Media stories about wolves have become more negative

JB’s research shows wolf stories are most negative in places where they are just beginning to colonize-

Our own JB (Jeremy T. Bruskotter) and colleagues have just had their article “Attitudes Toward Wolves in the United States and Canada: A Content Analysis of the Print News Media, 1999-2008” published in the refereed Journal, Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

Here is a n news story about it stressing the Montana angle, although the data was gathered from all over. Wolf Story Time: Researchers Measure Views in MT News. Public News Service.

“Bruskotter notes there are some who argue that the views contained in news stories mirror public opinion, but he points out that separate public opinion research doesn’t support that claim. He believes no matter what the views portrayed in the news coverage, they affect public opinion.”

Here is a brief summary of the study’s findings (beyond those reported in the article above).  The summary is written by JB.

The state of Idaho is managing wolves without any authority

The 2006 Memorandum of Agreement has EXPIRED.

The State of Idaho and Wildlife Services have been operating outside of the law since relisting has occurred. It appears that the State of Idaho has no management authority over wolves now that they have been re-listed under the ESA. This is evidenced by the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Secretary of Interior and the State of Idaho dated January 5, 2006 which hands over lead management authority over wolves to the State of Idaho. This agreement has expired. In addition, wolves have been relisted, and there is no valid section 10j MOA existing, at least which has been made public, which grants the State of Idaho management authority over wolves.

Update late 9/28. By Ralph Maughan. Today I called Ed Bangs about this. We had a brief conversation. He said that yes the MOA had expired, but the whole thing had been taken care of. He asked me to call Brian Kelly of USFWS in Boise for the “whole spiel.”  Brian Ertz called Kelly’s office a number of times, but Kelly did not answer, nor call back. So we are yet to gain any information.

Update 9/29.  By Ken Cole

I spoke to Brian Kelly, the new state State Supervisor Of Idaho USFWS Office, today about the issue at hand and he confirmed that there is no MOA but that the 2005 10(j) rule covers them and designates Idaho management authority. From the language I found on page 1291 of the 2005 10(j) rule I don’t see anything which does this. Essentially this says that an MOA with the Secretary of the DOI allows the state to manage wolves but the MOA has expired.

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/2005_10j/10jFR01052005.pdf

Response 3–3: The completion of an MOA with the Secretary of the DOI which is consistent with this rule allows a State or Tribe to take the lead in wolf management, to become ‘‘designated agent(s),’’ and to implement all parts of its approved wolf management plan that are consistent with this rule. This includes issuing written authorization for take, and making all decisions regarding implementation of the State or Tribal plan consistent with this rule. Under the MOA process, the Service will annually review the States’ and Tribes’ implementation of their plans to ensure compliance with this rule and to ensure the wolf population remains above recovery levels. States and Tribes also can become ‘‘designated agent(s)’’ and implement all or selected portions of this rule by entering into a cooperative agreement with the Service.

Furthermore, Section 6 of the ESA indicates that the DOI may enter in to a cooperative agreement with the states but management authority rests with, in this case, the USFWS otherwise.

Simply having an approved management plan is not adequate to grant a state lead management authority, an MOA is required.

From the ID Wolf 10j MOA FINAL_10506:

V. PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE

This agreement is effective through March 2010, unless terminated or wolves are delisted. This agreement may be terminated by either party after 90 days written notice in accordance with the 10(j) rule.

From our reading of the Endangered Species Act, it appears that such an agreement is required before the states can participate in management of an experimental, non-essential endangered species and, without such an agreement, the State of Idaho has no authority to manage wolves now that they are back on the Endangered Species list as section 10(j) animals.

Since relisting has occurred, there have been at least 4 instances whereby the IDFG has issued control orders, without apparent management authority, which have resulted in the death of at least 6 wolves.  There may have been many more because it is hard to get these numbers since the IDFG does not release information about its wolf management very often and hasn’t done so since June of this year.

Recently Governor Otter announced that he would hand back authority to manage wolves back to the USFWS if there wasn’t a new agreement by October 7 of this year. But, is it his to hand back?

Is the State of Idaho and the US Fish and Wildlife Service aware of this? Well, during the last meeting of the IDFG commissioners the subject of the expired MOA came up.  This shows that they are well aware of this lack of authority but there seems to be no attempt at clarifying any interim agreement while a new MOA is being negotiated. In the meantime the IDFG seems to be shooting from the hip and issuing control orders without legal authority.

It should be of concern when the government acts arbitrarily and it should be of concern to reasonable people who believe in the rule of law.

There were wolves in Montana before the reintroduction

Latest “shocker” from anti-wolf is no shock at all-

The anti-wolf folks are always coming up with new charges, which generally just show they haven’t been paying attention.

The latest is that there were wolves in Montana prior to the reintroduction in Idaho and Yellowstone!!!!

This is true, but it is not some hidden conspiracy. The fact has been discussed in numerous books and articles, and USFWS duly reported the number of Montana wolves and location of these wolves each year in its annual reports.

Here are the figures taken from their annual reports:

1979 = 2 wolves; 1980 = 1; 1981 = 2; 1982 = 8; 1983 = 6 1984 = 6; 1985 = 13; 1986 =15; 1987 = 10; 1988 = 14; 1989 = 12; 1990 = 33; 1991 = 29 1992= 41; 1993 = 55; 1994 = 48;   reintroduction 1995 = 66

Oddly enough after reintroduction, the numbers stagnated for quite a while. For example, there were only 64 wolves in 2000.

It’s reasonable to assume that without reintroduction, wolves would have naturally reestablished themselves in most of Montana, but migration would have been slow with a lot of wolves up north before they made it to Yellowstone and Wyoming. Because these wolves were fully “endangered,” rules governing them would have been a lot more strict than with those that were finally reintroduced in 1995.

Tests offer no proof of a wolf pack living in Colorado.

No wolf DNA found in suspected wolf scat.

The claims that a wolf pack has been living on a large ranch have been seen with skepticism by some.  It appears evidence, other than sightings of an individual, indicates that there is no pack present.

It doesn’t help that every wolf that ventures to the southern part of Wyoming is killed either.

Tests offer no proof of a wolf pack living in Colorado.
The Denver Post.

Wolf pups slain after packs kill livestock

More on the recent killing of pups in Wyoming

The USFWS is effectively keeping wolves from dispersing into Colorado and Utah with its heavy-handed approach.

Wolf pups slain after packs kill livestock.
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr. Jackson Hole News & Guide

Biologist Studies Wolves’ Possible Return to Colorado

Recent Colorado wolf sightings still not confirmed.

This is an interesting story about the possible return of wolves to Colorado. I’ve heard great skepticism about the earlier reports of evidence of breeding on or near the large ranch in northwest Colorado but it may be possible that there is an individual wolf present there. Results of the evidence is still pending.

Biologist Studies Wolves’ Possible Return to Colorado.
KUNC

Mangy Druid wolf shot south of Butte, MT

Druid 690F shot by rancher south of Butte-

She was sick and beaten up by attacks from other wolves. She was trying for some livestock.

Butte, of course, is quite a distance from Yellowstone Park.

Yellowstone Park wolf killed near Butte. By Nick Gevock. Montana Standard