Oregon Wolves

Dec19

Lethal Control of Predators: Of Science, Scapegoats and Icebergs

By Bob Ferris
 
I have been looking at the issue of lethal predator control for many, many years and the longer I look at it and 2019372475the more science I read and assimilate, the more convinced I become that lethal control of predators is more punitive than practical.  It is an activity and a supporting attitude that simply does not wash in the light of what we know and have tested. 
 
I know some will argue that lethal control is still needed for situations of chronic livestock depredation and where predators are dampening prey or endangered species recovery.  But even in these instances our opting for trigger, trap or poison is really more about our inability to admit that we are often raising the wrong animals in the wrong way in the wrong places and also our reluctance to recalibrate our expectations in regards to our ability to harvest, destroy and neglect our natural resources at unsustainable levels without consequence. 
 
Three wolf examples come to mind when I think of prime illustrations of the above: the Huckleberry pack control action, continual calls for wolf control in the Lolo National Forest to save elk and the killing of wolves in Alberta to save caribou. 
 
With the Huckleberry incident in eastern Washington—which we have written about repeatedly (1,2,3)—you  basically have too many of the wrong animal (i.e., sheep including rams) placed in poor habitat with little or no supervision near an area of known wolf activity.  Certainly livestock losses are regrettable and we have sympathy for the rancher who has to move his or her animals to alternative pasture, but the question hovers: Was this choice of stocking levels, location and inattention to non-lethal alternatives prudent given the situation?  One thing to think about in this context is the idea that anyone can leave roughly $180,000 worth of assets on any landscape without providing some measure of presence or protection from mishap.  In any event, this set of circumstances seems to not be a compelling argument for lethal control of a species recently released from federal protection and still under Washington State protection. 
 
The elk population decline in the Lolo has been offered up far too often as the poster child for the need for wolf control regardless of the fact that the decline started long before wolves came on the scene.  And biologist after biologist has pointed to this decline being associated with habitat succession (i.e., open areas transitioning to brush land and then to forests).    Certainly wolves are causing this decline to linger longer but at the end of the day this elk population is still habitat limited and will remain so as the availability of early seral habitat continues to decline.  Elk are creatures of disturbance and when the logging is done or fires put out the ticking clock of transition from good elk habitat to bad starts.  The State of Idaho is pursuing lethal control of wolves in this area but they are unlikely to get any awards for sound science or innovative management out of this endeavor (see here).  
 
Woodland caribou in Alberta are in terrible shape and getting worse (1,2,3).  The main reason for this decline is the explosion of tar sand development as well as tradition gas and oil development in the province.  Yet when searching for solutions, the province did not look to restrict fossil fuel operations, set up refugia or restore habitat they felt the “logical” approach was to cull wolves.  I suppose on some level this illogical of wolf culling is easily dwarfed when looking at the totality of this tar sands lunacy where wilderness is being sacrificed so we can accelerate climate change, ocean acidification and a host of other ills that compromise our ecological support systems.  
 
Alberta’s wolf cull strategy is not only wrong-headed but it may turn out to be an ironic choice as wolf biologist Robert Hayes reported in his excellent book Wolves of the Yukon that smaller packs had to kill more prey per capita because they lack the numbers to effectively protect their kills from crows, ravens and other scavengers.  Hayes’ observations are illustrative of the problem faced by lethal control proponents who only look at the obvious iceberg tip of predator-prey relationships and do not see the more important aspects below the surface that are not seen by the casual observer.  
 
The latest nail in the coffin of the lethal control illogic is Rob Wielgus’ recent findings that culling wolves likely does more harm than good.  This is solid and well-reviewed work, but it is by no means unique in sending the message that lethal control is generally a flawed approach.   In 2012, for instance, the American Society of Mammalogists issued a strong letter to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—where USDA Wildlife Services is housed or hidden—heavily criticizing the program’s overdependence on and use of lethal control.  And investigative journalist Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee wrote an excellent set of articles examining problems with USDA Wildlife Services as well as lethal control in 2012 (1,2,3,).
 
At this point there are likely some who are asking: If science has shown that lethal control of predators—particularly via random culling programs—is generally ineffective or often deleterious then why does it continue? The answer to this question is that livestock producers, energy developers, and timber interests want access to natural resources on public lands and the presence of predators—particularly legally protected predators—often inhibits their ability to fully exploit and derive maximum benefit from these public lands.  Yes there are groups that also support predator control, but if you scratch the surface of most of the groups with anti-wolf or anti-predator leanings you do not have to look too hard to also find connections between those groups and these industries either through funding, governance or association (see here).  
 
Moreover, for wildlife managers, scientists and politicians, there is real peril in questioning the lethal control model.  Both Rod Sando (1) in Idaho and Ken Mayer in Nevada (1,2) lost their jobs as directors of their state wildlife agencies, in part, because they took a principled and scientifically defensible position on the lethal control of predators.  Likewise Dr. Wielgus’ work—before it was even completed—was attacked and his objectivity questioned by the livestock producers’ front group the Science First Coalition (which has since taken down their website).  And Congressman Peter DeFazio who has long championed reform of Wildlife Services and wolf recovery as well as opposing predator derbies has taken considerable lumps from the above crowd.  Being principled is a perilous course and frequently comes at a price.  
SCCA Talking Science
I met with the leadership of Wildlife Services in DC roughly 20 years ago armed with a stack of literature that questioned the efficacy of lethal control actions particularly as they applied to coyotes and we also talked some about wolves.  The agency and the approach has changed some since then because of public pressure, legal actions and congressional attention, but only cosmetically such as not stenciling an airplane with a wolf silhouette each time you kill one.  Lethal control continues not because there is a lack of science or inadequate evidence of problems but because the myths and fear continue to be promulgated by the same interests and industries (see above).  
 
As you enter the holiday season and think about this coming year and those in the future, please take some time to think about how you can help all of us turn the tide on this monumental effort to bring facts and science to wildlife management and public perceptions—particularly in rural areas.  We need to break the strangle-hold and undue influence these industries have on our wildlife agencies, public lands policy and the minds of our children.   Our future and the future of what we hold dear depends on it, so please support groups that work in this area, vote for candidates who embrace science, and educate where you can with fact-based and scientifically defensible arguments.  
 
 
Nov25

BLM Says No to Predator Killing Contest on BLM Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 25, 2014
 
Contact: Drew Kerr, WildEarth Guardians, (312) 375-6104
Laura King, Western Environmental Law Center, (406) 204-4852
Bob Ferris, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Lynne Stone, Boulder-White Clouds Council, (208) 721-7301
 
BLM SAYS NO TO KILLING CONTEST ON BLM LANDS
Conservationists celebrate win just 12 days after filing lawsuit to stop the wolf-hunting contest on public lands
 
SALMON, IDAHO—Conservationists are celebrating the news from the Salmon, Idaho U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office announcing the agency is withdrawing the 5-year permit it issued for a cruel killing contest on Coyote Derbysome of the wildest and most scenic BLM-managed public lands in the country. The move comes only twelve days after WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and Boulder-White Clouds Council, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed a lawsuit to stop the “Predator Derby” killing contest on BLM and U.S. Forest Service-managed lands.
 
"We're pleased the BLM heeded our warning and recognized its permit allowing this killing contest to proceed was fatally flawed," said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. "Sadly, the U.S. Forest Service has not gotten the message, so we still have a fight on our hands to kick these horrifically cruel events off our public lands."
 
BLM’s change of heart comes after conservationists filed a lawsuit on November 13, 2014, in federal court challenging the agency’s issuance of a special 5-year permit allowing the event to take place. The lawsuit argued that the agency unlawfully relied on faulty analysis and failed to develop a full environmental impact statement. 
 
“Closing public lands to this killing contest is the right thing—legally, ethically, and scientifically,” said Laura King of Western Environmental Law Center. “We applaud the BLM for this decision that puts wildlife and the public interest first.”
 
BLM staff anticipated as many as 500 participants would descend on public and private lands in eastern Idaho, trying to kill as many wolves, coyotes, and other animals as they could during a three-day period this winter holiday season. Last year, organizers offered prizes for the most coyotes killed and the largest wolf killed. 
 
“While there is cause to celebrate this victory, we still must deal with the U.S. Forest Service lands,” said Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands. “That will take time, but we are happy to play the role of the proverbial tortoise if that is what it takes to walk away with a complete victory.”
 
Conservationists filed two separate lawsuits challenging the BLM permit; however, only the lawsuit brought by Western Environmental Law Center included a claim against the U.S. Forest Service for failing to require a permit or analyze the killing contest’s impacts. This lawsuit will continue in the wake of BLM’s welcome reversal, and will seek to compel the Forest Service to similarly block participants from competing to win prizes for wasting wildlife on our public lands.
 
“While it’s good to see BLM withdraw their permit, overall this killing contest remains a black eye for Idaho,” said Lynne Stone, director of Boulder-White Clouds Council and long-time Idahoan. “The Salmon-Challis National Forest should not be a part of this cruel event either. These are our public lands and we should share them together peacefully and respectfully with wildlife.”
 
#####
 
To pursue this legal action and others Cascadia Wildlands needs your support.  So please consider making a generous donation to Cascadia Wildlands.Donate between now and the end of November through Mountain Rose Herbs Matching Gift program and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs up to a total $5000. Please give today.
 
 

 

Nov13

Help Us Stop Senseless Wolf and Coyote Killing Contests

 

Dear Cascadia Wildlands Supporter:
 
Cascadia Wildlands needs your support in our fight against predator killing contests. (click here)
 
Coyote Derby
Predator killing contests—like the one pictured above—are not hunting.  They are cruel undertakings that perpetuate long-disproven myths about wolves and coyotes.  In truth, they keep alive a form of animal bigotry that should have disappeared with the covered wagon. 
 
HELP US STOP THIS NOW! (click here)
 
While contests emphasizing predator body counts should not be condoned anywhere, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service are moving forward to issue a five-year permit for one of these obscene killing contests on federal lands in Idaho.  That’s right, on lands owned by you and me.  Unbelievable.
 
STAND UP FOR WOLVES AND COYOTES! (click here)
 
Today Cascadia Wildlands and our allies challenged the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service decision to allow this contest on federal public lands. We aim to stop them from allowing the senseless slaughter of our wildlife. A slaughter done for profit. A slaughter on our public lands. A slaughter driven by hate and ignorance.
 
STOP THIS SENSELESS SLAUGHTER ON YOUR LANDS NOW! (click here) 
 
Please consider making a generous special gift to help us fight this wildlife travesty in Idaho.  We need your support to pursue this action and our other work to forward wolf recovery in Cascadia and elsewhere in the American West.
 bob's signature
 
 
Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Cascadia Wildlife
 
P.S.  Donate between now and the end of November through Mountain Rose Herbs Matching Gift program and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs up to a total $5000. Give today.
 
 
 
 
Sep11

Female wolf is Northwest descendant: Trail cameras first spotted OR-7’s black female companion in May (an Excerpt)

By Lacey Jarrell
Klamath Falls Herald and News
September 6, 2014 
 
The mysterious female wolf that mated with OR-7 is a confirmed descendant of Northwest wolves.Potential OR-7 mate
 
According to a press release, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has received the results of scat samples sent to the University of Idaho for analysis. The samples, collected in Southwest Oregon in May and July, identified OR-7’s mate and two of the pair’s pups as wolves.
 
************
Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director Bob Ferris dubbed OR-7’s female companion “Wandering Wanda,” or just Wanda for short, in a June blog post for his organization.
 
“We got tired of calling her the uncollared wolf that came from nowhere,” Ferris said. “Wanda probably wandered as far as OR-7 and her story is probably just as remarkable as his.”
 
Ferris said although Wanda is just a nickname, he believes it’s a reasonable solution to talking about a well-known animal that doesn’t have anything to call it by. ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said biologists don’t name wolves; however, as a function of being collared, wolves are given an identification, such as OR-7’s. Dennehy said “OR” represents the state — Oregon — and “7” indicates he was the seventh wolf collared in Oregon.
 
 
 
Aug21

OR-7 The Journey : Film Premiere

"OR-7 The Journey"

September 18, 2014 at 7:00pm

Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th Ave. Eugene, Oregon

 
OR-7 The Journey, documentary film presented by Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, and film producer Clemens Shenk. Eugene, OR film premiere at Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th Avenue on Sept. 18, 2014 at 7pm

Join Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild on September 18, 2014 at 7pm in welcoming Oregon filmmaker Clemens Schenk for the Eugene premiere of "OR-7: The Journey".

 

 

RSVP HERE on the event page.

 

Buy TICKETS ONLINE.

 

"OR-7: The Journey" is an inspiring documentary chronicling the remarkable dispersal of a young male wolf — OR-7, also known as Journey — from northeast Oregon down into California who has recently formed a pack southwest of Crater Lake to become the first wolf pack in the Oregon Cascades in nearly 70 years.
 
Come celebrate wolf recovery, wildlife, Oregon's conservation values, and OR-7's epic journey. This film tells the story not just of Journey, but also of his species. It is a story of survival and inspiration. But even as most Americans have come to appreciate native wildlife and wild places, 21st century science and values are coming head to head with old prejudices that put the future of wolves – and OR-7 – in jeopardy.
 
  • The showing will be held at the Bijou Theater at 492 E. 13th Ave in Eugene, OR at 7:00pm. 
  • Tickets are $10 and are available through the Bijou’s website HERE. There is limited seating and the show is expected to sell out, purchasing tickets in advance is strongly encouraged.
  • A Q&A session will take place after the movie with wolf advocates and the filmmaker. 
  • Cascadia Wildlands merchandise will be available for purchase at the event.
 
For more info about the movie specifically, please follow this link.
 
Learn more about OR-7.
 

 

Maximize the impact of your donation to our wolf fund today, by taking advantage of the

 

Mountain Rose Herbs Matching Gift for Wolf Donations!
 
 
 
 
Donations_Wolf_MtnRoseHerbs_graph_DRAFT_C.3_21AugTry
Aug07

Wanda’s New Wolf Pack Survived the Fire But All Wolves Still Need Your Help

 

We were so pleased this morning to receive confirmation that OR-7, Wanda and the three pups are surviving the fires in southern Oregon.  We would breathe a huge sigh of relief, but the skies of Oregon are still filled with a little bit ofWolf Pup smoke.
 
This situation highlights the fact that wolves live in a dangerous world and face many natural challenges as well as man-made ones too.  Cascadia Wildlands works on the larger natural challenges through our forestry efforts by protecting the very wildlife corridors that enabled Journey and Wanda to get together.  
 
We also work on the man-made challenges too that are protecting these wolves and others in Oregon, California and Washington.  Please think about giving a special gift to our wolf work in honor of Journey, Wanda and the pups—it is such good news, but we have so much more work to do.
 
Thank you,
bob's signature
 
 
 
Bob Ferris
 
 
Jul28

Cruising Through a Three Dog (Pup) Night

By Bob Ferris
 
In conservation there are always turning points. Yo-YoFor instance, I remember working on a swan project in the 1990s that involved ultra-light aircraft and imprinting young Trumpeters to teach them a migration route.  My boss at the time, Rodger Schlickeisen (below left at left), turned to me the morning of the first leg of the trial migration and said: Do you think this is going to work? 
 
In the time leading up to that point I had not given failure much thought, but I did then.  We had invested more than two hundred thousand dollars in the project and I was getting more and more nervous as the ultra-light cruised back and forth and none of the swans rose to follow.  All our months of efforts selling the Atlantic Flyway Council on the idea, getting the permits, and training the swans came down to this one moment in time. 
 
And then Yo-Yo the swan (at right above) took flight and the others followed.  I was ecstatic.  The project had pivoted on the wing beats of a young and improbably named swan who simply did what swans had done for hundreds of thousands of years—took off after the “leading parent” and started its first long flight. 
 
Rodger and swans
My wife and I were getting ready to return from a family trip to California, when I got the news that Wanda and Journey had at least three pups rather than the two that we had originally thought (see one of the pups below right and more photos on our facebook page).  This welcome news put the frosting on an already delicious cake and reminded me of that feeling so many years ago sitting by that frosty field when Yo-Yo took off. 
 
We hit Dunsmuir, California about 10PM and for some reason we just started to Wolf Puphowl.  Perhaps it was the glow off Mount Shasta or the acknowledgement of what was happening wolf-wise to the north of us. 
 
Or maybe it was just the joy of turning this important corner in western wolf conservation.  We were hoarse but happy when we reached Oregon and we came within legitimate howling range of Journey, Wanda and crew, but I am not sure that mattered to us in the least.
 
 
 
 
 
Jul20

I am Wanda. Hear me Howl!

By Wanda
 
wanda
[Editor’s note: Wolves do not speak directly to humans nor do they type their thoughts on computers, but what if they did? What if Wanda spoke?]
 
I am the wolf you know very little about.  I came out of nowhere and jumped into the hearts and minds of people around the world by simply doing what wolves do: Traveling great distances during dispersal.  
 
I found the wolf known as OR-7 or Journey by doing the four-step wolf waltz so known to young wolves of walk, pee, sniff and howl.  It worked and now I have a partner.  And this spring I had Journey’s pups. 
 
I grew up in the wilds where the night air was sometimes filled with howls of others and now it is not.   We hear nothing but each other and soon our pups will learn to call in the manner of our pack.   
 
As our pups grow, we will roam where our noses and prey take us.  And we will still continue the waltz, but now it has a different purpose.  Now it defines our land, our home and our future.  
 
Follow me on facebook here
 
Contact me soon at: wanda[at]cascwild.org
 
 
 
 

 

Jun04

OR-7 and Wanda are Parents!!

By Bob FerrisOR7+pups (1)
 
We are very, very pleased as new parents to announce that OR-7 (Journey) and Wanda actually do have pups this year.  This is so, so exciting and makes it even more important to contact the California Fish and Game Commission regarding state Endangered Species Act listing of gray wolves because now OR-7 and Wanda have young and so we have a group of wolves whose Alpha male has visited California three out of the last four years.  
 
 
May20

California Needs to Get Off the Dime on Wolves

By Bob FerrisOR7_odfw
 
Now that we have had time to get our elation at least a little under control, there are a lot of implications and questions that should come out of this situation with OR-7, Wanda (our name for the wandering wolf that has likely become OR-7’s mate) and the potential pups in the southern Cascades of Oregon.  We should first take some time to be grateful for this happenstance but also to think about what it means. 
 
 
What questions? For instance, we often characterize OR-7 as a wanderer, but what about Wanda?  Where did she come from? The likely options are Idaho, northeastern Oregon and the Northern Cascades—either from the Rockies or the coastal genetic units.  Any of these options are good as they show that OR-7 is not an anomaly and that our work to protect these important corridors yields results.  
 
As mentioned in the above CBC piece, her origins could be determined by genetic markers found in her scat.  I have to admit that part of me hopes that she came to the southern Cascades from some direct pathway originating in British Columbia or was the offspring of wolves that had migrated down from BC.  It would be nice to see a demonstration of how this mixing zone we have been speculating about works or does not work.  
 
Also given what we are learning about the importance of maintaining social structure in packs in reducing human/wolf conflicts, we should be glad that this pack—if it is to be—will be led by two wolves that have histories of staying out of trouble with livestock.  Perhaps also we can learn lessons from Oregon’s good example and Idaho’s bad one in terms of proactive livestock measures and enlightened wolf management leading to positive results versus a war on wolves leading to bad results for wolves and ranchers.  
 
Potential OR-7 mateThe simple presence of this squatting, narrow-nosed wolf should radically change agency thinking in California. The California Fish and Wildlife Department and the California Fish and Game Commission’s list or not-to-list fence-sitting has to end because there is a huge difference between the novelty that was the lone wolf Journey (OR-7) and the reality that we might have a pack whose alpha male claims dual state residency in Oregon and California.  
Oregon Wolf Use Map
Hopefully the linear, north-south configuration of OR-7s well documented home range, which likely holds clues for future use as well as future dispersal of any young wolves resulting from this pairing or others will be obvious to decision-makers in California.  If it is not I can almost picture a future cartoon with images of Journey and Wanda’s offspring flipping coins in a few years with Oregon on one side and California on the other.  Please join us in urging that California officials get off the dime (i.e., stop dancing around) and list this species under the California Endangered Species Act.  Even if you do not live in California, please speak up now!  
 
 
 

 

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