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Today, the wildlife advocacy group, Big Wildlife, urged the Obama Administration to reject  the Idaho Fish and Game's (IDFG) request to kill nearly 100 wolves near the Lolo National Forest. This week, Idaho officials said it was developing a plan to remove nearly 80 percent of wolves in two "game" management areas ostensibly to boost elk numbers. Under a provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), states are permitted to kill wolves where officials claim the animals are preventing "game" populations from reaching management goals. The IDFG said the proposal will be open to public review, then submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Idaho is using perceived elk declines as a Trojan horse to launch an assault on wolves. The Obama Administration should flatly reject the state's request to slaughter up to 100 wolves," said Brian Vincent, Communications Director of Big Wildlife.

Big Wildlife said anti-predator groups often claim wolves and other top carnivores are responsible for declines in deer and elk. But the wildlife advocates said many factors contribute to fluctuations in ungulate populations. Although wolves and other predators do prey on elk and other ungulates, there is no evidence to indicate that this is the primary limiting factor on populations compared to other factors such as forage availability, hunting, birthing rates, disease, degraded habitat quality and/or loss, (e.g. increased road densities from logging that facilities higher hunter success, changes in vegetation due to fire suppression, competition with domestic farm and ranch animals for forage, and new subdivisions increasingly built in wildlife habitat). Instead of addressing these issues, Big Wildlife said the IDFG is hiding behind the predator scapegoat.

The wildlife protection group said in cases where predators are contributing to some reductions in ungulate populations, something that they can do on occasion, an intelligent response would be to ask, "What ecological benefit might be the consequence?" In the case of predator induced declines in ungulate numbers, prudent wildlife managers would point out how vegetative communities benefit from a reduction in heavy exploitation by herbivores, which in turn benefits both plant communities and ungulates in the long term. But the IDFG is silent when it comes to good ecological science, Big Wildlife said.  Nor does the department talk about other positive ecological effects of predators including the tendency of deer and elk to spread themselves out on the landscape or how they kill different age classes of prey animals from hunters ­- both of which have significant ecological consequences.

There are an estimated 1,500 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. Big Wildlife has argued that number is too low to maintain genetic diversity within the population. Unfortunately, imperiled wolves are facing increasing threats. The wildlife organization said a record number of 245 wolves was killed last year by government agencies and ranchers in the Northern Rockies. Last November, Big Wildlife condemned the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department and the federal agency, Wildlife Services, for killing all 27 wolves, including pups, of the Hog Heaven pack near Kalispell. But the organization said the elimination of the Hog Heaven pack was not an isolated incident. In 2008 alone, seven wolf packs were completely wiped out in the Big Sky state.

"Instead of protecting one our of nation's most magnificent animals, Idaho wants to 'manage' wolves through the the barrel of a bazooka," said Vincent.

For more information go to Big Wildlife.

Originally posted to bigwildlife on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:55 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hell no. (5+ / 0-)

    what the hell did wolves ever do to humans?  Perhaps if humans stopped encroaching on their terriorty bad things wouldn't happen.

    by GlowNZ on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 02:58:57 PM PST

  •  Evidence that wolves reduce elk numbers please? (7+ / 0-)

    Seriously. No pack of going to pull down a full grown bull. Instead wolves cull the sick and injured, the elderly and infirm, and the occasional calf.

    This is the classic gun-nut diatribe: just massacre all the predators, and our game animals will become abundant beyond a hunter's wildest fantasy.

    Funny thing, though; unintended consequences. I live in rural western New York, where all predators were exterminated more than 100 years ago. Now we have white-tailed deer literally up to our asses.

    This afternoon I looked out my kitchen window and watched a herd of more than 30 white tails munching their way through my pasture. Every forest in our region is neatly cropped and manicured with every speck of foliage on the ground and up to a height of 4 feet off the ground utterly consumed by the lazy deer population. You can squat down and look about a half a mile into the forest and see no living vegetation up to the 4' height the deer can comfortably reach.

    But nature abhors a vacuum; instead of wolves, we're getting a huge population explosion of coyotes, which during winter live almost exclusively on deer and cottontails. And the coyote population boom is putting pressure on...pets! Yep. Rover or fluffy may be maimed or eaten if left out overnight, because we've created a perfect breeding environment for a new predator.

    Oh, and about that...after years of doubt and denial, the local department of environmental conservation officer confirmed that there is now solid evidence for at least one, possibly two cougars in Northern New York state. Likely immigrants from Canada, they don't appear to have established a breeding population...yet.

    •  Not only bull elk (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My wife and I missed it, but we met a couple in Yellowstone two years ago who had earlier that day watched several wolves in a distant meadow try to get a fairly young elk calf.  Its mother successfully held them off by aiming vicious kicks at whichever wolf was closest, until they finally loped off, evidently figuring that they'd try to find some easier (and less dangerous) prey.  I have no doubt that if they were hungry enough, or if the mother had been less alert or less effective in aiming her kicks, they might have persisted and even succeeded, but that pack didn't even manage to bring down an elk calf with an attentive mother.

  •  Sigh. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, sberel, pi1304

    I never ceased to be embarassed by the actions of my leaders.

    Idaho is beautiful, but its politics suck.

    My dogs think I'm smart and pretty.

    by martydd on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:33:55 PM PST

  •  Call in the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, sberel

    "shoot them from airplanes" Palin crowd. By God that is pure sport.

  •  This will be a test for Salazar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, pi1304

    Let us hope he passes it.

    Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. -Anonymous

    by gloryous1 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:55:07 PM PST

  •  PBS just aired a couple of fascinating programs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, pi1304

    on wolves. The Yellowstone wolf packs are particularly intriguing. Of course wolves help to maintain the ecological balance. In Yellowstone some have even prayed on bison. Again, this is healthy and normal. You will not find a place where wolves have wiped out or dramatically reduced populations of deer and elk. And about those brazen coyotes, with wolves around, coyotes pretty much cease to be a problem...

    It's interesting that the attitude toward wolves seems to be vary across regions. In Romania and Italy, wolves are respected and tolerated, while in northern Europe they are often feared and fought.

    And apparently there's been a dramatic decline in wolves in Yellowstone recently. So I don't think this is a good time at all to reduce their still tiny numbers in the greater region.

    We don't inherit the world from the past. We borrow it from the future.

    by minorityusa on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:01:37 PM PST

    •  Wolves vs. coyotes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In Yellowstone, you're much more likely to see coyotes from the roads than before the reintroduction of wolves.  Why?  Because wolves will attack coyotes in their territory, but the wolves are sufficiently afraid of humans that they generally avoid staying near the roads.  So that's where the coyotes now tend to hang out, feeding on small mammals and roadkill.

  •  Any chance cattlemen are behind this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Saw a PBS documentary on wolves recently. It showed that cattle ranchers tolerate wolves better when beef prices are high, but when prices drop, they sign up for "kill" permits pretty quickly.

    The ranchers aren't hurt too badly by the loss of livestock killed by wolves They can even get compensated for that.

    But they lose tens of thousands of dollars when the whole herds come in underweight. Wolves make the herd nervous. Nervous cattle move a lot and burn more calories doing it.

    Perhaps that makes for good lean beef, but they cattle fattening operations only pay by the pound at the auction.

    So... boycott beef - kill a wolf, eh?

    Maybe we should start demanding more range-fed beef, purchased directly from the ranchers in wolf country. Pay more, eat healthier, save wildlife.

    BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

    by jjohnjj on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 04:11:20 PM PST

    •  i like (0+ / 0-)

      I like the way you think.

      Maybe we should start demanding more range-fed beef, purchased directly from the ranchers in wolf country. Pay more, eat healthier, save wildlife.

      Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. - James Harvey Robinson

      by pi1304 on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 12:36:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It would CERTAINLY be healthier (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've read some recent things about the Omega-3 content of grass-finished vs. feedlot finished beef, and it's a real eye-opener.  Apparently, Omega-3's are produced primarily by green plants, and accumulate up the food chain.  Omega-6's, which are also essential fatty acids, but which compete with Omega-6's for binding sites, and which virtually everybody in the modern world has a surplus of, are apparently produced primarily by seeds, and also accumulate up the food chain.

        The result is that wild salmon, which feed on smaller fish which ultimately feed primarily on algae, have more Omega-3's than farmed salmon.  And range (or pasture) finished beef which have been fed primarily on grass or hay contain far more than feedlot finished ones that have spent at least months of their lives in confinement and fed primarily a corn-based diet.

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