Grey Wolf #832F in Yellowstone Park, photo credit: divineorder.
Photographer's Note: An amazing hunter and mother, this alpha female of Lamar Canyon pack was able to take down an elk by herself. She surprised the group of us who were looking the opposite direction toward the bison carcass until I sensed something, turned around, and there she was, just across the road, intent on heading downhill and crossing back for more.
Grey Wolf #832F, dubbed "Alpha 06," was shot dead in December 2012 three months after the grey wolves surrounding Yellowstone National Park (YNP) lost their Federal protection. They were delisted from the endangered species act, not on the basis of good science but for political reasons. 832F had a highly visible $4,000 radio collar around her neck and she was shot by someone who bought a hunting license for $18. The data from that collar showed that she rarely left the park, never wandered far from its perimeter and never stayed away very long. At least seven other wolves wearing research collars were shot and killed at the time. Mission accomplished for them. After a public outcry over the slaughter of these research wolves, a buffer zone was created around the park where hunting is prohibited but poaching continues. 832F was the only wolf to have an obituary in the New York Times.
The original mission was wolf recovery begun in 1994 because of expiration (local extinction) of the grey wolf in many areas.
Recovery goals of an equitably distributed wolf population containing at least 300 wolves and 30 breeding pairs in 3 recovery areas within Montana (MT), Idaho (ID), and Wyoming (WY) for at least 3 consecutive years were reached in 2002.Ten years later 2012, there were 1,674 wolves counted in 5 states MT, ID, WY, Washington (WA) and Oregon (OR) and this led to the removal of the grey wolf from the Endangered Species List in the Rocky Mountain states by August 2012. Removal means the wolves are no longer protected by the Federal government and they are managed by individual states. States' management means hunting/trapping and for the most part uncontrolled hunting/trapping, open season, no license needed, no bag limit. Whereas before a rancher was permitted to shoot any wolf attacking livestock, now wolves can be shot on sight. De-listing the wolves across the country is a death sentence except for the wolf population in Yellowstone Park which is holding steady at 100 wolves.
Government says the mission to restore the population of gray wolves has been accomplished
In a decision hoped to close one of the West’s most contentious debates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared mission accomplished for recovering the gray wolf, the predator government officials had exterminated from the West nearly a century ago.
The agency has concluded wolves no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. On Friday, federal authorities proposed delisting the wolf [in every state], but insisted the Mexican gray wolf remain listed as an endangered subspecies.
Reaction to the Government's Declaration of Mission Accomplished
Since wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming were delisted beginning in 2011, more than 1,100 wolves have been killed in these Northern Rockies states.The government's proposal means Federal protection is changed to State management. Take the state of Wyoming as an example of a state's management of wolves. Wyoming Fish & Game divide the state into wolf management areas. Wolves in Northwest Wyoming (15% of the state), are Trophy Game Animals and in the rest of the state they are Predatory Animals. Hunting a Trophy Game Animal requires a license and the hunting season is from mid-October to February. In most of the state where wolves are classified as Predatory Animals, it's open season, no license required, and no bag limit. Although kills must be reported no physical proof is needed.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council
An across-the-board delisting at this time would effectively stop wolf recovery in its tracks.
‘Political Deals’ Behind Wolf Delisting
To support its argument that politics trumps science in deciding how to handle the nation’s wolves, PEER also made public today letter from 16 scientists to Secretary Sally Jewell with copy to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe expressing “serious concerns with a recent draft rule leaked to the press that proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 States…”
“Collectively, we represent many of the scientists responsible for the research referenced in the draft rule,” wrote the scientists, who specialize in carnivores and conservation biology. “Based on a careful review of the rule, we do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves, or is in accordance with the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”
Among other problems with the delisting proposal, the scientists say it ignores the positive influence of large carnivores such as wolves on the ecosystems they inhabit.
“The gray wolf has barely begun to recover or is absent from significant portions of its former range where substantial suitable habitat remains. The Service’s draft rule fails to consider science identifying extensive suitable habitat in the Pacific Northwest, California, the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast. It also fails to consider the importance of these areas to the long-term survival and recovery of wolves, or the importance of wolves to the ecosystems of these regions,” the scientists wrote.
“Wolf recovery has been one of our greatest Endangered Species Act success stories, but stopping now before the population is fully recovered will negate the decades of hard work that have gone into bringing wolves back from the brink of extinction,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said
In response to Director of US Fish & Wildlife Daniel Ashe's "mission accomplished" statement.I’m not so sure. I do believe that the gray wolf’s recovery is, indeed, an amazing achievement and something to loudly and proudly celebrate. But I also believe that many of the states with wolf populations today have shown great disregard for the animals. The number of wolves killed over the past two years—animals that we as a country have spent tens of millions of dollars to recover—should be seen as a national shame. An astonishing 7 percent of the wolves in the Rocky Mountain region were killed in 2012. This year Idaho Governor Butch Otter, who previously declared wolves a “disaster emergency,” vetoed funding for wolf management. That’s not proper management by the states. It’s an invitation to chaos and a potential slaughter.
THE YELLOWSTONE WOLF RECOVERY PROJECT
I have been following the wolf recovery since 1994 when the grey wolves from Canada were brought to the United States. It took about 5 years before the project was considered a success. There would be reports that some wolves had migrated out of the park and colonized in a neighboring state. In those days it was a cause for celebration but today that migration is a death sentence for the wolves. How times have changed. I'm hoping for the pendulum to swing back because I believe this action the Department of the Interior to be extreme and very dangerous for the recovery of the wolves in the USA. This action would also endanger Canadian wolves who wander across into the border states to be shot on sight.
But these predators are critical components of the ecosystem, a so-called keystone species. Their presence can keep populations of browsing animals in check and on the move, allowing vegetation to regenerate. They are true ecological assets, but not if they are reduced to ecologically irrelevant numbers. NYTimes
(47 min)In the Valley of the Wolves
Public comments will be open beginning today for the next 90 days at http://regulations.gov.
USFWS is supposed to make an announcement today.
If anyone can find the link I'll insert it here.