Posts Tagged ‘Endangered Species Act’

Mar06

Press Release: Washington Wildlife Agency Urged to End Support for Abolishing Federal Wolf Protections

For Immediate Release, March 6, 2014
 
Contacts:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife, (208) 861-4655
Tim Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667/(509) 435-1092 (cell)
Rebecca J. Wolfe, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, (425) 750-4091
 
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eleven conservation organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today urging the agency to rescind its support for stripping wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections. The department has repeatedly expressed support for dropping the federal safeguards, most recently in a letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 13, 2013. The delisting runs counter to the best available science and ignores the values of the vast majority of Washington residents who want to see federal wolf protections Leopold wolf following grizzly bear;Doug Smith;April 2005maintained.
 
“Most people in Washington want wolves protected. The state department’s perplexing stance is out of step with the science and the values of local residents,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves are just beginning to recover in Washington and face continued persecution. Federal protection is clearly needed to keep recovery on track.”
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June 2013 proposed to remove federal endangered species protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states, including in the western two-thirds of Washington. The science underlying the proposal has been sharply criticized by many scientists, including a peer review panel contracted by the federal agency, which unanimously concluded the proposal was not based on the best available science.
 
“The department should have never endorsed the delisting given the extremely controversial and political nature of this issue,” said Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands.  “The department should instead be focused on ironing out significant shortcomings within its own wolf program, in order to prevent future regretful decisions, like the extermination of the Wedge pack.”
 
Washington’s wolf population has grown from zero wolves in 2007 to roughly 51 wolves in 10 packs at the start of 2013, with new numbers to be announced this week. The recovery has largely been driven by federal Endangered Species Act protections, which led to the reintroduction of wolves in adjacent Idaho and made it against the law to kill wolves. Wolf recovery in Washington was almost upended when several members of the state’s first pack, known as the Lookout pack, were poached. In 2011 the poachers were caught and prosecuted under federal law and the pack has started to make a comeback. In 2012 the Wedge pack was killed in a department lethal control action over wolf-livestock conflicts on public land. The mass killing resulted in public outrage that the department had acted in violation of the state wolf plan and that the rancher involved had refused to adequately protect his cattle.
 
In February, a wolf was found illegally shot and killed in Stevens County.
 
“The scientific peer review panel was unified in rejecting the federal government’s scientific basis for proposing the national delisting of gray wolves,” said Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife. “Washington state should withdraw its support of the Service’s delisting proposal and instead advocate that the Service follow the best available science, as required by law, to chart a sustainable recovery path for wolves in Washington and throughout the U.S.”
 
The Department’s support for dropping federal protections for wolves runs contrary to the sentiments of Washington residents, nearly three-quarters of whom oppose delisting, according to a September 2013 poll. That matches the strong support nationwide for continued federal wolf protections demonstrated in a national poll conducted in July 2013.
 
“The protection of wolves as part of our Washington state wildlife is a public trust issue,” said Rebecca Wolfe of the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It is the duty of the department to care for the wildlife entrusted to them by the people.”
 
“It’s time for the department to lead, governed by science, not pandering to special interests, mythology, science fiction or their desire to sell hunting licenses,” said Timothy Coleman, executive director of Kettle Range Conservation Group. “Gray wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park showed the species is essential to ecosystem health.  Washington citizens strongly support gray wolf recovery and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife should do all it can to make that happen.”
 
The letter to the department was filed by groups representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, The Humane Society of the United States, Western Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, Wolf Haven International, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Kettle Range Conservation Group, The Lands Council and Wildlands Network.
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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.”

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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

Apr01

Anti-wolf Forces: It Takes a Thief (Richard M. Mitchell)

 

By Bob Ferris
 
The anti-wolf site Save Western Wildlife recently posted a three-page letter critical of the Northern Rockies wolf recovery process written by Richard M. Mitchell Ph.D. of Alder, Montana—wow, a Ph.D. stepping into the fray.  This is impressive until you take a little time to remember and realize that Dr. Mitchell’s other title is: Convicted Felon.
 
Yes Dr. Mitchell knows about the Endangered Species Act because he was charged under it multiple times while working for the federal government and finally convicted in 1993.  I say finally because he was first charged in the late 1980s and there was considerable political pressure exerted to by politicians—many of whom were members of Safari Club International—to get this first arrest over-turned.  
 
It is interesting given the Tea Party leanings of the anti-wolf crowd that they are willing to overlook the fact that Dr. Mitchell cost the Smithsonian $650,000 in legal fees paid by taxpayers back in the early 1990s when that was real money.  He also materially broke trust with the American public whose money he took to do a job which he did not.  What Dr. Mitchell excelled at was being the crooked-as-a-dog's-hind-leg errand boy for Safari Club International, a job he still seems to take seriously.  
 
 
 

Mar06

Congress Members Seek Continued Wolf Protections

Peter DeFazio » Congress members seek continued wolf protections

Associated Press By John Flesher Mar. 5, 2013 
 
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Dozens of U.S. House members urged federal regulators Tuesday to retain legal protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states, saying the resilient predator could continue expanding its range if humans don't get in the way.
 
A letter signed by 52 representatives urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to drop wolves from the endangered species list in areas where it hasn't already been done. The wolf has been designated as recovered in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies after rebounding from near-extinction in the past century.
 
The comeback is "a wildlife success story in the making," the lawmakers said in a letter distributed by Reps. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats. But it added that because of lingering human prejudice, "federal protection continues to be necessary to ensure that wolf recovery is allowed to proceed in additional parts of the country."
 
The Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to return wolves to the Southwest, despite court battles and resistance from ranchers. It's also reviewing the status of wolves and their potential habitat in the Pacific Northwest, where perhaps 100 of the animals are believed to roam, and in the Northeast, which has no established population although occasional sightings have been reported.
 
"The outcome of these reviews will identify which, if any, gray wolves should continue to receive protections under the Endangered Species Act outside of the boundaries of the recovered populations and the Southwest population," agency spokesman Chris Tollefson said.
 
A recommendation is expected in the next few months, he said.
 
An agency report last year proposed dropping the wolf from the endangered list in most locations where none are known to exist. In their letter, the lawmakers said that could prevent wolves from migrating to places where they once lived and where enough habitat and prey remain to support them.
 
They noted that lone wolves have wandered into northern California, Utah, Colorado and several Northeastern states. If re-established there, they would help restore ecological balance and boost the economy by drawing tourists, DeFazio said in a phone interview.
 
"I think a heck of a lot of Americans would be thrilled to hear or see a wolf in the wild," he said. "It's part of our natural heritage."
 
About 2 million wolves once lived in much of North America but were all but wiped out in the lower 48 states by the mid-1900s. The areas where they have recovered represent only 5 percent of their original range, said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity.
 

Mar05

Press Release: 52 Members of Congress Urge Continued Federal Protections for Wolves in Lower 48 States

For immediate release, March 5, 2013

Contacts:
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463

PORTLAND, Ore.— In an effort championed by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), 52 House members sent a letter today to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging an about-face on the agency’s anticipated proposal to remove federal protections for wolves across most of the lower 48 United States.

“We are grateful that these 52 representatives are standing strong for continued federal protections for wolves,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With wolves only just beginning to recover in the Pacific Northwest, California, southern Rocky Mountains and Northeast, now’s not the time for the Fish and Wildlife Service to turn its back on wolf recovery.”

An estimated 2 million wolves once roamed freely across North America, including most of the United States. But bounties, a federal extermination program and human settlement drove the species to near extinction in most of the lower 48. While protected by the Endangered Species Act, wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains and the Western Great Lakes states increased; but these regions amount to a mere 5 percent of the wolf’s original range, and in other regions wolves are only just beginning to return.

“The job of wolf recovery is far from over and the members of Congress who have written to the Service are asking that science, not politics, guide federal wolf management,” said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. “Maintaining federal protections is critical in allowing wolves to assume their valuable ecological role across the American landscape.”

Since the original wolf recovery plans were written in the 1980s, scientists have learned much more about wolves’ behavior, ecology and needs. Research has shown that returning wolves to ecosystems sets off a chain of events that benefits many species, including songbirds and beavers that gain from a return of streamside vegetation, which thrives in the absence of browsing elk that must move more often to avoid wolves. And pronghorn and foxes are aided by wolves’ control of coyote populations. Protecting ecosystems upon which species depend is a specific goal of the Endangered Species Act — all the more reason for expanded, rather than diminished, wolf recovery efforts.

Bowing to political pressure from wolf opponents, the Service has no plans for wolf recovery in areas beyond those regions it has deemed recovered (the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes). In states where federal delisting has occurred, there are insufficient protections from local pressures to hunt or “control” wolves back to the brink of extinction. In the 18 months since federal delisting began in 2011, more than 1,700 of the 5,000-6,000 recovered wolves in the lower 48 have been killed.

Conservation organizations are hopeful that Interior Secretary nominee Sally Jewell will be a stronger advocate for wolves than outgoing Secretary Ken Salazar, who never called for comprehensive gray wolf recovery across the country.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Cascadia Wildlands is a Eugene, Oregon-based nonprofit conservation organization that educates, agitates and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems.
    

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Feb15

More than a Mile of Dead Wolves Need Your Attention Now

by Bob Ferris

When I was in high school the Viet Nam conflict was still in full swing and so was the draft.  And as we neared graduation our guidance counselors had us take aptitude tests.  Invariably  all the aptitude test results for males—regardless of input—indicated a suitability for the military.  I think about it now, because as I look at actions and legislation coming out of many of the wolf-occupied states in the West, regardless of the complex, multi-layered conditions or scientific input implicating non-wolf causes for elk and other prey declines, we keep seeing the same answer: We need to kill more wolves faster.  
 
This becomes more pertinent as yet another study comes out on elk that indicates that what might be driving elk reproductive success and also winter survival is the quality of summer elk habitat.  This is almost painfully obvious as fat content in females drives reproductive success in mammals.  And if you are not well fed and fat when you go into winter, you are going to come out of winter literally skin and bones—and nothing else (i.e., dead).  
 
When we look at the factors effecting summer range in the above article we see a few mentioned but two critical ones are absent.  The first is climate change.  Prolonged draught has in some areas reduced the amount of grasslands and shortened the time that vegetation is green and most useful to elk (please see here and here).  This should not be surprising as we are seeing the same climate effects for agriculture.
 
I have heard that this green season has been shorted in some places as much as seven days which means roughly a 5-10% reduction.  This may not seem like much until you throw in the other factor: Cattle grazing.  Elk may very well be able to weather (sorry) this drop but not if they are already feeding on steeper slopes and in lower quality habitats because they have been displaced by cattle or their grasses have already been eaten by domestic sheep.
 
These important alternative hypotheses to the localized reductions in elk or other prey populations that are supported by research seem to be ignored by many decision makers, but they are by no means the only ones that contradict the mantra of the anti-wolf crowd. Other research, for instance, has talked about the long term impacts of too many ungulates (native, wild or both) on the habitat as well as the impacts of other predators—cougars, grizzlies and humans—playing a more important part in these declines.  Natural succession or the tendency for habitats to mature and become less ungulate-friendly as they transcend from grassy to brushy to forest has also been mentioned as an influence on elk populations.  But none of these factors or alternatives seem to enter into the debate when there is this easier management off-ramp in livestock industry-influenced legislations and wildlife agencies: Kill more wolves faster (KMWF).
 
Right now where this KMWF answer is most dominant—the Northern Rockies—we are losing nearly a wolf and half a day or more than one mile of wolves laid nose to tail over the last two years—at a minimum.  In the absence of science and restraint, the well intentioned delisting experiment in the Rockies is failing miserably, cruelly and embarrassingly.  And the whole world is watching.  
 
Because of the above and the opportunities to learn from this tragic mistake, Cascadia Wildlands and a host of other science-driven conservation organization are promoting a congressional colleague letter being circulated by Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Ed Markey.  The letter urges the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe to listen to scientists and wildlife advocates who believe that federal protections for the wolf must be maintained in order to allow recolonizing wolves to reclaim viable habitats—mainly on federal lands—in the Pacific Northwest, California, the Southern Rockies and elsewhere.  They are currently collecting member signatures for this letter.
 
We all should continue to fight for wolves in the Northern Rockies and also urge our own congressional representatives to sign on to this letter.  Please ask them to stand up for wolves, science, and supporting the original intent of the Endangered Species Act.  Please click here to take action.

Nov16

Lawsuit Chops Down Logging Plans on the Elliott

The Roseburg News-Review by Don Jenkins
November 15, 2012
 
A lawsuit filed by conservation groups has caused the Oregon Department of Forestry to sharply scale back logging plans in the Elliott State Forest for 2013, a year in which the state planned to ramp up timber production in the 93,000-acre coastal forest.
 
The three groups that brought the suit released a statement Wednesday hailing a decision by the department to defer most timber sales planned for next year.
The department, according to a Sept. 19 memo from District Forester Jim Young, suspended the sales because of the federal lawsuit filed in May.
 
Conservationists allege plans to increase timber harvests by 60 percent in the Elliott violate the federal Endangered Species Act by jeopardizing the marbled murrelet.
 
The state is contesting the lawsuit, and there’s been no ruling. But for now, the forestry department will suspend plans to log 914 acres, slashing from next year’s harvest plan 46 million board feet of timber with a gross value of $16 million.
 
Instead, the department plans to log 13.8 million board feet, with an estimated gross value of
 $4.1 million.
 
Cascadia Wildlands spokesman Josh Laughlin said Wednesday the conservation groups hope the pause in logging will lead to the state reconsidering how it will manage the Elliott.
 
“This clearly provides some much-needed interim relief for the imperiled marbled murrelet,” he said. “Our goal with the case is to work with the state to balance its plans.”
 
The Center for Biological Diversity and the Audubon Society of Portland joined Cascadia in the lawsuit.
 
The three groups and the state are in a dispute over logging in Oregon’s largest state forest, spread over portions of Douglas and Coos counties.
Conservation groups sued after the State Land Board approved increasing annual timber harvests in the Elliott from 25 million board feet to approximately 40 million board feet.
 
In recent years, timber harvests have raised $6 million to $8 million a year for schools and the two counties. Forestry officials estimated $9 million to $13 million would be generated through increased harvests. Under the scaled back plan, the common school fund will net an estimated $3.7 million, forestry department spokesman Dan Postrel said today.
 
The department estimates that each 1 million board feet of timber cut in the Elliott creates 11 to 13 jobs with an average annual wage of $36,000.
Citing the pending litigation, Postrel declined to elaborate on why the department voluntarily deferred timber sales.
 
State Rep. Tim Freeman, who supports increased logging on the Elliott, said he was initially surprised the department chose to suspend logging. He said forestry officials explained to him that the department hoped to strengthen its position in court by voluntarily waiting for the suit to be resolved before increasing timber harvests.
 
“I’m not saying it was the right decision, but I understand why they’re doing it,” said Freeman, a Roseburg Republican. “If it works, it’s a great choice.” In the meantime, the state will lose revenue and jobs, he said. “There is a cost to waiting.”
 
Postrel said the department will continue to look for ways to increase logging that won’t run afoul of the allegations contained in the lawsuit.
 
Laughlin said the conservation groups are not opposed to increasing the “controversy-free volume” of timber by thinning younger tree stands to make them healthier.
 
“We want to see the jobs created restoring the forest,” he said.
 
A timber industry spokeswoman, American Forest Resource Council Vice President Ann Forest Burns, hesitated to second-guess the state’s legal strategy, though she said the advocacy group generally opposes agencies halting logging “just because they’ve been sued.”
 
“That accomplishes the purpose of the lawsuit without a ruling on the validity of the lawsuit,” she said.
 
“There’s also a definite question about the responsibility to the taxpayers who paid for the work that went into the harvest plan. I would hope the department would stand behind their work,” she said.
 
The State Land Board — made up of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Kate Brown — OK’d a plan that requires forest managers to avoid disturbing marbled murrelets, while opening up the possibility of logging on older portions of the Elliott. Almost half the forest is covered with trees 90 to 145 years old, Postrel said.
 
Conservation groups argue the state should designate areas in the forest as marbled murrelet habitat as part of a long-range plan to revive the bird’s population.
 
Freeman said the Legislature should make clear to federal courts the state’s wishes by passing legislation to require annual harvests of a certain percentage of new growth in the Elliott.
 
The department of forestry estimates 75 million board of feet of timber grows in the Elliott State Forest each year.
 
The lawsuit is Cascadia Wildlands v. Kitzhaber and was filed in the U.S. District Court of Oregon.
 
• City Editor Don Jenkins can be reached at 541-957-4201 or djenkins@nrtoday.com.

 

Aug15

Conservation groups ask Obama to keep western population of Northwest’s gray wolves on endangered species list

August 14, 2012

Scott Learn, The Oregonian 

Gray wolves in the western Oregon and Washington and California are just beginning to recover and should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, 24 conservation organizations said today in a letter to President Obama. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to rescind the 1978 listing of wolf populations in the lower 48 states, but is considering continuing to protect distinct wolf populations in the Northwest and northeastern United States. Today, there are about 100 wolves dispersed among five Oregon packs and eight in Washington, including wolves in western Washington, the conservation groups say. 

Congress de-listed Rocky Mountain gray wolves earlier this spring, which effectively took wolves in the eastern third of Oregon and Washington off the list. But the groups want continued coverage for wolves in western Oregon and Washington and California, where they expect wolf populations to grow.
 
The letter says wolves have allowed streamside vegetation to recover by forcing elk to move, benefiting songbirds and beavers. Wolves in Yellowstone National Park also benefited scavenging animals such as weasels, eagles, wolverines and bears, the letters says, and increased numbers of foxes and pronghorns by controlling coyotes. 
 
Gray wolves were abundant in Oregon and Washington at the time of Euro-American settlement, the Fish and Wildlife Service says. But they were extirpated from the region entirely by the 1940s, the result of "intense human persecution." 
 
They've recently trickled back into the Northwest as a result of dispersal from British Columbia and reintroduced wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
 
Many ranchers support de-listing because wolves prey on livestock. The conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild and the Sierra Club, contend rancher compensation programs and efforts to reduce livestock exposure to wolves can address the problem. 
 
Wolves throughout Oregon and Washington are protected by state endangered species listings. The conservation groups say the federal listing provides a recovery plan for the whole region, additional protections against poaching and more money and expertise applied to recovery. 
 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife is expected to finalize levels of federal protection by early 2013. 
 
Note: Cascadia Wildlands is part of this initiative as well.

 

 

Jul02

Press Release: State of Oregon Suspends 10 State Forest Timber Sales in Marbled Murrelet Habitat

Marbled murrelet (USFWS)

For immediate release
July 2, 2012
 
Contact:
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182      
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495      
Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon Society, (503) 380-9728      
Tanya Sanerib, Crag Law Center, (503) 525-2722      
 
State of Oregon Suspends 10 State Forest Timber Sales in Marbled Murrelet Habitat
Simultaneously, Conservation Groups File Injunction Request to Safeguard the Threatened Seabird During Lawsuit
 
PORTLAND, Ore.— The State of Oregon has suspended operations on 10 timber sales in marbled murrelet habitat one month after Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Audubon Society of Portland filed a lawsuit alleging the state’s logging practices in the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott State Forests are illegally “taking” the imperiled seabird in violation of the Endangered Species Act.  To prevent additional murrelet habitat from being lost while the case works its way through the court system, the conservation groups filed an injunction request in federal court to halt sales and logging in the occupied murrelet habitat pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
      
The State agreed to suspend three timber sales and to hold off on auctioning three others to give the Court time to consider the preliminary injunction motion. Plaintiffs have also recognized the State has taken things a step further by removing at least four additional timber sales in murrelet habitat from the auction block that were scheduled to be sold in the near future.   
 
“We are pleased that the state has suspended clearcutting in murrelet habitat on its own accord while this portion of the case proceeds,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “We hope that Governor Kitzhaber will permanently abandon these illegal timber sales, prevent any others like them in the future, and begin acting within the law in managing our state forests.”
 
The Endangered Species Act prohibits actions that “take” threatened species. Take is broadly defined to include actions that kill, harm or injure protected species, including destruction of habitat. The injunction request presents evidence that logging in the three state forests is harming marbled murrelets by destroying their nesting habitat. The logging operations were either already underway or ready for auction.
 
“Oregon's irresponsible logging is driving the marbled murrelet to extinction,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.  "We're asking the court to stop the worst of the state’s timber sales, and encouraging Governor Kitzhaber to initiate the development of scientifically-supported management plans for our coastal state forests.”
 
The injunction motion requests a halt to 11 timber sales, constituting 840 acres of proposed logging in the three forests as well as a halt to any future logging in occupied murrelet habitat pending the outcome of the case. The injunction is necessary because significant amounts of murrelet habitat could be lost while the case works its way through the court system.
 
“The suspension of the timber sales is an important interim measure while the litigation proceeds,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “However it is important for the public to realize that these and other sales in murrelet habitat are still at real risk of proceeding in the near future.”
 
The most recent status review of marbled murrelets by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the birds have been declining at a rate of approximately 4 percent per year and that this decline likely relates to continued loss of habitat, primarily on state and private lands.
 
 Oregon recently abandoned its decade-long attempt to develop habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for the three forests that would have given it a federal permit for limited impacts to marbled murrelets in exchange for habitat protection measures designed to enhance the bird's conservation. Rather than improving habitat protections, the state turned its back on murrelets and other listed species altogether by walking away from the HCP process. The lawsuit seeks to force the state to develop a plan that will protect murrelets and the mature forests on which the birds and other species depend.
 
The conservation organizations are represented by outside counsel Daniel Kruse of Eugene, Tanya Sanerib and Chris Winter of the Crag Law Center, Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, Scott Jerger of Field Jerger LLP, and Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center.
 
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A copy of the preliminary injunction memo and motion can be found here, and more case background can be found here.

 

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