Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy —Yellowstone Story Film Project…

The following is Linda Thurston’s dialogue from Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Film Project:

“We’ll watch wolf packs in the park and we get to learn about every individual and their personalities. And the younger ones, the older ones, and the ones you know are the good hunters for instance, and the ones that play the support roles and learn their personalities. Then we’ll watch them for years. Then there’s an elk hunt and a wolf hunt right outside the park. These wolves will leave because it’s a free meal for them to eat a gut pile that an elk hunter left on the landscape. Then, that wolf might get shot over it. And it’s heartbreaking for us to see this animal, it’s not like our pet, but we get to learn its personality like as if it was a pet. And it just breaks our heart and makes you wanna speak up and do something about it.”

 

To learn more about Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story Film Project click here.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Joins Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration’s Rollback of the Endangered Species Act

AG Kaul Joins Lawsuit Challenging Rollback of Endangered Species Act Regulations

Oct 22 2019

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul is joining a coalition of now 20 attorneys general and the City of New York in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The challenge argues that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decisions to finalize three rules that undermine the key requirements and purpose of the Endangered Species Act are unlawful.

“The Trump administration’s decision to adopt rules weakening the Endangered Species Act is unwarranted and unlawful. As the effects of climate change put more species at risk, we should be strengthening our conservation efforts, not undermining them,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Nixon signs into law Endangered Species Act, Dec. 28, 1973

For over 45 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected thousands of iconic and threatened species, including the bald eagle and whooping crane. Enacted under the Nixon Administration in 1973, the ESA is intended “to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.” The Trump Administration’s rules would dramatically weaken current protections and reduce federal Endangered Species Act enforcement and consultation, putting these endangered species and their habitats at risk of extinction.

In Wisconsin, there are more than 20 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act.

A Wisconsin Gray wolf. Photograph from Snapshot Wisconsin.

In the lawsuit, the coalition challenges the rules as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, unauthorized under the Endangered Species Act, and unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act. Of specific concern are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service actions to:

Inject economic considerations into the Endangered Species Act’s science-driven, species-focused analyses;

Restrict the circumstances under which species can be listed as threatened;

Expand the Act’s narrow exemptions for designating critical habitats and limit the circumstances under which a habitat would be designated, especially where climate change poses a threat;

Reduce consultation and analyses required before federal agency action;

Radically depart from the longstanding, conservation-based agency policy and practice of providing the same level of protection to threatened species afforded to endangered species, which is necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered;

Push the responsibility for protecting imperiled species and habitats onto the state, detracting from the states’ efforts to carry out their own programs and imposing significant costs; and

Exclude analysis of and public input on the rules’ significant environmental impacts.

Relevant court findings click here.

STATE OF CALIFORNIA, COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS, STATE OF MARYLAND, STATE OF COLORADO, STATE OF CONNECTICUT, STATE OF ILLINOIS, PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, STATE OF MINNESOTA, STATE OF NEVADA, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, STATE OF NEW MEXICO, STATE OF NEW YORK, STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, STATE OF OREGON, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, STATE OF VERMONT, STATE OF WASHINGTON, STATE OF WISCONSIN, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, and CITY OF NEW YORK,

Plaintiffs,

V.

DAVID BERNHARDT, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, WILBUR ROSS, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, and NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE,

Defendants,

Will the Endangered Species Act Survive Unscrupulous Politicians?

Ecosystem Services: Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. That’s the beauty, or bounty, that the Endangered Species Act provides. The ESA ensures these beneficial ecosystems just don’t unravel. You see the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the individual species, it also protects the lands, or habitats, the endangered species need to survive. For sure protecting these habitats can make it difficult for certain industries, mainly extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining and lumbering. Renewable energy is out pacing coal, oil & gas extractive industries in America. It’s a well known fact that, extractive industries cause more harm for our vital ecosystems; such as land, water, air and wildlife. But there are several politicians, like Senator Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming, that supports these extractive industries and wants to rewrite the ESA to accommodate these dying-extractive-industries.

The Trump administration is making drastic changes to how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is applied announced this week.

Chief among the changes is the removal of blanket protections for threatened animals and plants.

Until now, any species deemed threatened — a category for organisms at risk of becoming endangered — by the FWS automatically received the same protections as endangered species. They include bans on killing threatened and endangered species. Now, those protections will be determined on a case-by-case basis, a move which will probably reduce overall protections for species that are added to the threatened list, says Hartl.

The US government says that these updates will ease the burden of regulations and increase transparency into decisions on whether a species warrants protections. But critics say that the revisions cripple the ESA’s ability to protect species under increased threat from human development and climate change.

“These changes tip the scales way in favour of industry,” says Brett Hartl, government-affairs director for the environmental advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity, who is based in Washington DC. “They threaten to undermine the last 40 years of progress.” Source

What are the economic benefits the Endangered Species Act generates from protecting vital habitats?

In the following article from Time The Endangered Species Act Is Criticized for Its Costs. But It Generates More than $1 Trillion a Year.

“Yeah, there are costs: it might slow down certain industries and help certain industries,” says Jason Shogren, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming. “We have to think about all the non-market benefits that exist for knowing these species exist, for knowing the web of life is intact, for knowing that these ecosystems aren’t going to unravel.”

Economists often describe this broad set of benefits as “ecosystem services,” and their value to the U.S. economy is enormous. Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. like fruits, nuts and vegetables or birds that eat mosquitoes that would otherwise spread disease to humans.

A 2011 study prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a government-affiliated conservation group, tabulated the total value of ecosystem services at about $1.6 trillion annually in the U.S. The value totaled more than $32 billion in National Wildlife Refuges protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Critics of the Endangered Species Act often couch their concerns in terms of the damage that it does to specific industries.

Speaking at a hearing on the law in 2017, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming went through a laundry list of economic interests he said were being harmed by the 1973 law.

“States, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are all making it clear that the Endangered Species Act is not working today,” he said.

Biologist warn that changes to the ESA could be disastrous for species like the Monarch Butterfly.

But as the Trump Administration prepares a set of regulatory changes that could dramatically undermine the law, some supporters are highlighting the economic benefits of protecting endangered species.

They note that the law doesn’t just protect individual species, it also protects the ecosystems that support that species. That work sustaining natural lands and the species that call them home helps ensure everything from a hospitable climate to clean drinking water.

The Trump administration and republican law makers have been working to change the ESA…

Changes from Republicans in Washington would prioritize these industry concerns. The Department of the Interior in a press conference announced the changes to how the agency implements the law:

The changes finalized today by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service apply to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4, among other things, deals with adding species to or removing species from the Act’s protections and designating critical habitat; section 7 covers consultations with other federal agencies.

These changes spell disaster for our natural resources…

The rule change would tighten standards for protecting new land, potentially allow regulators to ignore the effects of climate change on a species and, perhaps most significantly, allow for cost considerations when previously decisions were made on science alone.

Democrats are likely to fight these changes to the ESA…

Tinkering with the Endangered Species Act isn’t a political winner with polls showing most Americans broadly supporting the law, along with other environmental protections. But Democrats argue that their Republican counterparts have bet that reforming the popular law are ok with that so long as they reward the interest groups that helped put the current Republicans in office in the first place.

In a statement last year…

“The Trump Administration doesn’t seem to know any other way to handle the environment than as an obstacle to industry profits,” said Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, in a statement. “If a single company can make a single dollar from the destruction or displacement of an endangered species, it’s full speed ahead.”

Take action to preserve the Endangered Species Act…

Contact your Senator today! Center for Biological Diversity has an easy to use form and note to your congressman to tell the Trump Administration to stop gutting the ESA!

Use Center for Biological Diversity’s Take Action form click here.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2018-2019, Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

Did you know that a wolf hunting and trapping season is required by law when Wisconsin’s Gray is not listed on the Endangered Species Act. 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 was approved by the Governor Scott Walker-R in April 2012. This statute authorizes and requires a wolf hunting and trapping season. Numerous season and application details were described in the statute. Out of all the states that hunted wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves”.

Act 169 authorized the Department to delineate harvest management zones, set harvest quotas, and determine the number of licenses to be issued to accomplish the harvest objective.

Six-hundred and fifty-four gray wolves were killed during Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons that took place in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Thankfully, a federal judge in December 2014 threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. This decision banned further wolf hunting and trapping in three states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection.

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

The 2018-2019 Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Once a year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources publishes a Wolf Monitoring Report 2018-2019 that was conducted using a territory mapping with telemetry technique, summer howl surveys, winter snow track surveys, recovery of dead wolves, depredation investigations, and collection of public observation reports.

In April 2019 the statewide minimum wolf population count was 914-978 wolves, a 1% increase from the previous year. There are roughly 978 gray wolves living throughout Wisconsin’s northern and central forests, minimum winter count, according to the WDNR Wolf Progress Report 2018-2019. All of this points to a wolf population that is self regulating or leveling off according to land carrying capacity.

Wolf Mortality…

A total of 41 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves.

Once again, according to the Wolf Progress Report, vehicle collisions (44%) and illegal kills (24%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities and were slightly higher than rates detected the previous year. Human caused mortality represented 94% of known cause detected mortalities overall.

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Wildlifehabitat/wolf/documents/wolfreport2019.pdf

Wolf Depredation…

During the monitoring period, Wildlife Services confirmed 68 wolf complaints (wolf depredations) of the 121 investigated. While the number of confirmed livestock incidents increased from 37 in 2017-2018, the number of farms affected decreased from 31 the past 2 years.

The use of flandry, red strips of material, is used as deterrent to keep wolves away from livestock.

There’s always work to be done when it comes to protecting livestock and wolves…

Watch the interview of Brad Koele WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist. I interviewed Koele on June 11, 2015 at the WDNR Wolf Population meeting held in Wausau Wisconsin.

Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent that saves lives! Foxlights have been used by Wisconsin farmers. I gave an interview to Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Danielle Keading on June 21, 2016.

Tilseth sold 25 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS-Wildlife Services in northern Wisconsin and said they deter wolves from coming near livestock.

“It can be seen from a mile away,” she explained. “It operates with a six volt battery giving up to 12 months of nonstop protection. A light sensor automatically turns it on when it’s at dusk and turns it off during the day.”

These lights are just one of the abatements available to livestock producers in Wisconsin.

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Wildlifehabitat/wolf/documents/wolfreport2019.pdf

Once again it has been proven in scientific fact that Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is keeping White-tailed deer populations healthy.

White-tailed deer are the primary prey species for wolves in Wisconsin. White-tailed deer density estimates increased 7% statewide from the previous year estimate, but the majority of that increase was in wolf management unit 6 considered to be mostly unsuitable for wolf pack development. Wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range, contain 76% of the minimum winter wolf count. Deer density estimates remained stable at 25.3 deer / square mile of deer range in primary wolf range.

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection; proving the public wants gray wolves on the landscape! The Gray wolf is part is a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy!

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

The Trump administration is making drastic changes to how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is applied.

Ecosystem Services: Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. That’s the beauty, or bounty, that the Endangered Species Act provides. The ESA ensures these beneficial ecosystems just don’t unravel. You see the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the individual species, it also protects the lands, or habitats, the endangered species need to survive. For sure protecting these habitats can make it difficult for certain industries, mainly extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining and lumbering. Renewable energy is out pacing coal, oil & gas extractive industries in America. It’s a well known fact that, extractive industries cause more harm for our vital ecosystems; such as land, water, air and wildlife. But there are several politicians, like Senator Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming, that supports these extractive industries and wants to rewrite the ESA to accommodate these dying-extractive-industries.

The Trump administration is making drastic changes to how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is applied announced this week.

Chief among the changes is the removal of blanket protections for threatened animals and plants.

Until now, any species deemed threatened — a category for organisms at risk of becoming endangered — by the FWS automatically received the same protections as endangered species. They include bans on killing threatened and endangered species. Now, those protections will be determined on a case-by-case basis, a move which will probably reduce overall protections for species that are added to the threatened list, says Hartl.

The US government says that these updates will ease the burden of regulations and increase transparency into decisions on whether a species warrants protections. But critics say that the revisions cripple the ESA’s ability to protect species under increased threat from human development and climate change.

“These changes tip the scales way in favour of industry,” says Brett Hartl, government-affairs director for the environmental advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity, who is based in Washington DC. “They threaten to undermine the last 40 years of progress.” Source

What are the economic benefits the Endangered Species Act generates from protecting vital habitats?

In the following article from Time The Endangered Species Act Is Criticized for Its Costs. But It Generates More than $1 Trillion a Year.

“Yeah, there are costs: it might slow down certain industries and help certain industries,” says Jason Shogren, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming. “We have to think about all the non-market benefits that exist for knowing these species exist, for knowing the web of life is intact, for knowing that these ecosystems aren’t going to unravel.”

Economists often describe this broad set of benefits as “ecosystem services,” and their value to the U.S. economy is enormous. Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. like fruits, nuts and vegetables or birds that eat mosquitoes that would otherwise spread disease to humans.

A 2011 study prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a government-affiliated conservation group, tabulated the total value of ecosystem services at about $1.6 trillion annually in the U.S. The value totaled more than $32 billion in National Wildlife Refuges protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Critics of the Endangered Species Act often couch their concerns in terms of the damage that it does to specific industries.

Speaking at a hearing on the law in 2017, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming went through a laundry list of economic interests he said were being harmed by the 1973 law.

“States, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are all making it clear that the Endangered Species Act is not working today,” he said.

Biologist warn that changes to the ESA could be disastrous for species like the Monarch Butterfly.

But as the Trump Administration prepares a set of regulatory changes that could dramatically undermine the law, some supporters are highlighting the economic benefits of protecting endangered species.

They note that the law doesn’t just protect individual species, it also protects the ecosystems that support that species. That work sustaining natural lands and the species that call them home helps ensure everything from a hospitable climate to clean drinking water.

The Trump administration and republican law makers have been working to change the ESA…

Changes from Republicans in Washington would prioritize these industry concerns. The Department of the Interior in a press conference announced the changes to how the agency implements the law:

The changes finalized today by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service apply to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4, among other things, deals with adding species to or removing species from the Act’s protections and designating critical habitat; section 7 covers consultations with other federal agencies.

These changes spell disaster for our natural resources…

The rule change would tighten standards for protecting new land, potentially allow regulators to ignore the effects of climate change on a species and, perhaps most significantly, allow for cost considerations when previously decisions were made on science alone.

Democrats are likely to fight these changes to the ESA…

Tinkering with the Endangered Species Act isn’t a political winner with polls showing most Americans broadly supporting the law, along with other environmental protections. But Democrats argue that their Republican counterparts have bet that reforming the popular law are ok with that so long as they reward the interest groups that helped put the current Republicans in office in the first place.

In a statement last year…

“The Trump Administration doesn’t seem to know any other way to handle the environment than as an obstacle to industry profits,” said Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, in a statement. “If a single company can make a single dollar from the destruction or displacement of an endangered species, it’s full speed ahead.”

Take action to preserve the Endangered Species Act…

Contact you Senator today! Center for Biological Diversity has an easy to use form and note to your congressman to tell the Trump Administration to stop gutting the ESA!

Use Center for Biological Diversity’s Take Action form click here.

Compassionate Conservation—Saving The Lives of Wild Carnavore and Livestock

Real world solutions to using non lethal wolf management for people and wild Carnavore.

I’ve been a volunteer for Wisconsin’s wolf recovery since 1998. There were only 66 wolf packs in the state at that time. Today there are roughly 232 wolf packs spread through the northern and central forests. Thankfully wolf and livestock conflicts are at a minimum, and there are many non lethal solutions available for livestock producers to employ. There are many factors involved, and employing them as soon ass possible is being proactive. There are several abatements available, such as; Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent, flandry, and guard animals. These solutions need to be put in place before wolf depredation occurs to any livestock. And it’s important that livestock producers burry any livestock so the carcasses don’t attract wolves.

One very important step to coexistence for people & gray wolves is to educate and advocate by helping & educating those living in wolf country. The objective is to save the lives of Gray wolves and livestock. Whether we live in the city or urban areas, in or out of wolf range, it’s all about solving how we live alongside wolves! Wisconsin’s wild wolf is back on the landscape, and has been since the late 1970s. The Gray wolf is an essential part of the ecosystem. Let’s work together to save Gray wolves and livestock!

I’m a distributor of Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent.

The following is a short video I filmed of Brad Khole WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist.

Click here for more reading about ways to reduce conflicts between wolves and Livestock owners.

A proposed Rule to Delist Gray Wolves Comment Period is Now Open: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior are accepting public comments that are specific as possible…

…Include in your comments information from scientific journals and or from best available scientific data. In other words, submissions merely stating support for, or opposition to, the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not meet the standard of best available scientific and commercial data.

Read further to find links to articles that support your comments.

A Proposed Rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service on 03/15/2019 We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 14, 2019.

Gray wolf advocates request public hearings, in writing, at the address shown by April 29, 2019: Don Morgan, Chief, Branch of Delisting and Foreign Species, Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Headquarters Office, MS: ES, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; telephone (703) 358-2444. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

We (Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior) intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from the public, concerned Tribal and governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. Comments should be as specific as possible.

As this proposal replaces our June 13, 2013, proposal to delist gray wolves in the lower 48 United States and Mexico (78 FR 35663), we ask that any comments previously submitted that are relevant to the status of wolves currently listed in the contiguous United States and Mexico, as analyzed in this rule, be resubmitted at this time. Comments must be submitted during the comment period for this proposed rule to be considered.

Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include.

The following are links to articles that support your comments.

In the United States, data show that wolves (Canis lupus, Canis lupus baileiy and Canis rufus) kill few cattle and sheep. (click on the highlighted words to view scientific data)

Killing wolves to prevent predation on livestock may protect one farm but harm neighbors (click on the highlighted words to view scientific data)

Please note that submissions merely stating support for, or opposition to, the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not meet the standard of best available scientific and commercial data. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is threatened or endangered must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.

You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0097, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on the blue “Comment Now!” box. If your comments will fit in the provided comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our comment review procedures. If you attach your comments as a separate document, our preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0097; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Public Comments below for more information).

Is Wisconsin’s management of wolves responsible?

A good case study for state management is Wisconsin between 2012 – 2014. In those two years 528 wolves were legally killed. These harvests aren’t based on science and often hurt wolf populations by breaking up packs and orphaning young. Yet these forms of management are still considered standard practice for state wildlife agencies.

Beyond highlighting unethical management practices, the workshop drove home a constant theme – wolves are not the monsters we make them out to be. A lot of our fears about wolves are based on anachronist folklore that has no place in the 21stcentury. For instance, far from being rapacious killers who deplete game populations, wolves actually help keep herds healthy by preying on the sick, the old, and the weak. A graph documenting wolf predation reflected this, with the ages of kills being mostly very old and very young. Also, the impact on livestock is overblown. Of Wisconsin’s 1.5 million dairy cows and beef cattle, the WDNR confirmed 24 wolf kills in 2018.

The hysteria around wolves is largely pushed by farmers and hunters who loathe predators – wolves, coyotes, bears, lions – and that’s terrible for conservation efforts. These two groups pump millions of dollars into state wildlife management through hunting and trapping licenses, and hunting related sales taxes. This has lead to a prioritization of policies that favor these two groups at the expense of non-game species.

Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”Hound hunters traditionally train their dogs to focus on specific prey by releasing their dogs to surround, attack and terrorize a prey animal (e.g. a bear cub or fox) for hours on end (up to 16 hours/day) enclosed in a small, open barrel or “roll cage.” At this point it remains disturbingly unclear as to how hound hunters will train their dogs to pursue wolves instead of other animals—will it be by capturing wolves and allowing their dogs to attack them in barrels and pens? How isn’t this worse than illegal dog fighting?

During the 2016 Wisconsin bear hunting season 37 hunting dogs were lost in the pursuit of bear. A few Wisconsin legislators claim these deaths were due to the high wolf population of 866 in 2016, but there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye.  Adrian Wydeven, former Wisconsin DNR Head Wolf biologist, wrote in a opinion editorial, “Numbers don’t add up in wolf-hound debate” written on November 12, 2016 and suggested that:

“Do wolf numbers correlate with wolves killing hounds? The evidence suggests this might not necessarily be the case. In 2012, only seven dogs were killed and yet there were nearly as many wolves in 2012 as there were in 2016 (815 wolves in late winter 2012).” Source

There were 52 wolf depredations from April 15, 2016 through April 15, 2016. To put it in perspective, that was 52 livestock deaths by wolves out of 3.50 million head of livestock in Wisconsin. Read for yourself:

“The total inventory of cattle and calves on January 1 rose 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, to 3.50 million head. The number of milk cows rose by 5,000 head to 1,275,000 head and the number of beef cows rose 25,000 head to 275,000 head. On the U.S. level, slaughter prices rose to $153.00 per cwt. for cattle and $255.00 per cwt. for calves. As a result, Wisconsin’s value of production rose 33 percent to $1.92 billion.”  Source: USDA Wisconsin statistics 

Wisconsin’s Record On Wolf Management 

Wisconsin became the only state to allow hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to wolves in two of the three wolf hunts in 2013 & 2014. Wisconsin hunters killed 528 wolves in the three seasons a hunt was held in the state before the animal was placed back on the endangered species list. 

The Gray Wolf Monitoring Report done through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and can be found on their website estimates 905-944 wolves reside in Wisconsin’s northern & central forests. 

Livestock depredations included 29 cattle killed and 1 injured, and 4 sheep killed. The number of farms affected was the same as the previous monitoring year. That number doesn’t include depredations of hunting dogs.

In wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range and containing 80% of the minimum winter wolf count, deer density estimates increased 19% compared to 2016.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to propose a rule to “delist” the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Lower 48 states. USF&WS is required to hold a public comment period on this ruling.  This comment period is now open.

If delisting does occur in Wisconsin, my hope is that with the new WDNR Secretary in place, the required wolf management plan will include greater transparency allowing for public input in how the Gray wolf is managed. And that the public will speak up against a trophy hunt on gray wolves.

There hasn’t been a wolf hunt since 2014. The Gray wolf is thriving on Wisconsin’s landscape, the wolf population is exhibiting signs of self-regulating, Gray wolves and White-tailed deer are benefiting each other once again, and livestock depredations aren’t a major threat.

A Proposed Rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service on 03/15/2019 We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 14, 2019. Take Action to protect Gray wolves & Wisconsin and across the U.S.!

#OneEarth, How a Desperate Extractive Industry Infiltrated the Water Protectors…

Everything comes down to protecting Mother Earth. We just don’t have anywhere else to live, this is our last chance, we have one planet, one Mother Earth, and she is sacred. In 2016 we heard the war cry “Mni Wiconi” (Water is Life) coming from the center of Sacred Stone Camp part of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. In April 2016 Water Protectors gathered together in solidarity at Sacred Stone Camp and native peoples from all over the world joined them. They gathered to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from coming through their land. What they didn’t realize at the time was that there was an infiltrator amongst them.

I first heard about this infiltrator from an article in The Intercept. It’s now known who this infiltrator is and the name of the company that hired them. It’s apparent that the oil industry is not going to go down peacefully. I believe these extractive industries are even behind the push to delist the Gray wolf because they want easy access to wolf habitat. The Endangered Species Act not only protects the endangered species but also protects the habitat they depend on to survive. Extractive industries want this habitat! I think the fight to protect our water from greedy extractive industries encompasses much more; it’s wolves, it’s water & it’s everywhere, and our sacred mother is crying for us to save her life. #OneEarth #OneMother

In 2016 we heard the war cry “Mni Wiconi” (Water is Life) coming from the center of Sacred Stone Camp part of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Read the following The Infiltrator by December 30 2018, 8:00 a.m

A former Marine working for the private security firm TigerSwan infiltrated an array of anti-Dakota Access pipeline groups at Standing Rock and beyond.

JESSE HORNE STILL struggles to talk about the day he was kicked out of the anti-Dakota Access pipeline movement. It had been an intense week. Searching for direction and ideological fulfillment ever since Iowa’s stand against the pipeline wound down, the 20-year-old had reconnected with some of the state’s more radical pipeline opponents, and the group was now taking on drone warfare. After a protest outside a drone base in Des Moines in which Horne and several others were arrested, two of his fellow activists, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, sat him down and told him to stay away.

“They were asking me if I was an infiltrator,” Horne told The Intercept. “My response was absolutely not.”

There was a lot Horne says he didn’t know at the time — for one, that Reznicek and Montoya had recently been involved in a series of acts of pipeline sabotage. Between March and May 2017, above-ground valves along the Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa and South Dakota were pierced with welding torches, creating new costs for the pipeline company, Energy Transfer, and sending its security personnel into a frenzy. A few weeks after their conversation with Horne, the two women would claim responsibility for the sabotage.

Another thing Horne says he didn’t know: that someone he considered a “brother in the cause” was indeed an infiltrator. For months, a man calling himself Joel Edwards had posed as a pipeline opponent, attending protests, befriending water protectors, and paying for hotel rooms, supplies, and booze. He told some people he had a job with a hotel that allowed him to travel, others that he was a freelance journalist reporting on the pipeline resistance. But five former contractors for TigerSwan, the secretive security firm hired by Energy Transfer to guard the pipeline, confirmed to The Intercept that Joel was an undercover intelligence operative. His real name was Joel Edward McCollough, and he had been sent to collect information on the protesters, explicitly targeting those who were down on their luck. Horne, who struggled with addiction, appeared to be a perfect target.

McCollough passed along what he learned to his superiors at TigerSwan, who attempted to use the information to thwart protest activity and identify people or plots that represented threats to the pipeline. Traces of his surveillance turned up in TigerSwan’s daily situation reports, which were written for Energy Transfer and at times passed to law enforcement. The former TigerSwan contractors interviewed by The Intercept, who declined to be named because it would threaten their continued work in the industry, had either worked with McCollough directly or knew of him through internal communications.

Like other contractors working for TigerSwan, McCollough had developed the skills he deployed in the Dakota Access pipeline fight during the U.S. war in Iraq, where he served as a Marine Corps interrogator and counterintelligence specialist. TigerSwan was founded by James Reese, a former commander of the elite special operations unit Delta Force, and the company got its start as part of a boom of mercenary security firms in the early years of the war on terror. McCollough was participating in something akin to a massive experiment in U.S. military-trained operatives applying lessons learned fighting insurgencies abroad to thousands of pipeline opponents engaged in protest against a Fortune 500 energy giant at home.

Behind the operation was Energy Transfer, whose pipeline empire has been key to propelling the U.S. oil and gas boom at a moment when the devastating impacts of climate change demand a rapid halt in fossil fuel production. Were the environmental movement able to convince policymakers to take climate science seriously, Energy Transfer would be out of business.

Instead, the business of building oil and gas pipelines is booming. Construction projects approved across at least two dozen states continue to face fierce resistance — including Energy Transfer-owned projects in Louisiana and Pennsylvania — ensuring that the pipeline security business will keep booming too. Although TigerSwan has failed to win many of the new contracts it once aspired to, few clear incentives exist to deter others from reproducing the mercenary firm’s tactics.

Through interviews with more than a dozen water protectors who were approached or befriended by Joel, The Intercept has tracked the TigerSwan operative’s path from Iowa to North Dakota to Illinois as he attempted to infiltrate an array of DAPL-opposed organizations, including Bold Iowa, Mississippi Stand, and Food and Water Watch, between September 2016 and April 2017. McCollough declined to comment for this story. Neither TigerSwan nor Energy Transfer responded to multiple requests for comment. Click here to continue reading the full article from The Intercept.

Photograph credit Jim Brandenburg

Mournful Calls of the Lamar Canyon Wolves Calling for Their Lost Family Member…

Listening to the mournful calls from Little T, Small Dot and the five pups made while searching for 926F, their lost family member, leaves no doubt in my mind or my heart that they feel strong family bonds. There must be a way to protect YNP wolves that wonder outside the park boundary. Meet the Advocates and listen to their mournful cries, trailer:

In An article from The New York Times “Wolf hunters talk about seeing a pack of park wolves outside the boundary and being able to pick the one they want,” said Doug Smith, the park’s wolf biologist. “They just stand there and have no fear.”

Spitfire, or 926F, was killed just a few miles outside the park in Montana near the northeast entrance to the park, between the tiny communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, Mont.

She left behind a daughter that wolf watchers have named Little T, so-called because of a small white marking. Another wolf, Small Dot, is the male, and for the first time in three years a litter of five pups was born to the Lamar Canyon pack. 

With the matriarch gone, Dr. Smith said, the famed pack could be in trouble. Even though the breeding pack is intact, its seven-member size may not be as resilient as bigger groups. “Its survival is an open question,” he said.

Photograph of Lamar Canyon Wolf 926F known as “Spitfire” and shot by a trophy hunter in Montana, credit Vanessa Vought

Myself along with Maaike Middleton are working on a Film Project “Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story” and are gathering interviews from advocates affected by the recent killing of a beloved wolf.

Watch trailer

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story”

A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

Yellowstone’s wolves face trophy hunters ready to kill them as soon as they step across park boundaries. Meet the wolf advocates fighting for the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves…

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy- The Yellowstone Story” tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Produced by Rachel Tilseth and Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. In this clip wolf advocates share their stories. Ilona Popper is a writer and advocate for wolves. Dr. Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston Wildlife biologists and business owners of The Wild Side Tours & Treks in Yellowstone National Park. Song credits: “Don’t Know Why, But They Do” Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti & Noah Hill. B roll credits thanks to National Park Service. www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com for more information. To support the film through a tax free contribution go through our fiscal sponsor click here to donate.

Photograph of Lamar Canyon Wolf 926F known as “Spitfire” and shot by a trophy hunter in Montana, credit Vanessa Vought

Sad news coming out of Yellowstone National Park 926F was shot in Montana’s wolf trophy hunt…

Wolf 926F of the Lamar Canyon Pack was the daughter of the famous O-Six wolf that was also killed by a trophy hunter as she left the safety of YNP boundary. Thanks to the heartless trophy hunter 926F joins her mother in the spirit world cut down far too soon. Trophy hunting is about power not conservation. Let’s all reach out to our members in Congress (Capital Switchboard 202-224-3121) and express our sadness and let them know you are one of hundreds of thousands of us, that will not tolerate this senseless killing of a legend. Nor any other gray wolf in America! RIP 926F…

926F is the daughter of the famous O-Six female  (legally shot outside of the park in 2012 By a trophy hunter) who was the grand-daughter of the Druid Peak alpha pair 21M and 42F.

Photograph of Wolf 926F Photo credit by Vanessa Vought