Posts Tagged ‘Wolf’

May05

Lawsuit Challenges Plan to Log Old-growth in Alaska

Mail Attachment-6 copy

Cascadia Wildlands yesterday filed suit against the Forest Service challenging approval of the Mitkof Island timber sale, a 4,117-acre old-growth logging project on the Tongass National Forest, near Petersburg in Southeast Alaska.

This lawsuit comes close on the heals of our challenge to the Big Thorne timber sale, another big old-growth sale that is currently on appeal before the 9th Circuit. These cases, along with a proposed revision to the overarching Forest Plan, represent a critical turning point on the Forest.

Long story short, the era of profitable old-growth logging is over, but the Forest Service and a handful of influential logging industry die-hards have been working overtime trying to prop it back up. Timber sales like this one on Mitkof Island are a last gasp of a dying industry.

The industry is dying—there is little doubt about that—but the question is whether it will leave enough healthy forest behind to sustain the wildlife and subsistence opportunities that rural Alaskans have traditionally enjoyed. The ecosystem is at a tipping point. 

Mitkof Island is a microcosm for the legacy of Tongass logging and habitat loss. Extensive areas have been clearcut on the National Forest, and (even worse) clearcutting on adjacent privately owned land.

One result is that the local deer population has crashed and is not recovering. Without enough old-growth providing shelter, the herd starves in winter. Petersburg residents no longer can go hunting out their back door. 

And, the result of that is that the State of Alaska is pursing ‘predator control,’ aiming to cull the wolf population by 80%. Without adequate habitat, the whole predator-prey system (of which humans are a part) comes crashing down.

In spite of huge controversy, on Mitkof the Forest Service determined that their logging project would have “no significant impact” on the environment, so conducted only a cursory environmental review. This is rare, and extraordinary. As the environmental consequences intesify, why would the agency be paying less attention to them?

Contrary to that claim, our lawsuit catalogues a number of significant impacts:

  • Loss of winter habitat for deer, further stressing the local population;

  • Harm to subsistence hunters, particularly low-income residents who cannot afford to travel to distant islands for deer;

  • Threats to the Alexander Archipelago wolf, which is currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, from loss of deer habitat and the likelihood of increased trapping;

  • Damage to the Queen Charlotte goshawk, a raptor that relies on old-growth forest.

As Rebecca Noblin, the Alaska director for our co-plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity, said, “I suppose that if you don’t look for problems then you’re not going to find them.”

The case was filed on behalf of Cascadia Wildlands, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, in federal district court in Anchorage. Cascadia’s staff attorneys are joined by the superhero lawyers at CRAG law center arguing the case. 

You can read a copy of the suit here.

Aug26

WTF?!

By Gabe Scott
 
Cascadia Wildlands filed a lawsuit today to stop the U.S. Forest Service’s Big Thorne timber project on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska. Big Thorne is by far the largest logging project on the Tongass National Forest since the region’s two pulp mills closed about 20 years ago.
 
Mail Attachment-9
The lawsuit argues the federal government failed to heed research by Dr. David K. Person, a former Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist and foremost expert on Alexander Archipelago wolves. A formal declaration by Person, written after he retired and filed with Cascadia’s appeal of the project, says that Big Thorne would be the final straw to “break the back” of the ecosystem dynamic between the wolves, deer and hunters on the island.
 
We’ve joined forces with Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, and The Boat Company to file the suit, and are jointly represented by CRAG law center.
 
WTF?
The legal outrage at the heart of this lawsuit is political suppression of science by the Forest Service and Parnell administration. Dr. Person first circulated his concerns within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where he worked at the time. The comments were buried by the agency and by higher-level state bureaucrats to implement Governor Parnell’s “one voice” policy, which suppresses troublesome science in order to maximize logging.
 
Dr. Person’s strongly held concerns were discovered through public records requests. Then, after confronting the Forest Service with the material in comments on the Big Thorne draft environmental impact statement, the agency simply ignored it.
 
 In this case, that gambit by the two governments backfired. The declaration, prepared after Person quit ADF&G, was filed by the plaintiffs in an administrative appeal of the August 2013 Big Thorne decision. The project was put on hold for nearly a year while Dr. Person’s declaration was reviewed.
 
A special six-person Wolf Task Force with personnel from the Forest Service, ADF&G and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, reviewed the declaration. Opinion was evenly split. This is not surprising, given political pressure and the state’s one-voice policy. Breaking ranks was a Forest Service biologist who has done wolf research on the island.
 
All of which fits the “one-voice” pattern that has been embraced so corrosively by our last three Governors. It starts when a field-level scientist with the State ADF&G discovers a fact or makes a finding that implies concern for some development project. They write it up. Politically appointed bureaucrats review the biologists’ statements, cherry-picking the facts that support development and eliminating statements that raise concerns. The lower-level biologist is not allowed to talk with people outside the agency.
 
The Alexander Archipelago Wolf
The wolf population on Prince of Wales looks to have dropped very sharply in recent years. The US Fish & Wildlife Service is currently contemplating their 12-month finding on a petition to list the wolves under the ESA.
 
Nobody has a firm count on the number of wolves, but the basic dynamic is understood. Wolves on POW face two problems: (1) a legacy of old clearcuts, that are now thickets devoid of habitat value; and (2) unsustainably high hunting and trapping levels, spawned by the vast network of logging roads.
 
Habitat
The habitat problem is well-recognized by scientists; we are suing the Forest Service to force their land managers to actually apply that knowledge.
 
Without enough old-growth winter habitat in the forest for shelter, deer populations plummet during deep-snow winters. Without enough deer to go around, wolves and hunters compete with one another for not-enough-deer. That never ends well for the wolf. Hunters lose out too, because without the big-tree habitat the deer still starve in winter.
 
Dave Beebe winter deer
POW is the most heavily logged part of southeast Alaska, and what remains is increasingly important to wildlife. The project would cut more than 6,000 acres of old-growth.
 
Theoretically, the Forest Plan “conservation strategy” protects the deer/ wolf/ hunter relationship by requiring areas of the forest to keep enough forest habitat to support 18 deer/ sq mi.. The Big Thorne area is already well below this figure, and the proposed logging would push it even lower.
 
Scientists, including Dr. Person, have been hollering about the 18 deer/ sq mi. threshold for years, to no avail. Without enough underlying habitat, the whole system of interaction between deer, wolves and hunters breaks down, they say. Without habitat, fiddling around with hunting regulations doesn’t matter.
 
That’s not what the Forest Service wants to hear, however, so they’ve ignored it. This reality interferes with their plan to stay out of roadless areas by concentrating logging in sacrifice zones like Prince of Wales. The Forest Service don't want to admit to locals that cutting all those trees means they won’t have enough deer to hunt.
 
The State, who is in charge of managing wildlife, just wants to blame wolves.
 
Which brings us to the emotional heart of the issue.
 
Some Humans Don’t Love Wolves
The second threat to wolves is unsustainable hunting and trapping. A determined trapper or two can take every wolf in an area, and that’s what’s been happening on Prince of Wales.
 
In fall of 2012, Dr. Person determined through DNA sampling that there were about 29 wolves in the project area, in two packs.
 
In spring of 2013, he could only account for six or seven remaining. That winter, at least 15 wolves were killed legally, more when you count poaching.
Last winter was even worse, reducing the lone remaining pack of 13 to only 4.
 
The Forest Service claims that problem should be left to State game management to more strictly regulate hunters and trappers.
 
But is that right? I disagree that the folks who hunt and trap wolves on POW are blood-thirsty, stupid, and they almost always care deeply about a healthy environment.
 
The problem isn’t mean people, it’s bad management. Two factors are at play. First of all, the vast network of logging roads exposes pretty much every wolf to hunting. Work by Dr. Person showed that when more than 40% of a wolf home range is logged and roaded, it can become a population sink. The Forest Service proposal would bring it up to 80%.
 
The second factor is that wolf trappers are do-it-yourself predator controllers. When deer populations are low— and they are surely dropping as a result of all the logging— trappers kill a lot of wolves to help the deer.
 
The Forest Service strategy is to trust the State of Alaska board of game to keep wolf trapping sustainable. In reality, that’s obvious nonsense. The State would cheerfully kill the last wolf it if meant an easier venison steak. State sponsored predator control includes plans to kill 80% of the wolves around Petersburg, and all the wolves off another island.
 
Even if you could trust the State, and you can’t, hunting regulation can’t be the solution because the State has no population estimate for wolves. State management is predicated on knowing how many of a critter there are, calculating how many you can kill and still leave enough to breed, and fixing a harvest limit. But if you don’t know how many wolves there are, how can we say what harvest limit is sustainable?
 
There is also the problem of poaching. Dr. Person’s work has shown illegal harvest can be roughly equivalent to legal trapping.  With deer shortages driving them, how could the State really regulate experienced and motivated trappers on remote Prince of Wales?
 
“All Rise…”
What Governor Parnell tried for so long to keep hidden, now will see the light of day in front of a Federal judge.
 
Deer hunters, wolf lovers, and scientists all have a direct stake in the outcome of this fight.
 
We’ll keep you posted.
 
 
 
 

 

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
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.
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