Who owns these 100 million acres of wildlife habitat on Federal lands? 

From A Humane Nation Wayne Pacelle’s Blog 

Federal Lands Belong to All of Us – Whether In Oregon, Alaska, or Elsewhere, February 5, 2016
Something very anti-American has been happening in our nation. The bonds that have traditionally held us together are popping loose here and there. To my way of thinking, not enough of us – particularly those who claim social leadership – have been speaking out in alarm.
I’d like to.
I’m referring to the foundational covenants of our country. Specifically, the idea of “We the People,” and our collective deed to parks and rivers and refuges – these public-land holdings that are a cornerstone of the American experience that we all share, that we hold in trust for future generations. Let me focus on National Wildlife Refuges, because, for the first time in a long time, they’ve been on the front page – albeit for the wrong reasons.
Who owns these 100 million acres of wildlife habitat?
That’s easy. They teach it everywhere from grade school to grad school. We all do. We the people.
But now, if you listen to a few outlaw cowboys in Idaho, Nevada, and other points West, they’ll tell you, No. It belongs to them, whoever they are. Not you. Them. To do as they please.
There shouldn’t be much fuss about this matter, really. The so-called “sagebrush rebellion” has been an episodic and overblown phenomenon in the West for 40 years.
But I’ve been growing more concerned. I think we should worry when much of our news media and too much of our political leadership takes these criminals at least partly seriously. Their recent “occupation” of Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon was seldom characterized correctly as an act of protest against the conviction of arsonists covering up their poaching, but rather portrayed as the narrative of righteous lads with big belt buckles and fancy hats standing up, Alamo-style, to speak out against a villainous federal government.
The Malheur “uprising” seems to have finally fizzled, and the lads with the big hats are facing some unhappy days in the courthouse.
But the anti-government sentiment still simmers. And too often the “We the People” part of these stories is left for grade-school teachers. Right now, the battleground over “your” national wildlife refuges has shifted to Alaska. There, it’s not a matter of a dozen cowboys with sugar-plum fantasies of John Wayne in their little heads; it’s the state government that proposes to take your deed to these refuges and flush it down the toilet.
I was fascinated, not to say dismayed, this week to read a news story about a bill moving through the state legislature in Juneau that “demands” the U.S. government relinquish all deed to all of the state’s “federally owned land” to Alaska. Including National Wildlife Refuges.
The news story further reported that lawmakers know full well that such a land-grab would be unconstitutional. But pandering to special interests knows no bounds in some places.
And Alaska’s federal lawmakers are getting in on the act, too. They don’t much like a recent proposed rulemaking by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, developed by managers of Alaska’s refuges, to manage animals within refuge boundaries in the interests of wildlife and with concern for those who enjoy – or appreciate – them on our collective lands. The idea behind the proposed federal rule is not to stop hunting, but merely to curb some truly awful abuses of wildlife and to state some common-sense rules that really shouldn’t provide much argument when it comes to the rights and wrongs of hunting.
This rule would prohibit the killing of brown bears with bait. Good lord, no Alaska hunter worthy of the name should argue on behalf of money-hungry guides who want to set out bait so they can promise busy millionaire outsiders a quick, easy weekend kill for the trophy room.
Another element of the rule would bar hunters from spotting bears from an airplane, landing close-by, and shooting them. Instead, the hunter would have to wait 24 hours. Most Alaska hunters, I’ll wager, and certainly a majority of us Americans who hold deed to these refuges, don’t think we need to deploy air strikes on bears.
And mind you, these are behaviors in question on a national wildlife refuge? If we don’t protect these creatures on a “refuge” from these unsporting and indeed sickening behaviors, where would we provide some safeguards?
Alaska’s junior U.S. Senator, Dan Sullivan, recently pushed through an amendment to a “Sportsmen’s package” in Congress to block any final action from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make this rule final – a rule grounded in the idea of the common good and sportsmanship and fair use and most basic protections for wildlife. He’s not speaking for all Alaskans in pushing this action, since we know that many Alaskans oppose land-and-shoot hunting, baiting, and denning of wolves.
I’ll be writing more about these rules and Alaska’s pandering response.
But for now, I want to make the case as strongly as I can that the “we” in We the People are you, me, our neighbors, and our friends. The millions of us who work, pay taxes, and honor our responsibilities.
We would not tolerate some band of thugs deciding to appropriate Central Park from public ownership, or Yosemite, or LAX airport. We wouldn’t entertain a debate over whether the Bundys should be grazing cattle on the National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
And we need to stop accepting the idea that these Bundy-esque contests, these Alaska showdowns, are between people and some vague oppressor institution. Unfortunately, that’s too often where we find ourselves now after 35 years of political mau-mauing about government as something apart from the “we.” It’s not. Read the first three words of the Constitution. The refuges are ours. It’s un-American to say, or think, otherwise.
How government manages public resources in the public interest – that’s a legitimate subject for debate. In that vein, I could offer 20 good arguments for conservative management of national wildlife refuges – but the most important two are (a) for the wildlife who live there and (b) for those of us who care about them.
And when it comes to the specifics of management, I’ll take the word of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the ravings of the Bundy folks, or the Alaska pols who too conveniently forget about our noble tradition of federal land protection as a unique element of the American experience and character.

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Featured image by John E Marriott Photography, click HERE to view his wolf photographs

Help Humane Society of the United States in the Fight to Protect Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf

Humane Society of the U.S. stopped the trophy of hunt of wild wolves in Wisconsin, Great Lakes Region and in the U.S. numerous times. Please review the following Timeline of Gray Wolf Protection (source)  Donate, take action HSUS is on the front lines protecting Wisconsin’s gray wolf. 
 2014: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issues an order invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 rule delisting wolves in the western Great Lakes region, requiring that sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the region must end immediately.

  

December 2014
: The annual wolf hunt ends early in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with hunters and trappers exceeding state quotas at record pace. In Minnesota, 272 wolves were killed, 22 more than the stated quota, with 84 percent of late season wolves killed in traps. In Wisconsin, 154 wolves were killed, four more than the quota permitted and 80 percent killed in leghold traps.

November 2014
: Voters repeal PA 520 (moving the wolf to the game species list) with a 55 percent “no” vote, and they also repeal PA 21 (giving the NRC the authority to decide which species can be hunted), with a 64 percent “no” vote. Repeal of PA 21 was approved by 69 of 83  a landslide rejection of NRC decision-making power.

September 2014:
Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming are reinstated after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 rule delisting of the species in that state, requiring that sport hunting and trapping of wolves in Wyoming must end immediately.

August 2014
: The Michigan legislature passes the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act” and, not requiring the governor’s signature, the bill immediately becomes law (PA 281).

March 2014
: Keep Michigan Wolves Protected submits signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State, marking its second referendum for the November 4 ballot that would protect wolves and restore the right of Michigan voters to weigh in on critical wildlife issues. This referendum specifically would restore voter’s ability to weigh in on not just wolves, but almost any protected animal the NRC may wish to add to the list of game species to be hunted and trapped for sport.

November 2013
: Michigan’s first-ever annual wolf season begins and a total of 22 wolves are killed. A coalition funded by sport-hunting groups announces plans for its own petition drive for a citizen initiated bill called the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act,” which is intended to reaffirm the NRC’s ability to designate game species. In a move to make the bill immune from Michigan voter referendum, the bill included a $1 million appropriation earmark.

  


June 2013
: USFWS publishes its proposal to delist the gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species Act throughout the Lower 48 states where wolves are not already delisted.

May 2013
: Michigan Gov. Snyder signs legislation (PA 21) allowing the Natural Resources Commission to designate new game species instead of just the legislature. PA 21 is intended to allow wolf hunting even if PA 520 was suspended or repealed by referendum.

March 2013
: A coalition of groups including The HSUS called “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” submit 253,705 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, marking the coalition’s first petition drive to stop a wolf hunting season through referendum of PA 520. The referendum would allow Michigan voters to decide whether wolves should be hunted in the November 2014 election.

February 2013
: Wildlife protection groups, including The HSUS, file suit against the USFWS over its decision to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region.

  

October 2012
: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signs legislation (PA 520) designating the wolf as a game species and authorizing the Natural Resources Commission to establish a wolf hunting season.

December 2012
: The HSUS and The Fund for Animals file a lawsuit to restore federal protections for Wyoming wolves.

September 2012
: The USFWS removes wolves in Wyoming from federal Endangered Species Act protections.

April 2012 – July 2012
: Wisconsin enacts legislation mandating a wolf hunting and trapping season, requiring that the state wildlife agency authorize the use of packs of dogs, night hunting, and snare and leg-hold traps. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 201 wolves.

July 2011 – August 2012
: Minnesota enacts legislation allowing a wolf hunting and trapping season once wolves are delisted. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 400 wolves.

December 2011
: The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

  


April 2011
: Congress delists wolves in Montana and Idaho, and portions of Washington, Oregon, and Utah, marking the first time ever that Congress has removed protections for any species on the Endangered Species List.

August 2010
: In response to litigation brought by The HSUS and others, a federal court ruling reinstates federal protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana and prevents wolf hunts from going forward in those states.

August 2009
: The HSUS and others file suit to block wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana and restore federal Endangered Species act protections to wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains.

July 2009
: The HSUS enters into a court-approved settlement agreement with the USFWS that reinstated federal protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

June 2009
: The HSUS and others file suit in federal court to block the delisting of Great Lakes wolves.

April 2009
: The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes and northern Rockies, except for those in Wyoming.

September 2008
: In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and other organizations, a federal court overturns the USFWS’ decision to delist wolves in the western Great Lakes, thereby reinstating federal protections for gray wolves in the region.

July 2008
: In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and others, a federal judge issues an injunction restoring northern Rockies gray wolves to the endangered species list pending the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging their delisting.

February 2007
: The USFWS issues final rules delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains.

2005 –
: The USFWS tries to strip wolves of protection by issuing special exemption permits to the state of Wisconsin that authorize state officials to kill dozens of wolves. These permits are thrown out by a federal court in response to a lawsuit by The HSUS.

  

2005
: Two federal courts both rule that the 2003 downlisting was arbitrary and capricious, returning the wolf to endangered status.

2003
: The USFWS issues a final rule downgrading most of the gray wolves living in the lower 48 states from endangered to threatened, making it easier for people to lethally take wolves.

1978
: Gray wolves are listed at the species level under the Endangered Species Act as endangered throughout the coterminous United States and Mexico, except in Minnesota, where gray wolves were listed as threatened.

1974
: Various subspecies of wolves are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

1967
: Wolves are listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, the precursor to the Endangered Species Act.

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All images are from: CAI PRIESTLEY’S WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG

Great Lakes Wolf Delisting Threat Continues in 2016

I have been a supporter of Wisconsin’s wolf recovery for a couple of decades. When I began working, as a volunteer monitoring wolves, only 249 wolves resided in Wisconsin (cited from Progress Report of Wolf Population Monitoring in Wisconsin for the period of April – September 2000). During this time, I have seen it all:

1. Wolves listed as temporary to threatened status.

2. Bear hound hunters ignoring WDNR wolf caution warnings, resulting in over $500,000 dollars in reimbursement costs and many dead dogs.

3. Multiple threats to delist the wolf.

 The year, 2015, began happily with the return of the Great Lakes wolf under federal protection after 3 years of trophy hunts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The year ended with good news as well, as a rider was excluded from the federal omnibus bill that would have delisted them (Cited from WODCW blog Great Lakes Wolf News Highlights of the Year 2015)

Another threat to the Great Lakes wolf lies within the outcome of an appeal filed on behalf of several organizations:

“Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed notices – although it acknowledged that the final decision on whether to pursue the case would be made by the Department of Justice. On Feb. 26, Wisconsin filed an appeal, and a day later, Michigan’s DNR also filed. Now add Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Safari Club International, the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, the Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to the list…The joint effort is an attempt to repeal the December 2014 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell that returned wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – to the endangered species list. The judge’s ruling put an end to wolf management hunts and mandated that people can only kill a wolf in self-defense, but not to protect pets or livestock.” (Cited from Michigan Outdoor News, Appeals mount following court’s wolf ruling by Bill Parker Editor on March 12, 2015)

A decision could be forthcoming from this appeal within the next 2 months. Thus, Great Lakes wolves 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.” Cited from Budget Bill Won’t Have Wolf Management Returning To Minn.)

Humane Society of the United States has filed multiple suits to keep wolves under federal protection on the ESA and won those battles. HSUS’s hard work and efforts has kept the Great Lakes wolf protected for now. 

I’m keeping tabs on HSUS for any news about the appeals decision. 

Read the following press releases from HSUS: 

Humane society opposes wolf delisting

In the War Over Management of Wolves, The HSUS Won’t Shrink from Effort to Protect Them
Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over
Wisconsin Voters Support Protecting Wolves by 8 to 1 Margin New poll shows Wisconsin voters statewide oppose a reckless trophy hunt of wolves
October 15, 2012 The Humane Society of the United States Files Notice of Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves

The following is a timeline from HSUS: 

April 2012 – July 2012 – Wisconsin enacts legislation mandating a wolf hunting and trapping season, requiring that the state wildlife agency authorize the use of dogs, night hunting, and snare and leg-hold traps. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 201 wolves.

July 2011 – August 2012 –
Minnesota enacts legislation allowing a wolf hunting and trapping season once the wolves are delisted. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 400 wolves.

December 2011 –
USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

September 2010 –
The USFWS issues a finding that petitions to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region “may be warranted.”

July 2009 –
The HSUS enters into a court-approved settlement agreement with the USFWS that reinstated federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region.

June 2009 –
The HSUS files suit in federal court to block the delisting decision.

April 2009 –
USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

September 2008 –
In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and other organizations, a federal court overturned the USFWS’ Great Lakes delisting decision, thereby reinstating federal protections for gray wolves in the region.

February 2007 –
The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes. 

2005 – 2006 –
The USFWS tries to strip wolves of protection by issuing blanket permits to the state of Wisconsin that authorize state officials to kill dozens of wolves. These permits are thrown out by a federal court in response to a lawsuit by The HSUS. 

January 2005 –
A federal court rules that the 2003 downlisting was arbitrary and capricious, returning the wolf to endangered status. 

2003 –
USFWS issues a final rule downgrading most of the gray wolves living in the lower 48 states from endangered to threatened, making it easier for people to lethally take wolves. 

1974 – Gray wolf listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act throughout the lower 48 states.

1967 – Wolves listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 – the precursor to the Endangered Species Act.