Oregon Wolves

Mar21

Where’s the science? Fish and Wildlife Service must rewrite proposal to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves (an excerpt)

By Paul Paquet and Bob Ferris 
Special to the Mercury News
 
about.paul
Silicon Valley embraces science and loves innovation. Sadly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently shown contempt for both when it comes to the recovery of gray wolves — particularly in the wilds of Northern California where a lone wolf recently visited for the first time in more than 80 years.
 
Our unflattering assessment derives from the peer review of the service's 2013 proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from most wolves in the West. The service's recommendation to "delist" wolves was judged to have ignored and misrepresented the "best available science," which is the unambiguous standard for species listing decisions. We wholeheartedly agree with the peer reviewers' troubling conclusions, and we are disappointed that the service pursued political expediency rather than abiding by the lawful provisions of the ESA.
 
Bob TalkingThat choice was encouraged by state wildlife commissions and agencies blatantly promoting the extremist views of some ranchers and anti-wolf hunting groups. In doing so, these agencies ignored scientific principles and the intrinsic value of species by portraying wolves as needing lethal management and fostering policies that treat them as problems rather than as respected members of the ecological community.
 
Paul Paquet (right) is an internationally prominent wolf scientist and senior scientist at Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Bob Ferris (left), executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, has been a leader in wolf advocacy for two decades.
 
Click Here to Read the Full Piece on the San Jose Mercury site.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mar01

Updating Roosevelt: Teddy and the Wolves

By Bob Ferris
 
I have frequently observed that some of the folks who wrap themselves most tightly in the American flag are those who take some of the most un-American actions.  I think the same is true about those Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Everwho worship Teddy Roosevelt without really understanding historical context, what he actually stood for, and why he was so remarkable (please see) .
 
"The wolf is the arch type of ravin, the beast of waste and desolation. It is still found scattered thinly throughout all the wilder portions of the United States, but has everywhere retreated from the advance of civilization." from "Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches" by Theodore Roosevelt  originally published in this form in 1902 
 
Don Peay Jeff Foxworthy Ted B. LyonThis applies particularly to trophy hunters who are attracted to Teddy because of his fabled hunts and his less than loving comments about wolves. A perfect example of this phenomenon happened in 2012 when the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo presented Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist of the Year awards to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife founder Don Peay (left), Texas personal injury lawyer and anti-wolf fabulist Ted B. Lyon (middle), and comedian Jeff Foxworthy (right).  Mr. Peay’s group organized the event so he was basically giving himself an award and the other two’s conservation accomplishments consist mainly of making public and notorious statements about the dangers of wolf recovery.   
 
And there are those in the environmental and conservation arena who have trouble embracing the former President fully for exactly the same reasons.  I wrestle constantly with both sides of this coin and feel that there are reasons that I should not have to justify my respect for Roosevelt to either side.  
 
In my mind, Roosevelt was a catalyst, convener and glue for the early conservation movement in the United States.   We would not even be having an opportunity to have debates about the management of old growth stands in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest had Teddy not side-stepped Congress with multiple executive orders.
 
The same is true about discussions and arguments about federal wildlife refuge use and access—without him we probably would not have the refuge system as it now exists.  So I embrace Teddy, but I do so by looking at his conservation accomplishments and then imagining how his character and actions would have been modified by current scientific understanding and contemporary conditions. Through this artificial lens Teddy comes out pretty well, but I wondered how others felt about Roosevelt’s legacy—particularly as it applies to wolves—and how his considerable legacy worked in their own interpretation of his current relevance and value.  So I asked.
 
Here is how a broad list of folks responded to my request:
 
Douglas Brinkley (voice mail)
 
 

DOUGLAS BERINKLEY

In his voicemail Dr. Brinkley referenced his book on Roosevelt (see below) as well as his book on Alaskan conservation called “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960” A photograph of the letter written to Aldo Leopold and the text appears below and he also mentions William Temple Hornaday who was responsible in part for saving the American bison from extinction.   

 

 

 

Leopold letter from Teddy Roosevelt

Text from body of Leopold letter:
 
My dear Mr. Leopold:
 
Through you, I wish to congratulate the Albuquerque Game Protective Association on what it is doing.  I have just read the Pine Cone.  I think that your platform is simply capital, and I earnestly hope that you will get the right type of game warden.  It seems to me that your association in New Mexico is setting an example to the whole country.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Theodore Roosevelt
 
Douglas Brinkley is a renowned historian and award-winning author who wrote a masterful tome about Teddy Roosevelt called “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.” Dr. Brinkley is currently a Professor of History at Rice University and a Fellow at the James Baker III Institute of Public Policy.  While a professor at Hofstra University, Dr. Brinkley took his students on numerous cross-country treks where they visited historic sites and met seminal figures in politics and literature this is documented in Dr. Brinkley's 1994 book, "The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey." 
 
Reed Noss
 
Noss-295x420It is easy to condemn past figures for statements they made that sound highly prejudiced today. Teddy Roosevelt was a smart man, one of the very few presidents of the United States who knew much of anything about science (the primary other one being Thomas Jefferson). Yet Roosevelt clearly displayed the predator prejudice that was virtually universal in his time. I believe that, had he lived a decade or two longer (he died in 1919) he would have joined the many other scientists who changed their views about predators almost completely between the 1910s and the late 1920s and early 1930s. Aldo Leopold, and his story about watching the green fire die in the eyes of a wolf he had shot, is the most famous of the scientists who underwent this powerful transformation.
 
By around 1930, Leopold, Victor Shelford (the first president of the Ecological Society of America), George Melendez Wright, and Ben Thompson (the latter two with the National Park Service), among others, were strongly advocating protection and restoration of populations of large predators across North America, at a time when most sportsmen, politicians, and the general public still hated these animals. Given Roosevelt’s intelligence and predilections, I have to believe he would have joined these visionary men. Still, one must wonder why the realization that predators are ecologically important took so long to manifest itself – it seems to obvious today.
 
This problem is not unique to predators. Wildfire, for example, is still feared and hated by most foresters, land managers, and the general public. Yet, in the beginning of the 20th century there were prominent botanists and ecologists, especially those working in the southeastern Coastal Plain, who recognized the valuable role of fire in keeping ecosystems healthy and diverse.  Why do we have to wait so long for everyone else to catch up?
 
Reed Noss, PhD, is professor of Biology at the University of Central Florida. His latest book is “Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Natural History and Conservation.”
 
Cristina Eisenberg
 
In the 1880s when he was a North Dakota rancher, while giving a speech about wolf depredation as an impediment to the Western Cristina Eisenbergcourse of empire, Theodore Roosevelt placed his hand on the Bible and called the wolf “a beast of waste and desolation.” The ensuing fusillade of government-sponsored predator control wiped out wolves in the contiguous United States, with the exception of northern Minnesota. Yet in the 1880s, Roosevelt, an avid hunter, also founded the Boone and Crockett Club, an organization that implemented widespread environmental reforms. Concerned about the onslaught of species extinction our nation was experiencing, Boone and Crockett Club members, many of whom were members of Congress or influential businessmen, created the first environmental laws. The Lacey Act of 1900 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 effectively stopped market hunting and prevented extinction of many species. And in 1903 Club members also established the National Wildlife Refuge System, a program that set aside lands for protection to restore fish, wildlife, and their habitat. 
 
A progressive Republican known for radical reforms, Roosevelt served as US president from 1901-1909. During his tenure, our nation experienced astonishing progress on all fronts, from economics to social justice to environmental stewardship. While nobody will ever know what Roosevelt would do about wolves if he were alive today, it is likely that best science would guide his decisions. 
 
Best science clearly demonstrates that wolves benefit whole ecosystems. This science shows that wolves do not wipe out elk populations, and indeed benefit their prey by culling weak and sickly individuals. Best science indicates that wolves create healthier, more biodiverse and resilient lands via their keystone role in ecosystems. A landscape that contains wolves present in healthy numbers will contain better habitat for many species than one without wolves. With wolves present, elk must stay on the move, thereby reducing their impacts on plants. This improves habitat for many other species, such as songbirds. Wolves even improve fish habitat, by enabling streamside vegetation to grow taller, shading streams, and keeping the water cooler so that endangered species of native trout can thrive. Ecologists call such food web relationships trophic cascades.
 
Were he alive today and serving as our president, a progressive leader such as Roosevelt would incorporate scientific knowledge about the wolf’s keystone role and trophic cascade effects into decisions about wolf management. Given his track record as a natural resources pragmatist who embraced the sustained yield principles espoused by his colleague and friend, Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelt would likely support wolf delisting in distinct population segments such as the Northern Rocky Mountains, with management by the states that included wolf hunting. However, it is unlikely that he would support the intensive management program being carried out in the West, where states are attempting to reduce wolf numbers as much as possible, or that he would support delisting wolves throughout the contiguous United States, as has been proposed.
 
Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is a Boone and Crockett Club professional member, and a Smithsonian Research Associate. She teaches at Oregon State University and is the author of two books: The Wolf’s Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades and Biodiversity, and The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving America’s Predators, both published by Island Press.
 
Roger Di Silvestro 
 
Roger Di SilvestroTheodore Roosevelt's comment about wolves as beasts of waste and desolation has a nice, lyric ring to it, but no accuracy in modern scientific terms, something that Roosevelt would have rued mightily–he was nothing if not determined to be accurate in his texts about wildlife. But Roosevelt lived in a time when knowledge about wildlife was rudimentary, leading him to engage in some inexplicable behavior under today's value system. While working actively to save bison in Yellowstone National Park, where the last truly wild bison south of the border with Canada survived in a population of three or four dozen individuals, Roosevelt still hunted bison immediately outside park boundaries and killed a bull, with great pleasure for himself. Around his ranches in what is now North Dakota, he more than once shot an elk that he thought was the last of its kind in the area, and shot a bear with the same thought in mind–in his era, even people who wanted to protect wildlife competed to kill the last of a species, wanting to get their specimens before the animals were all gone. The Smithsonian Museum sent out a party of scientists and hunters in the late 1800s to bag 20 some bison, including cows, bulls, and calves, for their collection before the animals were all gone. Roosevelt as late as the early 1900s held out hope that someone would find woolly mammoths in Alaska so he could rush up there and hunt them. When he visited Yellowstone in his presidential years, he wanted to hunt mountain lions there, but changed his mind when told that the image of a president hunting in a national park would be unseemly. A very different time, and a very different way of thinking. 
 
But Roosevelt sought facts about wildlife, and if he had the database about wolves that we have today, he could not possibly have seen the wolf as a beast of waste and desolation. What would he say today? Who knows? He had a tendency to shoot from the hip, to express what was in his mind at the moment with, apparently, little concern for consistency in what in said and did. But if he shared the knowledge that biologists enjoy today, would he differ from the consensus among biologists that wolves are a critical part of their native ecosystem and important to ecological balances within those systems? It would scarcely seem possible that he could disagree. He was far too smart and reasonable. Were he alive now, he probably would believe that wolves, like all top predators, have a role to play in the natural world and should be allowed to fulfill that role, and any comments he made about wolves or other predators would reflect that knowledge and that belief.
 
Roger Di Silvestro is an author, journalist and conservationist who has written extensively on Roosevelt including "Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands: A Young Politician's Quest for Recovery in the American West." For more information about his works please visit:  www.theodorerooseveltinthebadlands.com
 
Jim Posewitz
 
I am sure Theodore Roosevelt would cut the wolf a little space in today’s period of significant wildlife abundance. In fact, as early as 1918 he and Grinnell exchanged letters relative to the over-Jim Posewitzabundance of elk in Yellowstone Park because of the “… protection afforded them.”  And adding at the time that “… their numbers must be kept down by disease or starvation, or else by shooting.” 
 
It is important to remember that before he was a hunter, TR was a naturalist with both a passion for adventure and an insatiable curiosity that produced an appreciation for nature. That appreciation attracted him to the outdoors and remained with him his entire life.  The last letter he wrote was on the taxonomy of pheasants.  Of an estimated 150,000 letters his first and his last were about birds.  If you can find Paul Russell Cutright’s book “Theodore Roosevelt the Naturalist” I think it will reveal someone who would very likely, in today’s world, cut the wolf a little space.  
 
It would be good to remember that TR’s first year in the West coincided with the last years of the buffalo slaughter and he literally hunted through the rotting carcasses of that carnage – carcasses littering the landscape missing only their hide and occasionally their tongues.  It was a wildlife ecosystem in collapse and the wolves were both temporarily sustained by it and then victims of it. 
 
Jim Posewitz is a hunter and wildlife biologist who worked for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for more than 30 years.  He is also a leader in the hunting and conservation communities as well as a renowned author of such works as “Inherit the Hunt: A Journey into the Heart of American Hunting” and “Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting
 

 

 

********
There is a funny kind of relief that I feel when I listen to and read all these responses.  That relief comes primarily from a consistent validation of my assumptions about a Theodore Roosevelt projected roosevelt readinginto the future.   But it also comes from knowing more about the connections and strength of message carried from Teddy Roosevelt to Aldo Leopold and beyond.  That feeling was also reenforced recently when the Union of Concerned Scientists named Mr. Roosevelt the most science-friendly president ever.
 
That relief compliments similar feelings that I had when the gray wolf delisting proposal peer-review team findings were released on February 7th.  Science spoke in a clear voice that echoed the sentiments of more than a million who commented on this indefensible, premature and illogical delisting proposal.  My sense is that it was heard too in some manner by Roosevelt, Leopold, Hornaday and other visionaries who fully embraced science, conservation and an abiding love of wildness.  
 
Please keep them in mind when you comment again and ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remember that science not political expedience must drive wolf recovery.  Click below to send this message to the Service and Secretary Jewell before March 27th at midnight.

 

 

 

Feb28

Time to Throw a Science Penalty Flag at Idaho

By Bob Ferris
 
As a scientist there are times that I wish that science had a “penalty flag” much like the ones we see in professional football.  Big, Idaho wolf science penalty2weighted rags thrown when things simply get out of hand in big, visible ways or in subtle but significant ways. 
 
Then I would be able to write: Dear State of Idaho, please understand that there is a huge yellow science flag sitting right next to the Lolo Forest and your recent, secret actions to limit wolf populations in the name of game management

Idaho elk_bull_graph_t470

In fact, I can see the science referee walking towards the sidelines, turning on his microphone and in a clear voice saying: Idaho Fish and Wildlife Commission committed a flagrant disregard of science by laying the blame of the elk decline in the Lolo units mainly on the shoulders of the wolves.

lolo-elk-numbers

Why would I say this?  The State of Idaho wanted to manage wolves in the Lolo in 2009 and therefore sent out requests for a peer-review of their plan and justifications because it would have required federal approval.  Four out of five of the professional biologists consulted faulted the plan because it lacked rigorous and defensible elk population objectives, failed to adequately address the issues of habitat and did not make the case that wolves were the root of the issue of with elk in the Lolo (see above graph–decline predates wolves).  The only dissenting voice was that of Val Geist who wrote a weak, cheerleading, "let’s kill the wolves" type letter that should have drawn its own flag.  
 
“However, throughout the document, it should be stated clearly that wolves are not the cause of the decline, but a factor maintaining elk at low levels. The elk decline occurred prior to 2002 based on population estimates in the plan, but wolves did not become a major source of mortality for elk cows until 2005 per research results provided in the plan.” February 4, 2009 peer-review letter from Layne G. Adams Research Wildlife Biologist with Alaska Science Center, USGS, Department of Interior. 
 
“Second, because of the controversial nature of wolf control, the specifics of the data are likely to be thoroughly scrutinized and challenged. At present, the material presented in the proposal does not make a particularly convincing case that wolf predation is having an “unacceptable impact” on wild ungulate populations. Methods for establishing elk population objectives appear highly subjective and it seems plausible that the current demography of the elk herd is largely a consequence of habitat conditions. The proposal notes that historically 35-45% of the landscape was in early seral stages whereas only 14% is currently. Although there have been recent attempts to increase prescribed fire, the area burned is a small fraction of the landscape. The proposal fails to provide specific targets for forage:cover ratios or acreage necessary in early seral stages to ensure sufficient high-quality habitat to achieve elk herd objectives. The rule of thumb is usually 40:60 forage cover ratio for elk, and 14% in early seral stages is far from a reasonable habitat target. Surely we should expect that habitat targets would be met first, before using wolf control.” February 4, 2009 peer-review letter from Dr. Mark Boyce, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta.  
 
“In reviewing that history of decline, the proposal asserts that, “..predation on elk by wolves has 
been a major contributor to the decline.” That assertion is not supported by the data presented in the proposal.” February 4, 2009 peer-review letter from Mark McNay, Alaska Department of Fish and Game.  
 
 
Now certainly these comments were written when the wolf was still protected under the Endangered Species Act’s 10{j} rule, but while the protections have changed, the science, circumstances and root causes of the decline have not.  History and population trajectories still indicate that this decline is largely driven by habitat and more recently by drought.   Pinning it on the wolf, down-playing the habitat elements, and doing it in secrecy earns Idaho a long overdue Science flag. 
 
 

Feb07

Press Release: Peer Review Questions Obama Proposal to Strip Protections for Wolves

For immediate release
February 7, 2014
 
Contact: Bob Ferris, Executive Director, 805.452.4900
              Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director, 541.844.8182
 
 
 A scientific peer review released today greatly questions the science behind the Obama administration’s proposal to strip protections for gray wolves across nearly all of the lower 48 states. The report was initiated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that proposed the delisting, and should compel the administration to maintain protections for the species in much of the US where it is currently listed as an endangered species.
 
“It is high time that the US Fish and Wildlife Service re-evaluate its questionable strategy of ignoring clear science and broad public 0462_wenaha_male_wolfsentiment to curry favor and avoid conflict with livestock users of public lands and the narrow and misguided interests of trophy hunters,” said Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands and part of the biologist team that helped reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone and central Idaho in the mid-1990s. “At its very core, this is a case of the Service whittling the edges off a square peg to fit it in a round hole.”
 
The 1978 re-listing of the gray wolf under the federal Endangered Species Act justifiably listed the species as a whole, eschewing subspecies designations and acknowledging that the wolf was an important ecological component and an evolving species.  This was done because it was known that wolves disperse over long distances — freely exchanging genetic materials in the process — and therefore it was felt that the wolf subspecies designations established by historic skull measurements were no longer appropriate or at the very least changing with the movement of genetic materials.  The Services’ recent reclassification of the gray wolf ignored current science and embraced an invalidated approach that is political convenient, but not scientifically supportable.
  
“The proposed rule states that even if wolves were to recolonize parts of the PNW [Pacific Northwest] west of the NRM [northern Rocky Mountains] DPS [Distinct Population Segment] that they would not be ecologically or genetically distinct. The rule, however, also acknowledges the differing ecology in this area and the historically distinct wolves that used to occupy it (once considered their own subspecies). Additionally, recent research indicates that wolves just north of the PNW demonstrate ecological and genetic uniqueness typical of a ‘coastal ecotype’ (Leonard et al. 2005, Munoz et al. 2009, Weckworth et al. 2010, vonHoldt et al. 2011). Therefore, it does not seem to logically follow that wolves establishing west of the NRM DPS in the PNW would not be ecologically and genetically unique.” Dr. Sylvia Fallon in peer review document.
 
In addition to the wolf classification misstep in the Northwest (see above), there is also an issue relating to potential recovery areas in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast. Although the peer reviewers were not asked directly to address the issue of how many wolves in how many areas constitutes recovery, some of the reviewers questioned the appropriateness of Services’ rejection of potential recovery areas and delisting of wolves before they had a chance to recover.   
 
“Based on the peer review, there is no way the Obama administration can proceed with its premature plan of stripping protections for the gray wolf,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director with Cascadia Wildlands. “It is time for the administration to put the politics aside and use the best available science to recover the species, just like we did with the American alligator and bald eagle.
 
The peer review has triggered another 45-day public comment period. This new round of comments will be considered by the Service before it makes its final decision on whether to remove federal protections for the recovering species. By the end of December 2013, the agency received over one-million public comments opposing its plan to strip protections for gray wolves.
 
Gray wolves were systematically eradicated across much of the lower 48 by the mid-1900s through trapping, hunting and poisoning. Gray wolves have rebounded in a few regions of the US, including the western Great Lakes and northern Rockies Mountains, to the point of having their Endangered Species Act protections removed. Packs have begun to establish in Oregon and Washington in recent years. Eastern Oregon is home to seven packs, while Washington has 10 packs, three of them as far west as the Cascade Mountains.
 
Recently, wolves have wondered into states like California, Utah and Colorado, where significant habitat and prey bases exist. Cascadia Wildlands believes it is critical federal protections are maintained in these states and others, where wolves are just beginning to gain a toehold.
 
####

Feb07

BREAKING NEWS: Peer Reviewers Find Fault with USFWS Science on Wolf Delisting–comment period reopens

The US Fish and Wildlife Service just release the following press statement about the independent Peer review (see link at bottom of 2019372475page):  

Service Reopens Comment Period on Wolf Proposal
Independent scientific peer review report available for public review
 
Following receipt of an independent scientific peer review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on its proposal to list the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies and remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. The Service is making that report available for public review, and, beginning Monday, February 10, interested stakeholders will have an additional 45 days to provide information that may be helpful to the Service in making a final determination on the proposal.
 
The independent scientific peer review was hosted and managed by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a highly respected interdisciplinary research center at the University of California – Santa Barbara. At the Service’s request, NCEAS sponsored and conducted a peer review of the science underlying the Service’s proposal. 
 
“Peer review is an important step in our efforts to assure that the final decision on our proposal to delist the wolf is based on the best available scientific and technical information,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We thank the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis for conducting a transparent, objective and well-documented process. We are incorporating the peer review report into the public record for the proposed rulemaking, and accordingly, reopening the public comment period to provide the public with the opportunity for input.”
 
The peer review report is available online, along with instructions on how to provide comment and comprehensive links relating to the proposal, at www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery.
 
The Service intends that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best available information. Comments and materials we receive, as well as some of the supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, are available for public inspection at www.regulations.gov under the docket number FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0073. 
 
The Service will post all comments on www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes. Comments must be received by midnight on March 27.
 
The Federal Register publication of this notice is available online at www.fws.gov/policy/frsystem/default.cfm by clicking on the 2014 Proposed Rules under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
 
The Service expects to make final determination on the proposal by the end of 2014.
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with us through any of these social media channels:
 
– FWS –

Gray Wolf Peer Review

Dec29

Besmirching the Wolf and Roosevelt’s Ghost

wolf-110006By Bob Ferris 
 
“We’re continuing to see an alarming trend in Western wildlife management. I am calling it the “Predator Death Spiral.” The underlying cause of this phenomina [sic] is when a wildlife agency attempts to hide or “pad” their big game population estimates when over predation begins to take hold. This in turn creates a downward spiral that cannot easily be avoided, and is often not even noticed until the state hits both a financial and PR rock bottom.” Guy Eastman, The Predator Death Spiral 
 
When I was in graduate school in the mid-1980s I sat on a panel that was put together by the faculty of the School of Engineering because of a recognized deficit in the engineering curriculum: ecological literacy.  Our panel was asked what might be reasonable classes for engineering students to take to gain them sufficient grounding in ecology to lead them towards designs and approaches that work with nature rather than against it.  
 
The thinking being that by creating engineers who were aware of and sensitive to ecological considerations that we might have dams that do not exterminate fish, underpasses that facilitate migrations and sewage plants that provide tertiary treatment while at the same time creating needed habitat for fish and waterfowl. These were exciting discussions because we could see some ideas first introduced by folks like Buckminster Fuller and Howard Odum in 1960s finally getting some traction. It was for some, the rolling out of ecological engineering and industrial ecology after the requisite two decades incubation from idea to adoption.   It was for others an uninteresting sideshow to be ignored.  
 
You have a degree in Engineering; have you ever worked in the engineering field?
Yes, I did engineering work for three years when I got out of school from 1997 until 2000. I guess I got sick of punching a calculator and decided that going back into the family business would be a better fit for me.
 
I think about these times, this revolution in design and the wide array of opportunities offered, because of an ill-reasoned, poorly presented anti-wolf blog post from 2011 that was recently resurrected on the I-Fish site.  The blog was written by a person who trained as an engineer a decade after the revolution started and left because he saw engineering as simply pushing too many calculator buttons.  He exited after a three-year “career.”  The person in question is Guy Eastman of the Eastman Outdoors conglomerate.  
 
You are a huge advocate for the hunting of wolves. If you were in charge of managing them, how would you do it?
I am pretty anti-wolf. I think wolves do have a place in an eco-system but not this one. The eco-systems in the lower 48 are much too small for super predators like wolves. We are now finding this out the hard way. I would eradicate almost all of the wolves outside Yellowstone National Park and keep the numbers down to a minimum inside the park if it were up to me. I have lived through the second largest big game animal decline in modern history. The only wildlife crisis larger than this one was the market killings of the 1900s that took out all of our buffalo herds and most of our other wildlife populations. Our ancestors have worked extremely hard to bring these populations back from the brink only to be thanked by a bunch of self righteous want to be book worms that call themselves biologists. They are using "super predators" to destroy our wildlife resource right in front of our eyes. They have in essence created massive tracts of biological waste lands throughout Idaho, Wyoming and Montana with their Frankenstein wolf project. Teddy Roosevelt is rolling over in his grave. As with some much that our government does, the very legislation (the Endangered Species Act) that was built to protect our wild life is being used as the very vehicle to destroy it. I hope I wasn't too clear on this one.
 
gordon eastmanThe above interview and the blog post in question are hard for me to reconcile with the Eastman legend on so many levels.  The first mental speed bump for me is that Guy is the grandson of Gordon Eastman who made a little movie called The Savage Wild in 1970 about his experience raising a set of wolf pups in the Yukon for eventual release.  The film is interesting in that the senior Eastman has a sort of implied epiphany in that he acknowledges that he once shot wolves for bounty and memorializes his walking towards the light by portraying trappers intent on killing his pups as villains and eventually killing them off in the story line.  Gordon also did work for Disney on their set of nature films that likely served as cinematic gateway drugs to a generation of field biologists coming of age as environmental awareness blossomed during the 1960s and 1970s.
 
Gordon’s work was pretty progressive given the times.  I made a trip in the mid-1960s in that direction visiting Wells, British Columbia among other places.  Wells at that point was pretty much a frontier town with all wooden sidewalks and I remember walking down Main Street past rack after rack of black bear and wolf skins that could be had for $20 or so.  Supporting trappers of predators was the norm in the area at that time.
 
Given the above, Guy’s attitudes and his anti-wolf as well as his anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) screeds seem to simultaneously exhibit a lack of perspective and a shortage of self-awareness.  Born shortly after the passing of the ESA, he probably lacks an understanding that the ESA is not only about the species recovery successes since enactment, but it is also about where we could have been had we not taken action.  To fully appreciate the true value of this Act as well as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act one had to experience or take time to investigate the species and environmental trajectories observed during the latter part of the 1960s.  His statements clearly reflect a lack of this perspective.
 
In addition, in his interview and blog post he authoritatively talks about ecological principles as if he has knowledge or experience in these areas.  Unfortunately—for the reasons cited in the opening of this post—he comes off sounding a lot like the youngsters in the popular AT&T commercials explaining to the deadpanned adult why faster is better.  His answers while entertaining are wrong and he is so confident in the sanctity of his bully pulpit that he feels absolutely no obligation to provide supporting evidence for his comments.  
 
Take, for instance, his statement about the size of ecosystem in the lower 48 states.  Experience and nearly 70 years of biological speculation and modelling disagree with his characterization.  Perhaps if he had taken some time and done some research then he would see that there are dozens of habitat and population viability analyses done by PhD biologists and ecologists that indicate that there is an abundance of room for wolves in the lower 48 states (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10).  Moreover, his claim that he has lived through the second largest big game decline in modern history is just plain silly when you compare it to overall elk population numbers and trends which are a mixture of good and bad news but overall much larger than a generation ago (1,2,3,4,5).  
 

His comment about “biological wastelands” is painfully ironic and is similar to the "raisins to grapes" argument in the above video.  Had Mr. Eastman taken a few courses in basic ecology at Purdue he would understand that the classic examples of wastelands—i.e., many Western rangelands, sea urchin barrens, deer on the Kaibab Plateau, and rabbit-chewed landscapes in Australia—are all examples of herbivores destroying ecosystems in the absence of predators.  Evidently the top element of the trophic pyramid in Guy’s world floats above other levels buoyed by some form of ecological anti-gravity rather than supporting levels of increasingly broad consumer groups.  
 
The comment regarding Teddy Roosevelt spinning in his grave is an interesting one.  My sense is that Guy mistakenly sees an roosevelt readingally in Roosevelt when it comes to hating wolves.  Certainly Roosevelt had no love for wolves, but then who did in the late 1800s when he wrote about them? But Roosevelt was also a Harvard-educated progressive and a first adopter of scientific ideas who was a bookworm (see picture of him speed-reading Dickens at right) and frequently carried a worn copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in his saddle bags when he rode off on hunts.  He was an amateur scientist who spent time with scientists and was treated as a peer.  He would therefore likely bridle at Guy’s caustic dismissal of voracious readers and biologists.
 
"I put Cooper higher than you do," Roosevelt would write to the novelist Josephine Dodge Daskam when he was vice president of the United States. (Page 40)
 
"Cooper's alter ego, Natty Bumppo, firmly believed that the unecessary slaughter of wildlife was a crime against God." (Page 41) 
 
 
Teddy and his good friend and Audubon Society creator George Bird Grinnell founded the Boone and Crockett Club that was one of the first organizations to forward concepts like “fair chase” principles.  My sense is that both Roosevelt and Grinnell picked Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett as exemplars because they had some nostalgic connection to these flintlock and percussion era, iron-sight hunters who struck out into the wildest of wildernesses with a cherished firearm, skinning knife, tomahawk, possibles sack and not much more.  Roosevelt was also a fan of James Fennimore Cooper and read the Leatherstocking Series from start to finish.  Roosevelt’s fair chase ideals were probably influenced by this quintessential American writer who loved woodscraft artfully employed, felt forests were jewels and who abhorred wasteful killing without purpose. 
 
It is hard to imagine what this monumental man and former President—who loved science, championed land preservation, advocated for game laws and embraced Cooper—would think about virtually eliminating a species like the wolf from the lower 48 states in today’s context.  Particularly considering that his current library would now include works by Aldo Leopold, Olaus Murie and Harvard professor E.O. Wilson as well as articles indicating that elk were so abundant in some areas that they were displacing his beloved birds–particularly in areas where cattle were grazed or climate change impacts were present or simulated (1,2,3,4) .
 
Likewise, I doubt that this man who championed fair chase (i.e., in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals) would support the gadget-rich, engine-dependent and scope-driven type of trophy hunting advocated by the editorial staff at Eastman’s publications or their myriad advertisers.  (And to those who might defensively say that their guided and catered trophy hunts on private ranches are just like those that Teddy experienced, I would suggest that they read Candice Mallard’s excellent book The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey and think again.)
 
I have gone on too long when my main points were simply that Guy Eastman’s blog post and his interview are intellectually and factually challenged.  My advice to Guy would be to take some time to read about Roosevelt before claiming ownership of his allegiance and also dig into some tomes by or about Leopold (1,2,3), Murie (1), Wilson (1) and Cooper (1,2) before rambling on about super predators, ecosystems or the underlying philosophies of our precious avocation.   He might just be surprised by what he finds and the exercise would certainly improve his writing in terms of tone, content and maturity.  It would likely also help with the some members of the hunting public’s impression of Guy and his publications.  
 
I will close by saying that the paranoid part of me reacts when I read illogical and uninformed drivel like what Guy is shoveling or what we read coming out of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others who are dependent on ranching, timber and energy interests for access to hunting lands, moneyed clientele for trophy hunts or cold-cash for donations.  My sense is that these associations come with significant blinders that prevent entities from seeing or speaking out about the wildlife impacts of these commercial activities.  I suspect too that the associations generate a certain amount of obligate empathy that calls for endorsement of actions such as predator control, timber harvests in excess of ecological need and road building.  Maybe this was why Teddy was really spinning?

 

Dec17

Comments, Comments, Get Your Red Hot Comments

Today is the last day of wolf comments and folks are speaking up.  Please click these links to see what people are saying.OR-7

Cascadia Wildlands People Pictures and Comments:

Wolf Comments People with Pictures

American Society of Mammalogists:

ASM 2013 Wolf Delisting letter_revision_15Dec

And last but certainly not least, Cascadia Wildlands' joint comments with Center for Biological Diversity, KS Wild and Greenpeace:

Coalition Wolf Comments

Dec17

Press Release: Over 100,000 in Northwest Oppose Gray Wolf Delisting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2013

CONTACT:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, 707-779-9613
Jasmine Minbashian, Conservation Northwest, 360-671-9950 x129
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
Joseph Vaile, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, 541-488-5789
Lauren Richie, California Wolf Center, 443-797-2280
Pamela Flick, Defenders of Wildlife, 916-203-6927
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, 503-283-6343 x210

SEATTLE— Demonstrating Americans’ broad opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves, members of the Pacific Wolf Coalition submitted 101,416 comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today favoring continued wolf protections. The comments on behalf of the coalition’s members and supporters in the Pacific West join 1 million comments collected nationwide expressing Americans’ strong disapproval of the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to remove federal protections from gray wolves across most of 0462_wenaha_male_wolfthe continental United States.

“The gray wolf is one of the most iconic creatures of the American landscape and wolves play a vital role in America’s wilderness and natural heritage,” said Pamela Flick, California representative of Defenders of Wildlife. “Californians, Oregonians and Washingtonians want to see healthy wolf populations in the Pacific West. In fact, recent polling clearly demonstrates overwhelming support for efforts to restore wolves to suitable habitat in our region. Removing protections would be ignoring the voices of the majority.”

The strong support for maintaining wolf protections was apparent in recent weeks as hundreds of wolf advocates and allies turned out for each of five public hearings held nationwide. At the only hearing in the Pacific West, Nov. 22 in Sacramento, Calif., more than 400 wolf supporters demanded the Fish and Wildlife Service finish the job it began 40 years ago.

"Gray wolves are just beginning their historic comeback into the Northwest, and they need federal protections maintained at this sensitive time," said Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director with Cascadia Wildlands. "Politics shouldn't trump science during this critical recovery period."

Wolves are just starting to return to the Pacific West region, which includes the western two-thirds of Washington, Oregon and California. This area is home to fewer than 20 known wolves with only three confirmed packs existing in the Cascade Range of Washington and a lone wolf (OR-7) that has traveled between eastern Oregon and northern California. Wolves in the Pacific West region migrated from populations in British Columbia and the northern Rockies.

“Wolf recovery has given hope to Americans who value native wildlife, but remains tenuous on the West Coast,” said Rob Klavins, wildlife advocate with Oregon Wild. “Wolves are almost entirely absent in western Oregon, California and Washington. Especially as they are being killed by the hundreds in the northern Rockies, it's critical that the Obama administration doesn’t strip wolves of basic protections just as recovery in the Pacific West begins to take hold.”

“The current proposal by the Fish and Wildlife Service to prematurely strip wolves of federal protection would limit recovery opportunities for the Pacific West’s already small population of wolves,” said Lauren Richie, director of California wolf recovery for the California Wolf Center. “Scientists have identified more than 145,000 square miles of suitable habitat across the region, including California, where wolves have yet to permanently return.”

“It’s a powerful statement when nearly 1 million Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the nation’s top wolf experts in their conviction that gray wolves still need federal protections,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolf recovery on the West Coast is in its infancy, and states where protections have been lifted are hunting and trapping wolves to bare bones numbers.”
 
To promote gray wolf recovery in the Pacific West and combat misinformation, the Pacific Wolf Coalition has launched its new website — www.pacificwolves.org. The site, which offers easy access to factual information and current wolf news, is part of the coalition’s ongoing work to ensure wolf recovery in the West.

“OR-7’s amazing journey shows us that wolves can recover to the Pacific West, if we give them a chance” said Joseph Vaile, executive director of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

“Americans value native wildlife. Spreading the word on what is happening with wolves here and across the country has never been more important. That is why the Pacific Wolf Coalition is using the end of the public comment period as an opportunity to launch our new website,” said Alison Huyett, coordinator of the Pacific Wolf Coalition. “The website will provide the public with current, reliable information on what is happening with wolves and describe how citizens can become involved in protecting this majestic and important animal.”

                                                                    – # # # -

The Pacific Wolf Coalition represents 29 wildlife conservation, education and protection organizations in California, Oregon and Washington committed to recovering wolves across the region, and includes the following member groups:

California Wilderness Coalition – California Wolf Center – Cascadia Wildlands – Center for Biological Diversity – Conservation Northwest – Defenders of Wildlife – Endangered Species Coalition – Environmental Protection Information Center – Gifford Pinchot Task Force – Greenfire Productions – Hells Canyon Preservation Council – Humane Society of the U.S. – Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center – Living with Wolves – National Parks Conservation Association – Natural Resources Defense Council – Northeast Oregon Ecosystems – Oregon Sierra Club – Oregon Wild – Predator Defense – Project Coyote – Sierra Club – Sierra Club California – Sierra Club Washington State Chapter – The Larch Company – Western Environmental Law Center – Western Watersheds Project – Wildlands Network – Wolf Haven International

Dec17

Nearly a Million Americans Speak Out Against Stripping Federal Protections From Wolves

Animal Welfare Institute * California Wolf Center * Cascadia Wildlands * Center for Biological Diversity * Conservation Northwest * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * Endangered Species Coalition Environmental Information Protection Center * Environmental Action * International Fund for Animal Welfare * Kansas Wild * Living with Wolves * National Parks Conservation Association * Natural Resources Defense Council * Oregon Wild * Project Coyote * Sierra Club * The Humane Society of the United States * WildEarth Guardians * Wolf Conservation Center
 
For Immediate Release, December 17, 2013
 
Contacts:
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands (541) 434-1463
Kierán Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 275-5960
Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 320-6467
Melanie Gade, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0288
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, (503)283-6343
 
Nearly a Million Americans Speak Out Against Stripping Federal Protections From Wolves — Most Public Comments Ever on an Endangered Species Act Decision Federal Proposal Would Halt Wolf Recovery, Allow More Wolf Killing
 
Washington, DC— Approximately 750,000 Americans stated their opposition to the Obama administration’s proposal to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves in a comment period that closed today. This is the wolf-110006largest number of comments ever submitted on a federal decision involving endangered species and reflects broad dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s politically driven move to turn wolf management over to states across most of the lower 48.
 
“Americans overwhelmingly oppose removing protections for wolves, and for good reason. Wolves have recovered to just a fraction of their range and are severely threatened by state-sanctioned hunts intended to decimate them,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope the Obama administration will hear the pleas of hundreds of thousands of citizens and maintain these still critically needed protections for wolves.”
 
The nearly 1,000,000 comments, being delivered today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by multiple conservation groups, will bring the total number to well over one million. There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals had been driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States – a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.
 
“How in anybody’s vision of recovery could animals wandering into historic and still viable habitats be stripped of federal protection in the absence of any rigorous, place-based analyses or process?” said Bob Ferris executive director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Recolonization should be encouraged not sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.” 
 
“The North American gray wolf’s recovery in certain areas of the United States is something to celebrate, but an abundance of evidence shows the work is not yet complete,” said International Fund for Animal Welfare president and CEO Azzedine Downes. “I applaud actions to help protect this critical species, and I strongly urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not go through with this proposal.”
 
The Obama administration’s proposal would remove existing protections for wolves everywhere except Arizona and New Mexico, where the Mexican wolf is struggling to survive with an estimated population of just 75 wolves. This proposal would abandon protections for wolves in places where wolf recovery is just in its infancy, such as Oregon and Washington, and would prevent wolves from recovering in other places where good wolf habitat has been identified, including northern California, the southern Rocky Mountains, and the Northeast.
 
“The restoration of the gray wolf could be one of the great American wildlife conservation success stories if Secretary Jewel would just finish the job.” Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. Nicole Paquette, vice president of Wildlife Protection for The Humane Society of the United States said: “Anti-wolf sentiments nearly led to the extermination of America’s wolves, and just when populations are starting to bounce back, the federal government is considering a plan that could place them in jeopardy. Rather than catering to interests from trophy hunters and fear mongering, we hope the federal government rejects this proposal and works towards the recovery of this species.”
 
“The incredible volume of comments give voice to a sad fact: the delisting proposal is a radical departure from the optimism and courage we need to promote endangered species recovery in this country. The comments show that Americans believe the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal falls well short of the conservation ideals this country stood for 40 years ago when the Endangered Species Act was signed.” said Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark.
 
"The national wolf delisting scheme is simply too much, too soon," said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. "It is a potential death sentence for new populations and prevents wolves from ever reaching areas where they could be a boon for habitat in need of their stabilizing influence. The return of wolves to the continental United States still stands as one of the greatest conservation stories ever written and we stand ready to fight to prevent it from being undone by this short-sighted policy move."
 
"Americans are outraged and hundreds of thousands are saying it loudly and clearly; the job of wolf recovery is not done," said John Horning Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians. "The Fish and Wildlife Service is not only wildlife wrong on the science of wolf recovery but also wildly out of step with the desires of most Americans who want to see federal protections for wolves maintained." "The number of public comments is a testament to the importance of wolves to our American story. Now is the time we should be pressing in to continue the job of wolf recovery, not abandoning wolves to the same kinds of destructive forces that endangered them in the first place," said Dan Chu, director of Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign.
 
"You don't spend 40 years nursing a species back from the brink of extinction, only to suddenly declare 'open season' on them. There are only a few dozen viable packs in an area that used to be home to over a millions wolves. There's plenty of room in America for wolves, people and an abundance of other species. But If Secretary Jewell allows this plan to go ahead, she'll be responsible for the destruction of one of the most amazing, intelligent and iconic species in America." said Drew Hudson, Environmental Action Camilla Fox,
 
Executive Director, Project Coyote said: "As wolves come under the gun in an upcoming wolf/coyote killing 'derby' in Idaho where prizes awarded for the largest killed, it is abundantly clear that the very practices that sent wolves to the brink of extinction still endanger their persistence."
 
“Fish and Wildlife Service is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Instead of restoring wolves to their rightful places from coast to coast — as it did for bald eagles — the agency wants to abandon wolf recovery before the job is done,” said Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice president. “Today hundreds of thousands of citizens told FWS to go back to work and protect our wolves.”
 
###
 
 

Dec09

Problems with the White Knight, Red Queen and Wolves

By Bob FerrisGibbon wolf pack standing on snow;Doug Smith;March 2007
 
I have been working in the wolf arena for most of my post-college career and so I watched with great interest the crowds at the various wolf hearings which by all accounts and in all places leaned towards continued federal-level gray wolf protections.  At the same time I have also watched as the condemning comments from the national and international scientific community have become more pronounced and wide spread and the vitriol and tactics from the anti-wolf forces have escalated and become more reckless.  
 

Given all of this I felt the necessity to comment because we are nearing the wire at the end of the comment period on federal gray wolf delisting (December 17th), but it is sometimes a problem to think about these things when your wife is in the living room listening to golden oldies including Jefferson Airplane’s classic White Rabbit.  So some key elements emerged for me somewhere between the “pill that makes you larger” and “feed[ing] your head.”
 
“Safari Club International may have been the only organization backing the FWS, a somewhat unusual position for the service to be in. But if FWS officials Gary Frazer and Mike Jimenez felt uncomfortable, they didn’t show it, as the large number of speakers stretched the hearing well past its scheduled finish of 8:30 p.m.” Endangered Species and Wetlands Report October 1, 2013
 
 “But more than 350 wolf advocates, who paraded from a nearby hotel and dominated the hearing, oppose the federal push to lift protection. They favor continued federal protection so that wolves that wander beyond their current stronghold in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho will have a better chance of survival.”  Denver Post November 20, 2013
 
“Public comments on a pair of proposals by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would affect gray wolf recovery efforts nationwide ran about 2 to 1 in favor of expansion of the wolf recovery program, but cattle and sheep ranchers said the program is a failure and needs to be discontinued.” Albuquerque Journal November 21, 2013
 
“In the meantime, wolf advocates have been showing up in force at the federal hearings, along with a smaller number of ranchers. About 350 wolf advocates marched from a nearby hotel and dominated a hearing Tuesday in Denver, The Denver Post reported.
 
The turnout was similar Friday in Sacramento. The ranchers who spoke were often met with skeptical outbursts from the crowd. Those who called on federal officials not to delist the gray wolf as an endangered species received loud applause and cheers.” Sacramento Bee November 23, 2013
 
When the men (and women) on the chessboard 
Get up and tell you where to go (Listen)
These consistent majorities for continued federal protections for wolves are encouraging but not the total story.  So let’s review.  We now know that a significant body of scientists including the American Society of Mammalogists and most of the public (i.e., the owners of the wolves and the public land where they are recovering most of the time) oppose the premature delisting of gray wolves in the US.  So the popularity footrace is won and the questions being raised nationally and internationally about the science indicate that the USFWS position is far from being without scientific controversy.  
 
We also know that the opposition to delisting consists mainly of the livestock industry and some, but not all hunters.  What’s more these hunters are generally from the trophy hunting community that has been treated to a nearly constant barrage of anti-wolf rhetoric based on myths, half-truths and quite a few outright lies.  Likewise we understand that these two narrow, but historically powerful interests have worked hard to convince some western fish and wildlife agencies to make statements supporting delisting.   While some agencies have acquiesced to this pressure and issued statements, the prudence and appropriateness of these proclamations in the absence of inclusive public processes is being questioned by state legislators in places like Washington as well as by citizens who are engaged in the process.  
 
The White Knight really is Talking Backwards
There is also ample evidence that the USFWS has historically exerted a greater geographic scope of effort for other species recovery efforts such as bald eagles, brown pelicans, peregrine falcons, American alligators, and grizzly bears making their geographically restricted stance on wolves arbitrary and nonsensical.  The Service’s exit strategy appears even more ethically and ecologically irresponsible as we observe state management actions post-delisting in the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes that are not scientifically justified or even rational in some cases.  
 
And study after study indicates that there is significant appropriate habitat in the Pacific Northwest and Southern Rockies as well as the need for other populations to insure the necessary connectedness between populations and the genetic dynamic that all populations need to thrive.  In all of this we fully acknowledge that there have been great changes and developments in the way we look at species and populations.  And yes it is complicated.  Genetic analyses that are commonplace now and concepts such as minimal viable populations (MVPs) or habitat viability analyses (HVAs), for instance, did not exist when the wolf was first listed in 1973.  But many forward looking leaders and scientists at USFWS understood that these concepts were coming which was why the federal listing was modified taxonomically and geographically in 1978.  The current agency stance takes us back in times rather than forward.  
 
The Red Queen cannot say “Off with their Heads”
While we are encouraged by the outpouring of all who have attended the meetings and submitted comments both from the advocacy community and from the halls of science, we are still very concerned as this is a decision that ultimately rests with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell—the veritable queen of wildlife in this country.   We need to make sure she knows that the prevailing science and public opinion both hold that this delisting is ill-advised and premature.  And we need to be loud and articulate enough to be heard over the mad hatters and march hares that are currently whispering in her ears.
 
We Need to Take the Pill that Makes Us Larger 
All this means that we cannot sit back and be complacent.  We really need one more final and "larger" push before the comment period ends on December 17th.  We know all of have been working so hard on this for more than six months, but in the USFWS’ current world view, “logic and proportion” do seem to “have fallen sloppy dead.”  Logic needs to awakened.  So please make sure that you have filed comments with us or the USFWS.  And help make us "larger" by sharing this post or similar pleas with friends and family.  Exert a little extra effort and give the wolves a true gift this season.  
 

 

[Author's Note: Before the cards and letters start flowing, I am really not making any statements in the above about taking pills or eating mushrooms one way or another, but I am advocating engaging in the type of advocacy some of us experienced in the 1960s or are trying to encourage during these times of needed change.  Be the "White Rabbit" for the wolf and I look forward to seeing many of  you at the auction this coming weekend.  Bob]

we like it wild. Follow us Facebook Twiter RSS