Monthly Archives: January 2007

Wolves in the News

Well, there’s nothing like a controversy to get the corporate media going! In the past couple of days, outlets around the globe, especially in the U.S., have spilled ink (or the Internet equivalent) over the federal governemnt’s plan to remove wolves in the lower forty-eight states from the list of endangered species. In case you missed the original salvo in this story, click here for Sinapu’s press release from earlier in the week.

Given the amount of coverage the issue has received this week, I’ll provide links to just a few of the most salient articles, and will update the list if new articles come in this week (the name of the source appears in parentheses next to the link):

Wolf tracks

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When it comes to wolves, the job is not done

Federal wolf plan turns a blind eye to the law–and stewardship of the species

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • January 29, 2007
For more information contact: Rob Edward | 303.447.8655 ext. 2#

Click here to download a copy of the government’s proposal [PDF].

Yellowostone Reintroduction (Photo: USFWS)Boulder, CO – Despite being protected by federal law for over 30 years, gray wolves in the lower forty-eight states presently occupy less than five percent of their historic range. When measured against the definition of “recovery” outlined in the Endangered Species Act, the effort to recover wolves has a long way to go. In fact, the law requires that listed species (e.g. wolves) must be restored to “all or a significant portion of their former range” before being removed from the endangered species list. Yet, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today announced that five percent is more than enough for wolves. Moreover, the agency’s announcement underscores a glaring double standard for wolves, when compared to similar decisions for other wide-ranging species that remained protected until they again occupied nearly all of their historic range.

“The government has turned its back on wolf recovery,” said Rob Edward, Director of Carnivore Restoration for Sinapu. Edward argues that the government is misapplying an obscure policy for endangered species in order to strip the only wolves residing in North America of their protections. He also believes that the proposal to eliminate protections for the species will set the stage for a massive campaign by the livestock industry to drastically reduce the number of wolves in Wyoming and Idaho.

“The government is ready to abandon the fate of wolves to institutions that believe it is still 1870,” said Edward. For example, Idaho Governor Butch Otter recently stated during an anti-wolf rally that he wants to be one of the first to legally kill a wolf in his state. Likewise, Wyoming lawmakers are presently circulating at least two proposals that would allow the unregulated killing of wolves in most of the state. Such measures and attitudes make clear that the beleaguered species still warrants protection. Edward believes that giving Idaho and Wyoming control of wolf management will ensure that the species never re-occupies the other parts of it’s former range. “The nation’s progress toward wolf recovery will grind to a halt under this plan,” said Edward.

Edward argues that the conservation mandate of the Endangered Species Act is unequivocal, and that it sets a reasonable standard for recovery of imperiled species. “The government has a proud track record for recovering wide-ranging species within the mandate of the law,” said Edward. “The Brown Pelican, the American Alligator and the Peregrine Falcon are prime examples of recovered species that now occupy nearly all of their historic range. Yet, because the livestock industry refuses to tolerate wolves, the government has set the bar much lower, and moved much slower.”

Edward and his conservation colleagues insist that wolves can easily be restored to places like Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, but for the intransigence of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “Rather than washing their hands of wolf stewardship,” said Edward, “the government should reintroduce wolves to Colorado and other places, and should let them thrive without threat of persecution.” Moreover, Edward argues, removing protections from existing populations of wolves reduces the likelihood that wolves could successfully re-occupy habitat in places such as northern Colorado.

If the federal plan to strip wolves of their protections is finalized (a decision that may not come for a year or more), Edward asserts that Sinapu and other conservation organizations will file suit in federal court to reverse the decision.

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Wildlife Advocates Seek Ban on 2 Poisons

WASHINGTON (AP) – Advocacy groups are asking the government to ban two poisons widely used for killing wildlife.

The poisons are primarily used to kill coyotes that threaten livestock and game. Sodium cyanide capsules are placed in baited ejectors, and sodium fluoroacetate, or Compound 1080, is used in sheep and goat collars.

The Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services program distributes the poisons.

In a petition filed Wednesday with the Environmental Protection Agency, the groups cited problems with the poisons:

-Internal audits revealing poor inventory control that could lead to theft of the poisons.

-Deaths of California condors and other animals that feed on poisoned carcasses.

-Availability of non-lethal alternatives to control coyotes and other predators.

“While death by sodium cyanide is quick but traumatic, Compound 1080 can take several excruciating hours to kill a person or an animal exposed to it,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, a Colorado-based advocacy group for wolves and other predators. Continue reading

Court puts hold on Colorado trapping

DENVER — New regulations allowing the trapping of pine martens and mink have been put on hold while environmentalists challenge them on grounds that they violate a voter-approved trapping ban.

The decision earlier this month by Denver District Judge Larry Naves reverses the rules at least until their legality is determined in court. A trial is set for Sept. 10.

Wendy Keefover-Ring of Boulder-based Sinapu, a wildlife advocacy group, said environmentalists challenging the regulations believe they violate a 1996 voter-approved ban on leg-hold and body-gripping traps, snares and poisons.

“We think it clearly banned all commercial and recreational trapping,” Keefover-Ring said.

Last summer, the state Wildlife Commission approved the use of box traps to capture pine martens and mink, weasel-like animals valued for their fur.

The commission, which oversees the state Division of Wildlife, rejected a request from the Colorado Trappers Association to use the traps for seven other animals, including swift fox and gray fox.

Spokesman Tyler Baskfield said the Division of Wildlife is doing everything it can to make sure hunters are aware of the court decision and that they shouldn’t be trapping the animals.

Mink and pine martens can be hunted by other means. Continue reading

Legal Bid To Ban Wildlife Poisons

Petition Cites Bio-Terrorist Threat and Loss of Non-Target Animals

Press Release: Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Contact: Wendy Keefover-Ring [Sinapu] (303) 447.8655, Ext. 1#; Carol Goldberg [PEER] (202) 265-7337

Washington, DC Two of the most widely used poisons for killing wild mammals should be banned, according to a petition filed today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by a coalition of conservation and public health groups. In their filing, the groups point to the potential bio-terrorism risks from widespread distribution of these highly lethal agents that have also caused inadvertent deaths of large numbers of wild and domestic animals as well as other environmental harms.

The two targeted poisons are sodium cyanide capsules (used in M-44 ejectors) and sodium fluoroacetate (known as Compound 1080), a toxicant used in livestock protection collars strapped to the heads of sheep and goats. Both agents are classified by EPA as having the highest degree of acute toxicity. Compound 1080 is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, water soluble toxin considered by several countries as a chemical weapon for its potential threat to water supplies. Compound 1080 has already been banned in California and Oregon but remains legal in eleven states.

These poisons are distributed by an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called Wildlife Services, which spend approximately $100 million per year aiding ranchers, farmers and special districts in killing wildlife, ranging from beavers to bears, deemed a nuisance. In 2004, the last year for which figures are available, Wildlife Services claimed to have eradicated 2.7 million animals, principally birds. Continue reading

Let science dictate wolf decisions

Black wolf in Yellowstone, courtesy of Tim Springer. Copyright 2005.As the political wrangling over “managing” wolves in the Northern Rockies heats up, our friend and colleague Suzanne Stone in Idaho has posted a thoughtful editorial on the New West Network that bears reading. Come to think of it, it bears reading most by policy makers in Idaho and Wyoming.

Click here to jump to the article.

The Cowboy State declares that it's 1874–again

Wolves - government Sponsored Terrorists?

In a move that can only be described as puzzling, the Wyoming legislature has advanced a bill that will ensure that wolves will remain listed as “endangered” under Federal law. Why? Well, those wacky fellers got a plan: If the Feds keep them listed, they’ll have to pay for their management. At-least that seems to be the only “logic” behind the bill now circulating through the Wyoming state legislature, which classifies wolves as “predators” (a legal status that allows them to be shot on sight) in all areas outside of the two national parks in northern Wyoming.

To read the latest on this bold move, click here to jump to a story in the rag for Jackson Hole, and click here to see what they’re saying about it over at Ralph Maughan’s blog.