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Report: Wolf Conservation Hijacked by User Groups
Report: Wolf Conservation Hijacked by User Groups
States Prove Incapable of Managing Wolves, Montana to Consider Higher-Kill Quota
Contact: Wendy Keefover (303) 573-4898 x 1162
Denver, CO. Justas the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission will consider increasing itswolf hunting quota for the 2012-2013 season, WildEarth Guardians has released areport on Northern Rocky Mountain wolves that argues that two user groups, thelivestock industry and some hunting organizations, caused decisionmakers toprematurely revoke federal protection for the population and it is now in jeopardyfrom high levels of hunting. The report describes the many negative biological,ecological, economic and social effects of wolf hunting and should be used toinform the current debate about wolf quotas.
“The livestock industry and some hunting groups pressuredCongress to delist wolves based upon grossly inaccurate claims,” stated WendyKeefover, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “NowMontana’s decisionmakers are under their spell and willing to consider alonger, more deadly hunting and trapping season that could have even moredevastating effects on wolves.”
Congress, in unprecedented action, legislatively delistedNorthern Rockies wolves from the Endangered Species Act in spring 2011. Idaho andMontana commenced hunting seasons for wolves in late August and early September,respectively. The two states sold more than 62,000 wolf-hunting tags to huntersand trappers, most of whom were Idaho and Montana residents, who killed morethan 500 wolves in eight months, eliminating more than a third of the bi-statepopulation (estimated at fewer than 1,300 in 2010). Now Montana is consideringlengthening its hunting season, increasing the statewide quota, and evenallowing trapping for wolves (Idaho already allows trapping for the species).The Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission will meet on May 10 in Helena,Montana, to review the policy changes.
WildEarth Guardians’ report, “Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves: A Public Policy Process Failure, HowTwo Special Interest Groups Hijacked Wolf Conservation in America,” documentshow the livestock industry and some hunting groups influenced key federallegislators to delist Northern Rockies wolves last spring, to the detriment ofthe wolf restoration and in opposition to majority public opinion. These vocalminorities claimed that wolves had recovered and that packs were depletingdomestic livestock and elk herds, but none of these contentions are true.
- Years of government data show that wolves have anegligible effect on the domestic livestock inventory. , Wolves killed lessthan one percent of the cattle (0.07 percent) and sheep (0.22 percent)inventories in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming—before the commencement of the2011-2012 wolf hunting season and even using unverified livestock loss data (that is, the numbers that are basedupon livestock growers’ uninvestigated complaints of wolf depredation). Verified livestock losses are evenlower.
- Wolves also have little effect on elk herds inthe Northern Rockies, while biologists have demonstrated how human hunters havea much greater impacts on elk populations than wolves. Moreover, Idaho, Montana,and Wyoming all have abundant elk populations, with over 100,000 animals each,with each state managing its elk population “at” or “above” their ownmanagement objectives throughout most of their state.
- Wolves had not even been recovered to even five percentof their historic range in theWest when they were delisted in the Northern Rockies and unsustainable levelsof wolf hunting began in Idaho and Montana. Wyoming is also preparing to offerwolf hunting as soon as the federal government delists the species in thatstate.
The American public has spent $40 million dollars and two decadesto restore wolves in the Northern Rockies. Now that effort is threatened becauseof misguided Congressional action based on mythical claims about the species.
Biologists note that hunting not only has direct effects onindividuals, but also causes secondary mortality. Wolves, highly social beings,experience disruptions in their packs from hunting, which puts pups andyearlings at risk for starvation and death and can cause packs to disband.
The report recommends five ways to reduce wolf/humanconflicts and to conserve wolf populations in the Northern Rockies, includingrestoring federal protection for Northern Rocky wolves until local hostility towards wolves dissipates;designating more more protected areas for wolves, such as national parks;employinga host of non-lethal methods to protect domestic livestock from wolves; authorizingvoluntarily grazing permit retirement on federal public lands; and prioritizing wolf-watchingtourism which generates much higher revenue for the region than wolf hunting.
“The federal government and western states must act quicklyto protect wolves for our environment, economy, and future generations, or theymay end up right back on the endangered species list,” said Keefover.