Judge orders Fish and Wildlife Service to halt red wolf plan

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to halt its plan to transfer the reintroduced population of endangered red wolves from the wild into captivity.

“This is a great day for red wolves and for anyone who loves nature in Eastern North Carolina,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The court was clear that it’s the Fish and Wildlife Service’s job to conserve this endangered species, not drive it to extinction.  The agency cannot simply abandon that responsibility.”

After nearly two years of study on the future of the reintroduction program, the Fish and Wildlife Service released a Sept. 12 report that concluded recovery of wild red wolf populations was possible only if “significant changes” to the program were implemented and outlined a plan to gather most of the population — estimated at less than 45 — from the five southeastern North Carolina counties where it roams and concentrate on bolstering captive red wolf populations. By October 2017, the report said, the Fish and Wildlife Service would determine more suitable locations for reintroduction efforts. Environmental groups denouched the decision.

The history of red wolf reintroduction efforts is a long and contentious one. Reintroduction was attempted in the Smokies during the 1990s but ultimately failed. The small population in southeastern N.C. is the only wild population in the world, and a cadre of environmental groups had sued the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for its implementation of coyote hunting rules viewed as dangerous to red wolves, which look similar to coyotes and had been shot in cases of mistaken identity. The lawsuit ended with the parties agreeing to a series of limits on coyote hunting in the affected area, but afterward the Wildlife Commission asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to end reintroduction efforts and remove existing red wolves from private land.

That’s essentially what the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to do following conclusion of its study on the matter, but environmental groups took the issue to court. On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Red Wolf Coalition, the Southern Environmental Law Center argued in a court hearing on September 14 that a preliminary injunction was needed to stop the agency from harming these native wolves in the wild.

Source: Judge orders Fish and Wildlife Service to halt red wolf plan

A Message from Conservation Northwest

Profanity gets the best and worst of me

We’re working towards long-term wolf recovery and coexistence. While the loss of some wolves to conflict can be heart-wrenching, unfortunately it’s sometimes an unavoidable component of predators, people and livestock sharing space.

By Mitch Friedman, Executive Director

Profanity gets the best and worst of me. Profanity Peak is the namesake for the rugged and scenic Profanity Roadless Area, the heart of the Columbia Highlands and the Cascades to Rockies habitat corridor. It’s the wild crest of the Kettle River Mountain Range that conservationists have battled to designate as Wilderness since the 1970’s. Gaining permanent protection for this wild place has been near the top of Conservation Northwest’s To-Do list for almost 15 years, confounded in part by opposition from hardliners at the local Diamond M Ranch operated by the McIrvin family… read more.

Conservation Groups Challenge Idaho Wolf-killing

Gray wolf, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, USA
Image Courtesy of WWF

Courtesy of The Center for Biological Diversity

BOISE, Idaho— Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services’ killing of gray wolves in Idaho.

The agency killed at least 72 wolves in Idaho last year, using methods including foothold traps, wire snares that strangle wolves, and aerial gunning from helicopters. The agency has used aerial gunning in central Idaho’s “Lolo zone” for several years in a row — using planes or helicopters to run wolves to exhaustion before shooting them from the air, often leaving them wounded to die slow, painful deaths.

The agency’s environmental analysis from 2011 is woefully outdated due to changing circumstances, including new recreational hunting and trapping that kills hundreds of wolves in Idaho each year, and significant changes in scientific understanding of wolves and ecosystem functions.

Wildlife Services does most of its wolf-killing at the behest of the livestock industry, following reports of livestock depredation. For example, five wolves were killed outside of Hailey, Idaho in July 2015 for allegedly attacking sheep. Documents indicate that Wildlife Services has even attempted to kill wolves in the newly-designated Boulder-White Clouds Wildernesses. But Wildlife Services does not consider whether livestock owners took common-sense precautionary measures to avoid conflicts with wolves such as lambing indoors.

“Wildlife Service’s wolf-killing program is senseless, cruel, and impoverishes our wild country,” said Travis Bruner of Western Watersheds Project. “Killing wolves for private livestock interests is wrong, especially on public lands, where wildlife deserves to come first. In addition, new science shows that it does not reduce conflicts long-term.”

Wolves in Idaho; Protesters Say Mismanaged

Courtesy of CDAPress.com

Frustrations about the way the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is managing the state’s wolf population ran high Monday in Coeur d’Alene.

Many turned out to testify at a public hearing the state’s Fish and Game Commission held during its meeting taking place Monday and today in the Lake City.

Some of the loudest complaints were from people upset about the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the commission’s Wolf Depredation Control Board. They claimed Fish and Game’s focus is on pleasing hunters and sportsmen instead of doing what is best for wildlife habitat.

Last year and again this year, the Legislature allocated $400,000 from the general fund to the Wolf Depredation Control Board. and up to $110,000 from Fish and Game that is matched by Idaho’s livestock industry. In total, the control board can receive up to $620,000 each year to use for “control actions against wolves when there is a depredation conflict between wolves and wildlife or between wolves and livestock” according to section 22-5301 of the Idaho Code.

Almost all who testified at the hearing urged the commission to suggest the Wolf Depredation Control Board return taxpayer dollars to be used in a better way or to stop killing wolves completely.

Read more…

Application seeking temporary halt of wolf releases moved to federal district court

Mexican Gray Wolves in the Gila National Forest.

Courtesy: New Mexico Game & Fish
Application seeking temporary halt of wolf releases moved to federal district court

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Public contact, Information Center: (888) 248-6866
Media contact: Lance Cherry: (505) 476-8003
lance.cherry@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 17, 2016:

Application seeking temporary halt of wolf releases moved to federal district court

LAS CRUCES – In an effort to thwart the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the department’s application to temporarily halt future Mexican wolf releases into New Mexico from state to federal court late Friday. The department’s application alleges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ignored state and federal laws last month by importing and releasing two Mexican wolves without first obtaining required state permits.

Under New Mexico law, the importation and release of non-domesticated animals requires a permit from the department and federal law instructs the USFWS to consult with the states and obtain necessary permits before releasing wildlife.

“Although we anticipated this move,” said Department Director Alexandra Sandoval, “we believe recent actions by the USFWS violate state and federal law. A review of the state law violations certainly belongs in state court. Regardless of venue, we are committed to pursuing this matter.”

The department originally filed the application in the state’s 7th Judicial District Court. It has since been moved to the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces.

Lawmakers question wolf collar data blackout for ranchers

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife file photo shows a member of the Teanaway wolf pack. Some local and state officials want the department to share wolf tracking data with ranchers during denning season.
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife photo shows a member of the Teanaway wolf pack. Some state and local officials want the department to share wolf tracking data with ranchers during denning season.

By: Matthew Weaver

Courtesy of: Capital Press
Published on May 6, 2016 10:09AM

Several Washington lawmakers are questioning a lack of wolf location data for ranchers during a key point in the season for both wolves and livestock.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shares raw locations and GPS coordinates off of wolf collars with ranchers with livestock in wolf pack territory, to help reduce the risk of conflicts between wolves and livestock. The department shares the information online with producers who have a data-sharing agreement except for the denning season. Wolf location around den sites may make the animals more vulnerable, said Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for the agency.

Washington Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, and Stevens County Commissioner Wes McCart say the wolves’ location should be available to ranchers year-round.

Denning coincides with calving, the most vulnerable time for a rancher’s operation, Short said.

“Once again, my farmers and ranchers are the ones getting the short end of the stick,” Short said. “They need access to that data when they are vulnerable.”

“If it’s illegal to go out and poach those animals, I don’t see any one of our ranchers, farmers, anybody that’s going to risk being put in jail or fined just to go track down one den of wolf pups,” McCart said. “I think there’s a total lack of trust on behalf of the department to those that are being affected.”

The online tool to look at the raw information is turned off during this time, but the department still shares the information with ranchers verbally or with printed maps, Martorello said.

“There’s always some risk, particularly when wolves and livestock are in close proximity,” Martorello said.”If we have any producers that overlap with those den sites, we make sure those producers are aware of that.”

Some ranchers make routine calls to determine wolf locations or the department provides a weekly map of the wolves’ activities, he said.

Ranchers concerned about possible close proximity should contact the department, Martorello said.

McCart doesn’t believe the department’s current steps are adequate.

“We have enough money in this state to be paying people to watch computer screens of where these wolves are and give affected property owners a phone call, rather than just let them do it on their own?” he said. “That makes no sense.”

Live collar data will be available to ranchers signed up with a data-sharing agreement again beginning June 1, Martorello said.

The department will meet with county commissioners shortly to determine if there are other solutions to data sharing and den sites, he said.

“We’re looking for a creative solution that meets the needs of identity of critical points on the map for a recovering wolf population but at the same time, meets the needs of producers being able to minimize risks,” he said. “I can’t say what it’s going to look like, but we’re going to roll up our sleeves and try to figure something out,”

“The department is trying to work on these things really hard,” Short said. “My big frustration continues to be, it’s not on my ranchers’ timeline. If they’re the ones on the forefront of feeling the impact, then it ought to be, frankly, done on their time frame, not everybody else’s. We’ve been at this for years and my ranchers continue to be impacted.”

April 2016 Wolf Headlines

Court Settlement Provides Hope for Mexican Gray Wolves
Earthjustice (April 26, 2016)

Critically endangered and ancient Himalayan wolf needs global conservation attention
Phys.org (April 25, 2016)

More Wolves, less politics in Colorado
The Denver Post (April 23, 2016)

Nine Wolves Killed (Dell Creek Wolf Pack)
Pindale Online (April 22, 2016)

Government probes shooting death of endangered Red Wolf
The Washington Times (April 22, 2016)

State says it will sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife over wolf release plan
Albuquerque Journal (April 20, 2016)

Nixed Changes to Wolf / Coyote Hunt Slammed
Fort Francis Times (April 13, 2016)

With End of Hunting Wyo. Wolf Numbers Hit a High
Jackson Hole News & Guide (April 13, 2016)

Red Wolves Need to be preserved
The News & Observer (April 9, 2016)

Livestock Producers Can Get Paid For Living In Gray Wolf Territory
kjzz.org (April 5, 2016)

The Truth About Wolf Surplus Killing: Survival, Not Sport
Outside, Live Bravely (April 5, 2016)

Wolf Counts Stable as Federal Oversight Set to Expire
Independent Record (April 1, 2016)

Wolves or Bears? Caribou mothers’ Catch -22 dilemma
New Scientist (April 1, 2016)