PBS Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone

If you can, watch this wonderful presentation by PBS Nature series called “Christmas in Yellowstone” about wildlife and one of the U.S. most famous parks. It has breathtaking scenery and wonderful accounts of animals in the wild. Hopefully, it will remind viewers of all that’s at stake relative to the plight of our LIVING natural resources in the U.S. and how some have lost protection and are facing ill managed plans by state agencies.

Watching the film, it’s easy to see and understand better that nature balances itself. These ecosystems should be preserved and protected for generations to come. I can’t imagine a world without wonderful places like this.

Link to the schedule for this PBS presentation in your area: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/schedule/.

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Yellowstone Wolves Returned to Endangered Species List

As Idaho wildlife officials announced earlier they would allow trapping and the use of electronic calls in this year’s wolf hunt to begin in the fall, a U.S. District court overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the endangered species list. On August 5th, the court sided with Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation organizations that sued to restore federal protections.

http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_

folder/2010/08_05_2010_federal_protections_restored_for_northern_rockies_wolves.php.

It is good to know that all the petitions, emails, donations, and phone calls paid off finally. But it’s too bad so many were killed before this could happen. I’m certainly glad the trapping was stopped. Aerial killing needs to be halted next.

According to International Business Times:

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, sitting in Missoula, MT, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred when it delisted the gray wolf in the two states.

Malloy said that delisting the wolf must be a decision based on biological factors, not political ones, and must include the entire Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population, not just selected parts.

Of course Idaho and Montana plan to appeal the ruling.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/42028/20100809/wolves-yellowstone.htm.

Defenders of Wildlife stated:

[This] ruling makes it clear that subdividing a wild population based on political boundaries rather than science violates the Endangered Species Act.

And

Secretary Salazar’s support of the Bush administration’s proposal to remove protections for wolves was premature and clearly inconsistent with the law. Had the federal government prevailed in the lawsuit, real wolf recovery would have been set back for perhaps decades. Worse, the precedent of the federal government making listing and delisting decisions for endangered species based upon political boundaries rather than science would have crippled the Interior Department’s future management of the Endangered Species Act to the detriment of many species. The faulty effort by the administration to delist has set back legitimate delisting by some time.

http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_folder/2010/08_05_2010_federal_protections_restored_for_northern_rockies_wolves.php.

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It’s All About Money When it Comes to Hunting Wolves in Michigan

Comments are open to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding hunting gray wolves in Michigan. The fear mongering about wolves is beginning in Michigan. The papers report, “A few have been spotted in the lower peninsula.” So is MI DNR suggesting that we hunt wolves to keep them out of the lower peninsula? The implication that the wolves will wreak havoc with farm animals, kill dogs and cats, which would be more than likely coyotes, is purposely misleading. Since there are a little over 4,000 wolves in the combined western Great Lakes, to think there are only a few in the LP is ludicrous. Michigan’s own 50-year study of predator/prey behavior on Isle Royale confirms a direct ratio between wolves and moose. Michigan’s DNR should surely know this. Michigan’s LP is full of deer. So there are probably more than a few wolves in the LP that have been there all along without incident.

http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/defenders_magazine/fall
_2009/royale_challenge.php
.

A 3-year USDA study I’ve presented below is pretty hard to dismiss. It shows very little predation of cattle by radio collared wolves living around the perimeter of cattle fields. The argument that there are far more wolves than when the study took place in 98 is redundant. Many studies show that wolves are territorial. Wolves keep populations of coyotes down because of it. Many organizations and wolf researcher Sean Ellis report that wolves honor each other’s territory, so the likelihood that wolf packs would have increased around that same cattle field today is unlikely.

I doubt MI DNR truly has a handle on wolf numbers since they are just now spotting wolves in the LP. I’ve noticed parvo virus is seldom in the conversation about wolf populations. Parvo can and has taken up to 25% of all wolf pups periodically and was introduced by dogs/pets, another horrible experience we’ve given to wolves that greatly reduces their numbers. Has MI DNR reported about parvo among wolves at all?

There isn’t any real science behind this proposed hunt if you look at all the studies of wolves. It’s about the sport hunting industry and money. Michigan needs money. What science looks to cull a species that just came off the Endangered List, which means danger of extinction, especially when a major premise in court battles over wolves is premature delisting? The wolves stay on the list until their numbers are sustainable and right away they need to be culled? That’s illogical and cruel. This is about the big sport hunting lobby again.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance or USSA has advised that “it is preparing comment supporting Michigan and Wisconsin’s effort to gain the ability to manage wolves that are killing PETS, INCLUDING HUNTING DOGS, AND ALSO LIVESTOCK. What did I tell ya? The sport hunting industry is sounding the alarm and creating a facade of need. They like to promote Teddy Roosevelt’s “conservation through hunting” when it is nothing but lobbying for the right to kill anything, a far cry from Teddy’s idea of conserving so to hunt that which is bountiful and plentiful. The ability to hunt anything, endangered, struggling, near extinction, exotic, trapped in a fenced area/canned, baiting, etc., is what the USSA and the like donate the really big money to for conservation.

According to HSUS:

The USSA supports the trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species.

The USSA has supported amending the Marine Mammal Protection Act to provide for the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada.

The USSA fiercely opposes federal legislation to halt the shooting of tame, exotic animals in fenced enclosures or CANNED HUNTS.

The USSA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing efforts to limit bear baiting.

The USSA has opposed the creation of any new national parks that restrict hunting, even though national parks—from Yellowstone to Yosemite to the Everglades—have long restricted the hunting of wildlife, both for the benefit of wildlife and the public safety of visitors.

The Ohio-based USSA has led the charge to open sport hunting seasons on mourning doves. Michigan voters finally ended that quest showing that the general public does not condone sport/trophy hunting.

http://www.hsus.org/wildlife_abuse/campaigns/ussa/us_sportsmens
_alliance.html
.

Conservation by its very definition is an occurrence of improvement by virtue of preventing loss or injury or other change. Hunting on the other hand is the pursuit and killing or capture of wild animals regarded as sport. The two don’t mix and never have. Yet, conservation through hunting ideology is misconstrued by the general public to mean much needed management that improves the species somehow. The best creature at doing that is the wolf that serves to prey on the unguarded young or the feeble (through age and sickness), yet we seek to eliminate wolves and use man for management instead. Man by contrast as a predator seeks the biggest and best for trophy. It’s hardly the way to improve the health and well being of a species taking the very best. So sport/trophy hunting has no valid scientific or natural value for any species including wolves.

Hunting across the nation is down, a real minority at 5-7% of the population. Although more people view hunting as favorable, a drastic drop in favorability happens when it’s sport or trophy hunting. So overall hunting to most Americans is all right if it serves a real purpose. This is where fear mongering about wolves and the misconception of conservation through hunting becomes real handy to spread around.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07182/798452-358.stm.

So when hunters claim they pay for “conservation” by buying hunting licenses, duck stamps, etc., the relatively small amount each hunter pays does not cover the cost of hunting programs or game warden salaries. The public lands many hunters use are supported by taxpayers. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs, which benefit hunters, get most of their funds from general tax revenues, not hunting fees. Funds benefiting “non-game” species are scarce. Hunters kill more animals than recorded tallies indicate. It is estimated that, for every animal a hunter kills and recovers, at least two wounded but unrecovered animals die slowly and painfully of blood loss, infection, or starvation. Those who don’t die often suffer from disabling injuries,” according to In Defense of Animals or IDA. Also, culling animals that mate for life like wolves is cruel. It fractures packs/families, and by doing so seeks to destroy more wolves than the one that is killed, like the abadoned wolf pup pictured below. It’s hardly scientific to indiscriminantly kill wolves.

If taxpayers pay for much of the ground being hunted, big, big donations by the wealthy minority of trophy hunters is more or less buying the right to hunt anything and everything without basis.

http://www.idausa.org/facts/hunting.html

Michigan’s UP has the greatest concentration of wolves. According to Defenders of Wildlife, “livestock owners in the western Great Lakes region are searching for ways to share the landscape with this top-level carnivore. Although livestock losses to wolves are rare (less than 1 percent of livestock losses are caused by wolves), even one loss to a farmer can be a financial burden.”

Sharing the landscape can be accomplished. Michigan farms experiencing conflicts with wolves have had great results using Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs—no predation at all. The use of fladry works, bright red/orange flags on a thin rope. The movement scares wolves. There are proven methods to live together peacefully with nature, especially when predation is so low.

http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/defenders_magazine/fall_2009/
royale_challenge.php
.

And if a loss to livestock does occur how much of a financial burden is it?

More livestock subsidies by the Federal Government April 6, 2010 — Ken Cole.

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.”

One comment from a blogger: “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.”

Has MI DNR or USFWS bothered to advance any of the techniques above like providing and/or instructing farmers about the use of Great Pyrenees dogs, or fladry among the farmers in the Upper Peninsula where wolf concentration is higher? Or does the DNR just want to shoot them—for the money?

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/more-livestock-subsidies-by-the-federal-government/.

It’s odd to me that the USFWS just received a million dollars annually for 5 years to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce predation by wolves that’s estimated to be only around 1% in this area, and then turns around an opens the subject of wolf hunts in Michigan for comment before wolves are ever off the Endangered List.

This new federal money is even more taxpayer dollars to avert hunting wolves. But then again maybe it isn’t enough compared to what USSA or some other huge sport hunting entity is offering?

I’m a little disgusted with our federal and state agencies who are not working on behalf of wildlife at all at this point under Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar. The Obama Administration pledged it would make decisions based on science. Wolves are being unscientifically singled out again because they are easy to demonize yet the wolf is part of Native American heritage no different than the eagle. In some native cultures, the wolf is part of their creation story, and/or regarded as a teacher of mankind. Imagine the fuss if we opened trophy hunting on eagles like we’re quick to do to wolves. Eagles are plentiful, and growing even larger. Look at the damage eagles cause:

Golden eagles are more likely to prey on livestock than are bald eagles. Both species readily feed on livestock carrion and carcasses left by foxes and coyotes, although some individuals prefer live prey to carrion. Eagles are efficient predators and can cause severe losses of young livestock, particularly where concentrations of eagles exist. Generally, they prey on young animals, primarily lambs and kids, although they are capable of killing adults. Eagles also take young deer and pronghorns, as well as some adults.

http://icwdm.org/handbook/birds/Eagles.asp.
.
Why aren’t we hunting eagles? Do we really know what kills livestock, cats, or dogs, if it’s even happening, or is it more profitable just to blame wolves? The USDA bothered to radio collar wolves to be sure who the culprit was when livestock were found dead.

Our tax money pays for the public lands, funding USFWS programs, and the current 5-year “demonstration project” to fund proactive, non-lethal activities and most taxpayers do not condone sport/trophy hunting . . Yet more credence seems to be given to the big hunting industry than the average American footing the bill, or the subject of hunting wolves in Michigan wouldn’t even be open for comment. This needs to stop. Michigan does not need to go the way of Idaho, or Wyoming where wolves have been ruthlessly slaughtered for sport and trophy with major events scheduled and promoted by the likes of Cabela’s.

http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/campaign.faces?siteId=3&campaign=DOWWolfHuntingDerbies.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2010/02/gray-wolves-of-yellowstone-getting-a-bad-deal-hunting-looks-to-be-for-sport/.

If people were more informed, wolves wouldn’t be under the gun. There is no solid reason for hunting them here or elsewhere. There is no evidence that the USFWS directed Michigan’s DNR to instruct farmers or those supposedly threatened by gray wolves with non-lethal deterrents or programs like it like it either. Our money pays for the USFWS to do that. Quite frankly there has been very little reported about wolf problems in Michigan until now when delisting wolves looks likely. Right off the Endangered List wolves are being targeted again in yet another state because they are easy to demonize.

Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign for vilification. ”
— Farley Mowat

READ THE USDA STUDY OF RADIO-COLLARED WOLVES:
ANDREAS S. CHAVEZ,1 Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
ERIC M. GESE,2 United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center,
Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA

Abstract

Wolves (Canis lupus) have expanded their distribution into areas of the midwest United States that have not had wolves for several decades. With recolonization of wolves into agricultural areas, there is increasing concern of wolf–livestock conflicts. To assess the risk wolves may pose to livestock, we initiated a 3-year study investigating the activity patterns, movements, habitat use, visitation to livestock pastures by wolves, and the occurrence of depredation events in an agricultural–wildland matrix in northwestern Minnesota, USA. From June 1997 to November 1999, we captured 23 wolves, including pups, from 3 packs; we radio collared 16 of these wolves. We tracked radioed wolves intensively on a 24-hour basis during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1998 and 1999. We found wolves passed directly through a pasture containing cattle on 28% of the nights of tracking; 58% and 95% of the wolf locations were _1 km and _5 km from a pasture, respectively. Space use of wolves showed that while they visited livestock pastures during the 24-hour tracking sessions, they apparently were passing through these pastures with cattle and not preying on livestock. When compared to random simulations of movements, wolves appeared to encounter livestock pastures randomly. Thirty percent of random movements passed directly through a pasture; 65% and 95% of random movements were within _1 km and _5 km of a pasture, respectively. Wolves were more active at night than during the day. Wolves avoided pastures during the day and visited pastures at night when depredations were most likely (i.e., human presence was low). Visitation of livestock pastures was not related to any discernible characteristics of the pastures (i.e., pasture size, cattle density, distance to human habitation, percent forest cover, index of deer abundance). However, pastures in which livestock were killed by wolves contained more cattle than pastures without depredations, but in 1998 only. While the risk of wolf predation on livestock was potentially high (wolves were within _1 km of a pasture on 58% of nights), few livestock were actually killed. During the 3-year study, only 8 animals (all young or vulnerable livestock) were depredated by wolves. Maintaining healthy wild prey populations, removing offending wolves that kill livestock, and encouraging effective and proper husbandry practices (e.g., disposal of carcasses) among livestock producers, should allow for the persistence of wolves in northwestern Minnesota, USA, while minimizing their impact to farmers in this agriculture–wildland matrix. (JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 70(4):1079–1086; 2006).

http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/15500/1/IND43998265.pdf.

This is a picture of unlikely animals friends. The wolf pup was abadoned and this male Rottweiler adopted it, cleaning and guarding the wolf pup. They live at Kisma Preserve in Maine. The two were inseparable playing together and howling at the moon in duet. The founder of the preserve, Heather Grierson, says the pup has been spending time with other wolves now to learn the ropes. Other photos like this appeared in the May 10th Woman’s World. They are adorable pictures, especially a chimp cradling a baby tiger cub, one of a set of twins adopted by the chimp.

Send comments against open trophy hunting to permitsR3ES@fws.gov

By regular mail to:
Regional Director
Attn: Peter Fasbender
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services
1 Federal Drive
Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056

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Gray Wolves of Yellowstone Getting a Bad Deal; Hunting Looks to be For Sport

The gray wolves of Yellowstone Park are being slaughtered for not other reason than sport hunting anymore. Montana originally claimed it was targeting wolves that preyed on livestock. I wrote a blog about a 3 year Dept. of Agriculture study of collared wolves that lived around the perimeter of cattle fields. Those wolves crossed those fields nightly. In 3 years time 8 cattle were found dead. Around 2.5 cows per year for multiple wolf packs is a pretty cheesy argument to be making to annihilate the wolves. As a matter of fact some radio collared wolves being studied by biologists were gunned down recently too.

Montana’s proclamation about purposefully targeting wolves was bull. Montana permitted wolf hunting in backcountry wilderness areas 6 weeks before opening its front ranges for cattle according to the NRDC. So a bunch of wolves that were minding their business staying far away from any cattle were gunned down anyway. And those wolves happened to be Yellowstone’s beloved Cottonwood Creek pack.

The NRDC got national media coverage for what they termed that “debacle.” Of course the gaming officials in those states were “shocked” that too many of the wrong wolves were killed. Wrong wolves? Like the NRDC said, “Wolf hunts should not be taking place at all right now.” Yet it looks like almost 40% of the entire population will be killed. Montana isn’t the only culprit.

I’ve posted the deer and elk populations per Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming via their respective government websites. There is no threat of a shortage. One state was over quota for either elk or deer. I blogged about the fact that Michigan has 4,000 of the critters with little problem. Livestock and wild game populations relative to too many wolves just doesn’t muster argument when we look at the facts. The wolves are being hunted for sport. The states hunting the wolves should just admit it.

If Wyoming doesn’t admit it, it’s going to look pretty bad using the lame excuse about wolves threatening game and cattle because BP and EnCana Oil and Gas in Wyoming displaced thousands of game out of their home/habitat, and cattle grazing ground with one of their largest oil and gas projects of 30,000 acres once known as “The Upper Green River Basin.” Not green anymore.

It wasn’t until after the companies were approached by local gov’t. and environmental groups about displacing wildlife, and ruining habitat, that the oil/gas companies wanted to set up a conservation area 20 MILES AWAY at Cottonwood Ranch. It’s working out well for some of the animals that were already migrating to that area but the jury is still out if what is being replaced in any way can make up for robbing that basin that was home to:

[A] major pronghorn migration corridor, sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and burrowing owls, and is used by local ranchers for grazing cattle. According to the Wyoming Outdoor Council, it is also the largest publicly-owned winter range for big game. Hundreds of thousands of moose, elk, and mule deer retreat to the valley during the snowy months.

See what I mean about unfair? Wolves are supposedly being hunted in Yellowstone because their numbers are 2.5 times less than the number of gray wolves in Michigan, and because wolves are supposedly indiscriminate killers of cattle and the game that sportsmen like to hunt. Yet we see here that it’s all right for oil and gas companies to abscond acres of “publicly-owned” habitat stressing populations of the very same game animals especially during brutal winter months. We expect them to just go elsewhere? The cattle that used to graze there are you know what out of luck too.

So there you have it, a double standard. The wolf loses now, and we eventually lose as a nation because Ghandi once said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” He’s not the only one that got it:

“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”
–Abraham Lincoln

“I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
–Abraham Lincoln

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
–Immanuel Kant

“Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace.”
–Albert Schweitzer

“If all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast, happens to the man.”
–Chief Seattle

These are only a few quotes. Look how old they are and how far we’ve gone in the opposite direction? We aerial hunt wolves and bear, have canned hunts, Internet hunting, horrible road side zoos, haze wild mustang horses and buffalo with helicopters, purposely poison wildlife in our parks, and our shelters are bulging with abandoned companions. “What happens to beast, happens to man…”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/science/jan-june09/wyoming_03-27.html.

https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1711&s_src=nrdchpa.

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Another Yellowstone Icon Dies in Wolf Slaughter

I wrote about Limpy the wolf when he was shot to death in a previous planned wolf hunt in Yellowstone that lasted briefly until it was halted. Limpy was a crippled wolf that many, many visitors to Yellowstone Park looked forward to catching a glimpse of when visiting.

I’ve written many blogs on the plight of one of native America’s icons, the gray wolf.
And now I’m writing about a really special wolf that was sniped down by rifle in the latest wolf slaughter in Yellowstone. Anyone who has ever owned more than one pet knows that pets are not all the same. We can replace them with look alikes, or the same breed, but seldom do we get that special personality back again. If you’ve ever owned a remarkably smart animal you know what I’m talking about. Somehow they transcend the animal/human experience. They connect and show emotion often so much so we view them as almost human. I truly believe there are exceptional animals in the wild that are the same.

The NRDC recently reported that Wolf 527 was among the wolves gunned down and that she originated from the Druid pack, “one of the best known wolf packs in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, the scene of numerous National Geographic and PBS documentaries.” Biologists and wolf watchers monitored the movements of the Druid pack for years and one of them KNEW 527. When I write that he KNEW the animal, it’s in the same sense I speak of the animals we’ve known that were exceptional and irreplaceable.

527 was a wolf that marched to the beat of a very different drummer. As a yearling, 527 left the Druids to join the Slough pack — where she quickly became the beta (second-in-command) female. Then in 2007, she and a male wolf set off to found their own pack — the Cottonwood Creek pack — where she became the alpha (first-in-command) female.

As a leader of the Cottonwood pack, 527 was known to be a master of survival strategies. While four other packs that inhabited the same area suffered dismal fates, her pack thrived. As her biographer recounts, “She was a genius wolf in her tactics. Strategy was her game and she was a master at it. She would return to feed her pups in the dark of night because she would not take the risk of crossing the road.”

But in the end, despite 527’s “unbelievable survival strategies,” this resilient wolf “was not able to outthink a rifle” and was killed on October 3 when Montana unleashed its first public wolf hunt in modern times.

Since the public hunts began, 156 wolves in the Northern Rockies have met 527’s fate. And over the next year, more than 500 wolves could be shot to death by hunters and government agents … reducing the region’s wolf population by a staggering 40 percent!

Wolf 527’s death has stirred a lot of dissent. If you go to NRDC’s website via the link at the bottom, the picture there of 527 is of a beautiful black wolf that could be any of those in the above video. Since this obituary went out to NRDC members thousands have written to Sec’y of the Interior Salazar to stop the Yellowstone wolf hunt. If you ever owned a special animal think of 527 and write to Salazar to stop the wolf hunts and return their protection.

When we read here that 500 gray wolves comprise almost 40% of all of the Yellowstone wolves being hunted then we know that collectively there weren’t even 1500 gray wolves in Yellowstone Park. Yellowstone Park is predominantly in Wyoming and only extends into Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone Park is 3,468 sq. miles and 2,219,789 acres. What is wrong with this picture when the western half of Michigan is nowhere near that vast an area but boasts over 4,000 gray wolves roaming freely? So far they haven’t eaten all the deer in Michigan. Deer are so prevalent they show up in the middle of towns. And Michigan has its fair share of farms with little to no altercations with wolves???

So it’s pretty evident there is no science behind the decision to hunt the gray wolves of Yellowstone. The fate of this beautiful animal has always been decided by the whim of man. We shipped them here not long ago, nurtured them, and allowed them the freedom to run and procreate. As visitors to the park we delighted in watching the wolf transplants. And Yellowstone Park rangers documented the benefit the wolves brought to the park. Many species of trees, plants, shrubs, and grasses that disappeared from overgrazing by elk and deer were thriving again. Wolves actually helped to alter the landscape of Yellowstone for the good not to mention the ability to relocate and disperse herds of elk and deer around the park so that they are better able to survive winters. Then during a presidency that had little regard for natural resources that weren’t oil, coal, or natural gas the tide turned for the wolf again and man decided to slaughter what it nurtured. We’re as dangerous as we are fickle.

The wolf hunts are a travesty for America. We hunted them to extinction before and didn’t learn our lesson. What’s happening right now belongs to the mentality of the 1800’s not the 21st century. I have to wonder where Salazar’s head is—oh that’s right it’s under a cowboy RANCHER’s hat. Salazar’s is an example of the conflict of interest we see too many times in public office as he neglects thousands of emails, phone calls, and petitions to stop the wolf hunt.

Tell Salazar to stop the wolf hunts: https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1643&autologin=true.

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The Plight of Wolves Scores a Failing Grade in Obama Administration; Where’s the Science?

I was looking at Earthjustice’ news magazine “In Brief” and ran across a chart that gave scores to Obama for undoing what George Bush did about major issues relative to the environment. The issues were greenhouse gases, roadless areas, the marbled murrelet (bird), mountaintop mining, wolves, hazardous waste, scientific consultation, snowmobiles, and California’s request to clamp down on vehicle emissions. Out of all of those issues scoring A’s to B+’s the lonely F went to WOLVES.

It is really apparent that wolves are being singled out, not worthy of attention from the Obama Administration. Look for yourself, Wolves really stick out on that long environmental “to do” list.
http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/obamas-progress.html?qp_source=homepage.

Why is it wolves have taken a back seat in this administration? Oh that’s right—Ken Salazar, Secy. of Interior and member of the Cattlemen’s Association. It’s a bad deal for the wolf, a Native American icon that our Secy. of Interior once again does not understand fully the good impact wolves have on our environment. There are species of trees, shrubs, and grasses reappearing in Yellowstone that were formerly decimated by grazing herds of wolf prey. Wolves have literally changed the landscape of Yellowstone for the good.

As Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, stated about our new Secretary of Interior:

As a Colorado rancher, landowner, and member of the Cattlemen’s Association, Secretary Salazar comes from the old school generation, where wolves are only seen as vicious animals that prey on livestock. They are not looked upon as an integral check-and-balance component of the natural world. We need a Secretary of Interior, who can make wildlife decisions based on science, not politics. That was a commitment made by President Obama, which does not translate into Ken Salazar’s premature and reckless de-listing of a species that will soon be targeted for a bloodbath.

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-5266-Seattle-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2009m6d7-Wildlife-coalition-will-battle-Salazar-to-save-gray-wolves-from-slaughter.

I think it’s pretty obvious that the Cattlemen’s Association has influenced Salazar far more than science-based facts about wolves. He allowed them to be delisted from the Endangered Species Act prematurely, and therefore exposed them to slaughter again. What was the sense of spending all the time and energy to reintroduce the gray wolf back to the Yellowstone area if their increase was cut short? The science that reintroduced them also produced viable numbers the wolf population needed to reach to be considered stable. Wolf populations never neared these numbers. As a matter of fact wolf populations in the Greater Rockies was down 25% in 2008 due to distemper, mange, and infighting.
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2009/01/yellowstone-national-parks-wolf-population-down-more-25-percent.

Bring back the science when it comes to America’s wildlife not the whims of special interest groups. If you care about what is happening to one of Native America’s greatest icons—the wolf, contact your reps and also support the reintroduced PAW (Protect America’s Wildlife) Act. The PAW Act will stop aerial killing of any animal for good. This Act needs to pass and soon as Alaska is planning yet another aerial killing season of both wolves and bears. Stop aerial hunting before it spreads to other states.

To sign a petition to support the PAW Act goto:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/477616584.

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Reason for Wolf Hunts in Rockies Doesn’t Hold Water to Michigan Wolf Study

Michigan has a lot of wolves—the most in the lower 48 states! Over 4,000 wolves live in the western Great Lakes region. Livestock owners in this area want to share the landscape with wolves. Their losses to wolves are rare only 1%. So who’s lying about livestock losses? Michigan or Idaho? Surely Idaho has as many deer, elk, and moose as Michigan, and livestock ranches and wolf packs share the area just the same. Heck Idaho has Yellowstone Park for the wolves to roam. So what’s wrong with this picture? Because from what I’ve read, the wolves of the Rockies are being hunted because of livestock losses and because as wolf numbers grow they supposedly pose a threat to deer and elk populations.

Michigan has a lot of deer! Cars hit them. They enter buildings. I recently watched a video where a deer waltzed through a diner, in the front door and out the back. So why aren’t 4,000 wolves wiping out our deer population?

The answer lies on Michigan’s Isle Royale, a 45-mile long island off the UP (Copper Harbor) in the western part of Lake Superior. According to an article by Heidi Ridgley of Defenders of Wildlife, “Isle Royale is the least visited National Park in the country.” But it is the lab where the longest ongoing wolf study is being conducted by biologists from Michigan Tech. The co-director of the wolf program at Michigan Tech, Rolf Peterson continues the work pioneered by Durward Allen in 1958, as an “uninterrupted study of a predator and its prey.” There is 51 years of expertise here involving the gray wolf and the moose of Isle Royale. This study produced facts that are inconsistent with the reason for hunting the Great Rockies’ wolves. Wolves prey predominantly on old and/or debilitated animals. And when the prey declines the wolf population also declines. It’s nature’s balance.

So if the Great Rockies’ wolves are as prolific as we’re lead to believe than Idaho’s deer and elk populations should be thriving—and are. That’s what I found to be true when I looked at the state stats of deer and elk populations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It simply is not true that the wolves threaten deer and elk populations at this point at all. So that leaves the rancher’s losses and we have to wonder about that reporting because it’s the same type of wolves, same ole cattle, just different states reporting very different loss statistics.

In the meantime, the latest wolf hunts will have detrimental affects on the gray wolf farther down the line than just this hunting season. Oh, the wolves will rebound eventually but fractured wolf pack families, and packs that are disjointed from other wolf packs do not survive well. The study on Isle Royale confirms that wolves will interbreed for survival. The biologists in this study have already found spine and hip deformities in the carcasses of dead wolves from interbreeding on Isle Royale where populations of wolves are endangered as global warming has had a horribly detrimental affect on their main prey, the moose.

The biologists have tracked the summer seasons on this island national park. There have been shorter winters almost every year since 1998 and it shows in the decline of moose populations on Isle Royale. In Minnesota where there is a lot of prairie and scattered trees that does not offer enough shade, “moose numbers have dropped from several thousand to 100 in recent years.” Moose need frigid climates. Frigid climates kill fleas and ticks, another horrible parasitic problem plaguing Isle Royale’s moose that I blogged about.

All I know is that the wolf hunts are political in origin. It’s got little to do with the poor wolf. Big hunting lobbyists were anxious for the wolf hunts and the NRA is never far behind them. They won for now. However, as stated in the Los Angeles Times and quoted in an article in discovermagazine.com ‘Judge Donald Molloy also wrote that the Fish and Wildlife Service, in continuing to list Wyoming wolves under the Endangered Species Act while delisting them in the two neighboring states, “has distinguished a natural population of wolves based on a political line, not the best available science.’

What I’m concerned with is man’s interference with natural balance. Suppose the wolves do interbreed more and more. Can there, will there eventually be wolves mentally impaired and unpredictable as interbred dogs? It gives a whole new meaning to the “Big Bad Wolf.”

Read the whole story about what’s happening up north in Isle Royale:
http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/defenders_magazine/fall_2009/royale_challenge.php.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/09/10/wolf-hunt-in-the-rockies-can-continue-judge-rules/comment-page-1/#comment-62547.

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Delisting Wolves Was Illegal?

After thoughtful deliberation, Federal Court Chief Judge Donald Molloy found that the Federal Government likely violated the law by removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, is off to a bad start, but then again no one in the conservation/animal world is too surprised. Salazar is a RANCHER. Although many ranchers in the west are adapting their routines in order to accommodate both wolves and bears in the region, many, many more view them as expendable.

Unfortunately, the same judge failed to issue an injunction to halt the hunts this year. According to ENS, the 13 conservation/animal groups that filed suit against Salazar said that they feared the hunts would “cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. They warn that the wolf hunts would allow the killing of the breeding alpha male and female wolves, disrupting wolf social groups and leaving pups more vulnerable.”

Idaho is allowed to kill 220 wolves and Montana 75 wolves. So how is this done fairly? It ends up being far more than 220 wolves in Idaho or 75 in Montana because of orphaned pups that won’t survive. At 4 to 7 pups on average per litter, 1000 wolves or more could perish in this seemingly small hunt. It’s not well known to the public either that over ¼ of wolf pups succumbed to parvo virus in the spring. So the wolves are taking a bigger hit than we think.

I’ve read the 3 year USDA study of radio collared wolves living around the perimeter of cattle fields and saw the scientific evidence that disputes wolves are just “cold blooded” killers. The wolves crossed the cattle fields nightly. In 3 years only 8 head of cattle disappeared and I’m sure the rancher was awarded money for those few head of cattle lost annually. There doesn’t seem to be as much science as politics in Salazar’s decision. The head of Defenders of Wildlife, one of the 13 groups thinks likewise. This new ruling by Judge Molloy should garner the interest of the Obama Administration relative to Salazar’s thoughtless decision. Hopefully, our wildlife populations will get a fair shake in the future.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2009/2009-09-09-091.asp

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Safari Club International Behind Policies That Interfere with Science and the Endangered Species Act

Most of us know by now that decisions in congress have little to do with our will and much to do with powerful deep pocket lobbyists. Safari Club International a U.S. organization of trophy hunters is one such group that contributes primarily to the Republican Party and ingratiated itself with the Bush Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services at that time. I’ve written before that it was a travesty of justice for animals when the second Bush Administration elected Matthew Hogan as the acting director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services when he was formerly a SCI lobbyist. That was indeed the fox tending the henhouse.

But the SCI is nothing more than rich trophy hunters that seek the heads and skins of any type of animal whether endangered or not. If they had their way they would be hunting polar bears. According to Michael Satchell, a consultant to the Humane Society of the U.S., “With the help of friendly members of Congress and officials in USFWS, SCI has consistently attempted to navigate around the intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and import once-banned trophies of endangered and threatened wildlife. Sometimes, the club has succeeded, sometimes not.”

It’s apparent SCI believes its hunting rights are above the law and works to make sure the law goes its way. And it did when the law to allow guns in our national parks was passed. This lovely little edict I wrote about was tucked inside a totally unrelated bill. I kept asking what good guns were inside a national park except to kill the animals that are supposed to be protected there, specifically wolves.

SCI saw it the same way. SCI just announced it will throw its money and power against any type of wolf protection in the courts, and help with planned wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies according to Defenders of Wildlife. Why is this not a surprise? SCI is behind Sarah Palin’s brutal attack on wolves and bears in Alaska. My guess is the plane she did not sell on Ebay, is now employed for some of these hunting ventures. SCI is still fighting for the right to kill the imperiled polar bears! Nice bunch of guys huh? You kinda want to float them out on a piece of ice and take pot shots at em and see how they like it.

As early as this fall hundreds of wolves are on the line. Pups as young as 5 months old can be targeted in hunts approved in Idaho. Of course SCI will be there with bells on.

The hunting and killing of animals, the Endangered Species Act, and the USFWS, should be lead by science and based on scientific approaches to wildlife management, not at the whim of wealthy trophy hunters contributing to members of congress. It appears our Dept. of Interior, and USFWS is continuing to follow the lead of the Bush Administration and its all out assault on our national treasures, the animals. Wolves are meant to live and thrive and maintain a natural balance within all sorts of our ecosystems. Because they do their job well, wolves are continuously the target of hunters who claim there won’t be enough to hunt. Taking out the wolves in our national parks will cause many of the ecosystems that began to return because of the wolves’ presence to diminish once again.

We’re so busy being a superior group in the animal chain that our arrogance overlooks the great ability of nature to do a better job on many fronts. I’m sickened by those that would hunt animals that are already suffering because of mankind. What kind of soul do they, can they have? We’d be a better country if we followed the ideas of Dr. Albert Schweitzer instead of the likes of the NRA or SCI. In the aftermath of WWII many looked to Schweitzer’s philosophy for “the restoration of hope and sanity,” according to Ann Cottrell Free’s book, Animals, Nature & Albert Schweitzer.

And in 1952 Dr. Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Humanitarianism. He said in his acceptance speech: “There could be no peace, no harmony among men and nations unless prejudice and nationalism were laid aside, and all human kind recognized and embraced the universality of life—specifically, ‘all living creatures.'”

To quote Schweitzer:

“The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret….It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”

I started to write to specifically address congress, the USFWS, the military, our health/research agencies, on behalf of animals, but the list was just too long. Our ethics are in the tank in this country if they are supposed to be rooted in compassion, because the last time I read my mail it was an ever-growing barrage of animal rights groups screaming for help from every direction.

Michael Satchell, “A View to a Kill: How Safari Club Int’l Works to Weaken ESA Protections”, Humane Society US, undated, accessed August 2005.

Cottrell Free, Ann, Animals, Nature & Albert Schweitzer, Washington, D.C: The Flying Fox Press, 1990.

http://www.defenders.org/

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Slaughtering Wildlife

I truly believe our democracy is broken at the hands of special interest groups. If we do not get rid of lobbying forever, the good with the bad lobbyists, all of them unfortunately, we will no longer be a nation of the people by the people with resolute honest representation in congress. I say this because I have petitioned, written, called, and donated so much money to efforts to protect our wildlife that I could probably own my own wolf pack, polar bear family, whale, dolphin, etc., yet nothing much happens on their behalf, or the going is so slow as to be baby steps. And in the interim, we lose more wildlife. I know I am not alone. I’ve read more than one place for example that 70% of Alaskans are against the wolf aerial hunting program depicted in my blog today, and that Governor Palin has plans to not only continue the program but to escalate it beyond normal hunting seasons, and to include bears now.

It takes so much activism by citizens of this country to stop atrocities against wildlife and for the preservation of all we hold dear in this country like our peaceful forests and parks against the likes of the NRA and big time hunting consortiums, that I’m beginning to believe America has lost its way. We simply do not present ourselves as a decent, Christian nation any longer. Our talk is cheap. We’re known for our deeds and the picture is not pretty when it comes to wildlife and habitat.

Do we as this supposed Godly nation realize the Lord specifically mentions the word wolf/wolves 13 times in the bible? In every instance He makes it perfectly known that wolves are to exist as predators. They have a purpose and in no way are they to be extinct in the world to come. They will indeed lay down with the lamb.

From a scientific viewpoint, wolves inhabited the U.S. for 750,000 years; one would think that by now in the 21st century we as “the smartest of the animal chain” would have figured out how to live with them. Stop the carnage as seen in the video below:

Science is not a part of Alaska’s wolf hunting program. There is no official wolf count. Alaska only guesses as to how many wolves it has or has not. To continue to escalate a hunting program like this with no clear figures as to how little or much the wolf populations there are being decimated is criminal.

Read about the history of wolf control in Alaska: http://www.defenders.org/programs_and_policy/wildlife_conservation/imperiled
_species/wolves/wolf_recovery_efforts/alaska_wolves/background/history_of_wolf
_control_in_alaska/index.php?ht=

An excellent read about the history of wolves in the U.S. http://www.ferrum.edu/philosophy/wolfproject.htm

Some people have wolves for pets. Amazing: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090528075841AAiDs2U.

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