A Humane Nation – Wayne Pacelle’s blog: Wolf-killing plans stir in lame-duck session of Congress

November 22, 2016

Nobody eats wolves.
If you’re a meat eater, it’s one thing to hunt deer or some other wild animals and consume them. It’s another matter to go on a head-hunting exercise, or just kill for the thrill of it.
In the lame-duck session of Congress, there is a big move afoot to eliminate federal protections for wolves in four states that, for the most part, have a terrible record of caring for their small populations of that species. If Congress subverts the federal courts, and selectively removes wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, it will only serve to enable people to kill wolves for no good reason.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., recently came out with a statement urging Congress to strip federal protections for wolves, even though a series of federal judges have said that there’s no legitimate legal or scientific basis for delisting. Advocates of wolf killing have appealed the latest ruling affirming the need for federal protection, so an end-around the courts amounts to a subversion of judicial review.
If federal lawmakers go down this road, where does it end? To score political points with a favored constituency, or to try to neutralize or win over a problematic constituency, lawmakers will start removing species from the ark willy-nilly. It sets an awful precedent, and Sen. Baldwin should know better.
She would do well to recall the words – in fact, all of us would do well to recall them — of another Wisconsinite about our relationship with wolves. In his essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” part of A Sand County Almanac, naturalist and hunter Aldo Leopold recalled a hunting experience in which his party killed a she-wolf at a time when almost all conservationists believed that the killing of predators was necessary. “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes,” Leopold wrote. “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.”
Hateful attitudes toward wolves should be overcome by clear-headed thinking about the role they play in ecology and also their value in rural communities. People trek to wolf-inhabited forests precisely because these animals are there, boosting tourism-related commerce. Wolves also limit deer and moose populations, depressing crop depredation, and shrinking the number of collisions between these animals and cars. Wolves kill weak, sick, and older deer and moose, beavers, and other animals, making the herds healthier, which has a broad, balancing, and beneficial impact on ecosystems. Wolves are a bulwark against the spread of chronic wasting disease, because they kill deer and other hooved animals that show the symptoms of the brain-wasting prion.
A maneuver to delist wolves is a bit of a cover-up and a bait-and-switch for poor oversight over domesticated dogs and farm animals. I’ve run across countless examples, from Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states, where wolves take the blame when a farmer doesn’t provide proper use of non-lethal controls or shows off poor animal husbandry that puts cattle or sheep at risk. Wolves often get the blame for animals they didn’t kill too, because no agency bothers to verify livestock losses that farmers and ranchers claim.
An overwhelming majority of Americans – 90 percent according to a June 2015 poll – support the Endangered Species Act, and it is the most important law our nation has ever passed to protect species at risk of extinction. Michigan voters took up two wolf hunting referendums in 2014 – the only state to have popular votes on the issue – and voters rejected wolf hunting and trapping in landslide votes.
Last year, more than 50 world-renowned wildlife biologists and scientists, many of whom have devoted their entire professional careers toward understanding the social and biological issues surrounding wolves in North America, sent a letter to Congress urging members to oppose any efforts to strip federal protections for wolves in the contiguous 48 states. If Congress were to take this adverse action, according to these scientists, it would upend two recent federal court rulings, which criticized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for distorting the “plain meaning” of the standards of the ESA and admonished several state wildlife agencies for conducting overreaching and dangerous trophy-hunting and trapping programs upon federal delisting.
Sen. Baldwin, please reconsider your ill-advised recommendation to Congress to delist wolves and subject them not only to trophy hunting, but to being ensnared by steel-jawed leghold traps and being chased and savaged by packs of dogs. This is trophy hunting and trapping masquerading as wildlife management. It’s most definitely not proper stewardship of God’s creatures. And it’s not decent or humane.
Let Sen. Baldwin know you’re unhappy with her stance by calling her at 202-224-5653, and please contact your members of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask them to oppose this plan.

Source
Photo Credit: Hateful attitudes toward wolves should be overcome by clear-headed thinking about the role they play in ecology and also their value in rural communities. Photo by Alamy

Great Lakes Wolf News Highlights of the Year 2015

This year in review for the Great Lakes wolf has seen it all from being federally protected, to threats of delisting, and anti- wolf riders being rejected. The year 2015 started out on a positive note for wolf advocates, because a federal Judge had ordered the Great Lakes Wolf back on the ESA on December 19, 2014. This positive news didn’t last long and wolf advocates began to brace themselves against the possibility that the Great Lakes wolf could be delisted at any given moment. Anti-wolf factions were angered by the decision that returned the wolf back under federal protections. These anti-wolf factions began to work with special interests groups to undermine the endangered species act by attaching riders on legislation that would prevent any judicial review and return wolves back into the hands of states. Thus began the battle to save the Great Lakes wolf. 

On Friday December 19, 2014 the news broke that Great Lakes wolves were put back on the Federal Endangered Species Act immediately.

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Great Lakes wolves ordred back on the ESA , December 19, 2014


Several organizations challenged a rule that had removed the Great Lakes wolf from the Endangered Species Act. The humane society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, Help Our Wolves Live, Friends of Animals and their Environment, and Born Free USA were the organizations that successfully sued to have the Great Lakes wolf put back on the ESA.
The following is a press release from HSUS…

“Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.” Cited from HSUS http://bit.ly/1Qozn3U

The following is excerpts from the ruling…

“In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species. The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.”  Cited from HSUS http://bit.ly/1Qozn3U

Great Lakes states were not willing to protect an endangered species. The following are some examples of unregulated sport hunting of wolves that took place while they were off the ESA list.

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Young wolf killed in Wisconsin’s third wolf hunt. Wisconsin is the only state that allows unregulated wolf hound hunting.


1. Wisconsin rushed to hunt wolves with the aid of hound hunting dogs. 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.” 
http://bit.ly/1P3877L

2. Minnesota used snares to kill wolves. Can it get any more violent? Wolves were killed in Minnesota using these snare traps. Minnesota hunting regulations MDNR use of snare for trapping begins. Cited from WODCW blog http://bit.ly/221SBjM

In other news, Michigan citizens worked hard to overturn any and all bids to hunt wolves and to keep wolves protected. For more information on this fight visit Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. http://bit.ly/1RNqiB6

Returning wolves to the ESA was the best news of the year for wolf advocates in the Great Lakes region.  Shortly after this good news broke, anti-wolf legislators started designing legislation calling to delist wolves without any judicial review. In response to this anti-wolf legislation, several pro wolf organizations called for a compromise.

“… a petition from 22  regional and national conservation and wolf advocacy organizations, to keep protections in place – asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify wolves from “endangered” to “threatened.” The proposal would ensure federal oversight of wolves, encourage the development of a national recovery plan, and keep funding in place for wolf recovery while permitting states to address specific wolf conflicts.” Cited from WODCW blog http://bit.ly/1QCCmWy

The fight to keep Wolves on the endangered species list continued in June, as the US Fish and Wildlife Service denied the threatened status for the gray wolf.  Science was ignored  by Wisconsin and Minnesota and trophy hunting became the only acceptable tool used to manage the Great Lakes wolf.  It was no wonder a Federal Judge ordered them back on the ESA on December 19, 2014 after three years of unregulated trophy hunting in the Great Lakes region. 

In WI news, it was determined that a trophy hunt on wolves did not increase tolerance of wolves and that WI residents need wolf education to increase tolerance of wolves.

Scientists began to speak out against trophy hunts on wolves…

“There was a notion held widely in the scientific literature and said at public meetings that a public hunting season would increase acceptance of wolves,” says Adrian Treves, professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and co-author of the study. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources cited “maintaining social tolerance” as a goal of the wolf harvest in a statement in 2013… While wolf hunting is again illegal — the animals were relisted as a federally endangered species in 2014 — study lead author Jamie Hogberg, a researcher at the Nelson Institute, suggests policymakers and wildlife managers might consider other ways to improve social tolerance and reduce conflict between the animals and people going forward.” Cited from, Tolerance of wolves in Wisconsin continues to decline, UW-Madison news http://bit.ly/1NZQrGW

In an attempt to satisfy anti-wolf special interests, several members of congress began to push legislation to delist the Great Lakes wolf.

“Johnson’s bill would mirror H.R. 884, a bill introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble that would again remove wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the Endangered Species List. The bills would override a December federal court ruling that outlawed wolf hunts. Cited from Wisconsin Public Radio, Sen. Johnson Plans To Introduce Bill Delisting Wolf Under Endangered Species Act, Legislation Would Mirror Rep. Ribble’s Bill In House,” Friday, March 6, 2015, 6:50pm, By Glen Moberg http://bit.ly/1NsFv5a

Conditions worsened for the Great Lakes wolf,  as anti-wolf legislation took the form of a  rider attached to federal budget that called to delist the wolves without any judicial review.

Great Lakes wolf advocates rushed to defend the endangered species Act from being undermined. Advocates held tweetstorms, letter writing, and email campaigns to stop anti-wolf legislation.

  
The most recent news on the delisting question took place in November 2015…

However, a greater debate broke out between scientists. There were many who advocated delisting, but there were even more who did not believe wolves should be delisted. The following is an account of the pro-wolf listing scientists:

Scientists Sound Off Over Gray Wolf Hunting, Species Currently Protected But Congress, Courts Could Change That, Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 5:10pm, By Chuck Quirmbach of WPR

“In recent weeks, scientists and researchers have been speaking up. Adrian Treves, a University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental studies professor, has co-authored a paper in the journal Biological Reviews that says by allowing hunters to shoot and trap wolves, Wisconsin legislators violated the Public Trust Doctrine that says governments must maintain natural resources for the use of current and future generations of the general public… This week, Treves joined 28 other scientists in arguing that Endangered Species Act protection for the wolves should be kept. Treves contends a different group of scientists that released a pro-delisting letter last week misunderstood the finer points of law, public attitudes and scientific evidence.”  Cited from WPR http://bit.ly/21h1be4

The following information concerns scientists who asked that wolves be delisted:

“Former DNR wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven, now coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance at Northland College in Ashland, said the group has a message for Congress: “Just want to let them know that many of us feel wolves have recovered and they should be a state-managed species at this point,” Wydeven said.”  Cited from WPR http://bit.ly/21h1be4

I even weighed in on the debate in the same post…

“Various advocates are lining up behind the two groups of scientists. Rachel Tilseth, of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, disagreed with Wydeven…”Can states be trusted to manage wolves? I think not, and many other scientists agree that individual states cannot be trusted,” Tilseth said.” Cited from WPR http://bit.ly/21h1be4

Since the Great Lakes wolf were returned to the endangered Species Act on December, 19, 2014, the news coming out of Washington D.C. has been a steady stream of of anti-wolf legislation.  Keeping the Great Lakes Wolf under federal protection has been the biggest battle of the year. 
Wolves must remain under federal protection until individual states in the Great Lakes, can learn how to protect an iconic species. Scientists have just begun to understand how essential wolves are to maintaining healthy ecosystems. Hunting wolves as a management tool only serves special interest groups bent on eradication. Cited from WODCW blog http://bit.ly/1Yfo79h

  A welcomed bit of hope for the wolf came out in April 2015 in the form of a documentary, Medicine of the Wolf, a film made in Minnesota. This film features wolf advocates, such as renowned National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg and Michigan Scientist John Vucetich. This film was produced and directed by Julia Huffman. I recommend you purchase this film available for sale now. The following link will take you to the film’s website: http://bit.ly/1fufXDP

At last, a victory came for the Great Lakes wolves, almost one year after they were ordered back under federal protections. The rider ordering the delisting of our wolves was removed from the omnibus budget bill:

“A proposal that would have taken gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list did not make it into a massive year-end congressional tax and spending package, an omission that surprised its backers but was welcomed Wednesday by groups that support maintaining federal protections for the predators… “Cooler heads prevailed in Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He said a letter written by Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, and signed by 23 other senators including Gary Peters, D-Michigan, helped make the difference. Cited from WODCW blog http://bit.ly/1QuCpUd

Although this is good news for Great Lakes wolves, they are not out of the woods yet; read on:

“The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal…The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.

There are still several anti-wolf bills in congress that would delist the wolf in the Great Lakes region, but at the end of this year, the Great Lakes wolf is still federally protected by the endangered species act. The question I ask for the coming year is this: will the president and congress protect iconic and endangered species? We must constantly remind both that they should do exactly that.

For more information on how to help keep the Great Lakes wolf listed, click on the following links: 

Howling for Wolves http://bit.ly/1anEY4R

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin http://bit.ly/1HOF6Nw

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected http://keepwolvesprotected.com/about

  

Campaign for Yellowstone’s Wolves-seeks volunteers to defend wolves from political attack. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE! We want to create a special Cadre of “Ready-For-Action” Volunteers to defend wolves from political attack between now and early December. To join, please message us ASAP!
Here’s why: We need folks who at critical moments in coming days can contact key political leaders to oppose anti-wolf legislation now before Congress. Specifically, a “rider” attached to the 2016 appropriations bill for the environment would remove federal protection for wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and weaken the Endangered Species Act.
Yellowstone’s wolves would again be subjected to hunting along the huge border between Wyoming and Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks. In the past many park wolves were shot in this boundary area, including the beloved Alpha Female know as “06” of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. If that’s not bad enough, all of Wyoming and those Great Lakes states would again be open to wolf hunting.
We will contact everyone who joins this elite group on exactly who to contact, when, and how best to do so for maximum effect! We will coordinate this effort with other wolf advocate groups. Thank you in advance, dear friends!

Campaign for Yellowstone’s Wolves
Click HERE to message us through our Facebook page.