Feeds:
Posts
Comments

OR-4 Wolf

OR-4, the alpha male of the Inmaha pack of wolves that lived in Eastern Oregon, before he was shot to death Thursday. (Photo: Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity)

APR 2, 2016

“The bullet he’d been dodging for many years finally caught up with the great Oregon wolf, OR4, on March 31. In the early afternoon, officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shot to death the patriarch of the Imnaha Pack from a helicopter over Wallowa County, an area where gray wolves dispersing from Idaho first began returning to Oregon, where they’d been killed off in the mid-20th century. Shot along with OR4 was his likely pregnant partner, OR 39, known as Limpy for an injured and badly healed leg, and their two pups.

The animals were killed for being presumed guilty of the deaths of four calves and a sheep on private pastureland on the fringes of the pack’s territory in northeast Oregon.

Rob Klavins, who has been a wolf advocate on the frontlines of the cultural and political battles that have accompanied the reemergence of wolves in the West as field coordinator for the conservation group Oregon Wild, heard the helicopters take off and knew the sound spelled doom for OR4. “It was hard for a lot of people,” said Klavins, reached on Friday at his home near the town of Joseph in Wallowa County. “Even some of his detractors had a begrudging respect” for OR4, the fourth wolf to be fitted with a location-tracking radio collar in Oregon. He weighed at least 115 pounds, the largest known wolf in Oregon at the time of his death, and survived for 10 years, three years longer than most wolves in the wild.

OR4 and his progeny have been largely responsible for the gray wolf’s intrepid return to lands where the species was long ago hunted, poisoned, trapped, burned, and otherwise chased nearly to extinction.

Cattle farmers, who receive a subsidy from taxpayers to graze their animals on vast ranges of publicly-owned land where the wolves also dwell, worry about wolves killing their property. Hunters want first shot at the game, such as deer and elk, that wolves favor. But livestock depredations in Oregon are extremely rare, and have become scarcer even as the wolf population has increased. Meanwhile, ODFW’s data shows that Oregon’s wolves are having no effect on elk, deer, and wild sheep populations. Of course, those statistics are small consolation to the rancher who suffered the loss of property in March.

In early 2008, OR4 and his mate at the time, OR2, were among the first wolves to swim the Snake River, scale enormous mountains, and establish a foothold for wolves in game-rich Wallowa County. Since then, more than 110 Oregon wolves have spread from the remote northeast corner of the state, over the Cascades, and to near the California border. Many of these pioneering wolves were spawned by OR4.

Beginning with his first pack in 2009, OR4 fathered, provided for, and protected dozens of wolf pups that survived in the Oregon wild—and made their way all the way south to California, where OR7, known as the “lone wolf,” trekked in 2012. Today, OR7 has his own pack in the California-Oregon border region. The alpha female of the Shasta pack—the first gray wolf pack to make California home since 1924—is the offspring of OR4.

That OR4 lasted this long is source of wonder to those who have followed his starring role in Oregon’s gray-wolf comeback story. In 2011, a brief cattle-killing spree by the Imnaha pack had him slated for execution. A suit by Oregon Wild and other conservation groups stayed the execution order and OR4 settled into a mostly incident-free life as Oregon’s biggest and baddest-ass wolf.

There is good reason to believe OR4 was cast out of his pack early this year, and his decision to move into livestock calving ground was borne of the need of an old, slowing, and dull-toothed male—no longer able to bring down elk—to fend for his hobbled mate, to whom he was endearingly loyal, and his yearling pups.

“He was an outlaw wolf with a heart of gold,” said Amaroq Weiss, the West Coast Wolf Coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity. Weiss recalled a 2009 video of OR4 leading his Imnaha pack up a snowy mountainside as a defining image from the early days of Oregon’s wolf recovery. “He was definitely a father figure.”

The Shasta Pack that is part of OR4’s legacy will soon be coming into its second litter. It is protected by the California Endangered Species Act. In Oregon, though, wolves were removed from the endangered species list in November, which allowed OR4’s pack to be shot to death Thursday. Activists have sued to re-list the animals.

The wolf management plan that provided the legal justification for the killing of OR4, Limpy, and their pups is up for review in Oregon this year. The state has determined that the wolf population met benchmarks that allow livestock producers more lethal options when dealing with depredating wolves. Klavins and others would like to make sure the updated plan calls for every non-lethal option to be exhausted before wolves are killed.

“What was done [Thursday] was sufficient for an agency that views wildlife as agents of damage and whose primary job is to protect private interests at taxpayer expense,” Klavins said. “But it’s not good enough for a public agency whose mission is to ‘protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations,’ ” he continued, quoting from the agency’s official documents. “They need to do better. Oregonians deserve better.”

Wolf advocate Wally Sykes is one of the few to have encountered OR4 in the wild. “I was kind of initially prepared for something to happen, but the visual image of an old wolf being hunted down by a helicopter, with his hobbling mate by his side and his two freaked out pups along with him, is an ugly picture to carry in your head,” said. He said officials he spoke with were “not at all happy to have killed these wolves.”

**Special thanks to Joe Donnelly, an award-winning journalist and author, for providing this information!  (http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/04/02/oregon-just-killed-family-wolves)


Take a look back on the impact of wolves:

May 17th, 2015

“After about a 70-year absence, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park when a nearly record-breaking number of public comments were reviewed in 1994. The Secretary of the Interior signed the okay for the reintroduction of gray wolves into Yellowstone only two decades ago, but there are currently between 400 and 450 wolves roaming Yellowstone.

Old Faithful and most of the world’s geysers are preserved at Yellowstone National Park, which was established in 1872 as the first national park in the United States. As tourists lined up to watch Old Faithful and enjoy the national treasure, wolves were rapidly killed off, because people feared the wolves. Government predator control programs helped eliminate the gray wolves from the national park, because as tourists came, there was nothing to stop them from killing the great predators.

The National Park Service reported that, in the late 80s, most scientists thought that if wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone, they would not have much impact on the mule deer, bighorn sheep, bison or white-tailed deer population. In the beginning of the experimental reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone, park staff created sites that were enclosed in nine-gauge chain-link fence. Plywood boxes were provided for shelter for the wolves. Eventually, wildlife biologists relocated wolves from Canada and released them into Yellowstone. The wolves were radio-collared. Now, only a small fraction of the Yellowstone wolves wear radio collars.

Only a couple of decades following their reintroduction, the Yellowstone wolves have already accomplished remarkable feats, some claim. They reportedly rounded grazing herds back into their most natural territories, and in doing this, the native foliage returned, according to the remarkable video below.

Elk make up about 90 percent of the Yellowstone wolves’ diet in the winter months. In the video “How Wolves Change Rivers,” the narrator refers to elk as “deer,” but according to Sustainable Man that is simply a semantics issue.

After Yellowstone National Park reintroduced wolves into the wilderness, a trophic cascade occurred, according to the narrator of the film. Their return benefited everything from the bald eagle to the river’s flow. George Monbiot explains what a trophic cascade is, and how the Yellowstone wolves transformed the park’s ecosystem all the way down to its meandering riverbeds.

According to the National Parks Service, there is no way to know exactly how significantly the wolves’ return will impact or has impacted Yellowstone. Some scientists, like Arthur Middleton, who has in the past received funding for research from the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board and the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, have opinions that oppose the idea that the wolves made such an impact. So far, according to the NPS, the impact that the wolves have made has been surprising in many ways.

“Preliminary data from studies indicate that wolf recovery will likely lead to greater biodiversity throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wolves have preyed primarily on elk and these carcasses have provided food to a wide variety of other animals, especially scavenging species. They are increasingly preying on bison, especially in late winter. Grizzly bears have usurped wolf kills almost at will, contrary to predictions and observations from other areas where the two species occur. Wolf kills, then, provide an important resource for bears in low food years. Aggression toward coyotes initially decreased the number of coyotes inside wolf territories, which may have benefited other smaller predators, rodents, and birds of prey.”

According to Defenders of Wildlife, as the wolves return, the same old fears that led humans to nearly eradicate them are coming back too. Still, according to this same group, in areas outside of Yellowstone where the wolves are thriving in their comeback, less than one percent of livestock deaths have anything to due with wolves.”

 

**Special thanks to INQUISITR for providing this information! (http://www.inquisitr.com/2091814/yellowstone-wolves-changed-the-entire-ecosystem-even-the-geography-heres-how/)


“On December 30th, 2015, Oregon Wild and our allies at Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal challenge to the state’s decision to prematurely strip wolves of their protections under the state’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). Below is an explanation about the effort.

  1. Why did you file the legal challenge?
  2. What are you hoping to accomplish?
  3. Aren’t you just trying to get rich?
  4. Didn’t the wolf plan call for delisting wolves now?
  5. But the state’s doing a good job right now, right?
  6. Shouldn’t you just let ODFW do their jobs? Aren’t they the experts?
  7. Who cares?
  8. Aren’t wolves devastating the livestock industry, killing all the good wildlife, and threatening our children?
  9. What does Governor Brown say?
  10. What’s next?

Why did you file the legal challenge?

Simply put, the government must follow its own laws. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) violated several of its own laws by refusing to consider the best available science, ignoring conflicts of interest, and bending to political pressure to delist wolves. Wolves in Oregon have not recovered.

What are you hoping to accomplish?

Oregon Wild wants to see healthy and abundant populations of all native wildlife. That’s essentially the same mission as ODFW. The return of wolves to Oregon has been a tremendous conservation success story, but it remains fragile and there are a number of cautionary tales that demonstrate the need for continued protections.

We look forward to the day we can celebrate an appropriate delisting of wolves (as we did with peregrine falcons and bald eagles at the state level, and gray whales on the federal level). However, with only 80 or so known adult wolves in the state occupying just 12% of their habitat, Oregon is a long way from recovery. Sadly, ODFW caved to political pressure by prematurely delisting wolves.

We hope to see the state manage wolves and all native wildlife informed by the best available science and guided by Oregon’s conservation values. Living with wildlife can present challenges and we will continue to work with the state and willing stakeholders to minimize conflict and make sure killing is an option of last resort.

Aren’t you just trying to get rich?

Going to court costs money and isn’t fun. We made every effort to avoid litigation including sending multiple warnings to the agency flagging their violations of the law and offering to resolve the issue out of the courtroom. We were told by a representative of the agency to “bring it on”. We met with agency staff and commissioners, spoke with the Governor’s office, and even sat down with stakeholders from the hunting and ag community to find and propose solutions acceptable to all parties. Win or lose, Oregon Wild will not recoup a single penny of our expenses. But it’s the right thing to do.

Didn’t the wolf plan call for delisting wolves now?

Nearly all interests – including hunting groups, the livestock industry, and conservationists – called for the state to honor the Oregon Wolf Conservation & Management Plan. Speaking at a hearing, a retired ODFW staffer involved in writing the plan stated in no uncertain terms that the intent of the agency and the plan’s authors was that wolves would not be delisted at this time.

One of the most significant compromises made to assuage the livestock industry (who immediately, strongly, and publicly opposed the plan) in 2005 was a recovery goal of 4-breeding pairs for 3-consecutive years. That milestone triggered a status review. The plan states clearly and repeatedly that ODFW may consider delisting wolves but did not require it.

Unfortunately, according to public testimony from the livestock industry, ODFW promised the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association that wolves would be delisted. Faced with a decision to either violate the law or break a promise to the livestock industry, ODFW chose the former.

But the state’s doing a good job right now, right?

The state has made some recent decisions that give optimistic conservationists hope – like recently choosing not to kill wolves for preying on livestock that were illegally grazing on public lands. However Oregon’s wolf plan is overdue for a review and now outdated. Wolves in Eastern Oregon are managed under what’s known as “Phase II” which includes ambiguity that led to tremendous conflict prior to a 2013 legal settlement between the agency, livestock industry, and conservationists. That ambiguity can allow the state to make good or bad decisions with few to no requirements for transparency or oversight. That’s not good for anyone.

Without state ESA protections, within a year, wolves in Eastern Oregon could be subject to hunting as they are in other states. Though wolves in Western Oregon are still protected by the federal ESA, Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse and others have made efforts to strip wolves of those protections as part of budget negotiations. ODFW has publicly supported efforts to strip wolves of those federal protections.

ODFW is in a budget crisis that only shows signs of worsening. The majority of Oregon’s wolf resources are dedicated to addressing concerns of the livestock industry while important conservation, education, and law enforcement work is not being done. Several wolves have recently been killed. No one has been brought to justice.

Shouldn’t you just let ODFW do their jobs? Aren’t they the experts?

ODFW has many capable staff who are experts in their field. However the agency is heavily influenced by political considerations and special interests. The 4-2 decision to delist wolves was made by a group of Commissioners appointed by the Governor and approved by the state Senate. Such appointments are often the result of political deals dictated by powerful commercial interests. Two re-appointments to the Commission being challenged by the livestock industry were postponed until the week following the delisting vote (both voted to delist and both were re-appointed) and concerns were raised over conflicts of interest.

Despite a mission to “protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats” and a statutory requirement for Commissioners to represent all Oregonians, the agency has a history of ignoring important conservation requirements. When it comes to wolves, the agency ignored hundreds of citizens who testified overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining protections for wolves. In the year preceding delisting, ODFW published over 10,000 comments of which over 96% were in favor of maintaining protections for wolves. Conservation organizations account for an additional 24,467 comments in favor of maintaining protections.

Most concerning, the state had a legal mandate to consider the best available science when reviewing the status of wolves. ODFW put forward a formal recommendation to delist wolves before the public deadline they set for scientists and others to provide input. To justify the decision, the agency put forward a “science review summary” that highlighted 4 cursory notes of support they solicited, including comments from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (not known for wolf conservation). Meanwhile they ignored the input of over 20 world-renowned scientists – some of whom provided comprehensive critiques of the state’s proposal. Those critiques were stashed away with thousands of other comments in over 30 files of documents –some of which were not even publicly posted until the hearing to delist wolves was underway.

Who cares?

Lots of people, for lots of reasons, and the majority support wolf protections. During the delisting process, over 96% of over 10,000 written public comments published by the agency were in favor of maintaining state ESA protections. That gives credibility to poll over poll that has shown support for wolf recovery. Even in rural communities moderate positions and support for wolves dwarf those who oppose wolf recovery.

Like other native wildlife, wolves have an important role to play on the landscape. They are iconic animals who provide many benefits – ecological, economic, and those harder to quantify. Beginning in the 19th-century, Oregon’s wolves were hunted, trapped, and poisoned as part of a government-sponsored campaign of eradication. They are just now beginning to return to Oregon. However, their recovery remains fragile. Wolves continue to be at the center of a purposeful campaign of misinformation and fear and a vocal, violent minority continues to kill them and argue for more aggressive management, hunting, and trapping.

For now, it’s just wolves that are being treated differently than other wildlife. However stripping protections from an animal that numbers in the low dozens (of related animals) and occupy just 12% of their habitat is a dangerous precedent. ODFW has a responsibility to conserve and restore native wildlife populations in Oregon. Imagine not protecting elk, salmon, eagles, or otters if there were just 80 of them left in the state!

Aren’t wolves devastating the livestock industry, killing all the good wildlife, and threatening our children?

No. While there may be legitimate concerns about living with wildlife, claims about wolves are often wildly overblown. Oregon is home to over 1.3 million cattle. In the last year for which we have statistics over 55,000 cows were lost to things like weather, disease, human thieves, and domestic dogs before being shipped to the slaughterhouse. With just a few days left to go in 2015, wolves have killed 4. A single truck accident in Madras killed more cows than wolves have in Oregon in the last decade combined! Income in the livestock industry has increased every year since wolves returned to Oregon – even in Wallowa County. Elk herds where wolves roam remain far above objective. In states where wolves have recovered, ungulate herds are above objective in more places than not. Since before 1900, there have been two incidents of wild wolves killing people on the entire continent. According to the CDC, eleven times more people are killed by cows each year in America alone than wolves on the entire continent in over 100 years.

What’s Governor Kate Brown say?

The short answer is not much. Like all state agencies, the buck stops at the Governor’s office. Given that Governor Brown began her administration with promises to run a more accountable, responsive, and transparent state government, the decision, the process by which it was made, and the Governor’s silence on it have been troubling.

What’s next?

Since a legal settlement between ODFW, the livestock industry, and conservationists, Oregon has been seen around the country as a model for wolf management. It’s been the only state in the nation with a meaningful wolf population not to kill them. With a focus on conflict prevention, clear guidelines, and agency transparency, the wolf population has increased and conflict has decreased. For all but the most intransigent voices, the plan worked during its first phase after settlement. There are plenty of counterexamples in places like Idaho, Wyoming, and Wisconsin. Oregon’s wolf population is now up to about 80 known adult wolves. They remain mostly confined to the Northeast corner of the state, but are beginning to disperse more frequently.

Nearly every year for the last decade, the livestock industry and their political allies have introduced legislation to undermine wolf protections and make it easier to kill them. They’ve promised to do so again in 2016. ESA protections provided a critical backstop to some of these efforts.

During the push to delist wolves, ODFW ignored a legal requirement to review its now outdated wolf plan. Ambiguity that led to wolf killing and conflict has returned and replaced requirements for transparency and accountability that provided certainty for all stakeholders. Within a year, citizens in Eastern Oregon may be allowed to kill wolves under similar provisions that were used to justify expanded hunting in other states. Emboldened by the state’s recent decision to strip wolves of protections, many conservationists fear poaching may increase.”

**Special thanks to Oregon Wild,   http://www.oregonwild.org/conservationists-challenge-oregons-wolf-delisting-faq, for providing this information!


SNARES HAVE TO GO!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015 2:27pm

“An 89-pound female gray wolf was killed in Utah last month in a strangulation snare intended for a coyote.

She was the second wolf killed in Utah in less than a year and the third in the southern Rockies.

The most recent killing occurred around Nov. 7 in northeastern Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The previous wolf killed in Utah was shot on Dec. 28, 2014 by a hunter who claimed he thought it was a coyote. That wolf, nicknamed Echo, had been the first wolf documented at the Grand Canyon since the 1940s.

The third wolf was killed in Colorado on April 29 by a hunter making the same claim. All three wolves had migrated south from the Northern Rockies wolf population found in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

An analysis conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity found that since 1981, more than 50 dispersing wolves have been killed as they tried to expand across a greater portion of their natural range.

“Utah should end its war on coyotes, which has had a deadly effect on at least two wolves that have wandered into the state,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The loss of these three wolves is yet another grim reminder that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do more to protect dispersing wolves and foster further wolf recovery.”

Utah offers a bounty on coyotes, reportedly to increase the number of deer. Wildlife officials point to habitat loss, drought, and less forage as probable reasons for decline in deer populations.

The most recent wolf killing occurred in a portion of Utah in which wolves were stripped of their Endangered Species Act protections through a rider on a must-pass budget bill in 2011.

“Ongoing persecution of wolves is one of the prime reasons they continue to need Endangered Species Act protections in Utah and across the country,” Robinson said.

The Center for Biological Diversity points to scientific studies show that wolves benefit their ecosystems.

For example, wolves keep elk moving, thereby limiting browsing along streams and allowing saplings to mature into trees that provide shade for fish habitat and birds.

Wolves provide carrion for scavenging animals such as eagles, wolverines and weasels. Wolves benefit pronghorn through killing coyotes, which unlike wolves, inordinately focus their hunting on pronghorn fawns.”

**Special thanks to “The Journal” for providing this information (http://www.cortezjournal.com/article/20151202/NEWS01/151209984/Another-wolf-killed-in-Utah)


Wolf Conservation Center

**This photo is courtesy of the Wolf Conservation Center

Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 10:00 pm | Updated: 4:07 pm, Thu Oct 15, 2015.

“In a direct snub to state officials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that plans to release up to 10 Mexican gray wolf pups and a mating pair into the wilds of southwestern New Mexico sometime in 2016 , even though state game officials have refused to issue a permit for the action.

The federal agency sent an internal memo Wednesday about the decision to members of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Team that said it will release the wolves as part of its recovery program for a species that is at risk of extinction.

“It is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s obligation under the law to recover this species, and reintroductions into the wild from the more genetically diverse captive population are an essential part of that recovery process,” the memo said.

Fish and Wildlife said it notified New Mexico Game and Fish Department Director Alexandra Sandoval, who previously denied a permit for the releases to occur in 2015. Despite protests from dozens of environmental groups, the seven-member State Game Commission late last month unanimously rejected the federal government’s appeal of her decision.

Wednesday’s statement said the U.S. Department of the Interior is exempting the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program from a policy of complying with state permit requirements in New Mexico. The announcement added that the Fish and Wildlife Service prefers to work with the state in its efforts to rescue endangered species and hopes it can do so with other programs.

The federal government’s decision to ignore Sandoval and release the wolves onto National Forest Service land is the latest in an ongoing fight between the Fish and Wildlife Service under President Barack Obama’s administration and the Game and Fish Department under the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez.

In June, Sandoval refused to issue a permit for the Mexican wolf program, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lacked a detailed plan to release up to 10 captive Mexican wolves in the Gila National Forest. Sandoval said that left her without enough information on what effects the predators would have on elk and deer populations. The federal agency disputes her characterization, saying it has released the wolves into the wild in the past.

At the Sept. 29 meeting at which the State Game Commission unanimously rejected the federal government’s appeal of the permit denial, dozens of protesters voiced their frustration at the commissioners, who are appointed by the Republican governor. “No surprise! Shameful!” audience members said as the vote was announced.

Paul Kienzle of Albuquerque, chairman of the commission, has expressed concerns about wolves coexisting with people and livestock. He has referenced one wolf that was shot and killed, saying “that was a problem animal that was ultimately put down.”

But advocates say the commissioners gave in to the agricultural industry’s interests. Ranchers have said the predators threaten their livestock and their safety.

Kienzle and a spokesman for Game and Fish didn’t immediately return after-hours messages from The New Mexican seeking comment.

Small numbers of captive Mexican gray wolves have been placed in the wild since 1998. They are the most endangered subspecies of wolf, with a population of 109 in the wilderness of two states, New Mexico and Arizona.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, an advocacy group, applauded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to continue with its efforts regardless of the state’s opposition.

“Releasing Mexican wolves to the wild is the only way to save these animals from extinction,” he said. “It’s vital now that enough wolves get released to diversify their gene pool and ensure they don’t waste away from inbreeding.”

Contact Uriel Garcia at 986-3062 or ugarcia@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.

Clarification: The Fish and Wildlife Service applied for the permit in early 2015 to release up to ten Mexican gray wolf pups for cross-fostering with wild wolf packs in addition to releasing a captive adult pair of wolves. The state’s denials delayed any releases past the time when they would usually occur for 2015. The original story also said the Fish and Wildlife Service had issued a statement about the releases. The statement was an internal memo that was not publicly available unless requested.”

**Special thanks to Uriel Garcia for providing this information (http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/feds-move-ahead-with-mexican-wolf-releases/article_16b6b034-edaa-5dda-b8ef-e71fe32b5116.html)


Posted: 10/12/2015 2:08 pm EDT

“October 12-18 is Wolf Awareness Week.

North Americans are often quick to condemn the brutality of other cultures and countries, inserting ourselves, sometimes using violent force, to establish what we consider peace keeping and a “good life”. Why then, has this sense of empathy not reached the way that we treat and care for other magnificent and fascinating species with whom we share the North American landscape?

Wolves have been resurrected in Canada as the classic scapegoat. As the human population continues to expand around and within what have become islands of wilderness, we condemn wolves for being who they are; one of nature’s most awesome and important beings. In our lust for control, we continue to condone killing wolves on a massive scale. In Beautiful British Columbia, more wolves are being slaughtered – read murdered — for “recreation” in recent years due to government championing of the so-called sport than since record keeping began. Alberta hosts numerous wolf-killing bounty programs, both publicly and privately funded, where people are financially rewarded for bloodlust. Both of these provinces condone contests where wild canids are rampantly killed and dead bodies stock-piled. Yet, the motivations to kill wolves are ethically bereft and ecologically unsound.

Nonhuman animals (animals), having evolved over millennia to suit their environment, can be viewed as other Nations. In North America, we have largely accepted this status for highly intelligent and social animals on other continents. Primates, dolphins, lions and elephants are often regarded as worthy of preservation and more. We shame poachers and other purveyors of grisly wildlife deaths because we feel the individual’s and family’s pain on a personal level. Are we only willing to take this position with animals who live elsewhere?

Annually, the third week of October represents Wolf Awareness Week. Canada’s wolf population is considered stable, yet most provinces do not support areas where these animals can thrive without being gruesomely slaughtered. What most of us are not aware of is that many conservation organizations and esteemed scientists consider western Canada to be at war with wolves. Wolves are being killed for “sport” through hunting and trapping over livestock concerns, under the pretense of saving doomed caribou herds, and on transportation routes across the majority of the provinces. Wolf family members are rarely safe from the myriad ways they can be butchered in a human-dominated landscape – many provincial parks allow sport hunting and National Parks are too small to protect multiple wolf families. And, there often is a good deal of collateral damage when individuals of other species are unintentionally killed. Although wolves require an adequate prey base, the defining factor for maintaining sustainable populations of wolves is protection from humans.

Dr. Gordon Haber, a biologist who studied wolves for over four decades, was burdened with the knowledge of the emotional ties, lifelong bonds, and the importance of family to wolves. He dedicated his life to learning about and sharing his knowledge that wolves deserve more than minimum viable populations, that safeguards are required to protect various wolf cultures and traditions, and that the experiences learned and passed through generations could be lost by disrupting the social structure of wolf families. This knowledge was a “burden” because of the continuous pressure from Alaska’s Board of Game to allow hunters and trappers to kill wolves from Denali National Park and Preserve just beyond park boundaries, decimating the wolf families who taught him how very much wolves were like people.”

Much of Dr. Haber’s knowledge, well documented in his notes and gained through decades of direct observations while living in the wilderness alongside wolves, continues to be validated today by other wolf biologists. Simply put, what happens to an individual wolf happens to the family pack Wolves celebrate together and mourn together. The social structure and emotional lives of wolves must be recognized and applied in conservation plans and our treatment of these highly evolved beings; individuals who should not be wantonly slaughtered when it serves our, not their, best interests.

Compassionate conservation, a rapidly growing international field, stresses that we should “First do no harm” and that individuals matter. Emotional capacities and personalities vary among individual wolves and other animals, as with humans. Some wolves are leaders, some followers. Some are bold, others timid and shy. Each individual contributes something different to the family to which they belong.

As humans, we accept that dogs are emotional beings, and we know that dogs evolved from wolves. Indeed, humans go to great lengths to promote not only the humane treatment of companion animals, but to provide such a high quality of life that it often rivals or surpasses our own. Unfortunately, in most cases we have failed to extend these ethical priorities to wildlife, especially when it comes to wild canids, who are still treated as “pests” to be removed. Wolf management across Canada implicitly sanctions harm to individuals, which extends to entire families of wolves. And, we know that killing wolves can have serious ecological repercussions.

As our population and utilitarian footprint continue to explode across the globe, we need a paradigmatic shift in consciousness that changes our role from one of dominance and superiority to one of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. We need to expand our compassion footprint, which should drive our humane treatment of wolves and other animals. This will require allowing for individuals of different species to be who they are, not just what we want them to be. They are not our slaves.

The extremely important ecological role of wolves as an apex predator, influencing the numbers and behaviour of many other species and ecosystem processes, must be honoured. Like human babies, young wolves experience prolonged dependency on their parents, siblings and elders, often spending about one quarter of their lives being taught essential skills and lessons. The rearing of young is a shared responsibility, as are cooperative hunting and feeding, protection of territory, and defense of the entire family.

For these reasons, trophy hunting, trapping, aerial gunning, use of poisons, and bounties have grave consequences for wolves who survive these killing sprees. The ripple effects of losing one or more wolves cascade through the family, either wiping out entire packs as they hang around in concern for the injured or return to a site to mourn a loss. Those individuals that survive to make new wolf families must do so without access to the knowledge and culture held by their slain family members, something that takes generations to build. They become refugees on their own land.

Lax hunting and trapping regulations reflected in current policies are irresponsible and cruel in light of this. But there is an even darker truth. In North America we manipulate our knowledge of wolf social behaviour for cold-hearted killing when we radio-collar individuals, referred to as “Judas wolves”, so that when they rejoin their family every member can be killed. The Judas wolf is left alive until the entire blood line is annihilated – an unimaginable punishment for one who unknowingly betrays his or her entire family.

Canadian provincial governments accept, promote, and participate in mass killings of wolves. In some areas, such as BC’s South Selkirk and South Peace regions, as well as the area around central Alberta’s Little Smokey caribou herd, severe reduction programs – experimental killing campaigns — are occurring under the guise of caribou conservation while critical caribou habitat continues to be compromised for human industry and recreational uses. History has shown that wolves are a resilient species, capable of returning to landscapes where they have previously been eradicated, but this does not excuse the butchery or intense and enduring suffering for which we are responsible. What it does is condemn the newcomers and survivors to ongoing slaughter even if the root of the problem, our unbridled resource extraction and recreation, were halted now.

Habitat loss and fragmentation, combined with direct human persecution, put Canadian wolves in a position where positive conservation efforts are critical. Without protected areas large enough to safeguard multiple wolf families, wolves face a trajectory of reduced gene flow and inbreeding. Provincial governments consider wolf killing a means of acceptable recreation in most provincial parks in Canada and public lands permit killing wolves to appease ranchers. Private landowners can also kill wolves and government agencies continue plans for large-scale slaughter where wolves overlap with endangered species, regardless of the fact that our own species has pushed struggling populations such as caribou to their brink.

Canadians are often considered “peace-keepers”, yet within their own borders they fail to recognize the nation of wolves, struggling to get by in a changing world that devalues them. We must rewild our hearts as we move on. We become what we teach and future generations must not be left to inherit the messes we leave behind.”

**Special thanks to Sadie Parr, as this essay was written by her from Canada Wolf Awareness (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-bekoff/saving-wolves-with-compas_b_8271088.html)


 

Stand for Wolves at Rallies in Flagstaff and Santa Fe!

Rally at AZ Game and Fish Commission Meeting August 7, 12 pm

During the period in which AZ Game and Fish had the most control over the lobo’s reintroduction, the wild population declined to only 42 wolves and two breeding pairs.

If the Arizona Game and Fish Commission had its way, there would be no more Mexican gray wolves in the wild. It’s time for the majority of Arizonans who support Mexican wolf recovery to loudly and visibly oppose Arizona Game and Fish’s anti-wolf actions.

Please stand for wolves with us at a rally during the August 7th AZ Game and Fish Commission Meeting. Give wolves a voice by participating in the meeting as well.

Little America Hotel
2515 E. Butler Ave
Flagstaff, Arizona
The meeting starts at 8 a.m. The Mexican wolf briefing is item 5 on the agenda.
We will hold the rally at 12 pm during the lunch break.
If you can’t make it to Flagstaff, you can support lobo recovery by participating from another regional office in Arizona.

sign up at:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1guq_695XOKXRQ1bFtlzfCRVZDRGj0JS-6habJbEf53E/viewform

**Special  thanks to Lobos of the Southwest for providing this information!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 364 other followers

%d bloggers like this: