.

EPA Cites USDA For Wildlife Poison Violations

Update: The story as told by the Associated Press. Dog died at cyanide trap set in an off-limits area
EPA: Coyote poison wrongly placed on public road in Utah.
By Mike Stark. The AP fails to mention that the dogs’ owner was poisoned too.

Unfortunately too, so far he has failed to get compensation from USDA.

– – – –


News release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

Sodium Cyanide Device Killed Dog and Sickened Hunter

Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited a
federal wildlife eradication agency for violating safety rules
governing a highly lethal poison, according to records released today
by WildEarth Guardians and Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). EPA’s action was sparked by placement of a
deadly sodium cyanide device on federal public lands in Utah, causing
the death of a family’s dog and the illness of its owner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in predator control. Tags: , , . Comments Off on EPA Cites USDA For Wildlife Poison Violations

Mexican Wolf – Wolf Managers Turn Down Governor and Scientists on Wolf Rule

For Immediate Release, May 16, 2008

Contacts:        Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Stephen Capra, (505) 843-8696
Greta Anderson, (520) 623-1878

Wolf Managers Turn Down Governor and Scientists on Wolf Rule,
17 Conservation Groups Write to Oppose Anti-Wolf Policy

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week, the interagency Mexican wolf reintroduction team refused New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s request to suspend and ultimately change the controversial wolf removal policy known as SOP 13, the rule that requires the permanent removal from the wild of any wolf involved in three fatal livestock depredation incidents over a one-year period.

These trappings and shootings disrupt the wolves’ highly structured family groups, separate mated pairs, and can leave pups without parents. They also reduce the genetic diversity of a population based on only seven founding animals.
Read the rest of this entry »

Blaine county committs to non-lethal predator management projects

Good News ! With the rest of the state of Idaho focused primarily on lethal measures of ‘control’ for wolves, Blaine County has decided to take initiative and work with federal managers who have proposed to study the success of non-lethal methods of reducing conflict between wolves and livestock – the county is going so far as to contribute local dollars to the projects !

Could Wolf Management Plan Become a Model ? Idaho Mountain Express

As engaged as the Blaine County community has been with wolves, especially with as many wolves in the area, it remains a shame that the IDFG has chosen not to scheduled a public forum with which to gather face to face input on the impending wolf hunt rules.

Cambridge Wolf Kill

From what I understand, agencies discourage the photography of permitted ‘control’ actions – especially among private individuals permitted to kill the predators. As we see here and from what we have seen in the past, it appears that sometimes folk just can’t help themselves.

WWPblog has posted these photos of a wolf apparently legally killed near Cambridge Idaho.

Wildlife Services: The ugly economy of killing wildlife

The ugly economy of killing wildlife. Writers on the Range in High Country News. By Lisa Upson and Wendy Keefover-Ring.

Predator control looks a lot different on the ground. Writers on the Range in High Country News. By Bonnie (Kline is the is executive director of the Colorado Wool Growers Association)

Don’t Help….Yellowstone geotourism map

National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, in partnership with several conservation and tourism organizations (click here to see full list ), most notably Wyoming Travel and Tourism have launched a giant “geotourism” program for the Greater Yellowstone Region (click here for the main page of the project website). The effort is intended to “celebrate and help sustain the world-class natural and cultural heritage” of the Greater Yellowstone region (click here for the press release).

The project’s centerpiece is, “a community based process will create a National Geographic ‘Geotourism MapGuide’ for the region centered on Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, and including communities and private and public lands in the three partner states.” In sum, National Geographic and their partners intend to give Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho an economic shot in the arm, in the form of well-heeled tourists, many from Europe, visiting the Greater Yellowstone region. Clearly, these three states couldn’t be more deserving, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho State Legislature Passes Bill To Kill Wildlife/Wolves “Molesting” Domestic Animals

Some people tend to forget that state management of wolves isn’t a responsibility exclusively reserved to the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, a department that’s allegedly insulated from politicization. I slip “allegedly” in there because anyone who’s been paying attention to wildlife issues in the state has a good idea that the Livestock lobby pretty much holds its will over the head of even our good ol’ boy governor “Butch” Otter, let alone the IDF&G (See: Idaho Interim Bighorn Management Plan). The lobby exercises its authority most prominently in the legislature, where last week House lawmakers passed SENATE BILL NO. 1374. The bill sets the bar for “disposal” of wolves, which we’ll see below the fold, but for this space we’ll set the mood with with a characteristic sampling of the mentality behind the governing body that will hold authority over “managing” wolves in the state of Idaho come Friday.

The bill starts :

10 […]any person may control, trap, and/or remove any
11 wild animals or birds or may destroy the houses, dams, or other structures of
12 furbearing animals for the purpose of protecting property from the
13 depredations thereof as hereinafter provided.

Read the rest of this entry »

Special Washington cougar hunt backfires

Story in the Seattle Times. Is cougar hunting breeding chaos? By Sandi Doughton. Seattle Times science reporter.

Hunting large carnivores does not have easy, predictable effects; and a recent law passed and signed in Washington state due to increasing cougar attacks on livestock and pets in NE Washington appears to have had the opposite effect and was based on false assumptions (increasing cougar population). The result of the emergency hunt has been even more attacks (young, inexperienced, and not-too-bright cougars), and a big drop in the cougar population in the Selkirk Mountains.

Actually Washington has had a cougar hunt. It was a particular method of hunting that was banned years ago by the citizens. The method of hunting probably has as much of effect as the mere fact of hunting.

I should add that governor Gov. Christine Gregoire (Democrat) just signed a bill to expand the unsuccessful program. She is not wise about these issues. She is also behind letting livestock operators into state wildlife areas in NE Washington to graze (often for free!!!). These areas are mostly formerly private land purchased by taxpayer and ratepayer money. Western Watersheds Project has sued over the program.

I have posted a number of stories in the past about her “graze-the-wildlife-areas-for-free” program.

Wyoming budgets $2.5 million for wolf management

It’s just amazing from a benefit/cost standpoint (assuming wolves have no benefits).

Wolves do maybe $200,000 damage and state appropriates more than ten times that to monitor them, collar them and kill them, and of course give oh so generous reimbursement (7x) to livestock operators who are lucky enough to have a wolf kill a lamb or a calf in the trophy game area in the NW corner of the state.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.  By Cory Hatch.

Rocky Barker: Federal predator-killing agency faces new attacks

Barker thinks cutting funds to Wildlife Services (WS) is “low hanging fruit.” I don’t think it will be that easy. They have been very resilient in the past 80 years. He also argues that in the Southwest, WS is viewed as a barrier to wolf recovery not just by wolf conservationists, but by state wildlife agencies. Not so quite so in the Northern Rockies.

My view of WS in the Northern Rockies is that their behavior has deteriorated over time. Six years ago they were engaging in non-lethal control, trying to keep wolves and livestock apart before something was killed, and they were doing research on alternative methods. Now that has almost ceased. Standard procedure is to get in an aircraft and shoot.

In the past when they were under political attack, they survived by reforming themselves (for a while). This would probably be the prudent thing for them to do now because their political patrons who currently have so much power are likely to be seriously out of power at the both the congressional and executive level come 2009.

Barker’s blog. Idaho Statesman.

Drive to Axe Federal Predator Eradication Program

A coalition of conservation organizations and individuals is calling on Congress to de-fund Wildlife Services [Killers] Predator Eradication Program.

This directly confronting attempts of the livestock industry to gain more money for Predator Control.

Read the exceptional letter the coalition sent to congresspeople linked to at the end of this Press Release, the other links are very informative as well.

This promises to be a drawn out battle with the Livestock industry. I think it’s an important one at bringing attention to what exactly it is that Wildlife Services‘ [Killers] does and why you shouldn’t have to pay for it anymore.

Press Release
For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 6, 2008

Drive to Axe Federal Predator Eradication Program
$100 Million Agriculture Program Slaughters 1.6 Million Wild Animals a Year

Read the rest of this entry »

Story of Buffalo Ridge Pack is told in word and photo

According to Ed Bangs and observations on the ground, probably all of the Buffalo Ridge wolf pack near Clayton, Idaho have been now been shot for repeatedly picking off a few tiny cow calves born in the bone chilling winter and pastured next to the vast central Idaho wilderness.

Lynne Stone of the Boulder White Clouds Council has created a photo essay on this predictable but avoidable tragedy. It’s truly disheartening for those who might think these matters can be solved proactively in a way that keeps both wolves and livestock alive rather than opt for dead wolves, dead livestock, and bruised feelings.

Buffalo Ridge Wolf Pack Under Siege. Sunday, Feb. 24 2008. By Lynne Stone.

Stone updated the story today (see her explanation among the comments below on this post). Five Wolves are “Lethally Controlled”
By Lynne Stone. Feb. 26 -28.

For a long time this wolf pack was the easiest one to see in Idaho. This backwards direction of Idaho’s newly found wolf management and Wildlife Services, the federal agency that seems determined to lock the states into 1920s style thinking about predators, is likely to be repeated many times in the near future.

– – – – – –

My earlier story on this. Buffalo Ridge Pack to be wiped out, classic example of what’s wrong with Idaho state wolf management.

Livestock industry looks for more money for wildlife killing agency

Livestock’s war on wildlife is heating up. One day after the final wolf delisting rule (2/21/08) the Capital Press, Ag’s favorite rag, published that

Producers push for more livestock protection [wildlife killing] funds (2/22/08 – Subscriber Only) :

The article reports that cattle and sheep industry people are asking the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural development and Related Agencies to increase appropriations for “livestock protection” (which means killing wildlife that these producers don’t like) by Wildlife Services.

Wildlife Services (WS) is the militant wing of the Department of Agriculture, and has done one thing well – it kills pubic wildlife for private livestock interests. In 2006 WS spent over $108 million federal dollars killing over 180 animals per hour. Ralph has recently shown us Wildlife Services doing their work by air and over at Sinapu’s blog they’ve described how WS covers the ground.It seems to me like less, not more money for the unpopular killing of America’s wildlife using chemical agents that’d make Saddam Hussein cringe would be a good start for a Congress looking to exercise real fiscal responsibility, moral authority, and prudently focused domestic security.

Comment by Michael Robinson: Delisting Will Intensify Government War on Wolves on Behalf of Livestock Industry

Michael Robinson certainly knows about Wildlife Services. His book, Predatory Bureaucracy, gives the history of this agency’s war on wolves and other wildlife from the greatest to the least on behalf of the livestock history.

After you read this book and see how this agency has managed to survive under various names to go on and kill and kill, you can hardly feel good when you hear them announce they have killed some more wolves, but the wolves needed to be dead.

Robinson’s Opinion.

– – – – –

Around eighty-five percent of the vast region of the northern Rocky Mountains and adjoining grasslands in which gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list — comprising all of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana plus parts of Utah, Oregon and Washington — has no wolves in it. Wolves periodically show up in these areas, which include national forests and other public lands, but because most of these regions are severely grazed by livestock — so much so that deer and elk don’t find enough to eat and are very rare — the wolves end up killing stock and the federal government traps and kills them or shoots them from the air.

The purpose of the delisting is to kill as many wolves as the livestock-industry can get away with to ensure that fewer wolves enter these severely grazed regions, fewer show up anywhere where stock are pastured, and, on a broader scale, that no wolves survive to disperse outside of the “recovered” zone and establish themselves in states such as Colorado where they would enjoy full legal protection; they will be killed en route. Read the rest of this entry »

HJR002: amending Idaho constitution to make hunting preferred means of wildlife management

It appears that the Big-Game interests are pushing hard in Idaho. House Joint Resolution No.2 (HJR002) would amend the state constitution to :

provide that the people have the right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wild game

Fair enough, I mean, it’s not like the state doesn’t already exercise this ‘right’ as it is. People can hunt. But what’s this about ? :

Public hunting, fishing and trapping shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling species under state control.

This on the eve of wolf delisting…

Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife Services 2007 report on wolf control in Idaho

I hadn’t seen one of these before, except a hard copy many years ago before wolves were restored to Idaho. Then it was a general report on control of all “harmful” animals.

It’s fascinating to me. Everyone will view it differently.

My view is all this effort over such a trivial loss of livestock (except for a few instances). Be sure to note how many of the cattle were actually calves, and how a small absolute increase in numbers can be made to appear huge when reported in per cent increase.

Idaho-Wildlife Services-FY2007-wolf-report.pdf

Man’s poisoning prompts debate on predator poison ban

Here is more on the dangers of poisons set out for coyotes (and soon wolves?).

“Curious, Slaugh touched the stake, and it exploded, spewing a cloud of sodium cyanide in his face and chest. Slaugh, 65, of Vernal, Utah, said he suffers long-term health effects from the 2003 spraying. He has difficulty breathing, vomits almost daily and can no longer work driving heavy equipment because he is too weak.”

Here is the AP story. Man’s Poisoning Prompts Debate on Predator Poison Ban.

Although the EPA is considering a ban on sodium cyanide and 1080 (sodium monofluroacetate), you might want to write to your member of Congress and ask him or her support a legislative ban. Note that the EPA’s action, which is hardly four sure, is a weaker administrative ban.

For example, Democrat John Salazar of Colorado is weighing in in favor of the poisons. Do Colorado residents know that? It is in the story above.

Livestock Lobby Pressures to Retain Wildlife Poisons

This is from Wild Again, Livestock Lobby Pressures to Retain Wildlife Poisons.

I think people should add to their comments to the EPA (due by Jan. 15) that these poisons, especially 1080, would be a terrorist’s delight, an ideal weapon for not just poisoning a large number of people because it is so toxic and also, odorless, colorless, and tasteless, but it causes a horrible death.

How their marginal use in protecting sheep can justify this danger to the public should shame the EPA and politicians into banning them. . . . compound 1080 Al Qaeda’s friend!

[Blaine County] Locals denounce [Idaho] state’s wolf plan

Last night, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game held it’s Idaho Wolf Population Management “Open House” followed by a hearing conducted by Blaine County commissioners in Hailey Idaho. For wolf advocates in attendance this night proved to be a remarkably uplifting experience. A diverse group of wolf advocates, hunters, and citizens of Blaine County joined in overwhelmingly condemning the plan and in giving wolves in Idaho a robust advocacy.

Idaho Mountain Express’s take

and my take below the fold…
Read the rest of this entry »

Resisting Delisting – Idaho Wolves & Livestock’s Influence

IDFG Wolf Plan public meeting – Jerome

The first in a series of Idaho Department of Fish & Game public meetings on Idaho’s Wolf Management Plan took place in Jerome last night. The plan, IDFG maintains, is the result of a series of stakeholders’ meetings that included Livestock interests, sporting interests – including Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and conservation interests represented by the Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife.

There is no measure of the restorative niche that this predator contributes throughout Western ecosystems planned to be taken by IDFG, nor does the wolves’ important role inform management in any way other than to trip measures of “control”. State management’s posture maintains wolves as problematic and seemed to pay little heed to any interest other than Livestock and big docile game. Even in maintaining 10 – 15 packs in the state, the motive was characterized in terms of protecting Livestock and big game interests from future federal protection of wolves.

Read the rest of this entry »

EPA initiates first steps to ban two nasty wildlife poisons

Sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate — Compound 1080 — are both used to kill wild mammals. They frequently kill non-target species and they have been used to illegally kill wolves in Idaho. Both would be excellent weapons for terrorists to use. 1080 causes a painful, awful death. Please help get them banned.

I have a personal reason too. Much of the supply of this stuff for the Western United States is in a building in Pocatello only a mile from my house. It is near the center of the city and close to the Idaho State University campus. . . talk about a proposal that would improve homeland security! There has been a little comment about this in the local newspaper (the Idaho State Journal). In it local employees suggested the supply is not safely secured.

Read the rest of the story, and how to take action at Wild Again.

Update (11-22-2007): Story Casper Star Tribune. EPA looks at poison ban. By Brodie Farquhar.

Wildlife Services, the misnamed federal agency killed 1.6 million animals in 2006

Federal wildlife agents killed 1.6 million animals in ’06. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.

The federal agency Wildlife Services “serviced” 1.6 million animals last year. Numerically most of them were birds, but a lot of them were animals that many, perhaps most Americans, would rather not see killed to fatten the bottom line for ranchers and aggies.

This agency needs to be abolished and an Invasive Species Control Department created to deal with the plants and animals that really are a threat.

Officials have killed 5 wolves in 2 days

Wildlife services has killed five wolves in the past 2 days in Montana. The language of the article is interesting to note . 5 wolves for 2 calves, four were gunned down from a helicopter.

– – – –

Update from RM Sept. 29. Ed Bangs has sent out the Grey Wolf Recovery Weekly Progress Report from USFWS, and there are more new “controls” in Montana. Bangs writes:

On the 20th, MT WS and CSKT confirmed that wolves had killed a steer calf near Ravalli, MT. Wolves were heard howling immediately above kill site and on the 21st the collared female was located immediately above kill site within a 1/2 mile. Control to remove the remainder of this pack is ongoing. On the 25th, MT WS shot 4 of 5 members of the Hewolf Mountain Pack from a helicopter. Three animals were recovered but the fourth wasn’t found. The remaining radio-collared female will be removed at a later date.

On Sept. 24th, MT WS used a helicopter to shoot 4 wolves from the Sapphire pack southwest of Philipsburg, MT in response to a confirmed calf depredation on the 21st. An adult female and 3 female pups were removed near the ranch where the depredation occurred. Up to 11 wolves remain in the pack. Control is now finished.

On Sept 24th, MT WS killed the collared adult female in the Fleecer Mtn pack, completing the removal of this pack. A 4th uncollared gray wolf either dispersed or was killed unknowingly last week during control operations. The SOS permit issued to the affected landowner was cancelled.

On Sept. 25th, MT WS used a helicopter to shoot the collared alpha female of the depredating Bearmouth pack, completing the removal of the pack.

A yellow lab was reported killed on private land in the Ninemile Valley, MT on the 26th. MFWP investigated and confirmed wolves had killed the dog. The incident occurred around 8 am in a small field about 80 yards from the house. The Ninemile pack consists of at least 4 adult wolves and 2 pups and is currently uncollared.

– – – –

I should add that the Ninemile Pack isn’t just any old wolf pack, but the oldest pack in the Northern Rockies, originated from native wolves that migrated down from Canada into NW Montana and eventually the Ninemile Valley. RM

Wyoming heating up

The AP has written a story about federal wildlife managers more aggressive wolf controls in Wyoming:

Although the livestock deaths are dramatically lower so far, Jimenez said the same number of wolves has been removed because federal agents have “taken out more wolves quicker in shorter time frame to not allow packs to keep killing.”

“Not allow packs” is more like it.

State-side, Sinapu’s Wild Again ! notes that WY pumps up the war chest in anticipation of wolf management.

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (sic) weigh’s in on Wyoming’s annual $2 million budget request for state management in the Casper Star-Tribune article referenced at Wild Again !:

Bob Wharff, executive director of the Wyoming chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said he wasn’t surprised by the budget.

“That is a lot of money, but that’s what it would take to do the job,” he said.

Both Rob Edward of Sinapu and Susan Stone of Defenders of Wildlife note that with that kind of money the state could compensate ranchers well over market for all livestock lost to wolves – market value is what they’ve been getting from Defenders. But Wyoming is making it clearer and clearer that this is not about maintaining economic security for ranchers ~ Wyoming is willing to spend $2 million dollars a year on gassing up helicopters and related costs to aerially gun down as many wild wolves as it can.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain.
~ Aldo Leopold

    A Sand Coutny Almanac

Federal Investigation Sought into Intimidation of Wolf Biologist by Rogue Federal Agency

Remember this recent story? Wolf biologist says federal wildlife agent pointed rifle at her. Rocky Barker Idaho Statesman.

The incident won’t die, but an investigation by the Catron County Sheriff’s Department will have no credibility.

Federal Investigation Sought into Intimidation of Wolf Biologist by Rogue Federal Agency. Press Release. Forest Guardians

post 1506

Posted in Mexican wolves, politics, predator control. Comments Off on Federal Investigation Sought into Intimidation of Wolf Biologist by Rogue Federal Agency

Boise hearing shows backers/opponents true colors – and numbers

Once again, the Fish & Wildlife Service’s attempt to undermine the integrity and contribution of science in the wolf recovery process was met with a diverse and vociferous outcry of wolf, and science, supporters.
Read the rest of this entry »

Congress should defund predator control by Wildlife Services from aircraft

Sinapu and many other groups want this annual massive assault on our native carnivores stopped.

It is excessive, it’s not cost effective, it is an undue subsidy to a small group and kills animals that many would like to see live. There are many other ways of achieving valid results without using this method.

I have reported on a number of “wolf controls” where perhaps a thousand dollars or less of livestock was killed, and the operation to shoot the wolves from the air cost many times more. Several years ago I was told Wildlife Services spent over a hundred thousand dollars going after one Montana wolf pack that sporadically killed a few head of livestock here and there, and while some wolves were eventually shot, it was never determined if they were the ones killing.

I suspect the wholesale gunning of smaller predators like coyotes is even less effective because almost all that are killed are completely blameless for killing livestock, and the benefits they produce in keeping the rodent populations in check are never even counted.

As fuel prices surge, aerial gunning becomes even more wasteful.

Here is a story from the Wild Again blog (Sinapu). Call to End Aerial Gunning of Wildlife. Two More Federal Agents Killed in Questionable Program

The Exterminators (about Wildlife Services)

The Missoula Independent takes a look at Wildlife Services, formerly more transparently named Animal Damage Control (and earlier misnamed the Biological Survey). Wildlife Services is the federal government’s killer of “problem” wildlife. They have been controversial for years, with major opposition emerging to them among scientists as early as 1930.

It is their preemptive (non-targeted killing) that most people find most offensive. In some cases they are beginning to use non-lethal methods of preventing or stopping damage done by wildlife, but there is also a strong backlash among their constituency — ranchers — who would like to see more animal carcasses.

No all ranchers like Wildlife Services, so among ranchers the greatest support comes from the sheep farmers.

The Exterminators. By Jessie McQuillan. Missoula Independent.

Wyoming rancher finds not killing coyotes is a key to not losing livestock

Finally a little thought about coyotes and livestock. . . killing coyotes to protect livestock can have just opposite effect. Here Brodie Farquhar writes another on the Casper Star Tribunes explosion of articles on predator control.

Calling a truce. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune.

It seems Wyoming’s predator-fearing livestock politicians don’t realize that coyotes mostly eat rodents, and there is currently a rabbit explosion in Wyoming.

Posted in Coyotes, predator control. Comments Off on Wyoming rancher finds not killing coyotes is a key to not losing livestock

Battling the wily coyote

Wow this talk about coyotes and livestock, coming out of Wyoming just doesn’t stop.Battling the wily coyote.” By Jeff Gearino. Southwest Wyoming Bureau Casper Star Tribune.

The article is written from the viewpoint of “predator management supervisor” Rod Merrell.

In the article Merrell keeps saying the coyotes are incredibly smart. That’s because we have spent 120 years making them that way with high human mortality driving natural selection for the smartest coyotes at avoiding getting killed by humans.

Whitney Royster has an another article today too. Coyote control success demands precision. Casper Star Tribune.

How important are sheep in Wyoming compared to the money generated by the energy industry there? Ten times less? A hundred times less? Maybe a thousand?

Update . . .  more. Lethal predator control [the many ways to kill these “bad animals”]. Casper Star Tribune.

Helping the feds: USDA Wildlife Services benefits from increased state funding

Here Jeff Gearino describes how pleased Wildlife Services is to get this big boost from the state. Now they can use the federal money for other predator control projects.

Helping the feds: USDA Wildlife Services benefits from increased state funding. By Jeff Gearino. Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

It’s not a business for the squeamish. Tools of the trade include planes and helicopters for aerial gunning of coyotes, rifles, shotguns, and a variety of snares, traps and poisons. Birds constitute the overwhelming majority of animals exterminated, with about 2.3 million grain-devouring starlings killed at a national level last year.

I’m not concerned about the non-native starlings, but somehow I don’t think this is more than a sidelight.

Local [Wyoming] predator boards get boost

In this article Jeff Gearino explains how the increasing funding will allow local predator boards to expand killing to more species — skunks, starlings, and ravens. Somehow these species are menacing soda ash production in Wyoming and are a threat to the Jackson Hole airport.

There are already killing a lot of coyotes from the air. Judging from this practice and buildup.

I can just see how they might be able to wipe out most of the wolves and grizzly bears even if they get just a short window by a judge.

 Local predator boards get boost. By Jeff Geario. Casper Star Tribune

Predator control for Wyoming wildlife stirs debate

Here is another story on the big jump in Wyoming predator control money. This one focuses on predators killing “good wildlife.” Ironically, this story comes just a week or so after it was revealed that Wyoming Game and Fish officials think there are too many “good wildlife” (elk, deer, and pronghorn) at the present, and needed to be reduced.

Predator control for wildlife stirs debate. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune.

Kill or be killed (about Wyoming predator control)

Reporter Jeff Gearino and others have written a series of articles in the last few days about the $6-million the Wyoming legislature just put into state-funded predator control. That is a sudden infusion of big money, and I wonder what it’s really about? This is money on top of that appropriated by Congress for the predator control federal agency, Wildlife Services. I haven’t seen any reports on a large buildup of coyotes, even though that’s what most of the talk in the article is about.

Somehow I’m suspicious that the big dollar increase has something to do with the just delisted grizzly bear, and maybe, the soon to be delisted wolf.

Here is the first article “Kill or be Killed,” which begins with two foreign workers riding their “magnificent steeds, trailed by their equally magnificent Great Pyrenees sheepdogs” as they get instructions from their padrone to go out and kill a whole bunch of coyotes.

Posted in Coyotes, Grazing and livestock, predator control. Comments Off on Kill or be killed (about Wyoming predator control)