Nov 30

Howling against the hunt

Foes call wolf hunts in Wisconsin unwarranted and inhumane

Written by Lisa Neff, Staff writer

After nearly 40 years on the endangered species list, the gray wolf made a comeback in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin – and now the animals are back in hunters’ sites.

Animal rights activists are howling in protest.

The Obama administration in December 2011 de-listed the wolves in the Great Lakes Region, removing federal protections for the animals and ceding management of the species to the states.

“Once again, the Endangered Species Act has proved to be an effective tool for bringing species back from the brink of extinction,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an announcement of the federal decision. “Thanks to the work of our scientists, wildlife managers and our state, tribal and stakeholder partners, gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region are now fully recovered and healthy.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe enthused, “Gray wolves are thriving in the Great Lakes Region, and their successful recovery is a testament to the hard work of the Service and our state and local partners. We are confident state and tribal wildlife managers in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will effectively manage healthy wolf populations now that federal protection is no longer needed.”

But animal rights advocates say they lack Ashe’s confidence.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put faith in the state wildlife agencies to responsibly manage wolf populations, but their overzealous and extreme plans to allow for trophy hunting and recreational trapping immediately after de-listing demonstrate that such confidence was unwarranted,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Between Minnesota’s broken promise to wait five years before hunting wolves and Wisconsin’s reckless plan to trap and shoot hundreds of wolves in the first year, it is painfully clear that federal protection must be reasserted. The states have allowed the most extreme voices to grab hold of wolf management, and the result could be devastating for this species.”

For a time, after a long history of attempted annihilation with guns, traps and poison, a forested northeastern corner of Minnesota sheltered the last of the wild wolves in the lower 48 states – about 600 animals. Under endangered species protections and management plans, the animals still occupy less than 5 percent of their historical range.

But protections did allow wolves to repopulate in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the upper Michigan peninsula. There are an estimated 4,000 wild gray wolves in the Great Lakes Region – 700 in Michigan, 850 in Wisconsin and 3,000 in Minnesota.

Less than a year after celebrating the wolf’s comeback, a hunt has been under consideration in Michigan and hunts are under way in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where sportsmen, sportswomen and sportschildren are using rifles, bows and arrows, steel leg traps and snares to go after their big game trophy – a regal, wilderness icon integral to a Native American creation story and symbolic of a wild, howling America.

“These are magnificent animals. No one can look at them – in person or in a photo – and say otherwise. Now we’ve brought them back so that we could start killing them again,” said animal rights activist Tracey Baxter, who joined in anti-hunt demonstrations in Madison this fall. “What’s next? Spraying DDT on pelicans and bald eagles?”

Despite lawsuits, protests and overwhelming public opinion opposing the recreational activity, hunting is under way with the support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and under the supervision of the departments of natural resources.

“This is a landmark day in Wisconsin,” Walker said when he opened the inaugural wolf hunt on Oct. 15. “Thanks to the conservation efforts of wildlife officials and the Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin’s wolf population grow from just a few animals migrating back from Minnesota and Michigan, to healthy and thriving.”

In the Badger state, the DNR issued 1,160 licenses to recreational hunters to kill 116 wolves through Feb. 28. Government press releases refer to quotas, harvests and pelts. As of Nov. 24, 95 wolves had been killed.

In Minnesota, the DNR has offered 6,000 licenses to kill 400 wolves – 200 during deer-hunting season, which ended Nov. 18, and another 200 in the season that runs through Jan. 31. During the late season, hunters are using wire snares that loop and tighten around a wolf’s neck and steel leg-traps that are baited and can be left unattended for a day or more.

Professional trappers with the U.S. Agriculture Department also are taking wolves outside of the state quotas in an effort to control wolf attacks on livestock.

Justification?

Such attacks, as well as concerns that a rising wolf population will deplete the whitetail deer population, are two arguments said to justify the hunts. There is general agreement on all sides that wolves are not being hunted to protect people.

“We have now reached the point where this public harvest is necessary to maintain a safe balance,” Walker stated. “This hunt will ease the burden on state residents, farmers and visitors who have been faced with the loss of livestock and pets. I want to thank all of the hunters and trappers who are participating in this challenging, historic event.”

Advocating the hunt, Wisconsin state Rep. Erik Severson, R-Osceola, said, “Farmers and landowners throughout the state want to make sure their livestock, crops and pets are properly protected by having a responsibly managed wolf population.”

But opponents say wolves are not significant threats to livestock and recreational hunts actually may weaken wolf packs and increase livestock losses.

“Claims of wolf depredation on livestock are often sensationalized,” said the Humane Society’s Pacelle.

In Wisconsin in 2011, wolf depredations occurred on 47 out of 7,000 farms, with 63 cattle and six sheep killed.

In Minnesota in 2011, there were 88 wolf attacks on livestock on 80 farms.

“Political leaders in these states are all too ready to bow to the pressure and to buy in to the rhetoric and false framing, and it’s the wolves who suffer,” Pacelle said. “It’s yet another example of adverse policy actions by this administration on animal welfare and conservation. It talks a good game of science-based decision-making and sound policy, but in the end kowtows to traditional special interests.”

Hunt opponents argue that the state management plans fail to address the disproportionate effect the death of an alpha female or an alpha male can have on a pack or clan. They also say the plans don’t include other kills in the totals and ignore the impact of potential overkilling in other states.

Legal challenges

Legal opposition to the hunts comes from the Humane Society and its chapters, the Center for Biological Diversity, The Fund for Animals and Howling for Wolves, which also stages daily protests outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, Minn., and is erecting striking billboards urging “Stop The Hunt.”

“Minnesotans benefit economically, culturally and ecologically by having wolves in the wild,” said Howling for Wolves founder Maureen Hackett. “As a state, we have so much to gain by keeping wolves undisturbed.”

The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves sued to block this year’s hunts in Minnesota while a broader complaint brought by the Humane Society and The Fund for Animals seeks to return the gray wolf to the federal endangered species list.

Meanwhile, a Wisconsin case filed by a coalition of humane society chapters seeks to at least block the use of domestic dogs in stalking the wolves. A Dane County judge is set to hold a hearing Dec. 20 on the DNR’s request to train and use dogs to track wolves. Opponents of the proposal say the state would be in violation of animal cruelty laws and sanctioning bloody battles between wolves and their canine kin.

In a Native American creation story, the wolf also is kin to people. In Minnesota, after the state authorized the hunts, some tribal councils established wolf sanctuaries on reservations, where tribal law trumps federal and state laws.

A proclamation from the White Earth Reservation Tribal Executive Committee, the governing body of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, said the sanctuaries were needed because “the state of Minnesota has not engaged in any meaningful management plan before abruptly declaring a wolf hunt season in Minnesota.”

The proclamation told of the special relationship between the wolf and the Ojibwe or Anishinaabe: The wolf – Ma’iingan – is a brother to Original man. The two traveled together on Earth, naming everything. When they finished, they went their separate ways but remained brothers, bound by a belief that what happens to one, happens to the other.

“Over time, both the Ma’iingan and Anishinaabe have shared a similar fate,” the proclamation stated. “Both have lost lands, both have been mistreated, both have been misunderstood and both have been hunted. Yet, both have also survived.”

In July, Ojibwe tribal elder Joe Rose told the Ma’iingan story to Wisconsin DNR officials in Stevens Point during a public hearing on the proposed wolf hunt.

“Our destiny is related to the destiny of the ma’iingan,” Rose said. “That’s part of our teachings.”

In November, hunt opponents from the tribal councils and a coalition of nonprofits demonstrated outside the capitols in Madison and St. Paul, urging legislators to reconsider, to examine the environmental and economical impact of protecting wolves rather than killing them for pelts.

“The number of people who want to view wildlife, who travel for ecotourism, is bigger than the number of people who hunt wildlife,” said Wisconsin wolf advocate Melissa Rolf. “Politicians should understand that the wolves are worth more alive than dead.”

Responding, the U.S. Interior Department notes that wolf populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan will be monitored for at least the next four years. And, if it appears the gray wolf cannot sustain itself without the protections of the Endangered Species Act, the government can initiate the listing process, including emergency listing.

Source

Nov 30

DNR probing wolf shooting

By STAN MILAM

ELKHORN — The shooting of a wolf in Walworth County has spurred a “law enforcement” investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“A deer hunter shot what we believe is a wolf and delivered the carcass to us Monday,” said Jenny Niemeyer, the conservation warden supervisor for Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties. “The examination of the animal is not complete, but I can say that it appears to be a wolf, it has wolf-like characteristics, it is a male and weighs about 60 pounds.”

Niemeyer said conservation wardens are conducting the investigation.

Although Niemeyer could not identify where the wolf was killed, she said it was in a zone where wolves are in season.

“I’m not in the office to check reports, and I’m not certain as to which township this occurred,” she said. “There are two requirements to hunt wolves. First, you must be in a zone where it is legal, and a hunter must have the proper license.”

Niemeyer declined to comment when asked if the investigation focused on whether the hunter was properly licensed.

DNR wolf expert Adrian Wydeven told reporters the wolf was a male yearling or adult, not a registered harvested wolf.

“There are no known packs in the area, so it probably dispersed from farther north in Wisconsin or Michigan,” Wydeven said. “Lone dispersing wolves from northern Wisconsin have been detected in the past as far south as Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, so these unusual movements do sometimes occur.

“With any illegal wildlife killing investigation, conservation wardens will investigate the scene, talk to any witnesses, talk to anyone who knows anything about the animals that had died and try to find out more by looking over the area,” Wydeven told the Superior Telegram.

Source

Nov 30

Key lesson from the first hunt: Harvesting wolves may be easier than anticipated

One of the early lessons from Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt in decades is that shooting or trapping wolves is easier than wildlife management experts had expected, says Tim Van Deelen, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology.

That’s indicated by the fact that hunters and trappers had taken nearly 100 wolves out of a quota of 116 by the week after Thanksgiving—five weeks into a 20-week season—even though they were barred from using dogs, he says.

Van Deelen discusses this year’s deer and wolf hunting seasons in a podcast produced by the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and UW-Extension. The podcast is available here.

“The first (hunt) out of the box is important for learning how the system behaves,” he says. “How successful hunters can be is really important information for designing a quota system—how many permits do you allow if you want to have a harvest of a certain size. We’re just getting our feet wet with that.”

While he doesn’t expect this year’s fairly modest harvest to have a big impact on the state’s wolf population, the longer-term impact of an annual wolf hunt is unknown, says VanDeelen. That’s because the state has yet to establish long-term management goals and priorities.

“You can have a sustainable wolf hunt at an almost infinite number of levels if you define sustainability as the wolf population remaining the same size from year to year,” he says. “The problem really is what do you expect from your wolf population. What do you want it to be. Do you want it to be just a relic population, like a museum piece? Or do you really want wolves to have some sort of role in those northern ecosystems? In my mind, that’s kind of the key question that we haven’t answered yet.”

Source

Nov 29

AK: Researchers count just 57 Denali wolves

By TIM MOWRY, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The number of wolves in Denali National Park and Preserve is the lowest in 25 years, which has supporters howling to stop trapping and hunting of wolves on state land just outside the northeast boundary of the park.

Researchers counted just 57 wolves in nine packs during the October survey that was posted on the National Park Service’s website on Tuesday. That’s down from 72 wolves in eight packs last year, a 24 percent decrease, and represents a 63 percent decline from an all-time high population of 143 wolves in 2007.

Not surprisingly, groups and individuals who have been trying to protect wolves in the park seized on the survey to rekindle their efforts to reinstitute a protective buffer zone along the northeast boundary of the park near Healy. The buffer zone, which prohibited the hunting and trapping of wolves on state land adjacent to the park, was eliminated in 2010 by the Alaska Board of Game.

The survey results “confirm fears expressed earlier this year by wildlife conservation advocates and biologists regarding the continued take of park wolves when they cross the park’s northeastern boundary onto state lands,” Rick Steiner, an Anchorage marine biologist who has picked up the Denali Park wolf torch that was carried by independent biologist Gordon Haber for many years before he died in a plane crash four years ago.

Citing the survey numbers, Steiner sent an email to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell on Tuesday asking her to use her authority to issue an emergency closure for trapping and hunting in what used to be the buffer zone. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, another group that has advocated for the return of the buffer zone, did the same, according to president Tina Brown.

“When you see a dramatic decline like this it’s common sense something should be done,” Brown said. “This is one step the Board of Game or commissioner could take to address the decline of wolves in the park and in doing so would most likely increase viewing of wolves in the park.”

Similar requests and petitions submitted to Campbell in May and the Alaska Board of Game in September and October, before the trapping season opened Nov. 1, were denied because neither Campbell nor the game board deemed the situation an emergency.

Campbell couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday but Dale Rabe, deputy director for the Division of Wildlife Conservation in Juneau, said nothing has changed and the state isn’t likely to take any action. The state doesn’t manage wolves inside the park and wolf populations on state land outside the park appear to be healthy, Rabe said.

“The commissioner and department have looked at the viability of populations outside the park and inside the park relative to trapping and harvest records and concluded that there are no conservation or sustainability questions there,” Rabe said. “Without that the commissioner is not inclined to use her emergency closure authority.”

The state manages wildlife populations on a sustainable basis, and it’s the Board of Game’s job to allocate those populations among users, he said. It would take a “compelling conservation concern” to warrant a closure, Rabe said.

Rabe noted that the park’s wolf population declined every year since 2007 and the buffer zone was in place much of that time. He said only two wolves were taken by trappers or hunters last year after the buffer zone was removed, which represents only a small percentage of this year’s decline.

While Steiner acknowledges there are likely multiple reasons for the decline in the park’s wolf population, he said there’s no denying trapping and hunting on state land has contributed to that decline. He pointed to the trapping of the last breeding female in the most-viewed pack in the park, the Grant Creek Pack, which was trapped in what used to be the buffer zone in May. After the female was trapped and killed, the rest of the pack abandoned their den and split up. The pack didn’t produce any pups this year, he said.

“There’s six or seven animals gone right there,” he said. “Now there are only five of what used to be a 15-member pack, probably due to the trapping of that one female.”

For its part, the National Park Service says it’s not concerned about the overall number of wolves in the park as much as it is about the individual packs that are most often seen by park visitors, such as the Grant Creek Pack, because the park’s wolf population varies from year to year, depending on a variety of factors, spokeswoman Kris Fister said.

“The low numbers could be the result of a lot of different factors,” she said.

Wolf viewing in the park was down considerably this summer, in large part because of the demise of the Grant Creek Pack, which had denned close to Denali Park Road the previous three summers and were seen by thousands of tourists, she said.

That said, Fister said the Park Service, which has advocated for a buffer zone in the past to protect wolves that are seen by visitors and stray out of the northeast corner of the park, “would continue to work with the state to come up with a resolution that will benefit both parties.”
___

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

Source

Nov 29

MI: Senate approves gray wolf hunting season in Michigan

Written by Kathleen Gray
Detroit Free Press

LANSING — Gray wolves beware!

The state Senate by a 23-15 vote, approved the creation of an open hunting season on the wolves.

Gray wolves were put on the endangered species list in 1973 when the population in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula had dwindled to six on the isolated Isle Royale. With the designation, the population had grown to nearly 700 by 2011.

The wolves were removed from the endangered species list in January, but only the Department of Natural Resources is allowed to manage the wolf population, which has begun to encroach upon U.P. towns. The animals also are having a big impact on the Upper Peninsula’s deer population, killing between 17,000 and 29,000 deer every year, according to a report from the DNR.

The Michigan Humane Society opposes the legislation, preferring non-lethal means of solving any conflict between humans and wolves, rather than an open hunting season on the wolves.

“They just came off the endangered species list,” said Kevin Hatman, spokesman of the society. “There have been no reported human fatalities from gray wolves, so establishing a hunting season seems like using a sledge hammer on the problem.”

The bill calls for the DNR to establish the hunting season and a $100 license for the season for residents and $500 for non-residents.

In nearby Minnesota, which has a wolf population of 2,900, the state issued 6,000 licenses in 2012 and is anticipating that 400 wolves will be killed by hunters, according to an analysis of the Michigan bill by the Senate Fiscal Agency.

Source

Nov 29

AK: Fewer wolves counted in Denali National Park

by Tim Mowry

FAIRBANKS — The number of wolves in Denali National Park and Preserve is the lowest in 25 years, which has supporters howling to stop trapping and hunting of wolves on state land just outside the northeast boundary of the park.

Researchers counted just 57 wolves in nine packs during the October survey that was posted on the National Park Service’s website on Tuesday. That’s down from 72 wolves in eight packs last year, a 24 percent decrease, and represents a 63 percent decline from an all-time high population of 143 wolves in 2007.

Not surprisingly, groups and individuals who have been trying to protect wolves in the park seized on the survey to rekindle their efforts to reinstitute a protective buffer zone along the northeast boundary of the park near Healy. The buffer zone, which prohibited the hunting and trapping of wolves on state land adjacent to the park, was eliminated in 2010 by the Alaska Board of Game.

The survey results “confirm fears expressed earlier this year by wildlife conservation advocates and biologists regarding the continued take of park wolves when they cross the park’s northeastern boundary onto state lands,” Rick Steiner, an Anchorage marine biologist who has picked up the Denali Park wolf torch that was carried by independent biologist Gordon Haber for many years before he died in a plane crash four years ago.

Citing the survey numbers, Steiner sent an email to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell on Tuesday asking her to use her authority to issue an emergency closure for trapping and hunting in what used to be the buffer zone. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, another group that has advocated for the return of the buffer zone, did the same, according to president Tina Brown.

“When you see a dramatic decline like this it’s common sense something should be done,” Brown said. “This is one step the Board of Game or commissioner could take to address the decline of wolves in the park and in doing so would most likely increase viewing of wolves in the park.”

Similar requests and petitions submitted to Campbell in May and the Alaska Board of Game in September and October, before the trapping season opened Nov. 1, were denied because neither Campbell or the game board deemed the situation an emergency.

Campbell couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday but Dale Rabe, deputy director for the Division of Wildlife Conservation in Juneau, said nothing has changed and the state isn’t likely to take any action. The state doesn’t manage wolves inside the park and wolf populations on state land outside the park appear to be healthy, Rabe said.

“The commissioner and department have looked at the viability of populations outside the park and inside the park relative to trapping and harvest records and concluded that there are no conservation or sustainability questions there,” Rabe said. “Without that the commissioner is not inclined to use her emergency closure authority.”

The state manages wildlife populations on a sustainable basis, and it’s the Board of Game’s job to allocate those populations among users, he said. It would take a “compelling conservation concern” to warrant a closure, Rabe said.

Rabe noted that the park’s wolf population declined every year since 2007 and the buffer zone was in place much of that time. He said only two wolves were taken by trappers or hunters last year after the buffer zone was removed, which represents only a small percentage of this year’s decline.

While Steiner admits there are likely multiple reasons for the decline in the park’s wolf population, he said there’s no denying trapping and hunting on state land has contributed to that decline. He pointed to the trapping of the last breeding female in the most-viewed pack in the park, the Grant Creek Pack, which was trapped in what used to be the buffer zone in May. After the female was trapped and killed, the rest of the pack abandoned their den and split up. The pack didn’t produce any pups this year, he said.

“There’s six or seven animals gone right there,” he said. “Now there are only five of what used to be a 15-member pack, probably due to the trapping of that one female.”

For its part, the National Park Service says it’s not concerned about the overall number of wolves in the park as much as it is about the individual packs that are most often seen by park visitors, such as the Grant Creek Pack, because the park’s wolf population varies from year to year, depending on a variety of factors, spokeswoman Kris Fister said.

“The low numbers could be the result of a lot of different factors,” she said.

Wolf viewing in the park was down considerably this summer, in large part because of the demise of the Grant Creek Pack, which had denned in close proximity to Denali Park Road the previous three summers and were seen by thousands of tourists, she said.

That said, Fister said the Park Service, which has advocated for a buffer zone in the past to protect wolves that are seen by visitors and stray out of the northeast corner of the park, “would continue to work with the state to come up with a resolution that will benefit both parties.”

Source

Nov 29

DNR investigating southern Wisconsin wolf killing

By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram

The Department of Natural Resources says it’s investigating a recently-killed wolf found in southeast Wisconsin’s Walworth County. DNR wolf expert Adrian Wydeven says grey wolves have been killed that far south in Wisconsin before, but this is the first dead wolf found there since the state wolf hunting and trapping season started last month. Wydeven says the newly-discovered wolf may not have been killed by a licensed wolf hunter, so wardens are asking questions.

“With any illegal wildlife killing investigation, conservation wardens will investigate the scene, talk to any witnesses, talk to anyone who knows anything about the animals that had died, and try to find out more by looking over the area and see what they can find in the area,” he says.

Wydeven says he doesn’t think the wolf in Walworth County was called in on a state registration system set up for the wolf hunt. Other wolves have been legally killed in Adams and Monroe Counties, but most have died in the Northern half of the state.

Source

Nov 29

Expert addresses wolf hunt, public perceptions of wolves

By Sean Kirkby

An expert on environmental attitudes warned Tuesday that a shift in public attitudes toward wolves could endanger the species’ presence in Wisconsin.

Thomas Heberlein, University of Wisconsin community and environmental sociology professor emeritus, addressed about 50 people as part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Lecture Series, and said the current wolf population in Wisconsin depends on the positive attitudes of the public toward wolves.

He said these positive attitudes have allowed the population of wolves in Wisconsin to grow from 25 in 1980 to about 800 in 2012.

“This attitude context is ‘good social habitat’ for wolves,” Heberlein said. “I think the wolves are here, and they are here to stay.”

However, he said his surveys showed that a large number of people, about 24 percent across all his studies, were neutral toward wolves and that a number of people did not return his surveys.

“Those people are dangerous,” Heberlein said. “This means that rapid negative attitude change is possible.”

Heberlein said this occured in New York’s Adirondack State Park, where conservation biologists wanted to introduce wolves. The biologists conducted a survey in in 1996, showing 76 percent supported wolf restoration while 18 percent opposed.

However, a 1997 survey showed 46 percent supported the hunt and 42 percent opposed, and Heberlein said wolves were not introduced.

Heberlein attributed the shift to the media reframing the issue and swaying people neutral toward wolves to have a negative opinion. He said he was concerned if a wolf attacked a person in Wisconsin, it might cause a shift toward negative attitudes toward wolves.

“To protect wolves, we need to be ready to deal with this kind of event,” Heberlein said. “So that would mean hiring experts to have in place, hiring rapid response teams to get on any kind of wolf human incident, and to really spend our resources getting ready for that.”

Heberlein said when Wisconsin took control of managing the wolf population after the federal government delisted wolves as an endangered species, they established a wolf hunt.

He said having a hunting season is a normal part of species restoration, often used as a way of establishing a stable population.

“If the state decides how many wolves there should be, we can’t hand out brochures to the wolves or condoms to the wolves and say your population is supposed to be 300,” Heberlein said. “Wolves will do what they will do and so the major way of controlling populations is through sport hunting.”

However, Heberlein said Wisconsin’s hunt was unusual since the Legislature set the season’s length, threatening the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

The model involved taking wildlife management control away from the Legislature and giving it to scientific experts, according to Heberlein.

“The action by the Wisconsin Legislature threatens that system that has been in place for better than a hundred years, and that is a concern,” Heberlein said.

Lecture attendee Sara Yeo, a UW life sciences communication graduate student, said she was interested in people who do not have an opinion on the wolf restoration and the change in attitudes toward wolf restoration.

“And he says that this [shift is due to] people who don’t care,” Yeo said. “But maybe the people who don’t care really still don’t care and those who have had positive attitudes somehow became more negative.”

Source

Nov 29

AZ: Tucson group sues feds to speed up Mexican gray wolf reintroduction

Donyelle Kesler
Cronkite News Service

A Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity sued the federal government Wednesday to speed reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico.

The conservation group contends that officials have failed to respond to the group’s 2004 petition for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to act on recommendations made by panel of scientists engaged by the government.

While the reintroduction program calls for a population of at least 100 in the species’ historic range, there are now an estimated 58 Mexican gray wolves in the forests of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

In a news release, the group said the wolf population has grown by just three in the past eight years.

Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the center, said lack of population growth can compromise genetic diversity and result in smaller litter sizes and increased mortality among pups.

“The Mexican gray wolf remains on the brink of becoming extinct, and its genetic diversity is declining dangerously,” Robinson said.

Mexican gray wolves, native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, were hunted to the brink of extinction and gained protection under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s.

As part of the recovery program, the government began releasing captive-raised Mexican gray wolves were released into the wild in 1998.

Thanks for reading TucsonSentinel.com. Tell your friends to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The group filed its lawsuit, naming Fish and Wildlife as well as the U.S. Interior Department, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit says federal officials have failed to respond to the center’s 2004 petition calling for Fish and Wildlife take action on three recommendations that a scientific panel made in a report prepared for the agency in 2001 after a three-year review.

The recommendations in question: allowing wolves to establish territories outside the designated recovery area; providing direct reintroduction of wolves into a secondary recovery zone; and requiring livestock operators to remove livestock carcasses that would attract wolves.

When Fish and Wildlife initially didn’t respond to the petition, the center filed suit in 2007. Robinson said the agency began working on the recommendations, including holding public meetings, but has done nothing since.

“It’s put the wolf population in terrible jeopardy,” he said.

A Fish and Wildlife spokesman in Albuquerque, N.M., said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment. An Interior Department spokesman in Washington said in an email that the department doesn’t comment on open litigation.

Source

Nov 29

MI: Lawmakers Could Vote This Week On Wolf Hunting

By Rick Pluta

The state Senate is expected to vote as soon as Thursday on legislation that would declare the gray wolf a game species in Michigan. That would allow state wildlife officials to create a wolf hunting season.

It’s estimated there are several hundred wolves in the Upper Peninsula. In some cases, wolves have been found where people live.

“We’ve got them casually walking right into the city of Ironwood,” says state Senator Tom Casperson, a Republican from the Upper Peninsula. “People cite all kinds of reasons why, but clearly, there’s a – we believe an overpopulation of wolves in the western end of the U.P. is suffering because of it.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed eight wolves in Ironwood this past spring.

Jill Fritz, with the Humane Society of Michigan, says those problems are no reason to allow open hunting of wolves.

“They use very cruel methods – shooting, trapping, neck snares – and basically there’s no scientific justification for hunting wolves in our state. They were only recently delisted. There are laws already in place that allow for the lethal control of wolves that are already attacking your animals,” Fritz says.

The gray wolf was removed from the U.S. government’s endangered species list in January.

Supporters hope to have the legislation on Governor Rick Snyder’s desk before the end of the year.

Source