Tag Archives: wolf

Baldwin, Johnson introduce bill to lift protections for wolves

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are co-sponsors of legislation that would lift federal protections for gray wolves in the Midwest and Wyoming.

The other sponsors are John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Similar legislation was introduced earlier this year in the U.S. House by Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy.

The aim of these lawmakers is to prevent courts from overruling a decision by the Interior Department to remove wolves in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the endangered species list.

In a news release, Johnson said, “I strongly agree with the feedback I’ve heard from Wisconsin stakeholders such as farmers, ranchers, loggers and sportsmen that future gray wolf listing decisions should come from wildlife experts, not from courtrooms.”

Baldwin said, “The Endangered Species Act plays a critical role in saving species from the brink of extinction, and when it does, we must acknowledge we have succeeded in restoring wildlife populations by delisting them. According to both federal and state wildlife biologists, this goal has been achieved with the gray wolf.”

She said she also heard “from farmers, sportsmen and wildlife experts, and they all agree. The wolf has recovered and we must return its management back to the state of Wisconsin, both for the safety and economic well-being of Wisconsinites and the balance of our environment.”

The  news release said the senators’ measure would “allow wolf management plans that are based on federal and state wildlife expertise to move forward without any legal ambiguity.”

Those management plans allow the trapping and hunting of wolves, including using dogs in the “sport” in Wisconsin. In Wyoming, the management plan allows unlimited shoot-on-sight killing of wolves across 85 percent of the state.

“A new Congress has resurfaced an old vendetta against imperiled wolves,” said Marjorie Mulhall, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice. “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.”

She continued, “We urge those who support the protection of wolves to call their senators and representatives and tell them to vote down this lethal legislation.”

On the Web

The House bill.

The Senate bill.

Wisconsin congressional delegation contacts.

Michigan governor signs wolf-hunting bill into law

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law that would authorize wolf-hunting if Congress or federal courts revisit the issue.

State lawmakers quickly passed the bill after the Michigan appeals court recently declared a 2014 law unconstitutional.

The law signed this past week defines wolves as a game species and authorizes the state Natural Resources Commission to designate game.

Money in the law related to Asian carp control could shield the measure from a statewide referendum.

Wolf hunting is not allowed in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota because of a 2014 federal court ruling.

A judge threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list.

Michigan’s only hunt was in 2013, when 22 wolves were killed in the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan appeals court finds 2014 wolf hunt unconstitutional

A Michigan appeals court has found that the state’s 2014 wolf hunt was unconstitutional and the law allowing it should be struck down.

A three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals made the unanimous ruling in an opinion released this week, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The judges found that a provision of the law that allows for free military hunting, fishing and trapping licenses isn’t connected to the object of the law, which is providing for scientific management of wildlife habitats.

That violates the “title-object clause” in the Michigan Constitution that says the object of a law must be expressed in its title, the judges ruled.

The entire law must be struck down because it’s not clear if the measure would have been approved if that provision wasn’t included, the judges said.

The ruling is in favor of the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and overturns an earlier ruling from the Michigan Court of Claims.

The Michigan Legislature in 2014 adopted a voter initiative giving the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and the Legislature joint responsibility to name new game animals.

The initiative came after earlier failed efforts to add wolves to the definition of “game” in Michigan. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected challenged the law.

In the appeals court ruling, judges said the group viewed the law as “a Trojan Horse, within which the ability to hunt wolves was cleverly hidden.” The judges said though that their decision wasn’t based on policy but “on an analysis of the dictates of Michigan’s constitution.”

In December 2014, a federal judge threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that banned further wolf hunting and trapping in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Fish and Wildlife denies petition to reclassify gray wolves as ‘threatened’

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 30 denied a petition from 22 conservation and animal welfare groups to reclassify nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act — a step that would continue federal oversight and funding for wolf recovery and encourage the development of a national recovery plan.

The reclassification would also have given the Fish and Wildlife Service flexibility to permit state and local wildlife managers to address specific wolf conflicts, according to the petitioners.

Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer of The Humane Society of the United States, said, “We are disappointed in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision not to consider this middle-ground approach to wolf management. A threatened listing is a reasonable compromise to this contentious issue and it retains some federal protection for wolves, while providing more flexibility to the states in dealing with the occasional problem wolf.”

The agency denied the request, saying the wolves in the petition didn’t constitute a “distinct population segment,” even though they’ve been classified that way since 1978.

“These wolves deserve a real shot at full recovery across the country and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing its best to make sure that never happens,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Service’s claim that wolves don’t constitute a distinct population is ludicrous and totally belied by the fact they’ve been considered distinct in the lower 48 for more than three decades.”

Gray wolves are currently protected as endangered throughout their range in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota, where they are listed as threatened, and Montana, Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington, where they have no Endangered Species Act protections.

Some members of Congress are pushing legislation to remove all Endangered Species Act protections for wolves.

The reclassification petition filed by conservation groups in January proposed an alternative path to finalizing wolf recovery based on the best available science rather than politics.

“Sadly the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seems content to let politicians in Congress, rather than scientists, decide the future of wolf recovery in the United States,” Greenwald said. “Denying the petition to reclassify wolves is yet another sign this agency is hoping to wash its hands of wolf recovery and leave the job unfinished forever.”

Markarian said, “We need practical solutions, not to turn back the clock to the days of widespread hound hunting, baiting and trapping of hundreds of wolves in states with hostile and reckless wolf management policies.”

Isle Royale National wolf population drops to 3

Scientists say the gray wolf population at Isle Royale National Park has dropped to three and is on the verge of disappearing.

Researchers with Michigan Technological University released their annual report on the island park’s wolves and moose late last week. They said the wolf count has continued a sharp decline since 2009, when it stood at 24. It was nine last year.

Fewer wolves are on the Lake Superior island chain now than at any time since scientists began studying them in the 1950s.

Study leaders Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have called repeatedly for park officials to bring more wolves to the island to replenish the gene pool.

Their report says the moose population has risen to 1,250 as the number of wolves to prey on them has plummeted.

The population decline has been observed as some states — including Wisconsin under the administration of Gov. Scott Walker— have been allowed to license wolf hunts.

Wisconsin congressman introduces measure to remove wolves from endangered species list

Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble has introduced legislation that would remove gray wolves in those states from the “endangered” species list.

This legislation comes on the heels of two recent court cases that placed wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming back under federal protection due to overreaching state management programs that jeopardized wolf recovery. It is the first of several bills expected to be introduced this Congress seeking to weaken protections for wolves and to subvert a series of federal court rulings that determined that the federal government has too narrowly segmented wolf populations and that the states had overreached in their trophy hunting, commercial trapping and hounding programs.  

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said, “This legislation is an end-around a series of federal court rulings that have determined that state and federal agencies have acted improperly in acting to delist wolves. This bill is just a the latest act of political bomb-throwing and gamesmanship, and lawmakers who want balance on the wolf issue should reject it.”

In November, Michigan citizens voted overwhelmingly to increase protections for wolves and to put a stop to plans that would have allowed trophy hunting and commercial trapping of wolves.

And earlier this year, The HSUS and 21 animal protection and conservation organizations offered an alternative to congressional delisting and a path to national recovery by petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout the contiguous United States, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf which remains listed as endangered.

If adopted, the proposal would continue federal oversight and approval of wolf management efforts, but would also provide more  flexibility for state and local wildlife management to address specific wolf conflicts, including lethal control for depredation of livestock.

Earlier this year, a Washington State University peer-reviewed study revealed that wolf control efforts often trigger effects that result in more livestock depredation by breaking up packs and stimulating reproduction by survivors.

Group offers reward for info on illegal wolf kills in Great Lakes region

A recently established group is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who illegally kills a wolf in the Great Lakes region.

Great Lakes Patrol says it created the reward program in response to recent wolf killings in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It says another factor was the appearance of Facebook sites promoting unlawful attacks on the predators.

Founder Rod Coronado says members will circulate reward posters around the towns of Newberry and Gulliver, where dead wolves were discovered.

Rewards will be offered for other illegal kills in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Great Lakes Wolf Patrol says it was founded this year to monitor legal wolf hunts and worked with Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to investigate illegal wolf trapping during the October hunt.

Wisconsin urged to end wolf hunting in wake of first statewide vote on the issue

Animal welfare advocates are urging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to stop the trophy hunting of wolves, in the wake of the nation’s first statewide vote on wolf hunting in the Nov. 4 election.

In Michigan, voters overwhelmingly rejected two wolf hunting measures, Proposals 1 and 2, with the “no” side winning by a 10-point margin and a 28-point margin, respectively. On Proposal 2, the “no” side received more than 1.8 million votes, more than any candidate who won statewide office, and prevailed in 69 of Michigan’s 83 counties. 

This was the first statewide vote on wolf hunting in any state since wolves were stripped of their federal protections under the Endangered Species Act, and since more than 2,200 wolves were killed across the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions over the last two years. The Humane Society of the United States is urging decision makers in Wisconsin to pay attention to this vote in Michigan, and see how regular citizens feel about the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves. 

The Michigan election results mirror public opinion polling. Wisconsin residents, by huge majorities, appreciate wolves and want them conserved. A 2013 Mason Dixon poll showed that 81 percent of Wisconsin voters oppose the trophy hunting of wolves, and 87 percent believe it’s unfair to trap, bait, and hound wolves. 

Melissa Tedrowe, Wisconsin state director for The HSUS, said in a news release, “Michiganders have sent a clear message that it makes no sense to kill wolves for trophies and fur pelts, and Wisconsinites agree. We know that the vast majority of our state’s voters consider wolves an important asset that should be protected for future generations, not trapped, baited or chased down by packs of dogs. Wisconsin’s decision-makers should manage wolves for the entire public, not just for the few who trump up charges against wolves and wrongly demonize them.”

Because of the quotas set on Wisconsin’s wolves since 2012, the population has rapidly declined. Between 2013 and 2014, in just one hunting season alone17 entire Wisconsin wolf packs disappeared, and the population declined by 19 percent. This season, the DNR issued 1,500 hunting permits to trophy hunters to kill 150 wolves. Less than one week into the hunt, four of the six zones closed, with half of those zones exceeding their quotas. 

Scientists widely concur that wolves keep local ecosystems healthy and balanced while posing minimal threat.  According to the government’s own data, wolves prey on miniscule numbers of livestock, even less if simple precautions are taken.  Moreover, Wisconsin’s DNR allows people to selectively remove any wolf that poses a known threat to livestock or pets.

Wisconsin wolf hunters exceed limits in 2 zones

State of Wisconsin officials are poised to close a fourth wolf hunting zone.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources planned to close Zone 5, an oval-shaped area in west-central Wisconsin, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20. Hunters had killed 14 wolves in that zone as of Oct. 19, six less than permitted in the zone.

The agency has already closed Zone 1, where hunters killed three more wolves than the 32-wolf limit, and Zone 2, where hunters have taken 14 more wolves than the 15-animal limit.

In Zone 4, hunters killed four wolves, four shy of the limit, according to an AP story.

Zones 3 and 6 remain open.

The wolf-killing season began on Oct. 15 and will run until Feb. 28 or until hunters kill 150 wolves.

The hunting of wolves — as well as the use of domestic dogs in tracking the wild wolves — remains unpopular with many in Wisconsin, especially conservationists and animal welfare advocates.

Opponents of the hunt gathered at the Capitol in Madison the day the “season” began. Opponents of the use of dogs in the so-called sport said in addition to the many wolves killed, at least 24 hunting dogs have been killed since the program began.

Advocates for wolves and dogs announced on Oct. 15 that the Great Lakes Wolf Patrol, a coalition of citizen monitors from Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and other states, would be patrolling Wisconsin’s wolf hunt and documenting the use of steel-jaw leg hold traps on public lands to capture wolves. They also announced that the GLWP would be investigating claims that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is under-reporting wolf mortality and failing to ensure the long-term survival of wolves.

Some of those involved in the GLWP were involved in monitoring the hunting of wolves outside Yellowstone National Park in Montana. A statement from the coalition said, “GLWP believes that wolf recovery in the great lakes is still a work in progress, and that wolf populations in Wisconsin and Michigan while healthy, are still a fraction of what they once were, and what they could be again. Members of GLWP believe that the near extinction of gray wolves in Wisconsin and Michigan in the last century, was the result of our past misunderstanding and ignorance of the role apex predators such as gray wolves play in a healthy ecosystem. Yet, after only 30 years, Wisconsin’s recovering wolf population has seen a return to lethal control policies that are drastically reducing the state’s wolf population between 20-50 percent annually.”

When the activist campaign was announced for Wisconsin last week, 11 members of GLWP were operating from a base camp in northern Wisconsin. Matt Almonte of the patrol said, “We know the law, and although we are working to end the wolf hunt, we are not trying to interfere with legal wolf hunting. We simply are monitoring WDNR-endorsed wolf control activities on public lands with the intent of sharing that information with the public.”

The GLWP also issued a statement saying it supports Native American tribal governments in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan opposed to the trapping and hunting of wolves. Wolves and humans share a sacred relationship in the Great Lakes area and by allowing the hunt, the DNR continues to disrespect and ignore the concerns of indigenous people opposed to wolf hunting. “The least the DNR could do to regain public faith is stop dog-on-wolf hunting, stop wolf trapping on public lands and immediately enact a 4-mile no-wolf-hunt buffer zone around all tribal lands in Wisconsin.” said Almonte.

On the Web…

Wolves of Douglas County blog

Federal judge rules against wolf hunting in Wyoming

A federal judge on Sept. 23 reinstated federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming, rejecting the state’s “wolf-management” plan that allowed them to be hunted as unprotected predators.

“The court has ruled and Wyoming’s kill-on-sight approach to wolf management throughout much of the state must stop,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who added that the “ruling restores much-needed federal protection to wolves throughout Wyoming, which allowed killing along the borders of Yellowstone National Park and throughout national forest lands south of Jackson Hole where wolves were treated as vermin under state management. If Wyoming wants to resume management of wolves, it must develop a legitimate conservation plan that ensures a vibrant wolf population in the northern Rockies.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in favor of national environmental groups that said protections were severely lacking for the wolf, for years considered an endangered species threatened with extinction. Earthjustice represented Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity in the complaint.

The judge said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to trust the state’s promises to protect at least 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Environmentalists have said that Wyoming law authorized unlimited wolf killing in a “predator” zone that extended throughout most of the state, and provided inadequate protection for wolves even where killing was regulated.

The judge ended both predatory and trophy hunting of wolves in Wyoming.

“The court affirmed that delisting gray wolves in Wyoming by the Obama administration was premature and a violation of federal law,” said Defenders of Wildlife president and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark. “Any state that has a wolf-management plan that allows for unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state should not be allowed to manage wolves. Wolves need to remain protected under the Endangered Species Act until the species is fully recovered. State laws and policies that treat wolves like vermin are as outdated and discredited today as they were a century ago.”

“We’re thrilled that protections for Wyoming’s fragile population of wolves have been restored,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With Wyoming allowing wolves to be shot on sight across more than 80 percent of the state, there is no way protections for wolves should have ever been removed.”

The state, which claims the wolf population is stable, seems likely to seek a stay and appeal to allow the wolf hunting to continue. The state took over wolf management in 2012, after the federal government ruled that wolves did not need protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Wisconsin also has authorized wolf hunts, as have Minnesota and other states. Michigan voters will cast ballots this year on whether to sanction hunting wolves, but state lawmakers already canceled wolf hunting for this year.