Stories of People & Wolves…

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films (WODCW) is working in Yellowstone National Park, Wisconsin, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany to bring you stories of the advocates that are working to preserve the legacy of wild Gray wolves.

Click the menus on this website to learn about The Yellowstone Story, The Wisconsin Story and the Italian Story.

About Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

WODCW is a Film Company producing film projects that inspire change through environmental education and legislation. Gray wolves are recovering on a worldwide landscape, our films, involve a global audience. We connect and engage viewers with filmmakers dedicated to documenting the conscious relationships between advocates and Gray wolves. We view the need for people to meaningfully engage with its wild wolves that are now struggling for survival worldwide. To support this effort, we maintain a network of subject matter experts in film producers, scientists, academics, as well as other advocates who share a common interest to advocate, produce and share educational stories of people and Gray wolves.

Take Action to Protect Endangered Gray Wolves in the Lower 48 states.

The latest threat to the recovery of Gray wolves is S.3140 – A bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to issue a final rule relating to the delisting of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

This latest threat to gray wolves is sponsored by Sen. Lee, Mike [R-UT] introduced on 12/19/2019 and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. To find out more about Senate Committee members click on the following: Committee on Environment and Public Works. Please contact your Senators. You will find more information on how to contact them. Read on!

Latest Actions

Committees: Senate – Environment and Public Works
Latest Action: Senate – 12/19/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Gray Wolves Protected Under the Endangered Species Act

In the Lower 48, gray wolves have been listed under federal endangered species laws since the 1960s, when they had been extirpated, except for small populations in Michigan and Minnesota. Now, wolf populations in the Great Lakes area have grown to about 4,500 individuals. Wisconsin Alone now has 974 wolves. The Northern Rockies population includes more than 1,500 wolves across Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Utah and California, thanks to natural migration from Canada and reintroductions in Yellowstone National Park.

But the recovery of Gray wolves has been, and still is being jeopardized by reckless state sanctioned trophy hunting.

The status of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act has been contentious for years. In 2011, the USFWS removed gray wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin from the endangered species list.

What happened when wolves lost their endangered species listing in these states?

Minnesota and Wisconsin held state sanctioned wolf hunts. Thankfully, the decision was challenged in court and reversed in 2014. Wolves were ordered back on to the ESA. An appeals court upheld that ruling in 2017.

Shortly after being delisted in Wisconsin gray wolves were allowed to be hunted with the use of dogs in 2013 & 2014 in state sanctioned wolf hunts.

The barbaric act of wolf hounding

The state of Wisconsin allows the use of dogs to hunt wolves when they are not protected under the Endangered Species Act. Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves.

In 2012, the Service removed gray wolves in Wyoming from the list, in a decision that was challenged in court but ultimately upheld. Congress removed wolves in the Northern Rockies from ESA protections through a rider attached to budget legislation in 2011. Currently, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana hold wolf hunting seasons.

Action Alert

Keep gray wolves in the Lower 48 states protected under the Endangered Species Act by contacting your senators.

Please be aware that as a matter of professional courtesy, many senators will acknowledge, but not respond to, a message from another senator’s constituent. Click Here to find your Senator Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senator.

Contacting the Senate

Click here to find your Senator’s contact information by state
By E-mail: All questions and comments regarding public policy issues, legislation, or requests for personal assistance should be directed to the Senators from your state. Some senators have e-mail addresses while others post comment forms on their websites. When sending e-mail to your senator, please include your return postal mailing address. Please be aware that as a matter of professional courtesy, many senators will acknowledge, but not respond to, a message from another senator’s constituent.

By Postal Mail

You can direct postal correspondence to your senator or to other U.S. Senate offices at the following address:

For Correspondence to U.S. Senators:

Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Senate Committee members click on the following: Committee on Environment and Public Works.

By Telephone

Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request

Take Action to protect America’s Gray wolf!

The Endangered Species Act protects the endangered species, and the habitat it depends upon.

Extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining, lumbering, and real-estate developers want free & easy access to wilderness areas, but gray wolves stand in their way. Don’t let these greedy extractive industries destroy decades of wolf recovery. Take Action!

Wisconsinites remain heavily divided over how to manage state’s Gray wolf population.

This is a comprehensive look a Wisconsin’s wolf management problems. Adrian Wydeven, a retired Wisconsin wolf biologist, and Adrian Treves an ecologist weigh in on how badly the state legislators, in haste, jumped to a wolf hunt In 2011; instead of allowing a democratic process that would have involved public input to unfold regarding wolf management. In the end, these legislators created a one sided wolf management plan based on wolf hunting. And Mike Wiggins chairmen of the Bad River tribe discusses what the wolf means to indigenous peoples. I recommend you read the entire article before jumping to conclusions. Because of course there are some anti wolf opinions included.

Article reposted from www.wisconsinwatch.org

As wolves recover, calls in Wisconsin to end endangered species listing grow
Conflicts with farmers and hunters continue as the state’s wolf population has risen from extinction in 1960 to more than 900 animals today

By Rich Kremer (Wisconsin Public Radio)

A Wisconsin wolf photo credit USF&WS

Nearly 60 years after gray wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin, the population has rebounded dramatically, to more than 900 in the state. But the conservation success story has turned into a nuisance for hunters, farmers and others whose animals are increasingly encountering wolves — with deadly consequences.

Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues. Sign up for our newsletter for more stories and updates straight to your inbox.

In November 2018, wolves killed Laurie Groskopf’s 11-year-old hunting dog in Oneida County. That was nine years after wolves killed another of her dogs.

“These animals were trailing bear at the time, and one was trailing bobcat,” Groskopf said. “They were attacked by wolves without any provocation and killed. And for us, it’s been really, really traumatic.”

Wisconsinites subsidized Groskopf’s loss. She received $5,000 through an obscure Department of Natural Resources program that compensates animal owners for losses to wolves. But Groskopf said the payments — $2,500 for each dog — could not make up for the loss of pets she treated as family.

Article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

Nearly 60 years after gray wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin, the population has rebounded dramatically, to more than 900 in the state. That is thanks to decades of protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to hunt or harm listed species.

But the conservation success story has turned into a nuisance for hunters, farmers and others whose animals are increasingly encountering wolves — with deadly consequences. That is why some are calling for the federal government to delist wolves and resume legal hunting.

Groskopf has lost two hunting dogs to attacks by gray wolves, which the federal government lists as an endangered species in the western Great Lakes region. She said $5,000 in payments from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wolf damage compensation fund could not make up for the loss of animals she treated as family.
“I would say to people who are against controlling the wolf numbers, ‘What gives you the right to decide that my life is going to change substantially because you think wolves belong in my neighborhood?’ ” Groskopf said.

The wolf encounters are running up a tab on taxpayers. Over 34 years, the DNR has paid $2.5 million and counting in damage payments to hunters and livestock owners. Meanwhile, the compensation program appears to be falling short in one of its goals: making hunters and farmers more tolerant of wolves to reduce illegal killings of the protected animal.

The DNR has documented at least 260 illegal gray wolf killings since 1985, including 10 between April of 2018 and April of this year.

People convicted of killing a federally protected wolf can face up to six months in jail and/or a $25,000 fine, according to the DNR. Penalties can include the loss of a hunting license.

Those wanting to legally hunt the animal could get their wish. President Donald Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year proposed lifting endangered species protections for wolves, calling their rebound “one of the greatest comebacks for an animal in U.S. conservation history.”

But Trump faces opposition from some conservation and animal rights groups that argue wolf populations have not recovered enough to survive hunting. And even if he succeeds in lifting protections, Wisconsin will continue to pay those who lose animals to wolves. That is because a 1999-2001 budget amendment enshrined the payments in perpetuity — regardless of wolves’ protected status.

Jack Johnson, who raises beef cattle on a third-generation farm outside the city of Medford, Wis., is photographed on May 28, 2019. The state paid him $400 for a wolf-ravaged calf that would have otherwise fetched up to $900 on the market. “I’d rather see that money going toward management and control rather than buying a dead animal because we’re paying for it with our taxes,” he said.
Even some of that program’s beneficiaries question its usefulness.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

“I’d rather see that money going toward management and control rather than buying a dead animal because we’re paying for it with our taxes,” said Jack Johnson, who raises beef cattle on a third-generation farm outside the city of Medford. Johnson said the state paid him about $400 in 2014 for a wolf-ravaged calf that would have otherwise fetched between $700 and $900 on the market.

The debate is only the latest in the ever-changing — and sometimes confusing — history of wolf management in Wisconsin and beyond. And it comes as Wisconsinites are divided on wolf issues.

Mike Wiggins, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission board member and chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said his community sees the wolf as a brother whose fate is intertwined with the community’s.

“And it’s been pretty remarkable to see their return,” he said. “I’ve probably had four or five occasions to see wolves in the wild, and it’s just an amazing, thrilling kind of occurrence that lights up the land, lights up everything with electricity. It really is a wilderness kind of experience, and it’s a gift.”

A 2014 DNR survey found that residents held attitudes toward wolves that were more favorable than unfavorable — by a small margin within wolf range, and by a larger margin outside the wolf range in northern and central Wisconsin. The survey also found that a majority supported a regulated hunting and trapping season.

Wolves declared extinct

Gray wolves have roamed Wisconsin since the glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago — coexisting with Native American tribes that highly respected the hunting animal, according to the DNR. As many as 3,000 to 5,000 wolves were here when the state’s European settlers arrived in the early 1800s, but that would not last. Wisconsin offered a bounty on wolves from 1865 to 1957, spurring widespread hunting that decimated populations.

By 1960, wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin; similar trends played out in other parts of the country.

Groskopf said wolves are everywhere she hunts and trains her dogs. She operates a website, Wisconsin Wolf Facts, to raise awareness of the problems she said wolves have created for farmers and hunters.
In 1974, the Fish and Wildlife Service added gray wolves to the list of federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act. By 1980, the DNR counted a fragile population of just 25 wolves in northern Wisconsin, as a few packs moved in from across the Minnesota border.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

The animals’ listing status has since changed repeatedly, often in response to legal challenges. And the federal government allowed Wisconsinites to hunt wolves earlier this decade.

On Jan. 27, 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from the list of endangered species in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and parts of adjoining states. That also allowed the killing of wolves attacking livestock. The same day, Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill to create a wolf hunting season.

While wolf hunting advocates supported the bill, retired DNR wolf researcher Adrian Wydeven called the bill “egregious” because it mandated a season structure and methods for hunting wolves, including allowing the use of dogs to track them. He said traditionally the Legislature gave authority to DNR to create those types of rules through a lengthy, public rulemaking process.

“I think it was kind of like legislative overreaction that we finally get a chance to control this wolf population,” Wydeven said. “We’re going to do it as intensely as possible while we can do it.”

Mike Wiggins, chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, speaks during a public meeting at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., on Sept. 25, 2019. His community considers the wolf a brother. “And it’s been pretty remarkable to see their return,” he said.
The hunt drew opposition from animal rights groups and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which represents tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Wiggins, of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said he wanted to sue, but ultimately, the commission chose not to litigate.

Wisconsin held wolf hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014, until the federal government re-listed wolves in the western Great Lakes area as endangered following a federal court ruling. In those years, hunters killed 528 wolves, according to the DNR. Another 176 were killed through the renewed authority to use lethal force in response to attacks on livestock and other domestic animals.

If Trump succeeds in removing wolves from the protected list, hunting would again be allowed in Wisconsin, Scott Walter, a DNR large carnivore specialist, said in an email. But it would not happen right away. The agency would need to draw up state rules such as creating quotas and a permit application process, he said.

Damage payments begin

Although wolves rarely attack humans, an ancient fear of the predators persists among some people.
In 1983, the state established an income-tax checkoff that allows residents to donate to support federally protected species. It earmarked 3%, or up to $100,000 a year, to pay for damage caused by wolves and other animals under federal protection.

Wisconsin doled out its first wolf damage payment in 1985. A Douglas County farmer received $200 for killed sheep. Two years later, the state paid $2,500 for a hunting dog named Ranger, the first payment for “personal property” under the program.

Retired DNR section chief Randy Jurewicz said the idea of paying for hunting dogs was hotly contested within the agency.

“Paying for livestock made a lot of sense to almost everybody,” Jurewicz said. “These are animals that are being raised, being sold, it’s the Wisconsin way of life, and that made sense.”

Compensation for dogs killed by wolves was controversial, he said, in part because some believed hunters were knowingly putting their dogs in harms’ way.

“What kind of ruled was the fact that we had so few wolves in the state that, really, just a little bit of real serious negative feelings toward them would have eliminated them,” he said. “People just would not have tolerated them.”

DNR wildlife biologist Brad Koele now administers the wolf damage payments. After struggling with determining the market value for each dog, he said the agency set a limit of $2,500, which Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association president Carl Schoettel described as “fair and appropriate,” adding, “It is devastating for a pet owner to have their companion viciously eaten by wolves.”

To date, payments have averaged $2,324. The DNR paid a total of $806,451 for hunting dogs as of Oct. 3.

To limit dangerous interactions between wolves and dogs, the DNR offers an interactive map showing areas where dogs have recently been killed.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

But Groskopf said wolves are everywhere she hunts and trains her dogs. Groskopf operates a website, Wisconsin Wolf Facts, to raise awareness of the problems she said wolves have created for farmers and hunters.

“Eventually, there’s so many of them that you’re going to run into them,” she said.

The goal of the payments was, in part, to build tolerance among farmers and hunters for the increased wolf population. But illegal killings continued. A 2018 study by DNR research scientist Jennifer Stenglein found 9.4% of all radio-collared wolves were illegally killed between 1979 and 2013.

Adrian Treves, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, thinks the DNR has undercounted the number of illegally killed wolves. In 2017, he co-authored a study that found up to 37 percent of wolves the DNR reported as being killed by vehicles had metal fragments consistent with gunshot wounds. Wydeven disagreed with that finding.

Although wolves rarely attack humans, an ancient fear of the predators persists among some people. Treves said lifting federal protections and allowing lethal control would send a “policy signal” to would-be poachers that they could kill wolves without consequence.

Wolves rebound; new rules written

In anticipation of a federal push to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List, the DNR released a wolf management plan in 1999 that set rules for trapping, relocating and killing wolves that attacked livestock and pets once the state assumed management authority.

If wolves were to be delisted, it also meant farmers, pet owners and hunters would stop getting payments for animals killed by the formerly protected predators. But that budget amendment, introduced by former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski, D-Stevens Point, ensured the reimbursements would continue.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year proposed lifting endangered species protections for the animal, calling its rebound “one of the greatest comebacks for an animal in U.S. conservation history.” Courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
“I don’t remember how or even whether I authored and introduced an amendment,” Shibilski said. “But I certainly remember the debate, the ongoing conversation about how we live with wolves on the landscape.”

Shibilski, a former bear hunting guide, said the wolf damage payments are about safeguarding wolves.

“If you don’t behave responsibly and reimburse people for actual losses, you risk enabling bad actors out there, vigilante wildlife managers who are trying to kill predators wantonly and end up raising all kinds of havoc in our wolves, and that’s been happening,” he said.

Shibilski pointed to an incident this spring in which a wolf, three dogs, coyotes and other wild animals were killed by poisoned meat scattered throughout Florence, Marinette and Bayfield counties. Authorities investigated the poisonings, but no charges have been filed.

Livestock losses continue

Of the $2.5 million in damage payments, Wisconsin has paid more than $1.3 million for cattle, calves and missing calves — sums that have increased as wolves rebounded.

Farms that see the most wolf-livestock conflict tend to be located near large blocks of public land like the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, according to Dave Ruid, a supervisor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services program, which investigates such livestock killings.

Michigan also pays for missing calves on farms with confirmed wolf attacks, but Minnesota does not.

Jack Johnson, who raises beef cattle on a third-generation farm outside the city of Medford, Wis., shows a photo of a calf that wolves killed in 2014. “There wasn’t much left of it — the head and the two front shoulders, and everything else was gone.”
But the majority of DNR’s livestock payments did not require physical proof that wolves killed the animal. Under DNR rules, farmers who have had livestock killed by wolves can also get paid for any additional missing calves beyond the expected annual 2.3% mortality rate.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

In 2011, the DNR issued a record 257 missing calf payments, with 103 of those going to members of the Fornengo family, who raise beef cattle in Burnett County. The family, which declined comment, filed missing calf claims with the DNR under Fornengo Cattle Co. and T&T Ranch between 2009 and 2019. The DNR later enacted a rule that limited livestock producers to no more than five missing calf claims for every confirmed kill — but it was only in effect for two years.

As of October, the DNR paid nearly $720,000 for missing calves throughout the program’s existence, with $239,865 going to the Fornengo-owned cattle operations between 2011 and 2019.

Ruid said the owners agreed to allow the USDA to install a 6.5-mile electric wire at the farm at government expense. He said wolves are constantly testing the fence, and the farm has had confirmed livestock killings since its installation.

Farmer: Too many wolves

Johnson, the Medford farmer, has not lost an animal to wolves since 2014. The Fish and Wildlife Service put up flags — brightly colored and hung along a roped-off perimeter — on his land to scare them off. Still, Johnson believes farmers should be allowed to kill animals causing problems on farms. When wolves are around, the cattle are scared and do not want to eat — even their breeding cycles are affected. That is why he wants the federal government to lift protections for wolves. He would like to see no more than 350 wolves roam the state.

Wydeven criticized the state Legislature’s swift passage of wolf hunting requirements in 2012, the last time the federal government lifted protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region. “I think it was kind of like legislative overreaction that we finally get a chance to control this wolf population,” he said.
Wydeven, the former DNR wolf researcher, said 350 refers to the DNR’s 1999 wolf management plan, which was based on the premise that the population would only reach 500 animals in Wisconsin. Currently, it is nearly double that.

“So, 350 was logical and reasonable as a potential goal back in the early 2000s, but now considering we know the carrying capacity is quite a bit higher, that doesn’t really make sense anymore,” Wydeven said. “And it wouldn’t make sense to try to drastically reduce the wolf population down to that level.”

A research paper co-authored by Erik Olson, Northland College assistant professor of natural resources, suggests the changing status has led to inconsistent management, declining public support for wolves — and possibly more illegal killings.

Walter, the DNR large carnivore specialist, agrees.

“The continued tennis match back and forth that revolves around wolf management is increasing frustrations by constituents, by those farmers and others that are being impacted by wolves and by legislators who are listening to those constituents,” Walter said.

After two decades of consistent and rapid population growth, the state’s wolf population has leveled off — even without hunting, Walter added.

“And I think it’s becoming clear that wolves have essentially occupied all the suitable range where they can go about their daily lives unfettered by the heavy hand of humans

Article reposted from www.wisconsinwatch.org

The Gray wolf is part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy.

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes, something known only to her and to the mountain.” Aldo Leopold


She ran across the road in front of my car. Then stopped in the ditch, turned and looked me straight in the eye. My first thought was, is this a collie because she was so furry? She was light in color and had white around her deep green eyes. That’s why I gave her the name White Eyes. She was the alpha female wolf of the pack I was tracking. That first sighting of her on the roadside was just one of the many encounters I had with her and her family while helping to monitor Wisconsin’s wild wolf. White Eyes raised her family in the north woods and had nine generations of pups before being struck and killed by a vehicle in 2009.

I named my website Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin for her. The logo is my pastel drawing of her, and dedicated to her memory. Because of her I learned what a wolf family was all about. When I first saw her in the year 2000 there were 66 wolf packs in Wisconsin. Today there are around 230 wolf packs living in the northern & central forests of Wisconsin.

Wolves live in pockets of wilderness surrounded by human settlements. What I learned most about them is that they are truly wild and will do everything they can to avoid any contact with us. We must respect their right to live wild & free and give them the space they need to raise their families.

Photo credit Nacel Hagemamn

Bear hunters in the northern forests bait & run their dogs right through wolf rendezvous sites all summer long. Wolves are a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Bear hunters have worked relentlessly to loosen Bear hunting training regulations, and this is directly in conflict with an endangered species. Endangered Species Act regulation section 9 defines harm:

The term “harm” is further defined by regulation to include “any act which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife,” and emphasizes that such acts may include “significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding, or sheltering.”

Gray wolf pups are usually born in mid April and by summer are about four months old when hunters begin training season by running their dogs in pursuit of bear. Typically wolves will leave these pups with babysitters at rendezvous sites while they are off hunting. Gray wolves are never far from their pups and are always on guard. They will defend their pups from packs of free ranging hunting dogs. If wolves are constantly having to guard and defend their pups how does it affect their ability to rear pups? Isn’t this a significant violation of ESA regulations section 9.


WDNR puts out warnings, wolf caution areas, on their website when there is a wolf depredation on a hunting dog. Hunters are reimbursed up to $2,500.00 for each dog killed while in pursuit of black bear during training and hunting seasons. Is this payout an incentive to ignore wolf caution warnings?

This past summer a bear hunter released his older dog in known wolf territory, wolves killed his dog, and he went in looking for the dog. The hunter found two wolves had killed his dog and he shot at the wolves who were only defending their rendezvous site. In the first place, Why was the hunter even there in known wolf territory?

Federal officials in charge of protecting an endangered species are not enforcing section 9 of the ESA by allowing bear hunters to degrade gray wolf habitat all summer long. To follow this story click here.

Take Action

Here’s what you can do: Email Laurie J. Ross
Natural Resources Board Liaison – Office of the Secretary Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov and ask her to send your concerns about why bear hunters in Wisconsin are allowed to degrade gray wolf habitat all summer long in full violation of ESA regulations section 9 to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board members.


“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes, something known only to her and to the mountain.” Aldo Leopold

Why do State and federal officials turn a blind-eye to violations of Endangered Species Act regulations?

What happens when hunters in pursuit of bear in Wisconsin repeatedly degrade gray wolf habitat in violation of ESA regulations section 9.

If the definition of harm includes significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns, such as pup rearing, then gray wolves are at risk by the actions of hunters baiting & running dogs through habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes area, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, were relisted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), effective December 19, 2014. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is protected under the ESA.

Gray wolves are under protection according to Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act, ESA, prohibits any person, including private and public entities, from taking any listed species within the United States. “Take” is defined as “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct.”

The term “harm” is further defined by regulation to include “any act which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife,” and emphasizes that such acts may include “significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding, or sheltering.”

The following is a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity to officials regarding ESA regulations:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, by authorizing actions that harm wolves, is subjecting itself to the risk of liability under Section 9 of the ESA. As explained above, Section 9 prohibits “take” of listed species, which includes harassment, pursuit, wounding and killing of listed animals. All of these prohibited acts can occur when hounds encounter wolves during training or hunting. Although the hunters and their dogs are the ones that directly cause the harm to wolves, the state agency can be held liable for authorizing these activities, and numerous lawsuits based on such a “vicarious liability theory” have been successfully brought against state agencies for authorizing hunting or trapping activities that harm listed species. See, e.g., Animal Welfare Inst. v. Martin, 588 F. Supp. 2d 70, 76 (D. Me. 2008). The Center has brought several such cases, including, for example, a case involving Maine Department of Inland Fisheries’ authorization of use of traps and snares in habitat occupied by endangered Canada lynx. See Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv., Case No. 15-CV-327- JAW (D. Maine).

…“significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding, or sheltering.” Yet in Wisconsin every spring, summer & fall, during essential pup hearing times, Bear Hunters using bait & running dogs through rendezvous sites are never cited for violations of ESA regulations.

According to the Endangered Species Act regulations section 9 these regulations are being ignored and or not enforced By federal & state officials in charge of protecting Gray wolves. I sent the following letter to USF&WS, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board members, Chief Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden, Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Justice.

I wrote a letter asking for clarification as to why ESA regulations are being ignored and or not enforced.

The following is my letter.

Dear Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Officials in charge of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board members,

I’m asking for clarification of ESA regulations regarding ‘harm’ of endangered species. I believe ESA regulations regarding Wisconsin’s Gray wolf have been ignored, and or not enforced by USFWS and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Officials. Every summer bear hunters run their dogs through wolf rendezvous sites repeatedly degrading Gray wolf habitat. I believe this is a clear violation of ESA regulations regarding an endangered species. This past summer a bear hunter released his older dog in known wolf territory, wolves killed his dog, and he went in looking for the dog. The hunter found two wolves had killed his dog and he shot at the wolves who were defending their rendezvous site. I’m looking for clarification as to why the following rule is ignored, not enforced by state & federal officials:

“This final rule defines the term “harm” to include any act which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife, and emphasizes that such acts may include significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns of fish or wildlife.” Source: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/definition-of-harm.html Endangered Species Act | Regulations and Policies | Definition of “Harm”
[Federal Register: November 8, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 215)]

I look forward to your response/responses.

Sincerely yours,

Rachel Tilseth


A Wisconsin Gray Wolf Photograph Credit Snapshot Wisconsin.

The following is a response to my letter.

Your email requesting clarification of ESA regulations regarding harm of endangered species has been shared with the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board; and with appropriate department staff for their response.

Please know that each Wisconsin Natural Resources Board meeting is webcast live and will then be permanently available on demand/archived. You can forward the following link and information to others so they can watch a recording of the Board meeting. Go to http://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb/agenda.html and click Webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month’s meeting.

If you have not done so already, I encourage you to “subscribe” to future Wisconsin Natural Resources Board notices (e.g. agenda, brief of action, calendar) and receive email or text updates. You can do so under SUBSCRIBE at http://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb/.

Best regards,

Laurie J. Ross
Natural Resources Board Liaison – Office of the Secretary Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
101 South Webster Street
P. O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921
Phone: (608) 267-7420
Fax: (608) 266-6983
Email: laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov


In 2013 a study “Bear-baiting may exacerbate wolf-hunting dog conflict” by School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, United States of America: They found that the neighboring states, with similar wolf and bear populations and similar numbers of bear-hunting permits issued per wolf, report dramatically different numbers of wolf attacks on hunting dogs. Wisconsin’s relative risk of attack is two to seven times higher than Michigan’s.

During the 2016 Wisconsin bear hunting season 37 hunting dogs were lost in the pursuit of bear.

If Gray wolves, a species protected under the Endangered Species Act, are being harassed by hunters baiting & using dogs to track and trail black bear, my question is why are these ESA regulations being ignored?

Relaxed Bear Hunting Regulations

It’s a mystery as to just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods during training & hunting. Why is this a mystery? Because a change in regulations took place that removed the Class B bear training & hunting licence. Because of that change it’s impossible to know; just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods. WODCW’s Blog

If the definition of harm includes significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns, such as pup rearing, then gray wolves are at risk by the actions of hunters baiting & running dogs through habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolves are an imperiled species, that are a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy, and are being pushed to the brink of extinction; by conservation policies that favor a group of fringe hunters. These special interest, fringe hunters take advantage of the current political environment. They cause harm to wildlife by the “loosening” of regulations; they pushed for the removal of the Class B bear training & hunting licence that allowed for an undetermined number of dogs running through wolf habitat. That could definitely be the cause of the 37 bear hunting dog deaths.

When the sport of pursing bear with dogs began in 1963 wolves were all but eradicated in the state of Wisconsin.

Bear baiting begins earlier in Wisconsin and lasts longer, the scientists note. “The longer you bait, the more opportunity you provide for wolves to discover and potentially defend bear-bait sites,” says Bump. “Most hunters release their dogs at bait sites, and the longer the bait has been around, the more likely hunting dogs are to encounter territorial wolves who have found and are possibly defending the bait. So it appears that baiting is an important factor.”

“Broken and crushed legs, sliced-open abdomens and punctured lungs. Dogs lying mangled and dying on the surgery table — all in the pursuit of sport.” Joe Bodewes, Veterinarian from a letter in the Wisconsin State Journal dated Sep 24, 2013.

Wolf Depredation of a hunting dog in pursuit of black bear.

If hunter’s dogs are being killed in such a horrific manner, then what are the consequences to wolves, an endangered species, that are defending pups against hunter’s dogs in pursuit of bear? Furthermore, this all occurs during essential pup rearing times.

Gray wolf pups are usually born in mid April and by summer are about four months old when hunters begin training season & running their dogs in pursuit of bear. Typically wolves will leave these pup with babysitters at rendezvous sites while they are off hunting. Gray wolves are never far from their pups and are always on guard. They will defend their pups from packs of free ranging hunting dogs. If wolves are constantly having to guard and defend their pups how does it affect their ability to rear pups? Isn’t this a significant violation of ESA regulations section 9.

A Wisconsin Gray wolf pup. Photograph credit WDNR.

WDNR puts out warnings, wolf caution areas, on their website when there is a wolf depredation on a hunting dog. Hunters are reimbursed up to $2,500.00 for each dog killed while in pursuit of black bear during training and hunting seasons. Is this payout an incentive to ignore wolf caution warnings?

This past summer a bear hunter released his older dog in known wolf territory, wolves killed his dog, and he went in looking for the dog. The hunter found two wolves had killed his dog and he shot at the wolves who were defending their rendezvous site.

In conclusion, I’m watching & waiting for a response to my letter. I want to know: Why do State and federal officials turn a blind-eye to Endangered Species Act regulations when hunters repeatedly degrade gray wolves in Wisconsin?

Here’s what you can do: Email Laurie J. Ross
Natural Resources Board Liaison – Office of the Secretary Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov and ask her to add my letter to the board’s agenda.

This conflict between Wisconsin’s gray wolf and hunters using bait & running dogs on black bear is ongoing. There seems to be no end insight and these hunters are reimbursed for lost dogs. Are these hunters ignoring ESA regulations and continuing the conflict in the hopes this will get them a season on wolves?

Wisconsin Public Television segment is from 2010 concerning bear hunters & wolves.

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 http://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.

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.

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.