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 »

Obama’s budget would deeply cut farm subsidies, inc. Wildlife Services

Cuts include Wildlife Services-

Obama’s budget would deeply cut farm subsidies. By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times

I kind of thought Obama might not figure this out, but his budget proposal seems to take a whack at this nasty agency as well as the heretofore unstoppable subsidy payments to rich and corporate farmers.  If you want to help wildlife, please write to the President and your members of Congress urging an axe be taken to the Department of Agriculture agency Wildlife Services. Make it clear you are not asking for cuts in the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. These can be confused because the anti-wildlife cattle and sheep operations deliberately got the federal agency that kills wildlife, Animal Damage Control renamed “Wildlife Services.”

This is not all good news because the Department of Agriculture does have some conservation programs that protect the land, although perhaps at too high a monetary cost.

It is possible that the explanation of Governor Schweitzer’s behavior on both bison and wolves are the cuts to wasteful USDA programs, including the federal wolf killing agency.  I personally think that cutting Wildlife Services budget is one of the best things we can do to protect our native wildlife from government directed killing.

– – – –
Cuts to Wildlife Service’s proposed by Obama’s budget.  Note that FY 2012 begins on October 1, 2011

http://www.obpa.usda.gov/budsum/FY12budsum.pdf
page 84
Wildlife Services:
Wildlife Damage Management

2010 enacted $79 million
2011 Estimate $79 million
2012 Budget $69 million.  Ask for zero, RM

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 »

An Excerpt from “Wolfer: A Memoir”

Here is an excerpt from Carter Niemeyer’s “Wolfer,” a book that is generating a lot of thought and discussion-

From New West. An Excerpt from “Wolfer: A Memoir.” By Carter Niemeyer.

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 »

Plan to ban trapping near residential areas in Washoe is rejected

Unbelievably the plan was opposed by Wildlife Services.

Plan to ban trapping near residential areas in Washoe is rejected
The Reno Gazette-Journal.

Feds Can Withhold GPS Data on Wolf Attacks

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 !!

Reminder: Comments due today on Wildlife Services Idaho Wolf EA.

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

The Wildlife Services issued an Environmental Assessment at the beginning of August. Today is the last day to comment on the EA which calls for killing pups which have been orphaned by their control actions, sterilization of wolves, and increased killing of wolves in response to livestock depredations.

Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation have submitted comments on the EA which you can read here:
WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Comments on Gray Wolf Damage Managment in ID Draft EA

Here is the post I made earlier in the month:

Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho Fish and Game/Wildlife Services targets wolf and her 7 pups 8 months after last depredation.

Blue Bunch Pack near McCall and New Meadows hasn’t killed livestock since October and all other members have been killed

IDFG Director Cal Groen & Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter

It has been nearly 8 months since any member of southwest Idaho’s Blue Bunch Pack killed any livestock yet, on March, 16, members of the Blue Bunch Pack were killed by Wildlife Services under an order that has apparently extended to persist to this day.

As far as anyone knows there is only the collared alpha female tending 7 wolf pups in the mountains to the west of McCall, Idaho and the Idaho Fish and Game wants them dead. This, even though there is a standing policy memo in place which extends “the effective period for take orders by USDA Wildlife Services (WS) and kill permits (livestock owners) from 45 to 60 days following the most recent depredation incident” which, in this case, was October 2009. There have been no depredations since. The memo also authorizes “additional WS wolf removals and extended kill permits based on recurring incidents or chronic history of the wolf pack involved”.

It appears that this is how the IDFG plans on managing wolves into the foreseeable future. They plan on carrying out heavy handed control even long after any depredations on livestock have occurred. This means that any pack that has been deemed a chronically depredating pack will be killed even if they haven’t preyed on livestock for a long period of time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho April Wolf Report released

IDFG/Wildlife Services’ war on wolves has begun. 42 wolves killed for 23 depredations.

The monthly update from IDFG, which contains little useful or timely information, has been released for the month of April. It appears from the numbers that Wildlife Services has been given the permission to conduct extensive revenge killings on behalf of livestock producers.

I wonder how much the number has risen in the last month as there have been reports of Wildlife Services planes in the Wood River Valley, Salmon area, and the Boise Foothills this month. I have been told that Wildlife Services has put orange collars on wolves in an attempt to make them easier to spot from the air, in turn, making it easier to avoid killing the “Judas” wolf. In one instance they accidentally shot this wolf so the remaining wolves will be harder to “control”. I guess the lazy, expensive way of managing wolves didn’t work out so well 😉

Idaho Wolf Management Progress Report April 2010

YEAR Depredations1 Wolf Mortality
Cattle Sheep Dogs Total WS2 10j / 36-11073 Other 4 Hunter Harvest Total
2003 7 130 3 140 7 0 8 15
2004 19 176 4 199 17 0 21 38
2005 29 166 12 207 24 3 16 43
2006 41 237 4 282 35 7 19 61
2007 57 211 10 278 43 7 27 77
2008 104 215 14 333 94 14 45 153
2009 76 295 14 385 87 6 45 135 273
2010 (1/1 – 4/30) 17 6 0 23 36 6 5 46 93

1 Includes only confirmed wolf depredations of cattle, sheep, and dogs that resulted in death or injury.
2 Wolves taken by USDA Wildlife Services in response to depredation on livestock.
3 Authorized take under 10j, or legal take after delisting under state law for protection of stock and dogs (Idaho Code 361107).
4 Other includes of mortalities of unknown cause, documented natural mortality, collisions with automobiles, and illegal
take.

3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated

Big Hole Valley will be empty of wolves after control actions finish.

The rancher who closed his land to public hunting will get his way once all of the wolves in the Big hole Valley are killed.

3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated.
By Nick Gevock, Montana Standard

The Problem with Wildlife Services

The leaders in the war on wolves

When was the last time you heard about Wildlife Services talking about non-lethal methods of preventing livestock losses to wolves? The only place in Idaho that this is practiced is with the sheep passing through the Wood River Valley each year and by Lava Lake Land and Livestock but nowhere else has it even been talked about.  In their annual reports they talk about how they want greater latitude to kill more wolves rather than try to avoid conflicts in the first place.

The Problem with Wildlife Services.
Switchboard, from NRDC :: Andrew Wetzler

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

Montana Allows Unfettered Killing of Wolves by Wildlife Services

“Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites.”

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

This is about the worst scenario for wolves of Montana that could be concocted by the state, especially while the decision to delist them is being considered in the courts. This nudges wolves even closer to a condition where the killing by a Federal agency becomes entirely unregulated. These conditions resemble those in place when wolves were eradicated in the first place. For those who think that Montana has a better management plan than the other states, think again.

This sets up a situation whereby Wildlife Services may kill an entire pack of wolves for killing a single sick cow or sheep left out on the landscape, a circumstance often documented by those who are watching. This does, however, put a greater responsibility on the agency that has actually made the call on how these situations are handled. Wildlife Services can no longer claim that FWP made the call on how the situation was handled when things go awry.

At the same time, livestock producers who use public lands have no requirements to do anything to avoid such circumstances.  The removal of livestock carcasses that have died natural deaths, or the removal of sick animals, is not required as part of the authorization to graze on public lands.  Non-lethal methods which have been demonstrated to be effective deterrents against livestock depredations are not required.  These poor livestock husbandry practices will continue and be rewarded by livestock compensation programs in place and being proposed by the government.

Will this action influence Judge Malloy’s decision on whether to remand the decision to delist wolves back to the USFWS?  Will Ed Bangs see this as a reason to change his decision?  Time will tell.

Too many wolves: FWP gives wildlife agents more authority to kill problem predators
By EVE BYRON Helena Independent Record

Mont. giving more authority to kill problem wolves
Associated Press

The 2009 Idaho Wildlife Services Report

From Mark Collinge

“The attached report summarizes information regarding wolf management activities conducted by the Idaho Wildlife Services (WS) program in Federal fiscal year 2009, covering the period from October1, 2008 – September 30, 2009. If you have questions regarding any of the information in this report, please contact the Idaho WS State Office.”

ID WS FY 2009 Wolf Report.pdf

Mark Collinge
State Director
APHIS Wildlife Services
9134 W. Blackeagle Drive
Boise, ID 83709
Phone (208) 378-5077
Fax (208) 378-5349
mark.d.collinge@aphis.usda.gov

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

WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Litigates Big to Protect Wolves in Central Idaho

~ by Jon Marvel

Jon Marvel
Friends,
On December 31, 2009 Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation welcomed the New Year by filing litigation in federal court challenging the federal government’s mismanagement of public lands and wolves in Central Idaho.

Read the Associated Press article :

Groups Sue to End Idaho wilderness copter landings – John Miller, AP 1/06/10

Sawtooth Mountains, photo: Lynne Stone

Sawtooth Mountains - Sawtooth National Recreation Area © Lynne Stone

This important litigation aims to protect Idaho wolves by asking a federal court to halt mismanagement in three key ways :

Read the rest of this entry »

Ravens ‘boom’ around county

Article shows typical livestock owners hatred of any non-commercial animal-

Crows, ravens and magpies (corvids) in large populations are often the result of a disturbed environment. They are the smartest of birds. Like humans, they learn fast and thrive in changed circumstances, pushing out species that need a more stable environment.

This article in the Sublette Examiner (Pinedale, Wyoming) shows a typical hostility to them. These livestock people should look at their own practices if they don’t like the large number of ravens.

As for myself, me and my buddies used to shoot magpies when we were teenagers. There was no reason.  A friend said “they’re bad for farmers, and there’s a bounty on them.” We cut off a bunch of their heads, but could never figure out how to collect our damn nickel for each.

Now, I feel stupid for shooting birds that were probably smarter than some people (sarcastic exaggeration). Fortunately, now you can’t legally just shoot them (as the article bemoans). Of course, our old friends at the agency for wildlife killing can poison them.

Ravens ‘boom’ around county. By Mari Muzzi. Sublette Examiner.

More about the Thanksgiving Wolf Massacre of the Basin Butte Pack

Alpha female’s body retrieved

Last week I received a fundraising email from Living With Wolves, a 501c3 non-profit group run by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who’s mission is “dedicated to raising awareness about the social nature of wolves, their importance to healthy ecosystems, threats to their survival and the essential actions people can take to help save wolves”. In the email was a story about the massacre of the Basin Butte Pack over Thanksgiving which shed some light on the aftermath of the incident. I asked them to put this on their website so that I could post it here.

Warning there are graphic images of a dead wolf.

The Thanksgiving Wolf Massacre
Living With Wolves

Update: Lynne Stone writes this:

I was part of the “recovery” team on Dec. 11th that found B171 Alpha Fe in Goat Creek Meadows in the Sawtooth Wilderness. I put my wolf tag on her, hoping that one less wolf would be killed in the Sawtooth Zone. I phoned the IDFG wolf kill number and reported it. Several days later I called local IDFG to “process her”.

Unfortunately, IDFG took her away from me, saying that any wolf killed by Wildlife Services is property of the state. IDFG has not heard the end of this yet. Alpha Fe is in Jerome. I am filing state records request every few days to know what IDFG has planned for her … if I can’t get her back (lawyers are being consulted since WS left her in the woods, not wanting her), then maybe eventually she will go to auction. She was a magnificent, beautiful wolf, even when the life had gone out of her. I am so heartsick over this. I tried for four years to keep this pack alive and it’s a miracle they lasted as long as they did – due to the hatred of wolves of Challis ranchers who run a sloppy cattle business near Stanley from June to Nov. Read the rest of this entry »