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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montana Denied Permission to Hunt Gray Wolves

No Montana “conservation hunt” on wolves-

It looks like the USFWS saw through Montana’s notion of having a sport hunt on wolves under the guise of a “conservation hunt”. They said no.

Montana – Permission Denied to Hunt Gray Wolves. Associated Press in the New York Times

Longer version:

Federal officials deny Montana request to hold a ‘conservation hunt’ for endangered wolves.
Canadian Business Online

Even longer version:

Federal officials deny Montana wolf hunt request.
BusinessWeek

Posted in Montana wolves, wolf hunt, Wolves. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Montana Denied Permission to Hunt Gray Wolves

Montana FWP and Idaho Fish and Game submit wolf reduction proposals

Idaho and Montana have submitted proposals to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for approval to kill up to 186 wolves in Montana and up to 80% of the estimated 76 wolves in Idaho’s Lolo hunting zones.

Here is the IDFG proposal:

IDFG proposes an adaptive strategy to reduce the wolf population in the Lolo Zone. Wolves will be removed to manage for a minimum of 20 to 30 wolves in 3 to 5 packs. The level of removal will be dependent on pre-treatment wolf abundance. Using the minimum estimated number of 76 wolves in the Lolo Zone at the end of 2009 (Mack et al. 2010), a minimum of 40 to 50 wolves would be lethally removed during the first year. Removal during subsequent years would be lower, but variable, depending on wolf abundance. However, IDFG will maintain a minimum of 20 to 30 wolves annually in the Lolo Zone for a period of 5 years.

We’ve covered the Lolo wolf issue in detail over the last several years.
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Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought

Proposed Montana wolf hunt, now on hold, would have significantly reduced state’s wolf population-

Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought. By Virginia Morell. Science Insider. Link is now fixed!

Here is the actual scientific paper. Meta-Analysis of Relationships between Human Offtake, Total Mortality and Population Dynamics of Gray Wolves (Canis lupus). By Scott Creel*, Jay J. Rotella
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.

We have been discussing this all day under another thread, but it is important to post this story.

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It’s unreasonable to except that there won’t be future wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies, despite the current count imposed relisting of the gray wolf.  However, this article demonstrates that Montana and Idaho’s wolf hunting plants for 2010 (which would have already been underway) would have significantly reduced the wolf population. Idaho was honest about their intention to reduce the population. Montana argued that a hunt of that size was needed merely to keep the current population from growing, and that was about all it would really do.

Montana state officials defend wolf appeal

Delisting could take years

Even if the states win an appeal of Malloy’s wolf decision it may take years before the other issues in the case are resolved. The legislatures of the respective states have only committed to maintaing a population of 300 wolves total. Regardless of the commitment of the game agencies the legislatures could, and likely would, tell them they must manage for the minimum number of wolves.

State officials defend appeal.
Great Falls Tribune

FWP takes heat over appeal on wolf ruling
Helena Independent Record

State scrambling to revive wolf hunt

…..and GUT the Endangered Species Act.
The details of the overreach.

Wolf © Ken Cole

The States are asking their congressional delegations to GUT the Endangered Species Act by changing the language of the Act so that it would allow species to be delisted based on state boundaries. In other words, it would allow the USFWS to use arbitrary, political rationalizations to decide when and where species can receive protection or to incrementally list or delist populations using rationalizations that are not based on the “best available science”. The ramifications of this are pretty profound and conservation groups should take notice of this. As the comments of the Montana FWP commissioners shows, they are not talking just about wolves but about all species.

“Changing the Endangered Species Act sounds like a tough, uphill job, but it’s important when you look at other species like grizzlies and sage grouse,” said Commissioner Dan Vermillion. “Montana has done a good job managing wildlife and we need to make sure we are not penalized (because of other states’ actions).”

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USFWS thinking on wolves after the recent court decision

My personal opinion is that moderate groups could sit down and work out a new wolf delisting plan. Of course, this would require the state governments to change their wolf management plans if they want to participate in wolf management. Unfortunately, state politicians are probably not among moderates, especially with an election coming up.

Questions and Answers from USFWS