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Grassroots Conservation Organizations Sue Feds for Delisting Wolves in Wyoming: Wyoming's Wolf Plan Lethal for Wolves

November 27, 2012 | Wolves

Wendy Keefover | WildEarth Guardians (Colorado) | 303-573-4898, Ext. 1162
Mike Garrity | Alliance for the Wild Rockies (Montana) | 406-459-5936
Duane Short | Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (Wyoming) | 307-742-7978
Denise Boggs | Conservation Congress (Montana) | 406-222-2723
Priscilla Feral | Friends of Animals (Connecticut) | 203-656-1522
Gary Macfarlane | Friends of the Clearwater (Idaho) | 208-882-9755
Dave Hornoff | National Wolfwatcher Coalition (Rhode Island) | 401-884-2808
Kenneth Cole | Western Watersheds Project (Idaho) | 208-890-3666

Denver, CO. A coalition of grassroots conservation organizations filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today for removing gray wolves in Wyoming from the federal threatened and endangered species list. The Service approved the State's management of wolves in September, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department commenced a wolf hunt less than a month later. At least 54 wolves have been killed by hunters just weeks into the new wolf-hunting season, which commenced October 1, 2012.

Wyoming's "wolf management plan" allows for unregulated wolf killing in over 80 percent of the State. Fewer than 330 wolves live in Wyoming, and many will die this winter as the State intends to allow a minimum of only 100 wolves to survive outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. The Game and Fish Department will have no way to know when it has reached that threshold, however, because it is impossible to census wolf populations unless each individual wears a radio collar.

So many wolves have been killed already that it prompted the Game Department to close four wolf-hunting zones, and it is poised to close three more zones. One zone in the Jackson Management Unit already exceeded the State's quota. In mid-November, Wyoming had sold 4,153 resident wolf-hunting licenses at $18 each, and 194, $180 non-resident tags.

"Americans have spent tens of millions to restore and study wolves in the West, but now a tiny anti-wolf minority is handily cutting into their small population in just a few weeks with greater bloodshed on the way as coming snows make it easier to track and hunt wolves," said Wendy Keefover of WildEarth Guardians.

Wyoming's wolf plan was written in part to appease the cattle and sheep industry, which has loudly protested about wolf predation on their animals. But their claims of innumerable losses are without merit. Data show that wolves kill less than one percent of cattle and sheep inventories in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Some hunters also complain that wolves kill too many elk; yet, the States of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming each host elk populations that exceed management objectives. Wyoming's elk population is 24 percent over its objective of 85,000 animals. The 2010 count reported 104,000 elk in the state.

"Wyoming's wolf plan is one of appeasement, answering vociferous, but false claims about wolf predation on elk and livestock," said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater.

Wolves did not evolve with hunting and trapping pressures and even low levels of killing by humans harm their populations.

"The full effects of hunting can't be calculated, as it breaks up families of wolves," said Priscilla Feral of Friends of Animals. "The death of parents always leaves the young to become disoriented and often abandoned to starve."

"The future plans of millions of tourists who visit Wyoming for wolf watching will be affected, and this threatens ecotourism, one of the fastest growing industries in the region," said David Hornoff of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition.

As top carnivores, the presence of wolves in ecosystems creates greater biological diversity, affecting species ranging from beetles to songbirds to grizzly bears.

"Wolves are a natural and important component in a fully-functioning ecosystem;" said Michael Garrity of Alliance for Wild Rockies, "without wolves, fragile stream habitats are impaired by overabundant elk and this negatively affects numerous species."

"Wolf recovery is unfinished business until they are present in healthy numbers in all suitable habitats across the American West," said Kenneth Cole of Western Watersheds Project.

Duane Short of Biodiversity Conservation Alliance said, "Wyoming's wolf management 'plan' regresses to a past era when Wyoming's valuable wolves were shot-on-sight as part of a deliberate extermination campaign."

The conservation and animal advocacy groups agree that Wyoming's wolf population has not been recovered and that it makes no sense-ecologically or economically-to subject the state's population to hunting and trapping. Further, killing wolves will prevent their recovery in both the Northern Rocky Mountains and into the Southern Rockies, and lead to genetic bottlenecks for remaining small but isolated populations.

"The Wyoming plan is not good for wolves, for the environment, or millions of taxpayers that want to restore more wolves to the landscape," said Denise Boggs of Conservation Congress.

Jay Tutchton, WildEarth Guardians' General Counsel, represents the groups.

View the Complaint Here:


Thank goodness this is finally being done! What a travesty this was, and so sneaky, so underhanded and disgusting. This represents one of my greatest and deepest disappointments in the Obama Administration and the awful Interior Department that was entirely complicit in arranging this unscientific, backroom deal with Senators Tester and Simpson and others. This was truly shameful, and I called fourteen senate offices and the White House to protest when it was going on, but the more I called the more I clearly got the picture that this was a put-up deal that the White House, the Interior Dept. and the Democratic Senators like my own (Florida) Bill Nelson, Senator Durbin, and many others were all on board with and nobody but nobody was rocking the boat on this one. Let the wolves and the integral heart of the ESA go down in the interests of making nice with the western states and their medieval outlook on nature. To hell with the balance of nature, predators and foragers as God put on the earth to keep things going. Let's just make the ranchers happy and kill the big, bad wolf. It makes me so furious that I really can't dwell on it. I just sign every petition I see, and try to donate money when I can carve it out of the grocery budget. Thank you Guardians of Wildlife for not selling out like most of the other wildlife protection organizations did. I pray for the deliverance of our iconic American wolf population, for the small number that are left, still being killed as we speak.

los animales tienen los mismos derechos a la vida que los llamados humanos,no estoy de acuerdo con la matanza The animals have the same right to life as the so-called humans. I do not agree with the killing.

This is nothing more than pandering to ranchers with money who funded politicians. All this bs will come tumbling down.

it's not just out west either... "Wolves were hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction in the 20th century, and they rebounded only after being protected under the Endangered Species Acts of the 1960s and subsequently being re-introduced to Yellowstone. Much of the Northern Rockies sub-population of gray wolves lost federal protections last year following a controversial rider placed in U.S. budget legislation. The wolf hunt in Minnesota is also under way and has met with opposition. The 147 wolves killed in that state are about twice what the Department of Natural Resources expected, according to the Associated Press. The second phase of the hunting season begins Saturday (Nov. 24), during which wolves can be trapped, a technique that conservationists and some hunters call cruel. Minnesota's earlier wolf-management plan stated that the animals couldn't be hunted for five years after being removed from the federal protection provided by the Endangered Species Act — which happened in January, 2012. Instead of opening a formal comment period, the DNR offered only an online survey, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. More than 75 percent of people taking the poll opposed the wolf hunt: Of 7,351 responses, only 1,542 people supported a wolf season. Even so, that five-year waiting period was not upheld. In Wisconsin, hunters had killed 83 wolves as of Nov. 18, according to the Badger Herald. The hunting season there will run through the end of February unless hunters reach the 116-wolf quota before then." They all will be gone before the new year starts if this keeps up.

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