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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are links to articles that support your comments.

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

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

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

You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

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

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

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

Is Wisconsin’s management of wolves responsible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisconsin’s Record On Wolf Management 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House Passes H.R. 6784 Requiring the Secretary of the Interior to Reissue Removal of Gray Wolf from ESL in the Lower 48 States…

There’s more than one side to a coin. One side of the coin demonstrates the pro side for preserving the Endangered Species Act; While the other side pushes to role back progress made in preserving our wildlife & wild lands. But if you pick up that same coin, and begin rubbing your fingers along all the sides; You become acutely aware of a third side to the coin with a new edge to it. It’s called checks and balances that remind us what democracy is all about. And the Endangered Species Act is the “gatekeeper” that ensures the preservation of our wildlife & the habitat they depend on.

The War on Wolves Continued this week in Congress. The House of Representatives, passed a bill, H.R.6784 – Manage our Wolves Act calling for Gray wolf delisting in the lower 48 states and prevents any judicial review of this bad legislative decision. The bill even includes the delisting of the Mexican Gray wolf as well. This bill is a desperate attempt to push through rotten legislation at the zero hour before Democrats take over the house. I use the term “rotten” to describe this legislation because it undermines decades of environmental progress starting with the Endangered Species Act itself. H.R. 6784 is a bill backed by big-monied special interests because they want free and easy access to the land.

The Endangered Species Act  (ESA) of 1973 is a key legislation for both domestic and international conservation. The act aims to provide a framework to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats.  “And their Habitats” part is what extractive industries hate. They hate it because it’s what prevents them from gaining free and easy access to wild lands. In other words, the ESA is the “gatekeeper” that ensures the preservation of our wildlife & the habitat they depend on.

This “rotten” House Bill will head to the Senate now. It’s hard to believe that any senator will pass a bill that calls for delisting gray wolves on such a grand scale let alone removes any judicial review of the misguided decision. This H.R. 6784 bill is a far reaching piece of legislation that undermines the Endangered Species Act. What will happen next in a senate version remains to be seen.

As of May 10, 2016, the act listed 1,367 species of animals and 901 species of plants as endangered or threatened.

It’s vital that Americans throw their full support behind preserving the ESA because if these factions get their way by delisting gray wolves throughout the lower 48 states, it’s only the beginning of the end. It’s only the beginning of the end for our Wildlife that are already at the brink of extinction & destruction through habitat loss and climate change.

The Bald Eagle was a symbol for ESA and you could even say was the “spearhead” that brought us the ESA in the 1970s. I believe that the gray wolf is now that spearhead in today’s fight for preservation of wildlife & wilderness. The Gray wolf stands between extractive industrial special interests & Preserving the Endangered Species Act. The gray wolf has been a scapegoat of Big Ag for centuries ever since the development of expensive cattle breeds. The Gray wolf was a threat to these fat cows, and a bounty was placed on their heads. Today the gray wolf in the lower 48 states occupies less than 2% of their historic range. I ask the question when is enough, enough? The recent action in the House of Representatives proves our politicians are not for the people. They are about themselves and as corrupt as ever. Even president Richard Nixon, that resigned or face prosecution for the Watergate break in, was for preserving our endangered & threatened wildlife. He had more integrity it seems than the political parties in power now.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was created to protect animals and plants that were in danger of becoming extinct. “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed,” said President Richard Nixon while signing the act on December 28, 1973.

Gray wolves have evolved as nature’s best tool for keeping our ecosystems healthy. A gray wolf can detect disease in White-tailed deer because they have such a powerful olfactory sense. According to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Wolf Progress Report Winter 2017-2018:

White-tailed deer density estimates increased 2% statewide from the previous year estimate (Stenglein, 2018). In wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range and containing 80% of the minimum winter wolf count, deer density estimates increased 19% compared to 2016. 

Statewide continuous wolf pack range was estimated to be 23,687 mi2 in northern and central forested regions of Wisconsin. Using the 2018 minimum population count of 905-944 wolves, wolf density is estimated to be 1 wolf per 25.1 to 26.2 mi2 of contiguous wolf range, calculated by dividing contiguous wolf range by the minimum population count range according to the report.

Yet, Representative Duffy (R-WI) who is behind this “rotten” legislation that passed the House proves he has no interest in his own state’s scientific data.

It’s essential that we throw our support behind stopping this “rotten” legislative attempt at delisting gray wolves throughout the lower 48 states, that is now headed for the senate. There’s more than one side to a coin. One side of the coin demonstrates the pro side for preserving the Endangered Species Act; While the other side pushes to role back progress made in preserving our wildlife & wild lands. But if you pick up that same coin, and begin rubbing your fingers along all the sides; You become acutely aware of a third side to coin with a new edge to it. It’s called checks and balances that remind us what democracy is all about. And the Endangered Species Act is the “gatekeeper” that ensures the preservation of our wildlife & the habitat they depend on.

Take action contact your senator

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 web sites. 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 

For correspondence to Senate Committees: 

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

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.

#GetActive Thank you!

The following graphic represents how individual states such as Wisconsin value our wildlife.

The following is a wolf hounding fact sheet:

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

Lawsuit argues that wolves must remain federally protected until the Fish and Wildlife Service implements a national recovery plan.

“We won’t let the Trump administration bring wolf recovery to a screeching halt to benefit the blood sport of trophy hunting,” said Collette Adkins, a Minneapolis-based Center biologist and attorney. “If successful, our lawsuit would require the feds to recover wolves nationwide and block their efforts to prematurely remove protection.”

Lawsuit Fights Trump Administration Effort to Strip Gray Wolves of Protection 

Action Seeks Legally Required National Wolf Recovery Plan

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violating the Endangered Species Act by never providing a comprehensive recovery plan for gray wolves nationwide, which is required by the law.

Today’s lawsuit argues that wolves must remain federally protected until the Fish and Wildlife Service implements a national recovery plan. But the agency is planning to remove endangered species protection from nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states through a proposed rule expected next month. 

That would make wolves vulnerable to trophy hunting and trapping, halting their progress toward recovery. 

“We won’t let the Trump administration bring wolf recovery to a screeching halt to benefit the blood sport of trophy hunting,” said Collette Adkins, a Minneapolis-based Center biologist and attorney. “If successful, our lawsuit would require the feds to recover wolves nationwide and block their efforts to prematurely remove protection.”

A recovery plan would enable wolves to establish viable populations in areas where small populations are still recovering, including California, Oregon and Washington. 

It would also promote recovery in areas like the southern Rockies, Dakotas and Adirondacks, which have suitable wolf habitat but no remaining wolf populations. 

“Wolves are still missing from more than 90 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states, and the Endangered Species Act, and common sense tell us we can’t ignore that loss,” said Adkins. “We’re doing all we can to make sure Trump officials fulfill their obligation to restore wolves in key habitats across the country.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, explains that the Service unreasonably denied the Center’s formal petition requesting development of a nationwide wolf recovery plan. Beyond the plan the Endangered Species Act requires the agency to conduct a status review every five years. But six years have passed since the last national wolf status review.

For Immediate Release, November 14, 2018

Contact: Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org

Featured photographs by John E Marriott

Vehicle Collisions and Illegal kills Were the Leading Causes of Death for Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf

The Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report describes wolf management and monitoring activities conducted in Wisconsin during the wolf monitoring year, April 15th, 2017 to April 14th, 2018. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) reverted to federally endangered status in the Western Great Lakes region as the result of a federal court decision in December 2014. They have been in this status for the entire monitoring period. The Gray Wolf Monitoring Report done through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and can be found on their website.

Statewide continuous wolf pack range was estimated to be 23,687 mi2 in northern and central forested regions of Wisconsin. Using the 2018 minimum population count of 905-944 wolves, wolf density is estimated to be 1 wolf per 25.1 to 26.2 mi2 of contiguous wolf range, calculated by dividing contiguous wolf range by the minimum population count range according to the report.

Figure 5 Wisconsin Wolf Monitoring Report WDNR Website

Wolf population monitoring 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.

A total of 36 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4% of the minimum 2016-2017 late winter count of 925- 952 wolves.

Wolf mortality was monitored through field observation and mandatory reporting of control mortalities. Cause of death for wolves reported dead in the field was determined through field investigation or by necropsy when illegal activity was suspected or where cause of death was not evident during field investigation. A total of 36 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4% of the minimum 2016-2017 late winter count of 925- 952 wolves according to the report.

Vehicle collisions (39%) and illegal kills (19%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities and were similar to the rates detected the previous year. Human caused mortality represented 72% of known cause detected mortalities overall. [for more details click here]

Eleven collared wolves died during the monitoring period. All were being actively monitored at the time of death (Table 5). Cause of death could not be determined for 3 collared wolves. For the 8 where cause of death could be determined, 3 (38%) were illegally killed, 2 (25%) were killed by vehicle collision, 1 likely died as a result of capture related myopathy, 1 died as a result of disease, and 1 apparently died as a result of intraspecific strife.

Livestock depredations included 29 cattle killed and 1 injured, and 4 sheep killed. The number of farms affected was the same as the previous monitoring year.

Wolf depredation incidents were investigated by United States Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services. During the monitoring period, Wildlife Services confirmed 59 wolf complaints of the 103 investigated (Figure 6).

Table 6 Wisconsin Wolf Monitoring Report

Unconfirmed complaints were either confirmed to be due to causes other than wolves or lacked sufficient evidence to attribute a cause. Thirty-one incidents of wolf depredation to livestock and 6 incidents of wolf threat to livestock were confirmed on 31 different farms during the monitoring period (Table 6). This included 13 of 34 farms classified as chronic wolf depredation farms (38%). Livestock depredations included 29 cattle killed and 1 injured, and 4 sheep killed. The number of farms affected was the same as the previous monitoring year (Figure 7).

Twenty incidents of non-livestock depredation and 2 incidents of non-livestock threats were confirmed during the monitoring period. his included 17 dogs killed and 10 injured while actively engaged in hunting activities, and 1 dog killed and 2 injured outside of hunting situations (Figure 8). This was a 55% decrease from 2016-17 when 44 incidents of non-livestock depredation were confirmed. Fifteen of seventeen (88%) of hunting dog incidents occurred between July 15th and October 1st. One incident occurred in January and 1 occurred in March.

Looking at the Figures 6 & 7 with years 2007 to 2018, there’s a marked decrease. This disproves the theory that wolf hunts, that took place in 2012, 2012 & 2014 would decrease wolf depredations on farms. In other words, wolf complaints have gone down as the wolf population stabilizes.

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

Population monitoring and law enforcement efforts detected 7 wolves illegally killed within the monitoring period. Law enforcement staff conducted 4 wolf related investigations and issued 2 citations during the reporting period (Table 7).

White-tailed deer are the primary prey species for wolves in Wisconsin. Units used for monitoring Wisconsin deer are counties, or in some cases, partial counties. Counties were assigned to the wolf management unit that the majority of the county falls in to compare deer density changes in the wolf management units (Table 8). White-tailed deer density estimates increased 2% statewide from the previous year estimate (Stenglein, 2018). In wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range and containing 80% of the minimum winter wolf count, deer density estimates increased 19% compared to 2016. New recommendations from the County Deer Advisory Councils for deer population objectives were approved by the Natural Resources Board in 2018. The current recommendations are more varied than the previous recommendations, but are still primarily to increase or maintain the deer population in each of the 6 wolf management units. There is no indication that prey density is, or will negatively impact the wolf population.

For the Full Report go to WISCONSIN GRAY WOLF MONITORING REPORT 15 APRIL 2017 THROUGH 14 APRIL 2018

The House Passed the Department of Interior funding bill, which includes language that would delist wolves throughout the lower 48 states and preclude legal challenges to delisting. And now is on its way to the senate.

And…In the Senate there’s Legislation being proposed that would rewrite the Endanered Species Act. Under Barrasso’s proposal, individual states would be given key authority over the federal program to conserve threatened and endangered species.

Here’s what you can do…

You can help stop this threat to the Endangered Species Act by contacting your senator. Click here for their contact information.

Here’s another way you can help. Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor (LTE), Writing a letter to the editor of your local or regional newspaper is the best way to reach a large audience with your message. Click here for more information on how to get involved.

Furthermore…

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun reviewing the status of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Working closely with federal, state, tribal and local partners, the Service will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the lower 48 states using the best available scientific information. If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment.

Featured photograph credit: belongs to owner

~~~

Join WODCW’s #GetInvolved Campaign to Show Support for the Endangered Species Act. Post your selfie today!

Your sign should say:

#GetInvolved

#StopExtinction

To my US Senate Representative,

No to rewriting the Endangered Species Act!

Then, send us your selfie with your name and state you are from and we will post it on our Facebook page: send to wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com

Wisconsin’s Elusive Gray Wolf Deserves Our Protection…

In the late 1970s wolf Recovery in Wisconsin began. The Gray wolf made a comeback after being eradicated through hunting and trapping in Wisconsin. It wasn’t long before hunting special interests groups began their bid to get Wisconsin’s Gray wolf delisted. Sadly after 40 years of recovery these special interests (Fringe hunters) hunting groups got their way. In the state of Wisconsin the Gray wolf is hunted (2012-2014) for a fireplace rug & mounted as a trophy when he’s not listed on the Endangered Species Act. He was delisted in 2012 and his domestic relative, the dog, was used to track and trail him until a federal judged ordered the Gray wolf back on the ESL in December 2014. Today Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is facing multiple delisting threats in congress backed by special interests; wanting the Gray Wolf’s habitat for oil & gas, lumbering, and the Gray wolf himself for trophy hunting.

U.S. House Passes Bill To De-List Wolves From Endangered Species.

We must make it right…get it right…before we lose everything…the wolf is a social animal just like we are…they depend on family for survival…so do we as human-beings…

The idea that only man is equipped for conserving our planet’s natural resources is a dying concept; dying right along with the untold numbers of wild sentient beings killed in the name of conservation. Such problems drive home a critical flaw in the paradigm of conserving wildlife.

It’s going to take a major shift in thinking that will require opening up lines of communication between the general public; specifically with interests in conserving our natural resources for future generations to come. It’s not about numbers. It’s about sentient beings sharing our planet, and how we can coexist for the benefit of all living upon Mother Earth.

Changing the paradigm from killing to compassionate conservation is a major shift in thinking…

Through my mind’s eye memories flow through the years spent within the Gray Wolf’s range in Wisconsin’s northern forests in Douglas county starting in the year 2000. There you’ll find vast wilderness of forests and barrens where the Gray wolf resides.

Do you think there’s room for the Gray wolf? The following video was shot 2 summers ago in 2015. This landscape is found on a 15 mile long remote gravel road in northern Wisconsin. Do you think there’s room for the wolf?

Last summer, 2018, I visited this same area (in the video) with friend Elke Duerr and who’s filming in the photograph.

When I began helping to monitor Wisconsin’s Gray wolf in the year 2000 there were only 66 Gray wolf packs in the state. Today’s over winter wolf population count is around 945 individuals.

In northern Wisconsin beauty can be found where the Gray wolf resides. I’ve walked these trails for over two decades in search of Wisconsin’s wild & elusive gray wolf.

The Gray wolf in Wisconsin trots freely down the wild and remote gravel roads in Douglas county.

Rains of summer create a lush paradise in wolf range.

The Gray wolf in northern Wisconsin. Photograph screen shot from Red Cliff reservation trail cam.

In summer of July 2018 I met a Raven on a remote gravel road in Douglas county. Douglas county is home for Wisconsin’s wild Gray wolf.

The Gray wolf in Wisconsin deserves our protection…

Contact your members of Congress today.

Will the Government Ever Get it Right on Delisting the Gray Wolf in the Great Lakes Region?

These and other questions come to mind as the Federal Government Working On Removing Gray Wolf From Endangered Species List . Will Wisconsin be transparent in its management of the Gray wolf population, and once again allow for greater pubic input as it did prior to the 2012 USF&WS delisting decision.

In 2011 WISCONSIN ACT 169 legislation mandated a trophy hunt on the newly delisted Gray wolf. Wisconsin Act 169 allowed reckless management policies such as; 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.” Wolf Hounding Fact Sheet

In 2013 & 2014 Wisconsin sanctioned the use of dogs to hunt wolves.

This reckless management of the Gray wolf was overturned as part of Humane Society of the United States lawsuit of USF&WS’s 2012 delisting. In December 2014 a federal judge put Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region back on the Endangered Species List. USF&WS appealed the 2014 ruling, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled Gray wolves in the Great Lakes region should remain on the endangered species list, July 2017.

Besides the horrific wolf management policies by the state of Wisconsin, problems exist within the way USF&WS determines criteria for wolf delisting in the Great Lakes Region in 2011. It’s seems USF&WS got its “hand slapped” by a judges ruling for trying to delist using the following:

“The proposal identifies the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of wolves, which includes a core area of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as parts of adjacent states that are within the range of wolves dispersing from the core recovery area.” USF&WS Press Release 2011

But then, on July 2017, the three-judge panel unanimously said the wolves should stay under federal protection. The judges wrote, “The Endangered Species Act’s text requires the Service, when reviewing and redetermining the status of a species, to look at the whole picture of the listed species, not just a segment of it.”

As the Associated Press reports the judges ruled that,

“The service had not adequately considered a number of factors in making its decision, including loss of the wolf’s historical range and how its removal from the endangered list would affect the predator’s recovery in other areas, such as New England, North Dakota and South Dakota.”

Just how reckless is Wisconsin in its management policies of the Gray wolf?

If the Gray wolf in Wisconsin gets delisted tomorrow; it’s a law that a wolf hunt must take place:

“If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses.” 2012 Wisconsin Act 169

A brief history on Wisconsin’s reckless management of it’s wolf population, 2012 through 2014.

Wisconsin’s Wolf Advisory Committee is not far and balanced. In other words, there is no transparency in WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s Wolf management process (WDNR secretary at the time).

WDNR Wolf Advisory Committee met once a month during the legislatively mandated trophy hunt on Wisconsin’s Gray wolf. The WAC recommend how wolf management in Wisconsin should be done. Here is a list of Cathy Stepp’s (WDNR secretary at the time) hand Picked WAC, that she thinks better suited to, “…people who were willing to work with us in partnership…”:United States Fish & Wildlife Service(USFWS), United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services(USDA WS), Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission(GLIFWC), Wisconsin County Forest Association(WCFA), Wisconsin Conservation Congress(WCC), Safari Club International(SCI), Timber Wolf Alliance(TWA), Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association(WBHA), Wisconsin Bowhunters Association(WBA), Wisconsin Cattlemans Association(WCA), Wisconsin Trappers Association(WTA), Wisconsin Wildlife Federation(WWF) and 10 WDNR biologists. WODCW blog

Several DNR staff are on the recently created Wolf Advisory Committee, as are representatives of several pro-hunting groups. A smaller number of wolf hunting skeptics also remain on the committee, including a representative of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  WPR reporter Chuck Quirmbach June 2014 

At a WI DNR meeting secretary Cathy Stepp admitted, “When we’re charged to manage and to implement a hunt, coming in and telling us, ‘Don’t hunt wolves,’ is not a productive way to run a committee, frankly,” said Stepp. “That’s just the candid way to lay it out. We had to have people who were willing to work with us in partnership, and be willing to help us and advise us along the way in implementing state law.” Source WPR June 2014

I was was interviewed on June 2014 regarding DNR secretary kicking off wolf hunt opponents Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was a volunteer DNR tracker of wolves for about a dozen winters, and attended a few meetings of what used to be called the Wisconsin Wolf Stakeholders Group. Tilseth testified about the wolf hunt proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. She later said she didn’t care for Stepp’s remarks.

“I was just appalled that somebody like Cathy Stepp, who’s in charge of this important issue, is saying something like that,” said Tilseth. “It sounds to me like it’s a committee that they want made up of wolf-killers.”

Recap of the last two years in the never-ending political rhetoric designed to stir public sentiment against an endangered species.

Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees increase in statewide buck harvest 2016. The largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (30 percent increase from 2015) after two consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags. From WI DNR Press Release 

The increase in buck harvest is hopeful news, because fringe hunters, along with some politicians are claiming that wolves are killing all the deer. This news puts a damper on republican Senator Tom Tiffany’s efforts to delist the wolf.

“A Great Lakes Summit in September 2016, was organized by two Republican lawmakers from northern Wisconsin, Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow, who hope control of the wolf population returns to state governments.” MPR News

The 30 percent buck increase in the Northern Forest Zone (where the wolf lives) is good news as DNR’s own scientific data is proving wolves aren’t eating all the white-tailed deer in northern Wisconsin.

Yet, certain politicians in Wisconsin refuse to believe scientific fact.

As with any cause, a biased or misleading view can be used to promote, to publicize a particular political cause or point of view.  Here we have several anti-wolf politicians making claims to distort the public’ veiw of wolves; wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer herds, attacking livestock and killing hunting dogs.  Let’s set the record straight; wolves do hunt White-tailed deer, have killed some some livestock and did kill 37 bear hunting dogs.  But in reality; is there a big-bad-wolf here? Let’s get the facts before we sanction the killing of an endangered species.

Are wolves killing more livestock?

Let’s take some statistics from The Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report for the period of 15 APRIL 2015 THROUGH 14 APRIL 2016 and read the graphic for yourself. There were 52 wolf depredations on livestock.

There were 52 wolf depredations from April 15, 2015 through April 15, 2016. To put it in perspective, that was 52 livestock deaths by wolves out of 3.50 million head of livestock in Wisconsin. Read for yourself:

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

Wisconsin’s wild wolf is the most talked about animal of late.  Politicians in Wisconsin have villianized the wolf, and are pushing to delist him.  It’s no secret that one cannot trust politicians. Politicians are in competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership; they’ve created propaganda to make the wolf look bad.

Politicians have removed science from wolf management and replaced it with political rhetoric. They put together a Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee with stakeholders primarily from the hunting community.

The WAC is heavily slanted towards recreational trophy hunting of wolves with 9 citizen pro wolf hunting organizations to 1 pro wolf citizen organization. Further, according to Cathy Stepp this committee is more productive than opponents of the wolf hunt. There is evidence to the contrary that shows the WAC productiveness is comparable to reality TV’s Housewives of NYC.  From WODCW’s Blog

In conclusion, if USF&WS, the government, gets it right this time in delisting the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Region Wisconsin citizens must push for greater transparency in wolf management. Because trophy hunts are about power not conservation. We owe the Gray wolf, that was exterminated from our forest, an ethical & compassionate conservation management plan, because we have done enough harm to this iconic predator.

WODCW Opinion Editorial: Criminally harassing protected gray wolves is a violation of the Endangered Species Act

By Rachel Tilseth 

In 2016 41 dogs were killed in the pursuit of bear in northern Wisconsin.  Are any wolves being injured or killed in the decades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves?  In a call to the USFWS services Great Lakes Office I asked them that question. USFWS didn’t have an answer for me.  My concern is that when USFWS investigates a wolf depredation on a hunting dog; do they investigate if any wolves were injured or killed as a result of the encounter?  Wolves are an endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The word “protected” was the sticking point for me.  Criminally harassing protected gray wolves is a violation of the ESA. 

There is hope for a solution to the deacades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves, and it’s a legal one.  

On August 2nd a letter was sent to USFWS: “This is a formal request for an investigation of alleged criminal violations relating to the illegal take of the federally protected gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wisconsin. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”) has learned of ongoing illegal harassment of the gray wolf by hound hunters in Wisconsin.” Letter from PEER 

The Criminal Complaint Cites State Payments for Hunting Dogs Killed in Wolf Clashes was filed on August 2, 2017 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
The Criminal Complaint from PEER

“Washington, DC — Hunters unleashing packs of dogs to tree bears in Wisconsin woods are criminally harassing gray wolves in violation of the Endangered Species Act, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The complaint cites state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations.”

The last sentence in the above paragraph makes it perfectly clear that the evidence is,  “…state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations.”

Wolves a protected species under the federal ESA are being harassed. 

…“Endangered species are legally protected from human activity which adversely affects the animals, not just physical injury but harm to habitat or breeding. Loosing packs of dogs on them absolutely constitutes an adverse impact.” Said,  Staff attorney Adam Carlesco (PEER)

In a previous Blog I asked this question; Considering the decades of conflict between bear hunters and wolves; is this becoming harassment of an endangered species?  Isn’t this illegal? 

The conflict between bear hunters and wolves has been occurring for decades.  In a Wisconsin Public Television special about Wisconsin wolves;  the conflict between bear hunters and wolves was addressed back in October 2010. Watch the the following video. 

The conflict between bear hunters and wolves is a reality, and it continues to play out every summer in Wisconsin’s north woods. 

Bear hunter holds up a dog killed by wolves

Hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear in the norths woods of Wisconsin run their hounds right through wolf rendezvous sites (where wolf pups are kept). Wolf pups are only about three months old when hunters begin running their dogs on bear. They run hounds through known wolf caution areas; even though WDNR sends out alerts to avoid those areas. In 1982 Wisconsin started a wolf depredation program. Wolf depredation program pays $2,500.00 per hunting dog. In 2016 thirty-seven bear hunting dogs were killed in the pursuit of bear. Several bear hunters received multiple wolf depredation program payments, and even ones with criminal charges; such as poaching a black bear. WODCW’s Blog

We have no way of knowing if wolves are being killed during these encounters occurring every summer; between dogs that are in pursuit of bear, and wolves that are defending their pups. In the PEER criminal complaint, criminal take can occur when a hunter’s activities, “…as appears to be the case here.” The “hunter’s activities” of running dogs in pursuit of bear through wolf rendezvous sites. Read the definition of criminal take from the press release: 

“Under the federal Endangered Species Act, criminal “take” does not require proving that the hunter intended to hurt a wolf. Take can occur when a hunter mistakenly shoots an endangered species believed to be a non-listed animal. Criminal take can also occur when a hunter’s activities, though not specifically directed at a listed species, result in take of a listed species, as appears to be the case here.”  PEER criminal complaint

Bear hunter’s activities, as in use of dogs in the pursuit of bear can be considered criminal “take” in this criminal complaint.  PEER in a Letter to the USFWS law enforcement requested a full investigation:

William C. Woody
Chief, Office of Law Enforcement
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
5600 American Boulevard, West, Suite 990 Bloomington, MN 55437-1458
RE: Request for Criminal Investigation – Violation of the Endangered Species Act
Dear Chief Woody:
This is a formal request for an investigation of alleged criminal violations relating to the illegal take of the federally protected gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wisconsin. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”) has learned of ongoing illegal harassment of the gray wolf by hound hunters in Wisconsin. These activities have led to adverse effects on breeding patterns and the habitat of the gray wolf. PEER believes these activities constitute prima facie evidence of ongoing criminal misconduct.”  Letter

A response from the president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association Star Tribune article,  “Wisconsin tradition – hunting bears with dogs – comes under attack by wolf advocates” Wolf advocates attack Wis. reimbursements.  By Josephine Marcotty Star Tribune AUGUST 11, 2017, stated, “…also there are many more wolves, period.  Also, the wolves have now devestated the deer population in northern Wisconsin, they have become more aggressive in their search for food, and thus more likely to target our dogs.”   Carl Schoettel, president of Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, full response to questions from the Star Tribune

Wolves are responsible for taking 6% of White-tailed deer population in wolf range in 2014

A “Study sheds light on top causes of deer mortality” conducted in 2014 found that; “…In fact, human hunting was responsible for about twice as much deer mortality in northern Wisconsin than the other four causes combined.  The rates of mortality were human hunting 43%, starvation 9%, coyote 7%, wolf 6% and roadkill 6%.”  Source

Who’s responsible for the record number of dogs killed by wolves in 2016?  We know wolves are killing hunting dogs that run through rendezvous sites where wolf pups are kept.  It’s absurd to lay blame exclusively upon an endangered species, wolves in this case. Laying blame on a wild animal that is defending offspring from the activity of human hunters is irresponsible.  

For over a year now, I’ve been saying (WODCW Blog) it’s the “loosening” of regulations as the probable cause for the high number of hunting dogs deaths. In PEER’s letter to USFWS requesting a full investigation what the cause is: 

“Furthermore, in 2015, the state eliminated the “Class B” bear hound training licenses. While a Class A license or “kill tag” is still required for any hunter wishing to kill a black bear, the Class B licensing requirements have been rescinded. See Wis. Stat. 29.184(3)(a) (stating that no license is required to, among other things, train a dog to track bear or assist a holder of a Class A bear license). Class B requirements mandated that a prospective hunter seeking to train hounds obtain a permit from the state to do so. A Class B permit allowed a hunter to bait bears, train dogs to track bears, act as a back-up shooter, or assist a hunter pursuing a bear. Now both residents and non-residents may run hound dogs through Wisconsin’s wilderness for training purposes unchecked and without licensed oversight from the state.” PEER Letter

Harassment or pursuit of a wolf while hound hunting is prohibited by the ESA. 

More from PEER criminal complaint:

“Harassment or pursuit of a wolf while hound hunting is a prohibited act as evidenced by the plain language of the ESA’s “take” definition, which includes harassment and pursuit. However, over the course of Wisconsin’s 2016 hunting season, forty-eight hounds were killed by wolves, twenty-one of which occurred on public lands, and more than fifteen of those acts occurred after hunters were informed of the fact that they were hunting in “wolf caution areas.”18 The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources creates specific “wolf caution areas” that warn hunters of previous instances of wolf attacks on hound dogs in a hunting or training situation. To aid hunters, the DNR website features an interactive “Gray Wolf Depredation Mapping Application” which “shows all verified wolf depredations and threats on livestock, hunting dogs and pets as well as verified human health and safety conflicts.”19 Lastly, DNR has an e-mail and text alert system to inform residents about wolf activity in their area.20”  PEER criminal complaint letter to USFWS

Such action is in obvious conflict with Congress’ intent to protect a fragile species and constitutes a criminal violation of the ESA.

Additionally, because hound training season in Wisconsin takes place when wolves are raising their pups, the fact that hounds are running through clearly identified wolf territory unchecked means that such actions directly impair the wolves’ ability to breed, feed, and find shelter; activity specifically protected by the plain language of the ESA’s implementing regulations. 50 C.F.R. 17.3. Such action is in obvious conflict with Congress’ intent to protect a fragile species and constitutes a criminal violation of the ESA.  PEER criminal complaint letter to USFWS

In a conversation with USFWS Great Lakes Region office over a month or so ago, I asked them if they would investigate bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear, because this activity or sport was getting out of hand; not only were a record number of hunting dogs being lost, but I began to think wolves were being harassed by this activity.  Hunters were repeatedly going into Wisconsin DNR Wolf caution areas. “Wolf caution areas are created to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site.”  From the WDNR wolf caution website

USFWS never got back to me, and my next step was to call PEER, because I had heard good things about their work.  In the end, PEER took my concerns seriously, the result is a criminal complaint letter requesting USFWS law enforcement to investigate.  There is hope and it’s a legal one. We are now awaiting a response from USFWS. 

In 2017 minimum wolf population estimates was 925. 

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Featured photograph by Wisconsin DNR