Wolves in Wyoming face uncertain future as ESA comes under attack

For almost two centuries, American gray wolves, vilified in fact as well as fiction, were the victims of vicious government extermination programs. By the time the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, only a few hundred of these once-great predators were left in the lower 48 states.  ~Lydia Millet

 Source A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled to lift protections that kept gray wolves an endangered species in Wyoming for years after federal officials removed packs in neighboring states from that list.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia doesn’t take effect immediately, however. Environmental groups that want to keep the protections in place will have a chance to appeal. Read full news story click HERE

This decision will effect Yellowstone National Park wolves, that often travel off of the park boundaries. The state has yet to decide if there will be a year round wolf hunt or scheduled wolf hunt. This decision undermines the Endangered Species Act by setting a precedent, that; sport hunting of an imperiled species, just of the ESL, is acceptable wolf management policy. 

The Endangered Species Act is the strongest and most effective tool we have to repair the environmental harm that is causing a species to decline.  ~Norm Dicks

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Take Action for wolves in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota & Michigan click HERE

Action Alert: politicians from four states pressuring House Speaker Paul Ryan for a fast floor vote 

Call House Speaker Paul Ryan Phone: (202) 225-0600

In congress politicians from Wisconsin, Wyoming, Michigan and Minnesota are using propaganda to pressure congress to hold a fast floor vote to take wolves off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten their livestock. 

Out of 3.5 million head of livestock in Wisconsin there were 52 wolf depredations, hardly a number worth calling for the immediate removal of wolves off the ESL.  

The following is the latest news:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — By STEVE KARNOWSKIA Associated Press Source
Pressure is building in Congress to take gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten their livestock.
Representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have asked House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for a fast floor vote before the season when most cows and sheep will be giving birth begins in earnest. That followed recent testimony before a Senate committee from a Wisconsin farm leader who said producers need to be able to defend their livestock and livelihoods.
Meanwhile, both sides are waiting for a federal appeals court to decide whether to uphold lower court rulings that put wolves in the four states back on the list.

Take action for wolves by calling House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Washington, D.C. office 

Contact the Speaker

 Office of the Speaker

H-232 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-0600

Make the call today!  Tell Speaker Ryan to keep wolves listed! 

It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad. Source: WODCW’s blog

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. 
There are currently two bills in congress that call to delist the wolf in four states, S. 164 (Senate) introduced on 01/17/2017 by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and H.R. 424 (House of Representatives) introduced on 01/10/2017 by Representative Collin C. Peterson (D-MN) 

Wolf delisting legislation looms in congress: please contact your representatives in congress

In the news from: Green Bay Press-Gazette Wisconsin senators Ron Johnson (R) and Tammy Baldwin (D) have joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to introduce legislation that would remove protections for wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming under the federal Endangered Species Act.
If successful, the effort would return wolf management to the states, and bar courts from overturning the rule.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R) sponsored a similar bill in Congress.
Baldwin said she’s heard from farmers, sportsmen and wildlife experts and they all agree the wolf has recovered and must be managed by the state for the safety and economic well-being of Wisconsinites and the balance of the environment.
Johnson said the bill would not prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from returning the wolf to federal protections if it deems federal protections are needed, but said future decisions should come from wildlife experts, not the courtrooms.
Wisconsin held three wolf hunting and trapping seasons from 2012 to 2014, but a federal judge’s ruling in December, 2014 returned wolves back to federal protection.
The wolf population grew to a minimum estimate of nearly 900 in Wisconsin last winter, the highest in modern times, and a record number of hunting dogs and pets were attacked by wolves in 2016, including 41 dogs killed and at least 11 seriously injured.

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Take action to keep wolves listed

The Wisconsin wolf is subject to a wolf hunting mandate when they are removed from the Endangered Species List. Wisconsin Act 169 ” 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.” 

Wolves are not fully recovered but congress is ready to turn them over to states that hold wolf hunts claiming this is a necessary tool for management of wolves. States are chopping at the bit to kill wolves and Use carefully crafting propaganda to make the wolf look bad. there’s no-big-bad-wolf here just politicians that spread hate and fear. Fifty-two wolf depredations on livestock out of a herd of 3.50 million is not cause for killing an imperiled species in Wisconsin. 

Please contact your members in congress. 

Wisconsin’s members in congress phone numbers:

Click HERE to find you House of Representatives by state

Click HERE to find U.S. Senator by state

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Photography By John E. Marriott

It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad.

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. 

There are currently two bills in congress that call to delist the wolf in four states, S. 164 (Senate) introduced on 01/17/2017 by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and H.R. 424 (House of Representatives) introduced on 01/10/2017 by Representative Collin C. Peterson (D-MN) 

In congress Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) is proposing legislation to delist the wolf in Wisconsin and three other states. Two Wisconsin state legislators are pushing for delisting in order to return wolf management back to Wisconsin as well. Read on:

“A joint statement from state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, and state Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, said, “The overpopulation of gray wolves on Wisconsin’s landscape is harming farmers, hunters and residents of rural Wisconsin.  Last August, the state Department of Natural Resources said a record number of hunting dogs had already been killed by wolves for the year. As of the close of Wisconsin’s bear season in October, at least 40 hunting dogs were confirmed killed by wolves, far exceeding the previous record of 23. Source

Let’s check the facts.

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

What could be causing the high deaths of hunting hounds? 

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

Wolves are defending their pups against free ranging hunting dogs in the pursuit of bear. 

Wolf pups are born around mid-April and are approximately two and a half months at the time Wisconsin bear hunters begin training dogs on bear starting on July first. Typically wolves leave their pups at a rendezvous site for safe keeping to be watched over by a babysitter. The pup’s family members keep a close eye on the rendezvous site while off hunting. WODCW blog

This conflict between bear hunters and wolves continues in the north woods of Wisconsin, and now has become one of the reasons Wisconsin legislators want to delist wolves.  One such Wisconsin legislator stated:

“We’re seeing depredations have almost doubled this year, and it’s not just hunting dogs, it’s people’s pets,” said State Senator Tom Tiffany. “They’re expanding throughout the state, we’re beginning to see it, it’s really a big problem.” Source 

There is -no-big-bad-wolf here to blame.  However, there is a lack of regulations with bear hunting & training and it has led to a conflict between wolves and bear hunters. Once the training & hunting class B license was removed, that change allowed for an undetermined number of dogs running through wolf habitat. That could definitely be the cause of the 37 bear hunting dog deaths. 

Are wolves decimating the White-Tailed deer herds in Wisconsin?

Wolves are not eating all the deer. All one needs to do is go to: News Release Wisconsin Natural Resources for Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees increase in statewide buck harvest posted on November 18, 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.
Wolves are not decimating the deer herds in Wisconsin. In fact, the Northern Forest Zone is home to Wisconsin’s wild wolf.  So there is no-big-bad-wolf killing all the fringe hunter’s deer. I use the term ‘fringe hunter’ only because real ethical hunters know that deer will hide from predators such as the wolf. 

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, 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

In conclusion, It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad. When in reality the facts prove otherwise. Facts such as; a lack of bear hunting regulations caused the increase of wolf depredations on hunting dogs, the largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (30 percent increase from 2015) and 52 livestock depredations out of 3.50 million head, proves; there’s no-big-bad-wolf here.

There’s only politicians with carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad.


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Please take action for wolves; click HERE

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Photographs used to make the graphics are by John E Marriott Wilderness Prints
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Dear Senator Tammy Baldwin; As a Wisconsin resident, I am writing to implore you to keep gray wolves listed 

WODCW’s letter writing campaign yielded several fact filled letters urging Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin to withdraw her support of federal delisting. Unfortunately the senator did not withdraw her support of removing the wolf from the endangered species list in the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming & Michigan. The federal wolf delisting action is a real possibility with this new congress. The following is one of these letters written to Senator Baldwin, read on:

Dear Senator Tammy Baldwin,
As a Wisconsin resident, I am writing to implore you to keep gray wolves listed as endangered species per the recommendations of U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell of Washington, D.C. The decision to once again delist gray wolves in Wisconsin and resume hunting and trapping should be based on science not politics. 
I’ve included some of my reasons for opposing this decision as well as quotes from two of the letters that were sent on Sept. 27 2014 and October 15, 2014 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer regarding this topic by wildlife biologist, Adrian Treves, director of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab for the UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute, B. Bergstrom, PhD, D. Parsons, MS, P. Paquet, PhD, R.P. Thiel, Certified Wildlife Biologist (Retired), and Jonathan Way, PhD. Their detailed analysis sheds light on the misleading statistics reported by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) related to wolf hunt mortality rates; birth rates; unreported poaching; effects of year round, unregulated training of free-running dogs on wolves, night and day, year-round, with no rules or safeguards for law enforcement to implement; and inadequate recording and monitoring of wolf populations in general.
After reading the analysis of mortality levels of wolves before and after “harvest,” and reviewing the lack of adequate monitoring of populations, I am gravely concerned that delisting wolves from the endangered species list will result in severely diminished populations. In addition, the post-delisting monitoring (PDM) rules required by the Endangered Species Acts (ESA) of 1973 and published in the Federal Register require the USFWS to exert regulatory authority monitoring for not less than five years. C.M. Wooley, acting regional director for USFWS out of Minnesota, declined to implement PDM, saying, “The service no longer serves as a regulating entity to protect the wolf” nor has “a role in regulating gray wolves in any of the states of the Western Great Lakes.” This is clearly in violation of the ESA.
Other concerns regarding delisting wolves and the subsequent wolf hunts presented in the Sept. 27 and Oct.15 letters include:
The USFWS was given inaccurate and incomplete data by the Wisconsin DNR and was not able to determine wolf populations in Wisconsin. 

Other factors Indicating a potential cause for concern included a significant adverse change in wolf, wolf prey, or wolf habitat management practices or protection across a substantial portion of the occupied wolf range in the Western Great Lakes wolf population. (Including Wisconsin.)

Data on successful reproduction of Wisconsin wolf packs have not been presented publicly or presented to the independent scientific community for review. These data were provided in the past, thus interannual comparisons require them. These data are essential to proper estimates of population status because substantial population declines can occur at moderate levels of mortality if reproduction is impaired.

Wisconsin did not submit all wolf carcasses for necropsy as required. … Without these data we cannot assess if poaching has risen with initiation of harvest or deregulation of hound training in Wisconsin.

On July 10,2014, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals allowed training hounds on wolves year-round, night and day, without strict regulation anywhere free-running hounds are allowed, and without safeguards for wolves or hounds. The unregulated use of this novel training method cannot guarantee the safety of wolf pups or older wolves confronted by a pack of ≥6 hounds. This activity is currently unmonitored because the timing, location, and method of hound training are not currently regulated and there are no provisions for informing law enforcement when training is underway. Both of these potential threats could be severe and could require additional regulation by the ESA as ‘”to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct’, ESA Sec. 3(19)) (Wisconsin is the only state in the US to allow dogs be used in wolf hunts.)

Facing unmonitored new threats (hound-hunting and hound-training), potential increases in an old threat (poaching), and changes in monitoring methods, we express strong scientific concerns about Wisconsin’s wolf management.

In sum, mortality data are not reported using the best available science and these data remain unclear more than 60 days after our first letter of concern and over two years after delisting. … Therefore we urge emergency relisting pending independent scientific review.

Most importantly, the wildlife biologists recommended in the Sept. 27 letter:
We recommend an independent scientific review by scientists from multiple disciplines who have peer-reviewed, scientific publications on wolf mortality, hound-hunting, or human dimensions of poaching.

The independent scientists should be chosen to avoid those with conflicts of interest or otherwise beholden to the USFWS or the WDNR. That panel should be authorized by the USFWS to inspect all data collected by the State of Wisconsin. 

In other words, Senator Baldwin, in order to obtain the best available science for making decisions regarding the management of gray wolf populations in Wisconsin, it is necessary to have knowledgable scientists from multiple disciplines who are free from conflicts of interest or other political pressures making recommendations for state regulations related to wolf management.
One last issue to mention, which is also addressed by Adrian Treves, (director of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, UW-Madison) regards the justification of a wolf hunt based on a decreasing deer population:
Although consumption of deer has increased as the wolf population has grown, wolves are not driving deer numbers down to dangerous levels,” the biologist says. The biggest factor that affects our deer herd are winters and the hunting [season] harvest.

In closing, I’ve chosen to address the issue of delisting gray wolves in Wisconsin by quoting unbiased, wildlife scientists whose analysis and recommendations were presented in two letters from September 27, 2014 and October 15, 2014 to the USFWS. Using best available science, their recommendations reflect the management strategies that were envisioned when the Endangered Species Act was first created in 1973, These scientists are not beholden to politics, gun hunting organizations or environmentalists. They have used their knowledge of wolf biology to assess our current wolf management practices, and based on that knowledge, requested the gray wolf be relisted on the endangered species list in 2014.
I am asking you, Senator Baldwin, to please consider the scientific views presented by the wildlife biologists quoted in this letter when making your decision regarding delisting. I would also encourage you to read the letters in their entirety that are attached to this email. 
In addition, keep in mind that the majority of Wisconsin residents support a wolf population (2014) at least as large as the state has now, according to a survey released by the Department of Natural Resources. 
Thank you for taking the time to consider my opinions that reflect the best available science-based information I’ve presented.
I’m hopeful you’ll make the right decision to keep the gray wolf on the endangered species list and work with the USFWS and the Wisconsin DNR to provide better monitoring and management practices, which will allow transparency in evaluating gray wolf populations in the future. Currently, neither organization has provided evidence they have achieved this goal.

Sincerely,

Patricia Lowry

Madison 

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Featured image by John E Marriott

Opinion Editorial: Wolf delisting decision not based on the facts

Source: The Register-Guard By Adrian Treves

FEB. 15, 2016

Last fall, the state Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 to remove protections of the state Endangered Species Act for gray wolves. It was a flawed decision, and the state Legislature could make it worse.
Oregon’s law requires that listing decisions be based on “documented and verifiable scientific information,” which would be defined “by a scientific peer review panel of outside experts.” Oregon lawmakers are considering legislation that would make the delisting decision immune to legal review, undermining the separation of powers and the checks and balances we learned about in grade school.

I am part of a growing group of scientists who serve the public interest with research rather than serving donors or special interests. I feel obligated to write in defense of the broad public interest and to clarify what the best available science says.
Oregon’s wolf delisting misses the mark on scientific evidence, and legislative decisions should never be immune to legal review.
Determining what’s the best available science for a policy decision isn’t a matter of voting for your favorite science. Multiple, qualified scientists conduct a careful review to interpret the quality and quantity of the evidence used to support a decision. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Fish and Wildlife Commission appear to have ignored the quality of the evidence despite ample, timely warning.

I was one of 25 scientists and researchers who recommended against wolf delisting after interpreting the data on wolf recolonization and reviewing the state’s evidence behind the proposal to delist. Our documents are available at Carnivore Coexistence Lab.  Fish and Wildlife got the evidence flatly wrong and didn’t communicate with most (any?) of the corresponding scientists to understand how to fix the mistakes.

The state contracted with a young researcher from abroad to conduct a wolf population viability analysis, which predicts the likelihood of extinction. It’s not clear why the department hired someone so far afield when more experienced regional experts were available, as shown by their public comments.
Those senior scientists found the analysis was unreasonably optimistic and did not accurately represent the actual risks wolves face in Oregon.
One scientist described the analysis as fatally flawed. Another found the analysis was not statistically correct, not properly validated, used unrealistic values for wolf biology, and was not the right tool to justify delisting.
He wrote, “There appears to be little substance for ODFW to consider a population of (about) 85 wolves as being recovered.”
The state also justified delisting as a way to raise social tolerance for wolves. That assumption runs exactly counter to the evidence.
My team at the University of Wisconsin, Madison conducts the world’s longest-­running study to monitor human tolerance for wolves. We’ve been measuring individual attitudes toward wolves since 2001.
After the federal government delisted wolves in the Great Lakes region, three things changed. First, tolerance for wolves decreased. Second, demands for more wolf-killing increased. And finally, poaching increased.
A particularly important finding was that Wisconsin’s first-ever public hunting and trapping season on wolves resulted in lower tolerance for wolves among a large sample of men living in wolf range.
Our research papers are all available at Carnivore Coexistence Lab.  Policies to liberalize wolf-killing seem to worsen social tolerance for wolves, contrary to state assumptions.
I heard from 23 of the 25 scientists opposed to delisting that neither the state nor the commission ever contacted them about their recommendations. Ignoring one scientist might be excusable, but ignoring so many who cited flaws in the commission’s evidence is worrisome.
Why did the department and the commission proceed with poor science and assumptions that ran contrary to the evidence?
Consider Montana, where the state wildlife agency found that tolerance for wolves did not improve after wolf-­hunting began, but tolerance for the agency’s policy improved among some constituents. So it appears that killing wolves made that agency feel loved by some.
In my own state, I have seen problems start when commissioners and agencies make decisions based on who loves them instead of the public interest. Commissioners and agencies in Oregon, as in Wisconsin, have legal duties as trustees for wildlife to benefit current and future generations.
For more than a century, our states’ courts and statutes have recognized wild animals as a public trust. Think of wildlife as a legacy for future generations.
When politicians make their decisions immune to judicial review, they are saying, “We are not accountable for the public interest and the permanent wildlife trust.” Checks and balances exist to prevent tyranny.
Reclaim your legacy. The health of our wolves reflects the health of our democracy.
 

 Adrian Treves is director of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of more than 100 scientific articles, including “Predators and the Public Trust” (2015).

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Featured wolf image: Cai Priestley Photography