Archive for the ‘Wyoming’ Tag

CONGRESS UNLEASHES WAR ON WOLVES   7 comments

January 18, 2017

Senators from Midwest and Wyoming introduce bill to strip protections from endangered gray wolves

NAGEL PHOTOGRAPHY / SHUTTERSTOCK

“This “War on Wolves Act” would allow for the same unregulated killing that nearly wiped out the species in the first place.”

Marjorie Mulhall
Sr. Legislative Counsel, Earthjustice

Washington, D.C. —Senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming yesterday introduced the “War on Wolves Act,” a companion bill to legislation introduced last week in the House that would strip federal protections from wolves and allow trophy hunting and trapping of the species in four states. If the legislation passes both chambers and gets signed by the president, it would hand the fate of wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming over to states whose management wolf plans two federal courts ruled inadequate to securing the species at legally required population levels in absence of Endangered Species Act protections.

In Wyoming, this would allow the state to resume a hostile management program that allowed for unlimited shoot-on-sight killing of wolves across 85 percent of the state. The legislation would further strip citizens of the right to challenge these lethal programs in court. The appeals process of two federal court decisions that restored federal protections to wolves in those four states are still underway. Decisions on those cases are expected any day.

The following is a statement from Marjorie Mulhall, Senior Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice:

“A new congress has resurfaced an old vendetta against imperiled wolves. If this legislation is signed into law, wolves in Wyoming will be subjected to unregulated killing across the vast majority of the state, and even on the borders of Yellowstone National Park numerous legal loopholes will authorize widespread wolf killing. Americans widely hailed the return of wolves to the Northern Rockies two decades ago as a triumph of the Endangered Species Act, but now this ‘War on Wolves Act’ would allow for the same unregulated killing that nearly wiped out the species in the first place. Politicians should not meddle in the science-based listing status of a particular species at any stage, but now is an especially bad time as these cases are still playing out in the courts. We urge those who support the protection of wolves to call their senators and representatives and tell them to vote down this lethal legislation.”

READ THE LEGISLATION:

EXPERT AVAILABLE FOR FURTHER COMMENT:

Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney who leads on the Wyoming wolf case, based in Bozeman, Montana: (406) 586-9699 ext. 1924, tpreso@earthjustice.org


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Sorry, But Wolf Slaughter Is Not American   9 comments

October 28, 2013 by JAMES WILLIAM GIBSON

Graphic Photo: Vigilantes in Wyoming Enact “Justice” Against Wolves

masked wolf hunters

“Fed Up in Wyoming” reads the caption under this stunning photograph posted on a hunter’s Facebook page (reproduced here under Fair Use). The photo is yet more evidence that, two years after political reactionaries led a successful campaign in the House of Representatives and then the Senate to remove the North Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the endangered species list, the slaughter of wolves continues to escalate as wolf hunters fall deeper in their paranoid fantasy that the wolf represents a liberal conspiracy against rural communities.

The Facebook page  that originally posted the image belongs to two Wyoming hunting outfitters, Colby and Codi Gines. The Gines run CG Wilderness Adventures, headquartered in a highly remote part of Wyoming’s Bridger Teton National Forest, bordering on the southeast section of Yellowstone National Park.  “Wyoming is God’s country, and we invite you to come see it for yourself,” says the Gines’ website.

Their invitation evidently does not extend to wolves. Driven extinct in most of the continental US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the wolf returned to the American landscape in 1995, when the US  Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 66 wolves captured in the Canadian Rockies to Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Conservationists saw as the return of the wolf as a crowning accomplishment to renew the wilderness, and millions of Americans came to celebrate the wolf’s comeback. But by 2009 a virulent opposition movement opposed to the wolf had formed. Made up of hunters and outfitters, ranchers, and far-right groups, these forces coalesced around a cultural mythology in which  wolves became demons — disease ridden, dangerous foreign invaders  — who served as icons of the hated federal government. (Read Cry Wolf, our in-depth report on this issue.)

With the Klan-like hoods and the ostentatious display of the American flag, the photo is a glimpse into the mentality of those behind the anti-wolf campaign. There is, apparently, a cohort of people who view the destruction of wild nature as something to be celebrated, something quintessentially America. They are play acting at both patriotism and rebellion. And, in their play-acting, they reveal a great deal about the paranoid fantasies that have gripped some people in the age of Obama.

The Facebook comments following the photo are especially revealing. Among those who LIKE this page is Sportsmen Against Wolves, a group whose “About” statement is, “Sportsmen against illegally introduced Canadian Gray Wolves.”  Here’s one wolf-killing friend, J. Weeks, commenting on the photo: “Kill all federally funded terrorists. ” To some, the reintroduction of wolves represents Washington’s treason against civilization itself: “Yet another brilliant bleeding heart program…reestablish the bloodthirsty critter that every civilization from the dawn of time has tried to eliminate,” says Johnny W.  To Sarah H., the wolf killing is just self-defense: “I imagine they don’t want any wolfies to come after them or their families!” Then Haines complained that only one had been killed — there “should be a pile of them tho!”

The white hoods, with their echoes of Jim Crow-era terrorism, were actually celebrated by some commenters.  “Redneck KKK” wrote Austin T. One fan, Julia G., argued that the wolf hunters should be more brazen, posting,  “Next time they go full REGALIA.”

For their part, the Gines prefer to call the hoods the sign of “Vigilantes,” a way of “Trying to make a statement!…Frontier Justice! Wyoming hunters are fed up!” John  P. concurred, “Yeehaw…looks like modern day Wyoming rangers taking care of business!!!!!”

Some commenters suggested that the wolf hunters wore hoods to protect themselves from government persecution. One supporter of masked men posted, “I fully understand the masks…Keep on killing guys.”

It would seem that wolf hunting is the wildlife version of George Zimmerman’s vigilantism – self appointed keepers of order waging a battle against an imaginary enemy.

Or maybe it’s worse, and the wolf hunters with their KKK masks are more like shades of Timothy McVeigh. The cammo gear, the rifles – it’s as if the wolf hunters were  fighting a guerrilla war against Washington. As if they were worried that at any moment a US Fish and Wildlife Service black helicopter would swoop down and a SWAT team emerge, assault rifles blazing.

But it’s a phony rebellion against a phantom menace. The wolves aren’t actually any danger to people or much of a threat to ranchers’  livestock. And the US government permits them to be killed. There’s no real transgression here requiring a mask. It’s all theater meant to self-impress.

In April, 2011, the House and Senate sponsored a “rider” on a federal budget bill that removed gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Here’s the very long story in short: Democratic Senator Jon Tester faced a rough challenge in the 2012 Montana election, and sacrificing wolves as expendable was deemed politically expedient to win the race. Wolf hunts renewed in Idaho and Montana that fall. Legal challenges by environmental groups against the delisting failed.

Wyoming took until 2012 to win full federal approval for a plan to declare the lands near Yellowstone a “trophy zone” with wolf quotas. In most of the state, wolves can be killed year round without limits. The Gines’ hunting operation is in “Wolf Hunt Area 3.” In late October they reported killing two wolves, filling its quota of three wolves (one had been hunted earlier). Whether the wolf in this photo is one of the three legally killed is not known.

The Northern Rockies have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites, and idiotic environmentalists — the members of these latter two categories being “two-legged” wolves. The sheer extremity of the hatred shown to wolves, and the bizarre juxtaposition of the KKK-like hoods and American flag, plainly expose this movement for what it is: A scapegoating of the wolves by men and women who have succumbed to their own rage against imagined enemies. And while the failure of federal, state and local political leaders to denounce the anti-wolf movement illuminates their moral failure, history offers encouraging instances of public indignation creating change from below.

Take, as just one example, the eventual take-down of Senator Joe McCarthy. After years of cynical Red-baiting, including accusing high ranking military and intelligence officials of treason, McCarthy was eventually brought to a kind of justice. McCarthy  accused the US Army of harboring Communists and, in June 1954, in the course of a televised Senate investigation of the Army-McCarthy conflict, McCarthy accused a young lawyer working for Army counsel Joseph Welch of being affiliated with communism. After McCarthy repeatedly pressed his accusations, Welch savaged McCarthy: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch’s indignation broke the spell McCarthy had cast upon the nation and ended his political career.

Perhaps this latest wolf snuff photo will bring a similar kind of justice and force the public to declare, in no uncertain terms, that wolf killing is un-American. Maybe it will force people to ask:  When will this indecent killing come to an end?


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P.S. This is what it would look like if wolf management was left to stateside hunter’s association groups and not in federal care! I’m in no way claiming that USFWS have no faults but I’m quite sure that the U.S. would have even more trouble with poaching, trapping etc, than they do today. This is my personal opinion. Colbby and Codi Gines Facebook page does not exist anymore, although their website does: http://www.cgwildernessadventures.com/index.php?page=home

I took it upon myself to write a shocontact infort e-mail to them in which I conveyed my own point of view to them and how utterly disgusting I think their line of business is. If there is anyone else out there who feel like doing the same you will find their contact info on the last page.

It makes me sick to see such a majestic animal murdered in cold blood!

VOTE 4 WOLVES   1 comment

Source  October , 2015

wpid-1443804402971.jpg

StandForWolves
‪‎Wyoming‬ has been fighting Washington over delisting since 2003, objecting to the federal standards and offering its own plan for controlling wolf populations. Wyoming treated wolves as “vermin” and allowed them to be hunted along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout National Forest lands south of Jackson Hole.
219 wolves were killed in 80% of Wyoming opened to “unlimited” killing since the delisting in late August 2012.
Overruling U.S. wildlife officials, a federal judge (Amy Berman Jackson) restored protections for gray wolves in Wyoming in September 2014.
Wyoming’s kill-on-sight attitude as a wolf management plan throughout much of the state is a disgrace. Wyoming officials need to be conscious of the fact that “sport” (trophy) hunting of wolves is inconsistent with the need for continued protections for this essential, iconic species. Labeling the wolf as a predator that could be shot in four-fifths of the state is hardly a way to treat a species freshly removed from the ESA.
Cast your vote. How should Wyoming’s wolf population be managed~certainly not by the state, please choose the first option: “The current federal controls will protect the population.”
‪#‎VOTE4WOLVES‬ HERE.

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What Kind of Dogs are Wolves by Koda   Leave a comment

From The Human Footprint on July 18, 2015 by Leslie

Hi folks.  I’m going to try something different on my blog.  From time to time, I’ll post reminiscences from Koda, the dog who grew up in the Wyoming wilds.  Here’s the first one.  The stories below took place when Koda was about 7 months old.  We were still living in California and traveling by car back and forth to Wyoming.  After Soona died when Koda was about 1 1/2 years old, we moved to our cabin in Wyoming full time.

This is me.  And this is my first blog post

This is me. And this is my first blog post

After a long drive, Leslie (she’s my person), Soona (she’s my grandma) and I were at our new home, a place not at all like the city we came from. This place was vast—just mountains, trees, and more smells than I ever could have imagined.

A Glorious spring day.  Koda and I hike up Elk Creek Meadows.

A Glorious spring day. Here I am on the trail in the mountains

One morning we were all up in the flats above the house. Leslie was piling little rocks. Soona and I were sniffing and watching. Without warning, Soona made a beeline for the woods. I was still little, only 9 months old, and didn’t know one smell from another, but I knew she smelled something that I didn’t, so I followed her. Leslie was worried for the old lady. The woods, she said, could be dangerous, especially for old dogs. So she followed us. And what do you know, Soona had a great find: a turkey partially eaten by a coyote! We munched on the bird for a while. I know turkeys because they live in California. But I didn’t know they were here in Wyoming too. From that time on I’ve watched them and got to know them. Leslie taught me to let them be. In the winter they come to our yard where I sit outside on the porch while they peck and pick for seeds and corn we sometimes lay out for them. Mostly they amuse me and, as long as don’t run after them, they pay me no mind.

Wild turkeys, not native

The flock of turkeys I’ve come to know. And they know me.

One day just Leslie and I went for a hike up a stream, leaving Soona at home. We returned a different way, a route through sparse meadows peppered with small trees and gullies. I stayed just a bit ahead, yet kept close to Leslie. We were on the side of a small arroyo when I smelled something watching us from behind a tree. I turned to look, and saw the most beautiful girl I’d ever laid my eyes on. She appeared to be a dog, yet she had a different aura about her. My heart jumped and an irresistible urge took over my entire body. It was if this black dog were a magnet drawing me towards her. I’d already met and played with many dogs in my life at that point. I was only 7 months old, but I already knew to ‘ask’ before I could go play. But this dog…she was like no other, and I just had to know what, and who, she was. She seemed to be the essence of what a dog is; a wildness that was wilder than I ever could be. Really, I just lost my head. And so I ran after her, silently.

What a beauty she was

What a beauty she was

I heard Leslie screaming for me, calling my name. But Leslie’s voice was like a dream in the background. That black dog was so fast that I finally gave up trying to catch her. But, I’ve got to tell you, that was the most exciting moment in my life!

I ran back to the little arroyo where I’d left Leslie. She hugged me and seemed so relieved to see me. She told me that I’d seen a wolf and I was lucky that there weren’t other wolves waiting for me there. That wolves weren’t like dogs and they didn’t want other wolves, or dogs, in their territory. But all I know was that was one truly wild and free ‘dog’.

This is a wikiup

This is a wikiup

We rested in a nearby wikiup in the meadows. Leslie petted me, then scolded me for running away. After a time, we headed back in the direction where I’d run after that wolf, till we came to a trail. And what do you think I found at the trail? That wolf got so excited she’d thrown up her lunch! I guess I made an impression on her too.


Wild Horses: A New Beginning for Older Wild Horses from Adobe Town   8 comments

From:  Wild Hoofbeats

Bronze Warrior, 22 years old

Bronze Warrior, 22 years old

 

A New Beginning for Older Wild Horses from Adobe Town

In September and October of 2014, 1263 wild horses were removed from Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town Herd Management Areas by the BLM. This was done due to a lawsuit and pressure and influence exerted by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, a very small but powerful association whose goal is to eradicate wild horses from both private and public lands in Wyoming. Although in the 80s an agreement was reached between the BLM, wild horse advocates and the Rock Springs Grazing Association for how many wild horses would be allowed in the vast checkerboard of private and public lands in the Red Desert of Wyoming, the grazing association contended that the BLM was not keeping the numbers of wild horses in check, so their solution was to pressure the BLM to remove all of them, not only from private lands but also from public lands on 2 million acres, and they forced the BLM to manage the public lands in the Checkerboard Area in one block, as though they were part of private lands, even though this is illegal. The court denied the advocates fighting to represent the wild horses a Temporary Restraining Order and Emergency Injunction to stop the roundup, so currently the wild horses removed are in short term holding facilities: about 600 are at Rock Springs, Wyoming, about 500 in Canon City, Colorado and about 100 youngsters are at Axtell, Utah.

Curious wild family in Adobe Town

 

 

The wild family runs by me

The wild family runs by me

The wild horses are the victims in this outrageous land grab struggle. Even though there were fewer than the Appropriate Management Level in each of these Herd Management Areas at the time of the roundup, with no opportunity for public comment the horses were removed, and now only 89 wild horses remain in Great Divide Basin, 29 in Salt Wells Creek and approximately 515 in Adobe Town.

I attended as many days of the roundup as I could. It was a very different experience than any roundup I had been to before in Wyoming because they were trying to capture every single horse in the Checkerboard Areas. This resulted in many more deaths than usual – a total of 14, and also resulted in the capture of many more older horses than usual. They spent hours driving single bands over and over again to the trap, when the older stallions knew what was happening and valiantly tried to evade capture.

The lawsuit that we advocates brought against the BLM continues, but the horses have been captured and removed already, and wait for their fate. A small percentage of horses that were captured have been adopted, and this is where my story begins.

The Appaloosa Stallion and pinto mare and foal

 

Snowfall and his family

Snowfall and his family

 

One day while I was staying in Rock Springs waiting for the BLM to continue the roundup, I drove into Adobe Town. This area is extremely remote, over 30 miles from the highway on dirt roads. You can drive for many miles and not see a single horse on the roads I traveled, mainly because most of them in this area had already been rounded up. But as I approached Pine Butte and Sand Butte near Eversole Ranch, as I headed up a hill I saw several groups of wild horses peacefully grazing. It is common in some herd areas for family bands that know each other to stay close together at times. It is a wonderful opportunity to study the behavior and family interaction of the horses. I was amazed to see many Appaloosas in these families. I had never seen an Appaloosa in the wild before and the different and varied coat patterns were striking. I first observed a stallion whose coat looked like snow had fallen all over it. He proudly lifted his head and stood his ground as I approached. He had a striking black and white pinto mare with dramatic markings and a small foal. Then I observed a large family with a stunning sorrel stallion, and they were very curious about me, running by and then running toward me to get a closer look. Then I turned and saw an older stallion with bronze highlights glinting off his coat, and an Appaloosa “blanket” over his rump. Despite an enlarged knee, he trotted by with a float in his gait, proudly protecting his family and investigating a new person is his territory. I was enchanted by his pride and by his beautiful family, which included a gorgeous Appaloosa mare whose coat also looked like snow had fallen, and a protective sorrel pinto mare, and two sorrel mares. They moved past me and up onto a ridge, and the stallion paused to look back at me.

Bronze Warrior still has that loft, proud trot

Bronze Warrior still has that loft, proud trot

Bronze Warrior and his family

I walked back to my car and pulled out my map. My heart sank as I traced the pattern of the Checkerboard over the area that I was in. These horses did not stand a chance. Their freedom was going to be measured in days, not weeks, not years as it should have been.

Bronze Warrior takes his family up on the ridge

He looks back at me

He looks back at me

After seeing the last days of the roundup, I made plans to go to Canon City to see the wild horses that had been removed. Although the BLM referred to all of the wild horses that were removed in this area as being from Salt Wells Creek, many were from Adobe Town. I was determined to find some of the horses I had seen that day. I also called Manda Kalimian, of the Cana Project, formerly Seraphim 12, http://www.seraphim12foundation.org/ and I told her about these horses, and asked if there was any way she could take some of the older horses. Manda immediately said she would work on it, and we corresponded by phone and email about where these wild horses could find a new home. I knew that Manda with her great love for horses and concern about the wild horses and their fate would manage to make something work, and I started to feel hope amidst the great despair I had been feeling these last few months.

Bronze Warrior with other older stallions at Canon City

When I arrived at the corrals at the BLM Canon City facility, the first horses I saw was the bronze Appy stallion, who I named Bronze Warrior. He was peacefully munching hay and quietly observing near the other older stallions in his pen. I was so glad to have found him!  In the same pen I also saw the amazing Appaloosa stallion I named Snowfall with the pinto mare, and then was able to find her as well. She was aged at 20 years old, and Bronze warrior at 22 years old, the oldest stallion that had been rounded up.

Snowfall

Snowfall’s pinto mare, 20 years old

Theodore, rounded up the last day in Adobe Town

Close up of Theodore

I found the striking pinto stallion that had been rounded up on the last day of the roundup in Adobe Town at Eversole Ranch when none of the public was there to witness, so that the BLM took close up photos of the horses coming in:

https://www.facebook.com/BLMWyoming/photos/pb.125852057449680.-2207520000.1420555442./848438365191042/?type=3&theater

I sent Manda the photos, and this fueled the fire for both of us to find a home for these horses. I also emailed Kathi Fine at Rock Springs to see if I could find some of the mares in Bronze Warrior’s family so that at least two families could be reunited. The stallions have all been gelded at this point, but at least they can be with their mares again.

In the meantime, Manda called me with the wonderful news that she had just gotten off the phone with Susan Watt of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakotahttp://www.wildmustangs.com/ and that Susan was very excited about taking the older horses. She was also enthused about being able to reunite at the sanctuary not one, but two families who had been ripped apart during the roundup. This was such welcome news. I had first met Susan two years ago when I went to interview her and see and tour the sanctuary, and I knew that she would take amazing care of these horses. The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is an amazing place, and will be perfect for older horses to live out their lives in peace, and as free as possible.

The mares at Rock Springs

Mares at Rock Springs

We developed a plan. Kathi Fine at Rock Springs told me that she had at least two of the mares we were looking for, but since they were short handed none of the wild horses rounded up in the fall would be available for adoption or sale until February. So we decided to take the four in Canon City to the Black Hills Sanctuary this week and to take a second load from Rock Springs to the Sanctuary in February when the horses were ready to go.

I will be sending updates and photographs of the horses’ arrival this week at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, with the reunion of Snowfall and Diamond Girl who have been separated since the roundup.  Next month I will be documenting the reunion of Bronze Warrior and his family.

The last days they were free

The last days they were free

The beautiful sorrel stallion and his family. I looked for him in Canon City but did not find him – most likely he is in Rock Springs.

Related Posts

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/wild-horses-wyomings-governor-seeks-complete-annihilation-of-his-states-wild-horses

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/news/wild-horse-advocates-blast-governor-mead-for-suit-against-feds-over-wild-horses

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/12/09/with-no-mention-of-welfare-cattle-wyoming-sues-blm-using-fabricated-wild-horse-data/

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/wild-horses-photographing-the-wyoming-checkerboard-horses-at-canon-city

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/10/10/the-final-days-of-the-checkerboard-wild-horse-roundup-part-i/

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/10/11/the-final-days-of-the-checkerboard-wild-horse-roundup-part-ii/

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/09/17/checkerboard-wild-horse-roundup-day-2/

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/09/18/checkerboard-wild-horse-roundup-day-3/

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/09/27/pictorial-day-12-wild-horse-checkerboard-roundup-lost-freedoms-families-and-futures/

http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/08/08/carol-walker-plaintiff-in-lawsuit-to-stop-wyoming-roundups-on-why-this-fight-is-personal/

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/news/wild-horses-court-denies-emergency-motion-allows-wyoming-wild-horse-roundup-that-turns-public-lands-over-to-private-livestock-interests 

 

Colorado Farm Bureau calls on feds to improve wild horse management   Leave a comment

From:  the Fence Post

Jan, 05, 2015

Wild Family In Great Divide Basin

 

 

Colorado Farm Bureau will be looking to improve national wild horse and burro management at next Tuesday’s voting delegate session during the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Diego, Cali.

CFB President Don Shawcroft said Colorado ranchers will be calling on the federal government to enforce the already-standing Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“The most important thing in our recommendation is a clear call on the Bureau of Land Management to follow the act as written and keep those animals within the determined numbers in areas where the animals are managed,” Shawcroft said.

Shawcroft said cattle and sheep ranches that share land with wild horse populations have suffered the most from the lack of monitoring due to competition over grazing resources.

“The biggest problem is that where those animals exist, they are not being managed and the numbers are not being controlled. It’s an issue for those with grazing rights in some areas,” he said.

Jason Vermillion, chair of Colorado’s Young Farmers and Ranchers and an alternate for the state’s voting delegation, said the issue is especially important on the Western Slope where ranchers have felt the greatest impact of the uncontrolled wild horse population. The issue was brought forward by CFB members in Mesa County.

Shawcroft also pointed out that the horses themselves suffer from lack of management and, as a result, lack of protection.

On Dec. 8, the state of Wyoming filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management over wild horse management and called on the agencies to enforce the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the Bureau of Land Management currently lacks the resources to enforce the act and must be provided more funding to properly manage wild horse populations.

State of Wyoming and feds appeal wolf decision   Leave a comment

From:  The Billings Gazette

Wolf protections

The state of Wyoming is appealing the reinstatement of federal wolf protections.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming and U.S. government officials have filed separate notices that they will appeal a ruling by a federal judge that reinstated protections for wolves in the state.

The notices filed this week target the decision in September by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., who rejected a Wyoming wolf management plan that took effect in 2012.

The state plan had classified wolves in most of the state as predators that could be shot on sight.

Jackson agreed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wolves in the Northern Rockies have recovered. However, she ruled that the federal agency should not have accepted Wyoming’s nonbinding promise to maintain at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves in the Northern Rockies in the 1990s. The animals have since expanded their range.

Despite the plan to appeal, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Thursday he believes that congressional action holds the best chance for resolving the long-running dispute over manage wolves in the state.

Congress previously specified that there could be no legal challenges to decisions to end federal protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana.

Many Wyoming residents believe the wolf population in the state should be restrained to minimize the killing of livestock and other wildlife by the animals.

Wyoming has been involved in nearly continuous litigation against environmental groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the state’s effort to gain control of wolf management.

“To state it as simply as possible, we’re trying to cover all bases,” Mead said of the state’s notice that it will appeal Jackson’s ruling.

Mead said his administration is working with the state’s congressional delegation on legislation to turn over wolf management to Wyoming and prohibit further legal challenges.

Under the plan rejected by Jackson, Wyoming had divided the state into two general zones. Trophy hunting was allowed in a flexible area bordering Yellowstone, where the number of wolves killed was controlled by license sales. Wolves were left unprotected as predators in the rest of the state.

Trophy hunting is not allowed under federal management.

Mead previously said the state had almost 190 wolves and 15 breeding pairs after the first hunting season in 2012 and just under 200 wolves and 15 breeding pairs after last year’s hunt.

Jackson’s ruling derailed the state plan to allow hunters to kill a maximum total of 43 wolves starting in October.

Tim Preso, a lawyer with Earthjustice in Montana, represented a coalition of groups that sued to overturn Wyoming’s wolf plan. He said his clients are prepared to assert that the appeals court should uphold Jackson’s ruling.

Preso said it appears Wyoming’s best chance at restoring state wolf management would be to fix the flaws in its management plan rather than challenge the judge’s ruling.

Preso said the confirmation of a female gray wolf from the Northern Rockies near the Grand Canyon shows that wolves have the ability to find places to live if humans don’t kill them.

“The big issue that we had with Wyoming’s plan was it provided too many opportunities for people to kill wolves with little to nothing in the way of limits on that in most of the state,” Preso said. “In the rest of the state there were a lot of things that really weren’t nailed down by way of conservation promises.”

 

Study: Killing wolves doesn’t result in fewer livestock attacks   Leave a comment

From:  UPI

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Rob Wielgus said.
 By Brooks Hays   |   Dec. 4, 2014 at 11:31 AM

PULLMAN, Wash., Dec. 4 (UPI) — The frequent fights that boil up over the protection of wild predators routinely feature the same interested parties — conservationists and animals rights activists one on side, ranchers on the other.

Understandably, ranchers are consistently concerned about their ability to protect their herds — their assets. But now, new research may weaken their bargaining position, as recent scientific evidence suggests killing wolves does not reduce the frequency of livestock attacks.

Researchers at the Washington State University arrived at their findings after analyzing 25 years of lethal control data from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The data on wolf killings in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho showed that killing a single wolf actually increased the chance of livestock attacks the following year.

One dead wolf increased odds of depredations four percent for sheep herds, and five to six percent for cattle. If 20 wolves were shot or trapped the year prior, livestock deaths doubled.

“I had no idea what the results were going to be, positive or negative,” Rob Wielgus, a wildlife biologist at Washington State University, said in a press release. “I said, ‘Let’s take a look at it and see what happened.’ I was surprised that there was a big effect.”

Wielgus, who conducted the research with the help of data analyst Kaylie Peebles, says that killing wolves likely disrupts the social order of the pack. An older mating pair will keep younger, less mature wolves from coupling and starting a family. But should one or both of two mature mating wolves be killed, younger pairs will form. Starting a family limits a wolf’s ability to hunt, and increases the likelihood that a wolf will be forced to seek out easy prey like cattle and sheep.

Wielgus encourages ranchers to use more effective non-lethal strategies like guard dogs, range guards on horseback, flags and spotlights.

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Wielgus said, “and society has told us that that’s not going to happen.”


 

The study was published this week in the journal PLOS ONE:

Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations

  • Robert B. Wielgus,
    Kaylie A. Peebles mail
  • Published: December 03, 2014
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

Abstract

Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, – but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987–2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year. The data were then analyzed using a negative binomial generalized linear model to test for the expected negative relationship between the number of livestock depredated in the current year and the number of wolves controlled the previous year. We found that the number of livestock depredated was positively associated with the number of livestock and the number of breeding pairs. However, we also found that the number of livestock depredated the following year was positively, not negatively, associated with the number of wolves killed the previous year. The odds of livestock depredations increased 4% for sheep and 5–6% for cattle with increased wolf control – up until wolf mortality exceeded the mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves at 25%. Possible reasons for the increased livestock depredations at ≤25% mortality may be compensatory increased breeding pairs and numbers of wolves following increased mortality. After mortality exceeded 25%, the total number of breeding pairs, wolves, and livestock depredations declined. However, mortality rates exceeding 25% are unsustainable over the long term. Lethal control of individual depredating wolves may sometimes necessary to stop depredations in the near-term, but we recommend that non-lethal alternatives also be considered.

Figures

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Table 1. AIC and log-likelihood values for forward selection of main effects and interaction effects models of cattle depredations

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t001

In both models all of the main effects and some two way interactions were found to be statistically significant (Table 2). The number of wolves killed in year one was positively related to the number of cattle depredated the following year (rate ratios = 1.05, 1.05 and 1.06,z = 5.67 and 5.66, 4.69, P<0.001) (Figure 1). For each additional wolf killed the estimated mean number of cattle depredated the following year increased by 5 to 6%. The number of breeding pairs was also positively related to the number of cattle depredated (rate ratios = 1.08, 1.09 and 1.08, z = 6.28, 4.87 and 6.04, P = 0.0336 and <0.001) (Figure 2). For each additional breeding pair on the landscape the estimated mean number of cattle depredated the following year increased by 8 to 9%. Breeding pairs were highly correlated with numbers of wolves (Table S2).
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Figure 1. Wolves killed vs cattle depredated.

Number of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g001

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Figure 2. Number of breeding pairs vs cattle depredated.

Number of breeding pairs present on the landscape the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g002

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Table 2. Summary of best model for cattle depredated.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t002

There was also one important 2-way negative interaction for the relationship between the increasing numbers of wolves killed and decreasing breeding pairs on livestock depredations (rate ratios = 0.99, z = −5.39, −5.49 and −5.12, P<0.001. In our models, the main effects of wolves killed was increased depredations. But the negative interaction effect in the model shows that depredations ultimately declined with increased wolf kills as number of breeding pairs decreased. These conflicting effects on livestock depredations are represented here as proportion of wolves killed vs. cattle depredations in (Figure 3). Depredations increased with increasing wolf mortality up to about 25% mortality but then depredations declined when mortality exceeded 25%.

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Figure 3. The proportion of wolves killed vs cattle depredated.

Proportion of wolves killed the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g003

One model out of 53 (Table 3) was also selected for determining which factors may influence the number of sheep depredated the following year (Table 4). The model was g(y) = exp [−10.499+0.05539(minimum wolf population) +0.03883(wolves killed through control methods) +3.058×10−5(cattle) +2.077×10−4(sheep) – 5.116×10−4(wolves killed*wolf population) – 4.932×10−7(wolves killed*cattle) – 1.159×10−7(wolf population*cattle) – 3.712×10−6(wolves killed*sheep) – 6.827×10−7(wolf population*sheep) – 3.408×10−10(cattle*sheep) +6.532×10-10(wolves killed*wolf population*cattle) +4.819×10−9(wolves killed*wolf population*sheep) +3.682×10−12(wolves killed*cattle*sheep) – 4.336×10−15(wolves killed*wolf population*cattle*sheep)].
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Table 3. AIC and log-likelihood values for forward selection of main effects and interaction effects models of sheep depredations.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t003

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Table 4. Summary of best following year sheep depredated models.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t004

Both of the main effects and one interaction effect were significant in this model. Once again, the number of wolves killed was positively related to the number of sheep depredated the following year (rate ratio = 1.04, z = 2.218, P = 0.026) (Figure 4). For each additional wolf killed the estimated mean number of sheep being depredated the following year increased by 4%. The minimum wolf population was also positively related to the number of sheep depredated the following year (rate ratio = 1.06, z = 3.220, P = 0.001) (Figure 5). For each additional wolf on the landscape the estimated mean number of sheep being depredated the following year increased by 6%. The number of cattle and sheep were found to be positively related to the number of sheep depredated but the coefficient was negligible (rate ratios = 1.00 and 1.00, z = 4.718 and 3.320, P = <0.001 and 0.001) which results in an increase of sheep depredated the following year by 1.00 or less than 1%. However, as with cattle, there was an important 2-way negative interaction. Sheep depredations increased with increasing wolf mortality rate up until about 25%, then depredations began to decline after mortality exceeded 25% (Figure 6).
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Figure 4. Wolves killed vs sheep depredated.

Number of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g004

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Figure 5. Minimum wolf population vs sheep depredated.

Minimum year end wolf population the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g005

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Figure 6. Proportion of wolves controlled versus the number of sheep depredated.

Proportions of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g006

Discussion

Our results do not support the “remedial control” hypothesis of predator mortality on livestock depredations the following year. However, lethal control of wolves appears to be related to increased depredations in a larger area the following year. Our results are supported by the findings of Harper et al. (2008) in Minnesota where they found that across the state (large scale) none of their correlations supported the hypothesis that killing a high number of wolves reduced the following year’s depredations. Harper et al also found that trapping and not catching wolves decreased depredations more than no trapping at all, suggesting that a mere increase in human activity at depredation sites reduced further depredations by those wolves in their study area. By contrast, Bjorge and Gunson (1985) found reducing the population from 40 to 3 wolves in 2 years in Alberta (a 10 fold reduction to near extirpation) resulted in a decline of livestock depredations for two years – followed by subsequent recolonization and increased depredations thereafter. Tompa (1983) also found that lethal control prevented conflict for more than a year in some areas of British Columbia. It should be noted that these 2 studies examined wolf control and livestock depredations at a fine scale (grazing allotment or wolf pack territory or management zone). They did not examine wolf control and livestock depredations at a larger scale (wolf occupied areas) as was done by Harper et al. (2008) and us (this study). It appears that wolf control is associated with reduced depredations at the local wolf pack scale but increased depredations at the larger wolf population scale. This appears consistent with Treves et al. (2005) prediction that the removal of carnivores generally only achieves a temporary reduction in livestock depredations locally when immigrants can rapidly fill the vacancies.
There were several different factors that influenced the number of livestock depredated the following year by wolves. In order of importance, based on the values of the rate ratios, these include: the number of wolves removed through control methods, the number of breeding pairs, the minimum wolf population, and the number of livestock on the landscape. Consistent with expectations, each additional breeding pair on the landscape increased the expected mean number of cattle depredated by 8 to 9% and each additional wolf on the landscape increased the expected mean number of sheep depredated by 6%. Cattle were most affected by breeding pairs and sheep by wolves – perhaps because it takes more than one wolf (a pack) to kill a relatively larger cow and only one wolf to kill a smaller sheep. However, contrary to the “remedial control” hypothesis, each additional wolf killed increased the expected mean number of livestock depredated by 5–6% for cattle and 4% for sheep. It appears that lethal wolf control to reduce the number of livestock depredated is associated with increased, not decreased, depredations the following year, on a large scale – at least until wolf mortality exceeds 25%. Why 25%? The observed mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana is about 25% [21]. Therefore, once anthropogenic mortality exceeds 25%, the numbers of breeding pairs and wolves must decline – resulting in fewer livestock depredations.
Below 25% mortality, lethal control may increase breeding pairs and wolves through social disruption and compensatory, density dependent effects. For example, wolf control efforts occur year round and often peak during grazing season in areas with livestock depredations[22], [23]. However, if control takes place during the breeding season and a member of the breeding pair is removed it may lead to pack instability and increased breeding pairs [24], [10]. Furthermore, loss of a breeder in a pack during or near breeding season can result in dissolution of territorial social groups, smaller pack sizes and compensatory density dependent effects – such as increased per-capita reproduction [11], [25], [26]. Culling of wolves may also cause frequent breeder turnover [11] and related social disruption – which can result in reduced effective prey use (through loss of knowledge of prey sources and ability to subdue prey) which may also result in increased livestock depredations [27], [28]. All of these effects could potentially result in increased livestock depredations.
We would expect to see increased depredations, wolves killed, and breeding pairs as the wolf population grows and recolonizes the area – but our data suggest that lethal control exacerbates these increases. The secondary effects of time, wolf population growth rate, wolf occupied area, and wolf population size on depredations were already subsumed in the primary main effect terms of breeding pairs (cattle) and wolves (sheep), so those secondary effects cannot account for the positive effects of wolf kills on depredations. We do not yet know the exact mechanism of how increased wolf mortality up to ≤25% results in increased livestock depredations, but we do know that increased mortality is associated with compensatory increased breeding pairs, compensatory numbers of wolves, and depredations [24], [10], [27],[28], [11], [26]. Further research is needed to determine the exact causal mechanism(s). Annual mortality in excess of 25% will reduce future depredations, but that mortality rate is unsustainable and cannot be carried out indefinitely if federal relisting of wolves is to be avoided. Furthermore, a 5% (sheep) and 5% (cattle) kill rate of wolves yields the same number of cattle and sheep depredations as a 35% (cattle) and 30% (sheep) kill rate (Figures 3 & 6), but the 30% or 35% rate is unsustainable for wolf population persistence and the 5% rate is not. The worst possible case appears to be a high mortality rate at about 20–25%, since this corresponds to a “standing wave” of the highest livestock depredations. Further research is needed to test if this high level of anthropogenic wolf mortality (25%) is associated with high levels of predation on natural prey such as deer and elk.
Further research is also needed to account for the limitations of our data set. The scale of our analysis was large (wolf occupied areas in each state in each year) and the scale of some other studies were small (wolf packs). Simultaneous, multi-scale analysis (individual wolf packs, wolf management zones, and wolf occupied areas) may yield further insights.
Although lethal control is sometimes a necessary management tool in the near-term, we suggest that managers also consider testing non-lethal methods of wolf control [29] because these methods might not be associated with increased depredations in the long-term.

Supporting Information

Figure_S1.tif1 / 4

Proportion of wolves harvested vs cattle depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of cattle depredated the following year.

Figure S1.

Proportion of wolves harvested vs cattle depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of cattle depredated the following year.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s001

(TIF)

Figure S2.

Proportion of wolves harvested vs sheep depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of sheep depredated the following year.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s002

(TIF)

Table S1.

Data by state, 1987–2012. Data for all variables used in the analysis grouped by state from 1987–2012.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s003

(DOCX)

Table S2.

Pearson correlation matrix. Pearson correlation matrix for independent variables: cattle, sheep, minimum wolf population, wolves harvested and number of breeding pairs.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s004

(DOCX)

Acknowledgments

This analysis and paper benefitted from the insights and comments of Hilary Cooley (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and John Pierce, Donny Martorello, Brian Kertsen, Ben Maletzke, and Stephanie Simick (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Author Contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: RBW KAP. Performed the experiments: RBW KAP. Analyzed the data: RBW KAP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RBW KAP. Wrote the paper: RBW KAP.

References

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Ranchers Insistence On Cheap Grazing Keeps Wolf Population In The Crosshairs   Leave a comment

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11/05/2013 @ 2:36PM |3,590 views

Ranchers Insistence On Cheap Grazing Keeps Wolf Population In The Crosshairs

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One of the six Canadian timber wolves (Canis l...  credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

If the October headlines were any indication, the quickest way for a wolf to make the news is to get shot. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported the story of a Wyoming hunter who bagged a wolf, strapped him atop his SUV, and paraded his trophy through Town Square. A Montana landowner shot what he thought was a wolf (it turned out to be a dog hybrid) amid concerns that the beast was harassing house cats. The Ecologist speculated that hunters were chasing wolves from Oregon, where hunting them is illegal, into Idaho, where it’s not, before delivering fatal doses of “lead poisoning.”

Predictably, these cases raise the hackles of animal right advocates and conservationists alike. Both groups typically view hunting wolves as a fundamental threat to a wolf population that, after a history of near extermination, is struggling to survive reintegration into the Northern Rockies. According to Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, “Hunting is now taking a significant toll on wolf populations.”

Understanding what would address these larger issues requires momentarily looking backward.  Historically speaking, wolves got the shaft. When Lewis and Clark explored the American west at the dawn of the nineteenth century, thousands of wolves thrived across the Northern Rockies. Lewis admiringly called them “the shepherds of the buffalo.”

But the systemic destruction and commodification of their natural prey–including the  buffalo, deer, elk, antelope, and bighorn sheep–as well as the subsequent replacement of wild animals with domesticated livestock, effectively transformed wolves–who wasted no time attacking helpless livestock–from innocent wildlife into guilty predators. Federally sponsored extermination programs–which included the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey (later the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) hiring hunters to kill wolves en masse–succeeded so well that wolf numbers dropped to virtually nil by 1930. In such ways was the West won. (A similar battle continues, to an extent, in the attempt to remove wild horses today).

Six decades later, buffeted by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the emergence of a modern environmental movement, conservationists were working diligently to restore wolves to their former climes. But the livestock industry had, throughout the century, radically altered the old terrain, not to mention the rules governing it. Twentieth-century grazing practices denatured the wolf’s traditional habitat, reducing the landscape to ruins while securing ranchers’ presumed right to continue exploiting the wild west for tame animals. Michael Robinson, noting that the process of land degradation began in the nineteenth century, puts it this way:  ”the west was picked clean of anything of value.”

Cattle had indeed wrecked havoc. They destroyed watersheds, trampled riparian vegetation, and turned grasslands to hardpan, triggering severe erosion. To top it off, the livestock industry spent the twentieth century securing cheap access to public lands through thousands of grazing permits now granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Today, ranchers enjoy tax-supported access to 270 million acres of public land. Seventy-three percent of publicly-owned land in the west is currently grazed by privately owned livestock. Some of that grazing might be done responsibly. Most of it, according to the BLM itself, is definitely not.

No matter what the quality of prevailing grazing practices, one thing remains the same as it did a century ago: ranchers have a clear incentive to kill wolves. As environmental groups worked to form a united front in support of wolf reintegration in the mid-1990s, anti-wolf advocates articulated their opinions with vicious clarity. Hank Fischer, author of Wolf Wars and an advocate of wolf reintroduction, recalled the arguments he confronted as he pushed the pro-wolf agenda in Montana. “The Wolf is the Saddam Hussein of the Animal World,” read the placard of one protester. “How Would You Like to Have Your Ass Eaten by a Wolf?,” asked another.

Politically sanctioned release of pent-up vituperation against wolves came in 2012. It was then when gray wolves were completely removed from endangered species lists. Hunting season commenced with a bang in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Recreational hunters and ranchers–not to mention the federal Wildlife Services–have since shot hundreds of wolves that ostensibly posed a threat to livestock. At times, such as last week, hunts have evinced grotesque, vigilante-like displays. According to James William Gibson, writing in The Earth Island Journal, “The Northern Rockies have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites, and idiotic environmentalists.”

Fortunately, as the debate over wolf hunting rages, cooler heads are trying to prevail. Camilla Fox , Executive Director of Project Coyote, an organization dedicated to the peaceful coexistence of humans and animals, advocates policies that promote, in her words, “predator conservation and stewardship.”

Working closely with ranchers, she encourages them to have “tolerance and acceptance of wolves on the landscape.” She highlights several non-lethal methods of management, including using guard animals (such as Great Pyrenees and llamas) to deter wolves and coyotes from attacking livestock, better fencing, range-riders, fladry (flags that whip and flap in the wind), and grazing allotment buyouts, a solution that allows private parties to pay ranchers to relinquish their grazing permits. Project Coyote’s work has already had a dramatically successful impact on resolving conflicts between sheep owners and coyotes in Marin County, California.

Whatever techniques are eventually used to keep wolves off the headlines and in the wilderness, critics of wolf hunting should not lose sight of the fact that, while hunters are an easy (and perhaps legitimate) target for their ire, a lead poisoned wolf in 2013 is ultimately the victim of a century of disastrous decisions regarding land use–specifically, the use of livestock on the landscape. Eliminating grazing permits for western cattle ranchers would negatively impact no more than 10 percent of the beef industry in the United States. Ten percent! Seems a modest tonnage of flesh to sacrifice in order to save a species that symbolizes the beautiful essence of a landscape we have lost.

As Camilla Fox notes, “they do a lot better when we leave them alone.

For more on the politics of animal agriculture and related topics, follow me on Twitter or visit my personal blog.

James McWilliams

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