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“On June 1st, Washington ranchers began turning out their cows and calves onto summer grazing lands. Some of those lands overlap with territory home to Washington’s recovering wolves. And that’s where you’ll find livestock under the watchful eye of range riders co-sponsored by Conservation Northwest.

This year we’re collaborating with even more cattle operations on the ground in wolf country to protect livestock and wolves.   

Working with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) and four ranchers from the Methow and Teanaway valleys, the Wenatchee area and Stevens County in northeast Washington, we’ll have at least six riders patrolling grazing allotments this season. For the first time, they’ll be covering the territory of five confirmed wolf packs on horse and ATV working to minimize wolf-livestock conflict.

Range riders work long, hard days in tough conditions, covering thousands of miles a season to make sure the cattle are calm and healthy and keep them away from wolves, the location of whom is often provided confidentially by WDFW through GPS and radio collar data.

Because of the difficult and specialized work, each rider can cost up to $20,000 plus gas and expenses for the five-month grazing season. To sign up with WDFW to participate in the program, ranchers must typically put up half that cost to receive a state match.

That’s where Conservation Northwest comes in.

As an incentive to participate in the program and put non-lethal predator management tools to work, with the help of generous donors we contribute as much as $10,000 a season to eligible ranchers for each range rider, greatly limiting their out-of-pocket costs.

“We hope this program spurs ranchers to do a practice that they did for hundreds of years, but when wolves were gone from the landscape there was no need,” said Jay Kehne, Conservation Northwest’s Okanogan County outreach associate. “There are incentives for doing this, you’re going to keep more weight on the cows and you’re going to lose fewer cows. Having a range rider is worthwhile for the ranchers because it’s going to save them money in the end.”

And with the range riders work resulting in wolves causing less problems for cattlemen, there’s less call to resolve wolf-livestock conflict by lethal management.

This is our third year organizing the range rider program in Eastern Washington, and we’re proud of what the range riders, cattlemen, state biologists and conflict specialists, and Conservation Northwest staff have accomplished.

Even as wolf populations have rebounded, last summer ranchers reported an increase in the number of cows returning from the summer spent grazing in wolf habitat, as much as 100 percent in some cases. And the valuable weight those cows have maintained is up as result of limited interaction with wolves and more stress-free time spent resting and feeding. As last year’s range rider program came to a close, one of the ranchers we partner with, John Dawson, was quoted in a Spokesman-Review article saying “we’ve lost nothing to wolves.” 

The program’s success hasn’t just been seen by the ranchers participating, other livestock owners are beginning to take notice as well.

“The success the Dawsons have had has gone a long way to helping promote nonlethal means and proactive measures to reduce conflict,” said Jack Field, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association’s executive vice president. We hope that continues to be the case and these modern cowboys and cowgirls catch on.

Much has been said about Washington’s recovering wolves in policy debates, newspaper comments and public meetings in recent years. But it’s only through public acceptance in the communities living, working and recreating in wolf country that we’ll see their complete and sustained recovery in our state for the long term.

That’s why we’re out there working one-on-one with ranchers, building partnerships with WDFW, and proving that time-tested non-lethal management tools like range riders (and fladry too) can have real results protecting both cattle and these iconic native predators. 

Conservation Northwest is thrilled to see this program succeeding, and hopeful the benefits will be spread even wider this summer with more riders out on the range.””

**Special thanks to “Conservation Northwest” for providing this information!

http://www.conservationnw.org/news/updates/range-riders-update


Wolf Hunting

A gray wolf in a wooded area near Wisconsin Dells, Wis. (AP Photo/Jayne Belsky via the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, File)

“MADISON, Wis. — A state appeals court ruled Thursday that hunters can train dogs to chase down wolves, rejecting arguments from a group of humane societies that wildlife officials are allowing deadly wolf-dog clashes and cementing one of the most contentious elements of Wisconsin wolf hunting.

The 4th District Court of Appeals’ ruling marks another chapter in the bruising political battle over the state’s wolf hunt. Republicans and farmers contend that the hunt is necessary to control a burgeoning wolf population that’s preying on livestock and deer; conservationists and animal lovers say the population is still fragile and that the animal is too majestic to kill.

A Republican-authored law establishing the wolf hunt permits hunters to use up to six dogs to track and trail wolves after the state’s 9-day gun deer hunt ends every November, making Wisconsin the only state that allows dogs to track wolves.

The Department of Natural Resources crafted emergency rules implementing those provisions. The rules contained just two restrictions: hunters can’t use dogs at night and the dogs must be tattooed or wear an identification collar.

The humane societies and the National Wolfwatcher Coalition sued. They alleged that the DNR failed to adopt any meaningful restrictions on hunting wolves with dogs, clearing the way for bloody dog-wolf fights in the woods and violating both the wolf hunt’s track-and-trail limitations and animal cruelty statues.

Dane County Judge Peter Anderson rejected those arguments last year. But he did declare DNR rules stating anyone can train dogs on wild animals without a license to be invalid as they apply to wolves. The humane societies, the DNR and dog trainers interpreted that ruling to mean people can use dogs in the hunt but can’t train them on wolves.

The appellate court concluded that the lack of restrictions in the DNR’s rules doesn’t conflict with the wolf hunt law or animal cruelty statutes. The court said it’s unclear how many restrictions the agency would have to impose to achieve compliance.

The DNR made a rational decision on the extent of restrictions, the court added. Hunters with experience with dogs tracking wolves during coyote hunts told the agency they had never seen any violent encounters and wolves typically try to outrun the dogs.

As for Anderson’s ruling invalidating training, the court said Wisconsin residents have a common law right to hunt. The freedom to use dogs extends from that right, not from DNR regulations. Therefore Anderson’s ruling invalidating dog training rules as they apply to wolves has no legal effect, the court found.

Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney for the humane societies, said she was saddened by the ruling. The decision creates more urgency to change state law to prohibit using dogs on wolves outright “so Wisconsin can be like the rest of the country and the civilized world,” she said. She had no immediate comment on a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court.

A coalition of sportsmen’s groups, including United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bear Hunters and the Safari Club International, had joined the DNR in defending the dog-hunting rules. Coalition attorneys said Thursday they were happy with the decision.

DNR spokesman Bill Cosh said the agency was pleased with the decision.

The agency examined 27 of the 35 wolves killed by hunters using dogs this past season. The DNR couldn’t find any evidence of fights or law violations but the evaluation was inconclusive; the carcasses had already been skinned when the agency examined them.

The DNR has been working on permanent rules governing dogs in wolf hunts. Agency officials have said those regulations would restrict training on wolves to daylight hours during the wolf season and the month of March and mirror the law’s six-dog restriction.

The rules were supposed to be ready by the 2014 season’s October start. But Cosh said agency officials couldn’t get them done in time and now hope to have them in place by the 2015 season.”

**Special thanks to Tom Richmond, Associated Press, for providing this information!  

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_26125375/wisconsin-hunters-can-train-dogs-chase-wolves-court


 

Red Wolf

Captive specimen at “Parks at Chehaw”, Albany GA, USA (RED WOLF)

 

coyote

From Yosemite National Park (COYOTE)

What is the Difference Between Red Wolves and Coyotes?

“Red Wolves and Coyotes are very closely related and in fact share a recent common ancestor.  The two species do hybridize and produce fertile offspring.  It is usually impossible to distinguish between a Coyote – Red Wolf hybrid and a Red Wolf just by looking at it.  Wildlife Biologists that work with the only known wild population of Red Wolves at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina have to do DNA tests to be sure.

Red Wolves are a critically endangered species with only about 100 individuals existing in the wild in the world, all of them in the Alligator River NWR area of North Carolina.  Coyotes, although not found East of the Mississippi River prior to 1900, are now very common in the wild.

Red Wolves, as a species, are larger in both height and weight.  Coyotes usually weigh between 25 and 35 pounds while Red Wolves usually weigh between 50 and 80 pounds.  Red Wolves are more massive in the head, chest, legs and feet. There can be size overlap between the species.  Some Red Wolves are in fact smaller that some Coyotes.  Coyotes tend to have a longer, narrower, muzzle than Red Wolves do.

Red wolves are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs; there is sometimes a reddish color behind their ears, on their muzzle, and toward the backs of their legs.  However, many Red Wolves can have the same colors as coyotes which tend to be light gray with some black on the tips of their outer hairs.

Red Wolves howls are similar to Coyotes but tend to be of longer duration and lower in pitch.  Coyotes tend to have more yapping intermixed with the howls.  Again, it can be almost impossible to tell the difference in some individuals.

It used to be believed that Coyotes didn’t hunt in packs like wolves but pack hunting coyotes have now been observed in the wild.

The Eastern Coyote is different from the Western Coyote in size, genetics and behavior.  This is due to interbreeding with wolves.  Eastern Coyotes have wolf genes and therefore are taking on wolf characteristics.  This happened when the wolf population in the Eastern United States was hunted almost to extinction and had dwindled to a small enough size that they would breed with Coyotes instead of chasing them off or killing them.

Red Wolves howls are similar to Coyotes but tend to be of longer duration and lower in pitch.  Coyotes tend to have more yapping intermixed with the howls.  Again, it can be almost impossible to tell the difference in some individuals.

If you are anywhere in Eastern North America, outside of coastal North Carolina, and observe a large wolf-like animal, it is almost certainly an Eastern Coyote or possibly a Gray Wolf  that someone had as a pet and dumped in the wild.”

 

**Special thanks to Chattanooga Arboretum Nature Center for providing this information!  http://www.chattanooganaturecenter.org/www/docs/133.251/


Bend Bulletin: June 23, 2014

 — Three years into a state program to help counties contending with wolves, the focus has been on preventing attacks on livestock.

“I think the program was set up with the intention that prevention is the preferred model,” said Jason Barber, who oversees the grant program for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “. Kind of a no-brainer, you’d want to prevent the depredation if you can.”

Depredation is when wolves attack livestock, such as cattle or sheep. Money from the wolf grant program helps pay for efforts such as removing cattle bones that could attract wolves, installing flagging along fence lines to spook wolves, and patrolling rangeland by horseback or on ATVs.

State-sponsored hunts helped lead to the elimination of wolves in Oregon, with the last bounty paid out in the late 1940s. But since the late 2000s, wolves have been making a comeback, having moved in from Idaho where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves nearly 20 years ago.

The latest Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf count, which the agency released at the end of last year, has at least 64 wolves in the state. Most are in the northeast corner, but they are expanding their territories. Through 2013, there had been 75 animals, either livestock or domestic animals, killed by wolves since the wolves started returning to Oregon.

The prevention money in the state grant program comes with a use-by date, Jan. 31 of the year after the state issues the grant. If the county doesn’t use the money by then, it has to give it back. Such was the case last year when Crook County gave $3,000 back after a cattle bone removal project didn’t come together in time. This year’s grants include a new $3,000 grant for Crook County to try the project again.

The grants also include compensation money, which goes to ranchers whose livestock has been killed or injured by wolves or has gone missing and was likely taken by a wolf. According to state records, $296,620 total has been given out for prevention, compensation and some smaller administrative costs in the three years of the wolf grant program. Of that, $71,653 was for livestock that had either been attacked or injured or had gone missing probably because of a wolf. That’s 24 percent of the grants. Another $178,150, or 60 percent, went to wolf attack prevention projects.

Although he is glad the state helps ranchers cover the cost of livestock lost to wolves, Todd Nash, an Enterprise rancher and wolf committee chairman for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said it’s not a lasting solution.

“Compensation is a Band-Aid fix,” he said. “It will never be acceptable to livestock producers to have wolves kill their livestock, but it does help.”

Sally Mackler, state carnivore representative for Predator Defense, said she would rather see that state wolf money all go to projects aimed at preventing attacks on livestock, rather than for compensation.

“I think that would be a better use of that money,” she said. The Eugene-based group advocates for predators, such as wolves.

Mark Lane, 42, a rancher from Morrow, said he thinks the state should compensate livestock producers like him for animals lost to wolves. He’s in the process of figuring out how to collect some of the money himself, having had wolves from the Umatilla River pack attack one of his cows earlier this month.

He said he is hopeful he’ll be able to save the 3-year-old pregnant cow that had been grazing on private land near Pendleton when attacked.

“I’m just a small producer,” Lane said. “I don’t have many animals, (so) every one I lose … hurts me big time.”

Separate from the state wolf grant program, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife runs its own wolf program. For the two-year funding cycle spanning 2013 to 2015, the program’s budget is $641,004, according to the agency. The budget covers wolf-monitoring programs, response to livestock attacks, equipment needs and the pay for two full-time wolf-management workers.

“That’s collaring, that’s everything,” said Meg Kenagy, an agency spokeswoman in Salem.

Scientists with ODFW have been affixing GPS collars to wolves since the animals started returning to the state from Idaho. Tracking them allows scientists to understand their behavior and habits. The ODFW also offers a warning system, in which it will call or text ranchers when wolves are detected near livestock.

A GPS collar led to fame for one wolf as the device enabled scientists to record his remarkable journey in recent years. Known as OR-7, the seventh wolf collared in Oregon, the gray wolf traveled thousands of miles from Northeast Oregon into California.

Scientists said OR-7 probably was looking for a mate and this spring found one. He now has pups with her, the beginnings of a new pack, in the southern Cascades between Klamath Falls and Medford.”

 

**Special thanks to Dylan Darling, Idaho Statesman, for providing this information!  http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/06/23/3249894/oregon-wolf-money-focused-on-preventing.html?sp=/99/103/

 


Wolf Donations

Photo courtesy of “Speak for Wolves.”

“Hi everyone,

Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 is a mere 2 weeks away and we wanted to send you another important update!

The event kicks off Friday evening June 27 at 7pm, with film-producer Bob Landis screening his newest film about the infamous ’06 Alpha Female that was the fearless leader of the Lamar Canyon Pack in Yellowstone National Park until she was shot and killed in Wyoming. The footage from the documentary has only appeared on the National Geographic Channel. We are incredibly excited to have Mr. Landis kick-things-off, to say the least. The film is free and will be screened at the Gardiner Community Center.

Things will pick back-up at 10am on Saturday June 28 at Arch Park, with inspirational speakers, live music, children’s activities, education booths and food. The speaker list includes: Tom McNamee, Nathan Varley, Louisa Willcox, Ken Cole, George Nickas and Mike Hudak, with Anja Heister delivering an anti-trapping/snaring demonstration to close out the afternoon. Neil Haverstick will be providing music.

Grilled meats and veggies will be for sale and water will be provided for free. The afternoon’s festivities conclude at approximately 4pm.

After a short break, the event swings back over to the Gardiner Community Center for another film series starting at 7pm. There will be two film screenings on Saturday night: EXPOSED: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife and Coexisting with Wildlife: The Marin Livestock & Wildlife Protection Program. Camilla Fox, Louisa Willcox and Dr. Robert Crabtree will lead a panel discussion following the films. The screenings are free.

Day-2 of the event will begin at Arch Park on Sunday June 29 at 9am with Jimmy St. Goddard providing a morning blessing and story of the buffalo. The list of speakers to follow include, Mike Mease, Doug Peacock, Dr. Catherine Feher-Elston and Bill Chamberlain. Goodshield Aguilar will be providing music, grilled meats and veggies will be for sale and water will be provided for free. The event wraps-up at approximately 2pm.

Please support the event:

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today towards Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014. All donations help pay for the event.www.speakforwolves.org/donate.html. We appreciate your support!

Keep spreading the word America! Wolves and our native wildlife need our voices right now. Hope to see you at Arch Park in lovely Gardiner, Montana in 2 weeks!

Sincerely,

Brett Haverstick
Organizer”

**Special thanks to Brett Haverstick of “Speak for Wolves” for providing this information!  You can visit the link below to help donate!  This is “AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO UNITE AND DEMAND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT REFORM AND TAKE STEPS TO RESTORE OUR NATIONAL HERITAGE.”

http://www.speakforwolves.org/donate.html


Alaskan Wolf Pup

Photo courtesy of “Be a Voice for the Gray Wolf”

ALERT!!  I’m asking you all to help contact Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and express your outrage about this.  Feel free to e-mail or call his office.   As emotional as this is, please don’t threaten anyone.  But Alaskan resident or not, we need to continue to make our voices heard on this!  Wolf pups have a high enough mortality rate without trigger happy hunters involved.  In addition, contact your local state representatives, newspaper, and even set up a booth in a library to inform the public so they too can educate others about these horrific acts.  Even if these atrocities can’t be stopped in the short term, WE can educate our youth and work on stopping this in the long run!

PLEASE do not stand by and let this go unnoticed. http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/contact/email-the-governor.html

 

by Nicole Rivard, Friends of Animals Correspondent

“Shame on Alaska governor Sean Parnell for allowing the “kill-on-site” policy for wolf pups and bear cubs orphaned by state predator control to continue. Friends of Animals has learned from Rick Steiner, professor and conservation biologist, that despite the wildly popular rescue of wolf pups abandoned in the Kenai fire last week, which was covered on national television news, the State of Alaska announced June 2 that it would not alter its “kill-on-site” policy for newborn wildlife orphaned by the state’s predator control programs across western and northern Alaska.

These pups escaped death because they were rescued by firefighters before the Alaska Department of Fish & Game could get their hands on them, and have been adopted by the Minnesota Zoo instead of being killed.

But the future is bleak for future pups orphaned after the State of Alaska kills their parents.

After killing all of the adult wolves from two wolf packs on the South Alaska Peninsula in their spring 2008 predator control effort, ADFG biologists pulled 14 newborn wolf pups from the two dens, and shot each in the head. Subsequent public outrage led to the adoption of the state’s wolf pup protocol in Nov. 2008, which called for the live collection and placement of orphaned wolf pups in zoos and other facilities.

Then in May 2009, with no public notice, prior to the continuation of the Alaska Peninsula wolf control program, the state adopted a new wolf pup protocol that called for the lethal gassing of wolf pups orphaned by predator control efforts in western and northern Alaska. Although there has never been a reported case of rabies in wolf pups, the rationale the state gave for adopting its new lethal protocol in western and northern Alaska was a purported risk of rabies in wolf pups.

But given the lack of rabies risk, many wildlife advocates feel the new “kill-on-site” protocol was actually adopted for other reasons, including: the current state administration, and its political supporters, harbor an irrational disdain, even hatred, for wolves; in remote areas, without the watchful eye of the news media, the state feels it is more expedient to just kill orphaned pups than to arrange their collection and placement; the state doesn’t want to attract attention to the inhumane consequences of its scientifically unjustified predator control programs by providing an opportunity for news media to cover the live collection and placement of orphaned young; and the state doesn’t want the public to understand that the “hidden” effects of its predator control programs are far greater than just the number of adults killed.

Wolf pups and bear cubs remain dependent on their parents for more than a year, thus parents killed by state predator control or liberalized hunting and trapping regulations also results in the death of dependent cubs and pups, which are not added to the kill count.

A month after the new kill-on-site protocol was adopted, on June 7, 2009, two newborn wolf pups that had been orphaned by the state wolf control effort in the area, were lethally gassed in their dens with carbon monoxide by ADFG biologists. Their carcasses were not collected and tested for rabies, and left to decompose in the den. This was the first, and so far only, time in state history that newborn wildlife has been lethally gassed. This remains state policy today.

In Feb 2014, ADFG was asked to rescind its 2009 (lethal) wolf pup protocol, and revert to its 2008 (non-lethal) protocol, but the agency declined, again citing its concern for rabies in wolf pups. Then, after the rescue of the five Kenai wolf pups last week the state was asked again to apply this non-lethal collect-and-place protocol to the entire state, arguing not only that there has never been a report of rabies in wolf pups, but also that the half dozen reports of rabies in adult wolves in the historical record (the past 70 years) were all from the Arctic. Thus the risk of rabies from wolf pups, or even adult wolves in the rest of Alaska, is exceedingly low.

Despite this argument, ADFG announced yesterday, in a June 1, 2014 email from Division of Wildlife Conservation Director Doug Vincent-Lang, the following: “We stand by our new wolf pup protocol given advice from our vet regarding rabies. Rabies is a serious disease and I trust the advice of my professionals on this issue. It is fortunate that the wolf pups from the Kenai were from a rabies free zone and could be placed.”

The agency did not provide an explanation for why its veterinarians feel rabies in wolf pups presents a risk when there has never been a reported case. Thus, any wolf pups found orphaned by the state’s predator control programs in western and northern Alaska will continue to be lethally gassed. Additionally, in a May 29, 2014 press release, ADFG admitted that its biologists had recently (this spring) killed newborn black bear cubs in its Kuskokwim (GMU 19A) predator control effort.   Apparently there was no effort made to collect-and-place the newborn bear cubs.

Many Alaskans feel that the government killing of healthy newborn bear cubs and wolf pups is inhumane, unethical and unacceptable and Friends of Animals couldn’t agree more. “It takes a troubling, cold-hearted detachment from life to rationalize the killing of innocent newborn animals,” said Steiner. “Is this really what Alaska has come to? The state’s predator control program is bad enough, but to kill innocent weeks-old wolf pups and bear cubs whose parents have just been killed by gunners in helicopters, exposes a callous depravity that should concern us all. “Perhaps ADFG officials should go before an elementary school assembly and explain to the kids why, after their biologists gun down the parents of bear cubs and wolf pups from helicopters, they then order the orphaned pups and cubs to be gassed or shot instead of rescuing and placing them in facilities to live out their tragically altered lives.”

 

**Special thanks to Nicole Rivard, Friends of Animals Correspondent, for providing this information!  (https://www.thedodo.com/alaska-governor-allows-kill-on-580469041.html)


LEAVE THESE ANIMALS ALONE AND LET MOTHER NATURE DO IT’S JOB.  WOLVES AND ELK BALANCE EACH OTHER JUST FINE WITHOUT INTERFERENCE.

by  on JUNE 2, 2014

“Recently the Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP) commission approved a new “Wolf Conservation Stamp”. The purpose of the stamp is ostensibly to get non hunters to pay for wildlife “management”, especially the “management” of wolves.  The stamp would be voluntary.  Despite the fact that I support the idea of non-hunters/anglers paying to support wildlife agencies, I do so only with the condition that the agency changes their entire philosophical approach to wildlife.

In theory the wolf stamp is a good idea. It could demonstrate that keeping wolves alive is more valuable than killing them. And there are ways I could envision how such a wolf stamp might lead to greater appreciation for wolves as a valued part of Montana’s heritage. However, as now presented, I am very skeptical that positive outcomes will result.

The details of this wolf stamp proposal demonstrates to me that MDFWP still has the same unscientific and unethical attitude towards predators as it has always demonstrated. Without a change in its overall philosophy, all this stamp will do is help the Department perpetuate the same old myths and misinformation about predators that it currently dishes out—only wolf supporters will be helping to fund it. According to MDFWP, funding from the stamp would cover the following three areas.

  1.  One third would be made available to Montana livestock owners to help pay for nonlethal ways to protect their animals from predators like wolves, bears and mountain lions.  By keeping both livestock and large carnivores alive, this would be a good deal for ranchers and wolves alike.
  2. Another third would be used to pay for studying wolves, educating the public about wolves, and improving or purchasing suitable wolf habitat.  This would benefit everyone, by increasing our knowledge about wolves, ensuring the public has access to accurate information about wolves, and securing habitat in which wolves and other wildlife can thrive.
  3. The final third would be used to hire additional MDFWP wardens—essentially, wildlife police—in occupied wolf habitat.  This would enhance enforcement of our wildlife management laws as they pertain to wolves and other species, and reduce incidents of poaching, trespassing, wasting animals, unlawful use of or failure to check traps, and other violations.  This is something every Montanan and every American—hunters, non-hunters, property owners, public land users, agency officials, recreationists, and wildlife enthusiasts alike—should encourage and support.

RESPONSE TO PAYING FOR NON-LETHAL MEANS OF LIVESTOCK PROTECTION

One has to ask what is MDFWP thinking. Let’s see, we will help ranchers with non-lethal means of protecting livestock so we can allow hunters and trappers to blow away more wolves? That is essentially what they are suggesting. As long as MDFWP has a vindictive and unethical attitude towards predators, there is no reason to “save” any of them—just so someone else can shoot them. Asking predator supporters to pay ranchers to adopt non-lethal means of protecting livestock is analogous to asking those who cherish clean air to pay for air pollution devices on coal fired power plants.

Ranchers have EXTERNALIZED the cost of their operations through predator control.

Ranchers should pay to protect their own herds—it is part of the cost of doing business—a cost that they have successfully avoided for a century because they were able to get the government to kill off most predators from the landscape. Just as the coal power plants must install pollution control devices or get out of business, ranchers must practice better animal husbandry. It is not the responsibility of wildlife supporters to subsidize their business. Ultimately the additional costs should be borne by those who want to eat beef, just as the users of electricity from coal-fired power plants should pay more per Kilowatt Hour to reduce air pollution from power generation.

The last part of this is that wolves are simply not a big deal for ranchers. Last year in Montana fewer than 60 cattle out of 2.5 million in the state  were killed by wolves. If MDFWP were truly interested in educating the public it would be countering the myth that wolves are “destroying” the livestock industry.

Basically livestock depredation is a non-issue and even giving it credibility by pretending that wolves are somehow a significant cost for ranchers is nothing less than deceptive. I think the real reason MDFWP wants non-hunters to pay for non-lethal livestock protection is to reduce ranchers’ hostility towards the department so that more ranches are left open to hunting, not because MDFWP has any goal of helping wolves.

Worse, the livestock industry has many negative impacts on predators besides simply lethal killing. Every blade of grass consumed by cows is that much less for elk, deer, and other wildlife.  Not to mention that the mere presence of cattle, often socially displaces other wildlife like elk. In effect, there are numerous “costs” to livestock that the ranching industry externalizes.

RESPONSE TO FUNDING WOLF STUDIES AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC

The second part of the proposal to use stamp funds to study wolves, educate the public about wolves, and purchase suitable wolf habitat I seriously object to the way MDFWP has “educated’ the public about wolves already.

The problem is that MDFWP doesn’t even use the existing scientific information it has available to ecologically and ethically treat predators. So why should I or anyone else believe more studies would result in “better” outcomes.

Although Tom Dickson’s recent piece in Montana Outdoors that provided some more factual information about what wolves were doing and weren’t doing to Montana’s hunting opportunities (wolves are not destroying elk herds), it is a small effort.

Indeed, I fear giving MDFWP more funds to “educate” the public about wolves. They have repeatedly demonstrated that they are unwilling to counter mythology and misinformation. And they will promote the idea that we “need” to “manage” predators. Predators do not “need” management. They need to be left alone. They are perfectly capable of self regulating, primarily because of social intolerance among packs helps to reduce and limit wolf numbers.

Paying MDFWP to “educate” the public about wolves is like handing over more money to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to educate the public about wolves. For those of you who are unfamiliar with RMEF, they promote the idea that wolves are “destroying” elk herds, and “need to be managed like other wildlife.”

If MDFWP were using science, it would be “educating” the public that wolves pose little threat to big game herds as proven by their statistics. For instance, elk numbers have risen in Montana from 89,000 just prior to wolf restoration to 150,000 animals now. Most elk management units are “over objectives”.

They would manage for social stability rather than having kill quotas based on nothing more than the idea that fewer wolves will mean more elk and deer—as if that should be the goal of wildlife management. MDFWP like all agencies has a mission to promote all wildlife not just the ones that hunters like to kill. But the philosophical bias of the agency, like all state wildlife agencies, is grossly skewed towards promoting animals that hunters like to shoot.

Furthermore, MDFWP when it does discuss wolves sees them only as a “problem” instead of educating the public on the many benefits associated with wolves and other predators like a reduction in disease spread in ungulates, reduction in some herbivory pressure in some places due to a reduction in elk numbers and/or changes in habitat use, and changes in predator effects on other species like a reduction in coyotes that in some cases has lead to an increase survival of pronghorn. And these are only a few of the benefits that the department could be extolling.

As far as buying wolf habitat, there is nothing special about wolf habitat. It’s basically anyplace where there is sufficient prey for wolves to eat. You don’t buy “wolf habitat”, you buy wildlife habitat. I have no problem with buying wildlife habitat, and if this stamp only did that, I would support it. But I fear this will be a minor effect of the stamp.

RESPONSE TO HIRING MORE WARDENS AND MANAGEMENT

Finally, the third part of the stamp receipts would go to fund more wardens to enforce wildlife management laws. The problem isn’t with poaching or any other illegal activities. The problem is what is legal. MDFWP legal actions towards predators are archaic, vindictive and unethical. The agency says its new wolf stamp will prevent, among other things suggested, the “wasting” of wildlife? Huh? What is more wasteful than shooting predators just for fun, or worse, out of vengeance?

If the Department were truly interested in avoiding “waste”, it would call for the ethical treatment of wildlife and outlaw the killing of all predators except for very special situations like when an animal that is habituated to humans.

As for poaching, much of the poaching of predators is done because hunters and others believe that wolves are “destroying” hunting opportunities—a perception that MDFWP does little to counter. If MDFWP were doing its job, and using scientific findings to educate hunters, it would at least be saying to hunters that wolves haven’t caused the sky to fall.

DON’T SUPPORT MORE ‘MANAGEMENT” OF WOLVES AND OTHER PREDATORS

We don’t need more management of wolves and other predators. What we need is to leave them alone. There is simply no reason to “manage” predators. The science is clear on this—they have many ecological benefits to ecosystems. The idea that we should manage predators is a throwback to the early days of wildlife management—it’s time for MDFWP and other wildlife agencies to enter the 21st Century and start treating predators as a valued member of the ecological community instead of a “problem” that needs to be solved—usually by killing them.

If a wolf stamp is developed with good sidebars that guarantees a better outcome for wolves than I would be happy to support it. Here’s a couple of ideas that could be the beginning for discussion. MDFWP would eliminate all hunting and trapping of wolves if a certain threshold of annual funding support were generated.  Alternatively, MDFWP would reduce the wolf quota by so many animals for every $100 generated by the wolf stamp. Or to reduce livestock conflicts, Wolf Stamp Funds would go for permanent buyout of grazing permits on public lands in areas inhabited by wolves. These and other concrete changes would definitely benefit wolves, and I could endorse the Wolf Stamp concept. However, at this point in time, as outlined, the terms are too vague and there is too much room for mischief to be done at the expense of wolf supporters.”

 

**Special thanks to George Wuerthner, http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/06/02/mdfwp-wolf-conservation-stamp-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/,  for providing this information!

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