Oregon: USFWS issues kill order for 2 Imnaha Pack wolves

Kill order, called “retribution”-

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

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

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

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

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

Judge’s ruling could threaten state’s ability to kill wolves

This is a very important case

Judge Molloy has issued a order asking the defendants and plaintiffs why the 10(j) lawsuit “should not be dismissed as moot due to the absence of a population meeting the statutory requirements for 10(j) status.”

If the lawsuit is dismissed wolves in all of the Northern Rockies could lose their status as an experimental, non-essential population or 10(j) status and receive full protection under the Endangered Species Act.  This would be because wolves from the Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone populations have bred with those in the Northern Idaho/Northwest Montana population which came from Canada on their own and enjoy full protection of the ESA because they are not part of the 10(j) population.  To receive 10(j) status, a population must be “wholly separate geographically from nonexperimental populations of the same species.”.

This would surely heat up the debate about wolves and would make it much more difficult to kill wolves for protection of ungulates and livestock in all areas where wolves exist in the Northern Rockies. This would also change the whole dynamic at play with Wyoming’s intransigence. If wolves remain listed in Wyoming and this lawsuit is dismissed then wolves there would be much more difficult to kill. This would provide ample motivation for Wyoming to come up with a management plan that is acceptable to the USFWS.

As soon as we get a copy of the order we will post it.

Judge’s ruling could threaten state’s ability to kill wolves
Lewiston Morning Tribune.

Judge’s ruling could put new limits on wolf hunts
Associated Press

Oregon ranchers hit by rustlers finding a surprise this winter: returning cows

One of the problems with Christopher Columbus style ranching.

Good animal husbandry by the "original stewards of the land" © Ken Cole

Good animal husbandry by the "original stewards of the land" © Ken Cole

You put them out in the spring then “discover” them in the winter.

Poor animal husbandry in remote areas can lead to all kinds of problems for ranchers, cattle, wildlife, and habitat alike. It’s just one reason that these Great Basin desert areas are unsuitable for cattle grazing in the first place. It’s a desert and cattle grazing requires a huge amount of land just to support one cow. There often isn’t enough water for the cattle and the plants and landscape of the Great Basin did not evolve with large ungulates like bison or cattle so they are easily damaged by the presence of cattle.

Here, the ranchers are complaining about rustlers. This is probably a widespread problem throughout the arid West but, as you can see from the article, the ranchers are reporting sightings of wolves in the area. I’m sure that once any sighting is confirmed the hysteria will quickly focus on wolves rather than rustlers as a cause for their woes.

Oregon ranchers hit by rustlers finding a surprise this winter: returning cows.
By Richard Cockle – The Oregonian

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 »

Living with Wolves: An Oregon Field Guide Special

Slow progress for Oregon’s wolves

Oregon Field Guide recently broadcast a special about Oregon’s wolves and how they are dealing with people and how people are dealing with them. It has been a tough road for the wolves there and many wolves have been killed by the government on behalf of livestock interests and by poachers. One of the biggest difficulties faced by the wolves is the presence of livestock and the sense of entitlement felt by ranchers who think they deserve a predator free landscape.

Living with Wolves: An Oregon Field Guide Special
Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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.

Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. 9-27 through 10-1

Latest report shows NO association between number of wolves in Wyoming and the number of livestock depredations-

Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, 2010

Although the report makes no mention of this, the report includes detailed graphs of wolf population and livestock losses to wolves over the years. Look at figure 1 in the report.  If you take out one exceptional data point (a large sheep depredation in the Bighorn Mountains in 2009), there is no association between wolf numbers and depredations numbers since 2006. There was a trend until that time.

This is important because we hear from USFWS and others something like this Ad nauseum, “The good locations for wolves are all taken. As the population of wolves expands, conflicts with livestock will increase and at an accelerating rate.” [note that this not a actual quote, but a summation of many quotes].

Posted in Wolves, Wolves and Livestock, Wyoming, Wyoming wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. 9-27 through 10-1