Monthly Archives: September 2005

Pro-wolf group advocates reintroduction

Associated Press

DENVER – The state should develop a plan to reintroduce wolves or it will be a century before they roam in Colorado again, wolf advocates say.

They say a plan similar to the one created to restore the Canada lynx population, which has been successful, should be launched.

So far the state’s Wolf Management Working Group – made up of ranchers, environmentalists, sportsmen, biologists and government officials – has agreed that wolves should be tolerated if they wander in from adjacent states, if they do not harm livestock or cause other problems.

Rob Edward with Sinapu, a Boulder-based group that advocates reintroduction of wolves, and a member of the state working group, said the panel is an ideal forum for developing a wolf-reintroduction plan.

“It’s fairly obvious there won’t be any viable, self-sustaining packs in Colorado for the next 100 years if we wait for them to wander in,” he said. “Throughout our group discussions, we have been asking the state for a recovery plan that should include reintroductions, but most of the working group rebuked us, and now it’s time the state faces up to the wishes of the people.” He was referring to two public opinion polls, one conducted in 1994 by Colorado State University that indicated 70.8 percent of 1,452 respondents favored the return of wolves, and another study in 2001 by Decision Research that showed 68 percent in Colorado in favor.

“The environmentalists on the committee have been up front about wanting to see wolves everywhere in Colorado,” said Jean Stetson, a Craig rancher and wolf-management group member who is co-chairwoman of the endangered species committee of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “And we’ve remained up front in saying we don’t want any wolves.” Stetson and another working group member, Les Hampton, say they are concerned about the possibility that Rocky Mountain National Park will import wolves to help cull its burgeoning elk herd. Park officials say wolves are one of many alternatives being considered to reduce the size of the herd, which they say is destroying vegetation in the park.

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Also appeared in: Longmont Daily Times-Call; Casper Star Tribune; Pueblo Chieftan; Boulder Daily Camera

Debate over wolf reintroduction continues

The Craig Daily Press

By Brandon Johansson

Advocates say they might work outside the Division of Wildlife’s wolf working group to bring wolves back to Colorado.

But some local ranchers and the Moffat County commissioners oppose working outside the DOW to get wolves reintroduced in the state.

In May, the Colorado Wildlife Commission approved the working group’s recommendations for managing wolves that might migrate into Colorado from other states. The working group’s next step will be looking at managing a large population of wolves that make their home in Colorado.

But the working group — which is made up of representatives from local governments, wildlife advocates, livestock producers, sportsmen and biologists — hasn’t looked at reintroducing wolves into the state, just managing wolves that migrate here.

Gary Skiba, the DOW wildlife biologist coordinating wolf management, said the working group hasn’t addressed reintroducing wolves because the group can’t reach a consensus on the matter. “It’s just not something the group is able to address,” Skiba said.

Rob Edward, a working group member representing wildlife advocates, said because the working group hasn’t addressed reintroducing wolves, wildlife advocates might look at other options.

“It appears we’re at a stalemate with wolf reintroduction,” Edward said. “We want to get on with the job of recovering wolves because it is the ecologically right thing to do.”

Edward works for Sinapu in Boulder, a conservation group dedicated to reintroducing carnivores in the Southern Rockies.

He said he would prefer to get wolves reintroduced by going through the working group, but doesn’t think that is an option anymore.

“We don’t ultimately want to see this go to a ballot initiative,” Edward said, but his group is willing to put the issue on a future ballot if the working group doesn’t address it.

Edward said he could also use federal laws, such as the endangered species act, to bring wolves back to Colorado.

Polls show 70 percent of Coloradans support reintroducing wolves, Edward said, so he is “absolutely certain” a ballot initiative would pass.

Les Hampton, a local rancher and former Moffat County commissioner serving on the working group, said groups like Sinapu don’t understand what wolves will do.

“They don’t have a dog in this fight,” Hampton said. “What they’re suggesting will not be in their backyard.”

The Moffat County commissioners said Tuesday they oppose groups that work outside of the DOW to reintroduce wolves. In 2004, when Hampton was a commissioner, the board signed a resolution opposing reintroduction of wolves.

Commissioners sent a letter to DOW director Bruce McCloskey Tuesday that reads: “We are opposed to groups that propose to reintroduce wolves without working through the Wolf Working Group and local communities.”

Hampton was at the commissioners meeting Tuesday and said working outside of the DOW would undermine the process.

“I think it is a threat to the process,” Hampton said.

Hampton said reintroducing wolves isn’t the best way to manage wolves in the state.

He said allowing wolves to migrate here and managing them as they come in is better because it allows scientists to understand how wolves will operate in Colorado.

“If we reintroduce them, we won’t have that learning curve,” Hampton said.

Gray wolves have been reintroduced in other states, including Wyoming, where a wolf sighting was confirmed near Baggs in 2003.

Hampton said it’s only a matter of time before wolves migrate to Colorado.

“I’m convinced in 10 years, we will have wolves living in Colorado,” Hampton said.

Colorado is the gray wolf’s natural habitat, but the species was eradicated in the 1930s.

The only confirmed gray wolf to migrate to Colorado from another state was in 2004, when a female from Yellowstone National Park was killed on Interstate 70.

Wolf advocates pressing for animals' return

Supporters point to polls in urging state to foster plan

By Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News

Wolf advocates say they are not willing to wait 100 years for the animals to return to Colorado on their own and will begin pushing the state to find a way to bring them back.

They want the state Division of Wildlife to develop a wolf recovery plan similar to the one the division embarked on six years ago with the Canada lynx.

The state’s Wolf Management Working Group – made up of ranchers, environmentalists, sportsmen, biologists and government officials – is equipped to shape a wolf plan representing all sides of the issue, say supporters of reintroduction.

Rob Edward, of Sinapu, a Boulder-based group that advocates reintroduction of wolves, and a member of the state working group, said the panel provides an ideal forum to address the conflicting views on the wolf – a romantic symbol of the West’s wildness to some and a scourge to livestock to others.

The group agreed in January that wolves would be tolerated in Colorado if they naturally wander in from adjacent states – as long as they don’t kill livestock or cause major trouble.

But, Edwards said, “It’s fairly obvious there won’t be any viable, self-sustaining packs in Colorado for the next 100 years if we wait for them to wander in.”

“Throughout our group discussions, we have been asking the state for a recovery plan that should include reintroductions, but most of the working group rebuked us and now it’s time the state faces up to the wishes of the people,” he said.

Edwards was referring to two public opinion polls, one conducted in 1994 by Colorado State University that indicated 70.8 percent of 1,452 respondents favored the return of wolves, and another study in 2001 by Decision Research that showed 68 percent in Colorado in favor.

“The environmentalists on the committee have been up front about wanting to see wolves everywhere in Colorado,” said Jean Stetson, a Craig rancher and wolf management group member who co-chairs the endangered species committee of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “And we’ve remained up front in saying we don’t want any wolves.”

Last Tuesday, Stetson and another working group member, Les Hampton, reported to the Moffat County commissioners in Craig that there is concern over the possibility that Rocky Mountain National Park will release wolves to help cull its burgeoning elk herd.

Wolves are one of many alternatives being considered to reduce the size of the herd, which park officials say is destroying vegetation in the park.

Stetson said despite assurances that the National Park Service would recapture or destroy any wolves that left the park boundaries, there would be no way to keep them from heading into neighboring areas. Destroying them would create a public backlash as well as be unfair to the wolves, she said.

Stetson said there already is enough concern over wolves migrating into the state on their own. She said there are reports of wolves killing livestock near Farson, Wyo., 140 miles north of Craig.

Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele wrote a letter to Bruce McCloskey, director of the state wildlife division, saying the county continues to support the working group in preparing a long-term management plan in the event wolves take up residency in the state.

Steele urged McCloskey to allow the process to continue and not allow “outside influences, external political efforts or special interests to alter, redirect or destroy this process.”

Edwards agreed it would be best for the state to take the lead to ensure that everyone has a chance to influence Colorado policy.

However, if the state declines, he said advocates are ready to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to include Colorado in a recovery area that would require reintroductions.

If that fails, he said, the last resort would be for groups to take to the streets to collect signatures to put a ballot initiative before voters calling for reintroduction.

The Secretary of State’s Office said it would take 67,829 signatures to qualify a ballot issue.

Feds Killed 2.7 'Nuisance' Animals in '04

Guardian Unlimited (United Kingdom)

Friday September 9, 2005 10:01 PM

By LIBBY QUAID

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The government killed more than 2.7 million “nuisance” animals last year, including wild turkeys and chickens, black bears, coyotes and wolves, but primarily starlings, troublemaking birds that destroy crops and contaminate livestock feed.

They were killed mainly because they threatened livestock, crops or people in airplanes.

The number of animals killed, an increase of 1 million over 2003, drew criticism from environmental groups.

“Wildlife Services killed more than five animals per minute in 2004,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, spokeswoman for Sinapu, a Colorado-based advocacy group for wolves and other predators. “The toll on ecosystems wrought by this one agency is jaw-dropping.”

Wildlife Services, an Agriculture Department program, kills black bears that like to eat campers’ food in public parks or birds that congregate near airports and could get sucked into aircraft engines.

“Lethal means is something that we do as a final resort, when we have repeat problems,” said Wildlife Services spokesman Dan Perry. “It is not something done indiscriminately.”

He described how the department helps land owners, airports and other government agencies cut tall grasses, build fences, drain standing water and take other measures to dampen creatures’ enthusiasm for a place. For example, officials may use fake dead vultures to drive away live ones.

“Believe it or not, it works; that’s just the way the species reacts,” Perry said.

The mission of Wildlife Services is to protect agriculture, property and natural resources and to reduce wildlife threats to human health and safety. The service used to be known as Animal Damage Control.

The program has a research center in Fort Collins, Colo., that is developing contraceptives for deer and geese, and it also has a rabies vaccination program for wildlife.

The number of animals killed probably rose because funding increased for the department’s cormorant program, aimed at protecting fish farms from the large, voracious diving birds. Also targeted were flocks of Canada geese that have stopped their annual migrations. The department killed 3,263 double-crested cormorants and 10,735 Canada geese last year.

The largest number of animals killed – 2.3 million – were starlings, which are attracted to feedlots and defecate in cattle feed. Critics say the poison used also kills owls, hawks, magpies, raccoons and cats. The department also uses aerial gunning, traps or “denning,” which involves killing animals in their dens.

“Most of the public has no idea that a significant portion of the federal wildlife management budget is actually devoted to extermination,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “Animals that inconvenience humans become expendable `varmints’ that are then dispatched with stunning efficiency.”

Among the animals killed were:

-75,674 coyotes.

-31,286 beavers.

-3,907 foxes.

-397 black bears.

-359 cougars.

-191 wolves.

-143 feral or free-ranging chickens

-72 wild turkeys

On the Net:

Wildlife Services: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws

Mountain Lion Program to be Presented Next Week

The Mountain Mail
Thursday, September 08, 2005

The West’s red-rock canyon country, rugged foothills and piñon-covered mesas provide critical habitat to mountain lions (Puma concolor).

A highly charismatic species, mountain lions (commonly known as pumas, cougars, or panthers) are an icon of the Southern Rockies. Sleekly built and majestic, mountain lions evoke mythic associations connected to the divine.

These large golden cats, shy and antisocial by nature, prefer rugged terrain suitable for ambushing large prey, such as mule deer and elk.

Mountain lions require expansive habitats because they are an “obligate carnivore” – they only eat meat – and their food supply is dispersed through long distances. A male lion requires at least 100 square miles of habitat in the arid West.

Learn mountain lion natural history, how Colorado manages its population, and skills to successfully co-exist with this large native carnivore through a slide presentation presented by Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu.

Sinapu is a grassroots wildlife conservation organization named after the Ute word for wolves. It is dedicated to the restoration and protection of native carnivores and their wild habitat in the Southern Rockies and connected high plains and deserts.

The mountain lion program will be shown in Buena Vista Tuesday at the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association Community Room on U.S. 24 and in Salida, Wednesday, at Salida Regional Library. Both programs begin at 7 p.m. There is no charge.

The mountain lion programs are provided by GARNA, the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association and the Ark-Valley Humane Society in partnership with Sinapu.

For more information, call GARNA at 539-5106 or email info@garna.com.



Content © 2005 The Mountain Mail Software © 1998-2005 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved

Federal Government Kills More Than 2.7 Million Wildlife in ‘04

Record “Take” of Wildlife Comes Mainly From Chemical Agents

Contacts:
Chas Offutt, PEER: 202.265.7337
Wendy Keefover-Ring, Sinapu: 303.447.8655, Ext. 1#

Washington, DC — Even as some federal agencies spend millions to protect wildlife, another federal agency spends millions to kill wildlife in record numbers, according to agency reports released today by two environmental groups, Sinapu and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The number of “nuisance” wildlife destroyed by the federal government rose to more than 2.7 million animals in 2004, an increase of more than a million from 2003.

According to the most recent figures, 2004 was a record year for officially sanctioned destruction of wildlife at taxpayer expense and the first time annual federal wildlife kill numbers exceeded two million. Birds constituted the overwhelming majority of animals exterminated, with starlings registering the greatest single species death total at 2.3 million.

Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, responds to requests from ranchers, farmers, and municipalities to remove problem wildlife. Wildlife Services, formerly known as Animal Damage Control, reported the following kill or “take” totals for 2004:

  • Mammal deaths include 31,286 beavers, 3,236 opossums, 2,210 prairie dogs, 10,518 raccoons and 1,673 rabbits and hares;
  • Bird kill totals include 22,204 crows, ravens and blackbirds, 76,874 pigeons and doves, 10,806 geese and swans, 72 wild turkeys, 15,508 sparrows, and143 free ranging chickens; and
  • Native carnivore deaths include 397 black bears, 359 cougars, 75,674 coyotes, 3,907 foxes, and 191 wolves.

“Wildlife Services killed more than five animals per minute in 2004,”said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu. “The toll on ecosystems wrought by this one agency is jaw dropping.”

The method employed by Wildlife Services to kill more than 90% of the animals is poison agents, ranging from strychnine to sodium cyanide. Widespread application of poison often kills “non-target” species, as well. For example, poisons used to eradicate starlings in cattle feedlots also killed owls, hawks, magpies, raccoons and domestic cats. Other methods employed by Wildlife Services include aerial gunning, “denning” (killing animals in their dens), and traps.

“Most of the public has no idea that a significant portion of the federal wildlife management budget is actually devoted to extermination – animals that inconvenience humans become expendable ‘varmints’ that are then dispatched with stunning efficiency,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “With all of our unmet social and infrastructure needs, it is amazing that the federal government finances an entire fleet of aircraft for the purpose of hunting wildlife.”

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Look at the 2004 wildlife kill totals for USDA
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/tables/04tables.html

View the wildlife kill totals for

2003
2002
2001

Wildlife gets taste of city life

Castle Rock seeing more bears, coyotes, mountain lions

By Joey Bunch
Denver Post Staff Writer
DenverPost.com

Castle Rock – Some troubling residents have moved to this burgeoning town of 35,000: mountain lions, coyotes and bears.

Last week a 70-pound mountain lion was run over on Interstate 25, at the gateway to downtown.

Over the past year, two bears have been spotted downtown dining from garbage bins, and city employees have grown accustomed to coyotes prowling near city hall in the early morning.

“It’s a jungle out there,” joked Theresa Miller, who lives in The Meadows subdivision on the edge of Castle Rock.

As fall approaches, wildlife is likely to come to town in search of an easy meal, wildlife officials said. Humans can do nature a favor by putting away garbage and food and preventing deer and elk from grazing in yards and fields.

So far, carnivores in Castle Rock have been little more than pests, said animal protection officer Steve Schaffner.

Last year, a man just outside town thought two cinnamon-color bear cubs on his property were dogs, until their mother charged at him from the brush, sending him fleeing to the top of his shed.

Many of Colorado’s mountain and suburban communities are seeing more such predators in the heart of civilization, said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of carnivore protection for Sinapu, a Boulder- based wildlife advocacy group.

The weeks ahead are prime time for bears to roam, as they fatten up for winter hibernation. Garbage cans, bird feeders, dog food and grease in backyard grills are tempting lures.

She said bears driven from the backcountry by years of drought are lingering around communities, even as berries and nuts have rebounded this summer.

“They say, ‘A fed bear is a dead bear,’ and the most important thing is for people to keep that from happening,” Keefover-Ring said.

Colorado has a “two strikes” law for nuisance bears.

Tom Beck, a retired bear expert for the state Division of Wildlife, said communities on the wildland border improve the buffet for wildlife. Deer love the sweetly fertilized, abundant grass in subdivisions and golf courses, areas off-limits to hunters.

And where deer go, predators will follow.

People have to be conscious of the presence of wildlife on the urban frontier and adjust their habits, Beck said.

“You can’t take the behavior from an urban area and move it to the country and not expect to have problems.”

Staff writer Joey Bunch can be reached at 303-820-1174 or jbunch@denverpost.com.