Posts Tagged ‘Wolf’

May14

Journey and Wandering Wanda—A love story two plus decades in the making

By Bob Ferris
 
June 1st marks my twentieth year as a professional advocate for wolf recovery and roughly thirty years as a professional wildlife biologist. This is not a big deal as nearly everyone eventually is somewhere for a long time, but it OR7_odfwdoes give me one very important advantage: Perspective.  In other words, I know where we started and therefore understand where we are with wolves and why.  
 
The experience had also yielded amazing memories from freezing in Fort Saint John, British Columbia (-45 degrees) during the second capture of wolves for Yellowstone and Idaho in 1996 and hearing the Crow and Sioux warriors (at left) singing the wolves back to their ancient lands in our first national park to speculating on when wolves would get to California and Crow warriors singing in wolvescelebrating the first wild wolf prints in my life time in both Oregon and California.  All good and glorious memories.
 
That is not to say that all the memories are good. Certainly not.  Getting grilled by ex-Senator Larry Craig and former Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas in a Senate sub-committee hearing on wolves was not as much fun as it could have been and watching this manufactured hysteria over wolves that is resulting in continued, unjustified killing of wolves is breaking my heart on multiple levels.  And then there are the constant insults and the veiled and not so veiled death threats.  But we did and are doing all that we can for the wolf and will continue those efforts whatever the outcome of this federal delisting exercise.  
 
But one of my favorite sets of memories was sitting in my office and being a fly-on-the-wall over the last two years watching and listening to Nick, Josh and advisory board member and former staffer Dan Kruse work with our partners (Oregon Wild and Center for Biological Diversity), agencies and the opposition on crafting legislation and rules that have led to Oregon having the best wolf management approach in the lower 48 states (see details on settlement here). 
 
This whole history—past and recent—is on my mind because this coming Saturday May 17, 2014 marks the third full year that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has not killed a single wolf for livestock depredation. (It should be noted that the animals not killed include the previously condemned to die OR-4 who remains the alpha male of the Imnaha pack and is the father of OR-7 or Journey.) We are so proud of that.  
 
So as we look at this potentiality or eventuality of OR-7 having a mate and pups in the southern Cascades of Oregon we have to understand that we would not be celebrating and anticipating this happy outcome if some dedicated and effective groups like Cascadia Wildlands had not stepped forward now and over the past decades since Aldo Leopold and others suggested the need to protect and restore wolves.  (Folks in the Eugene area will get a little bit of a chance to kick the tires on that plan when ODFW’s wolf guy Russ Morgan speaks on May 20, 2014.)
 
Potential OR-7 mateWhatever the results observed this June or the next, when biologists go to look for a den and pups in southern Cascadia’s wild reaches, and see if a pairing between OR-7 (pictured above at right) and his “Wandering Wanda” (pictured at right) have produced pups, we know the work is not done.   We still have to be vigilant in Oregon.  We need to move the process forward in Washington State.  We need to keep federal and get state endangered species protections in California.  And we need to simultaneously maintain federal gray wolf protections in the West and continue our work to educate and erase wolf myths and hatred wherever we find them.  
 
And to do all of this we need your continued support both as wolf activists and as engaged donors.  Yes we have wolf all-stars on staff, but they are on staff because our donors keep them there.  When you go looking for wolf heroes and the figurative grandparents of OR-7 and Wanda’s offspring you might just being seeing one in the mirror.  Please help us continue this work.
 
 

Sep25

Raise Your Voice for Wolves—Sacramento

Cascadia Wildlands’ supporters in Northern California should make an extra effort to attend and make comments at the US Fish and Wildlife Service field hearing on federal wolf delisting scheduled for October 2nd in Sacramento, wolf-110006California.  This hearing to be held at the Clarion Inn, Martinique Ball Room, 1401 Arden Way, in Sacramento from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. will be your chance to tell the USFWS that the delisting proposal is premature and driven much more by the politics of a few rather than science or public will.  Wolves cannot speak so we must speak on their behalf.  Written comments can also be submitted by following the link below to our petition.  Please share details about this meeting around.

 

What: USFWS Public Hearing on Wolf Delisting Proposal

When: October 2, 2013 6-8:30 PM

Where: Clarion Inn, Martinique Ball Room, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA

 

Aug12

World Wolf Scientists Letter on Wolf Delisting

Aug12

American Society of Mammalogists Letter on Wolf Delisting

Apr25

U.S. plans to drop gray wolves from endangered list

 

U.S. plans to drop gray wolves from endangered list
The planned ruling would eliminate protection for the top predators, but scientists and conservationists say the proposal is flawed.
 
By Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times

April 25, 2013, 6:20 p.m.
 
Federal authorities intend to remove endangered species protections for all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states, carving out an a exception for a small pocket of about 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, according to a draft document obtained by The Times.
 
The sweeping rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would eliminate protection for wolves 18 years after the government reestablished the predators in the West, where they had been hunted to extinction. Their reintroduction was a success, with the population growing to the thousands.
 
But their presence has always drawn protests across the Intermountain West from state officials, hunters and ranchers who lost livestock to the wolves. They have lobbied to remove the gray wolf from the endangered list.
 
Once those protections end, the fate of wolves is left to individual states. The species is only beginning to recover in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. California is considering imposing its own protections after the discovery of a lone male that wandered into the state's northern counties from Oregon two years ago.
 
The species has flourished elsewhere, however, and the government ended endangered status for the gray wolf in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions last year.
 
Mike Jimenez, who manages wolves in the northern Rockies for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said delisting in that region underscored a "huge success story." He said that while wolves are now legally hunted in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the federal agency continues to monitor pack populations and can reinstate protections should numbers reach levels that biologists consider to be dangerously low.
 
Scientists and conservationists who reviewed the plan said its reasoning is flawed. They challenged how the agency reconfigures the classification of wolf subspecies and its assertion that little habitat remains for wolves.
 
Jamie Rappaport Clark, the former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and now the president of Defenders of Wildlife, said the decision "reeks of politics" and vowed that it will face multiple legal challenges.
 
"This is politics versus professional wildlife management," Clark said. "The service is saying, 'We're done. Game over. Whatever happens to wolves in the U.S. is a state thing.' They are declaring victory long before science would tell them to do so."
 
The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release its decision to delist the wolves in coming weeks and it could become final within a year. Brent Lawrence, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman, said Thursday that the agency would not comment.
 
The proposed rule is technically a draft until it is entered into the Federal Register.
 
Some scientists agreed with the decision to delist the wolves. But several took exception to some of the findings that the agency included in the document, including the scientifically disputed issue of defining wolf subspecies.
 
"It's a little depressing that science can be used and pitched in this way," said Bob Wayne, a professor of evolutionary biology at UCLA.
 
Wolves were once common and ranged across much of the continental United States, a vestigial symbol of the Old West and its expanse of open, wild country.
 
But as the West became urbanized and ranching spread, government-subsidized hunting that offered bounties for wolf kills virtually wiped out the animals by the 1930s.
 
 

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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Feb27

Quick Action Needed on the Alexander Archipelago Wolves—February 28th by 5:00 PM

By Bob Ferris

“We always kick the dog when the old woman farts”
 
There is an old quote from the movie “10” with the late Dudley Moore that I often paraphrase as the above.  The quote actually goes like this: Whenever Mrs. Kissel breaks wind, we beat the dog.  The essence of this is not the words but rather that the critter that is not responsible for the offensive act gets punished.  (We certainly would not beat Mrs. Kissel for heaven’s sake.)
 
If you substitute wolf for dog and the timber industry for Mrs. Kissel, you already understand much of the current dynamic with the Alexander Archipelago wolves of Southeastern Alaska.   Here the timber companies come in and cut down trees that once served as wintering cover for deer.  Then the deer populations become more vulnerable both to the weather and predation.  But we do less than nothing to the harvesters of the precious habitat.  And in our need to do something, we kill the wolves in a tragic instance of ecological injustice.  This is true in these coastal Alaskan islands and we see the same thing on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  
 
One of the areas currently under consideration for wolf control includes the Tonka timber sale which we are fighting and was highlighted in a previous blog.  Our belief is that our strategy will result in more trees, deer and wolves while theirs will simply result in less of all these elements.  And it should be remembered that the Alexander Archipelago wolf has been submitted for federal Endangered Species Act protections.  
 
Right now—and by that I mean today and tomorrow—are the last two days to let the Alaska Board of Game know how you feel about “kicking the dog” before they stop taking comments as to which predator control program to adopt if any.  To take action on this important wolf issue, please visit this Alaska Wildlife Alliance Action Alert for details on how to submit electronic comments as well as a great list of talking points to inform your comments.  
 
We are sorry for the late notice on this, but please kick us rather than the wolves.

Jan31

Crony Capitalism on the Tongass

by Gabe Scott

Where is the Tea Party when we need them?

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with two thick Environmental Impact Statements — for the Tonka Timber Sale, and the Big Thorne Timber Sale — out of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. These fellas are a blast from the past, a nostalgic but savage reminder of why our work continues to be so necessary on Cascadia’s northern forest.

The Tonka and Big Thorne timber sales target thousands of acres of old-growth for clearcutting. Trying to stay clear of controversial roadless areas, they’re logging mostly “leave” areas between past clearcuts, on places like Prince of Wales Island and Lindenberg Peninsula. The result would be huge, continuous clearcuts. Sacrifice areas, really.

One big problem is these huge swaths of land will be worthless to deer during hard winters. In good weather, even a clearcut can be good habitat for a deer. But when deep snow comes deer seek refuge in the shelter of big trees, and rely on the lichens beneath them to avoid starvation.

A related problem comes when clearcuts grow back into densely stocked second-growth. This shades out undergrowth, killing the herbs and shrubs that deer eat. A second-growth forest in the “stem exclusion phase” is worthless to deer from about 30 years after logging out. The condition lasts about a century, nobody is really sure.

Loss of deer winter habitat has spiraling negative effects to wolves and humans who eat them. If this sacrifice areas strategy goes forward, the ecosystem won’t just be damaged — it will be destroyed, thrown fundamentally out of whack. Places like Prince of Wales Island and Lindenberg Peninsula will no longer be able to support deer, human hunters and wolves. One of the three will have to give.

It’s pretty clear how this story plays out. The last few winters have been hard, and the places that have been heavily logged have seen huge declines of deer. On Lindenberg Peninsula, where the Tonka sale is proposed, the Alaska Board of Game voted this month to limit the deer season and bag limit. Worse, they are considering “predator control” plans to kill off 80% the wolves in the area, in a desperate effort to leave enough deer to hunt.

These are the consequences of logging, so why are we still doing this? The thing is, the Forest Service sees it as their job to prop up and grow a timber industry in Southeast Alaska. These massive logging projects are based on the idea that if enough forest is sold cheaply enough, new mills will rise from the ashes.

The facts aren’t there to support the scheme. The truth is, not being able to find enough trees was never the reason behind the old-growth industry’s decline. The reasons are obvious: the price you can sell trees for went way down, and the cost of logging went way up. There’s only one mid-size mill left in business (just barely).

The fact is this: it is not profitable to log and mill Tongass old-growth on any large scale.

There are all sorts of gimmicks used to disguise the fundamentally unsound economics. The Forest Service builds, maintains and repairs a vast network of logging roads with taxpayer money. They try to hide the millions of dollars it costs to design, lay out, and do environmental analysis for timber sales.

The strategy doesn’t even obey its own logic. The Forest Service routinely issues exemptions allowing loggers to bypass the local mill and export logs overseas. If the point is to save the local mills, then why are these sales geared to export markets?

What is going on here is exactly the kind of “crony capitalism” that Sarah Palin rails against. We have a few dozen people in the logging industry, a Forest Supervisor, and local politicians co-enabling each other by peddling a tired old narrative. There’s a veneer of rugged individualism, but really these are government-made jobs. Taxpayers are paying over a quarter-million dollars for each logging job being created.

The “jobs versus environment” debate has become so entrenched that most politicians don’t know how to think any other way. Eventually the facts will catch up, and Tea Party folks will realize Tongass logging for the wasteful government program that it is.

Until then, we’ll have to keep fighting these big timber sales like it’s 1999.

 

Aug30

Upper Minam Wolf Pack Documented in Eagle Cap Wilderness

The Oregonian by Richard Cockle

JOSEPH — Oregon has a brand new wolf pack, complete with a litter of five pups, discovered last weekend deep in the 560-square-mile Eagle Cap Wilderness of northeastern Oregon.

State biologists spotted two gray-colored adult wolves and their pups on Aug. 25 in the Upper Minam River drainage, said Michelle Dennehy, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

The litter is the fifth documented this year in northeastern Oregon, bringing the number of new wolf pups for the year to 23 in the state, Dennehy said.

That adds to the 29 known wolves in Oregon counted by the end of 2011.

"Now, we will be monitoring them through the end of the year to see how many pups survive," Dennehy said.

The state could be on the cusp of achieving a major goal of its Oregon Wolf Management Plan: four breeding pairs of gray wolves for three consecutive years east of the Cascades. Achieving that objective could start the process to delist the gray wolf from the Oregon Endangered Species Act, Dennehy said.

Irregular reports of wolves roaming along the Minam River have come to ODFW biologists for several years, she said. A vacationing Idaho biologist reported finding wolf scat there while archery hunting six years ago.

State biologists have closely monitored the Minam River since a photo of a black lactating female wolf was taken there June 4. But the newly discovered adult wolves and pups are all gray and appear unrelated to the lactating female, Dennehy said.

Oregon's wolf numbers have steadily grown in recent years, with adult wolves in the Imnaha, Wenaha, Walla Walla, Snake River, Sled Springs and now Minam River packs, plus at least two adult wolves in the Mount Emily Game Management Unit between Pendleton and La Grande.

Additionally, biologists have confirmed two separate wolf packs in the Sled Springs game management unit. They also captured and radio-collared a 49-pound male pup Aug. 2 in the Snake River Pack.

Aug08

Elk Foundation Shucks Sound Science

Jackson Hole News and Guide guest opinion by Bob Ferris

Actions and inactions always speak louder than words. So it is very telling that, in the two weeks or so since the Murie family released their eloquent letter urging the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to return to science and tone down their anti-wolf rhetoric, we have heard nothing from RMEF's scientific staff. The silence is profound.

Sure, we were treated to tea party darling Jim Beers' rant on the Skinny Moose blog and saw a remarkably sophomoric press release focusing on wolf killing tips from RMEF, but where are the elk group's biologists? And where, too, are the group's logical and natural defenders from the conservation and hunting communities?

The answers to the above breaks down to one word: Murie. Wildlife professionals of all stripes hold the Murie family and Aldo Leopold's family in very high regard. And as much as RMEF CEO David Allen and his supporters try to ignore or dismiss the significance of this letter -to those of us in the field of wildlife -Murie's epistle is very serious business indeed.

I suspect the casualness with which RMEF electronically ejected Olaus Murie from its website and organizational persona shocked many. It was like it reached into itself and pulled out its own spine and then acted like nothing of note transpired. In all honesty, it really had no response to Donald Murie's concerns about ignoring the science and waging a war on wolves, but it seemed so strikingly abrupt and callous. It clearly had the feel and taste of a sudden death.

In many ways it is like a divorce. Former Bugle editor David Stalling courted the Murie family to establish the award in the late 1990s. At the time, it seemed like a perfect romance: A well-respected conservation organization with a biodiversity mission and elk focus forms a relationship with the family of a legendary biodiversity proponent and acknowledged father of modern elk management. What could be better?

But we all know that people and organizations change. In the case of the elk foundation, midway through is relation ship with the Muries, it started on a pathway that has taken it away from its stated mission. Its return to the dated and biologically selfish model of single-species management is as perplexing to many as its aggressive campaign against wolves in the absence of supporting and conclusive science.

We all have dealt with divorce in our lives, and it is of ten sordid and tawdry. We ultimately end up picking sides, mainly in accordance with our original allegiances to bride or groom. Sitting on the fence rarely seems an option. If we look at RMEF as the groom in this equation, one thing it has failed to grasp fully is that we in the scientific and conservation communities as well as in geographic communities like Jackson Hole, who know and have been touched by the Muries, are die-hard friends of the bride.

Moreover, RMEF does little to improve its public image by doing nothing to police its scant public defenders' efforts to question the motivations and qualifications of the Murie family and also, interestingly, the Leopolds. It is hard for me to describe how fast my blood pressure rose the other day when someone on one of the blogs claimed that Dale Earnhardt had done more for conservation than Olaus Murie or Aldo Leopold. But these are the people attracted to the elk foundation's current messaging. They bring to mind a chorus of drinking buddies who after materially contributing to the break-up besmirch the bride's character.

In my career I have worked more closely with the Leopold family than the Muries, but my recent experiences with the children and grandchildren of Olaus, Mardy, Adolph and Louise have absolutely mirrored that of the Leopolds. They are true conservationists and exude an authenticity that cannot be spun, marketed or photoshopped. These iconic families ushered in a new, more holistic way of looking at ecosystem functions, such as predator-prey relations and the consequences of myopic management schemes like maximizing game populations.

The rich tapestry opened to those taking a biodiversity view cannot adequately be observed via a single-species lens. One prime example is the elk foundation's position on climate change written, by Val Geist. The one-paragraph position from 2004 acknowledges coming changes but views them as largely positive for elk. While the position stops somewhat short of being jubilant, the analysis is extremely limited in terms of factors and potential scenarios. In sharp contrast, scientists working for a consortium of 12 sportsman groups predict dire consequences for elk in the Rockies, including the spread of disease, loss of sagebrush habitat and outright extirpation from areas in their current range. And this latter view is being borne out by experience as we see localized drops in elk population being attributed to drought conditions and related impacts to food resources and timing.

Having worked hard to shore up the finances of several nonprofits during my career, I can certainly understand the board's reticence to make leadership changes when its coffers are expanding in a down economy, but the Murie letter and the community's reaction should be taken to heart. Boards must govern with courage and foresight ever mindful of the fiscal health and reputation of the organization in their care. With David Allen at the helm, RMEF has one of these bases covered, and that is simply not enough. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Bob Ferris is the executive director of Cascadia Wildlands (CascWild.org) and a member of the volunteer team that went to Fort Saint John, British Columbia, in January 1996 to make sure the second translocation of wolves into the U.S. Rockies was not derailed by the government shutdown.


Article Link

Related Links:

Muries Rebuke Elk Foundation over Anti-Wolf Remarks

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation–Needed: Less 10 Gallon Hats and More 10 Pound Brains

 

 

 

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