Government plan fails to meet intent of species protection law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • 27 February 2007
For more information contact: Rob Edward | 303.918.8073 (cell)
Cheyenne, WY – At a hearing today in Cheyenne regarding the federal proposal to strip wolves in the Northern Rockies of their legal protections, citizens and conservationists underscored their opposition to the plan. In particular, Rob Edward, Director of Carnivore Restoration for Sinapu stated that the plan is illegal because wolves presently occupy less than five percent of their once vast range in the lower 48 states (and less than 15 percent of their historic range in the region covered by the plan). “The job is not done,” said Edward. “The government cannot cut-and-run from their stewardship of wolves.”
When measured against the definition of “recovery” outlined in the Endangered Species Act, the effort to recover wolves has a long way to go. The law requires that a listed species (e.g. wolves) must be restored to “all or a significant portion of its range” before being removed from the endangered species list. Moreover, the agency’s plan represents a glaring double standard for wolves, when compared to other wide-ranging species (e.g. bald eagles, brown pelicans, and peregrine falcons) which remained protected until they again occupied nearly all of their historic range.
“Wolves deserve the same chance as bald eagles to reclaim their place in America,” said Edward. According to Sinapu, the government is misapplying an obscure policy for endangered species management in order to strip wolves of their protections. The proposal will set the stage for a massive campaign by the livestock industry and some hunting outfitters to drastically reduce the number of wolves in Wyoming.
Wyoming lawmakers want the state to allow the unregulated killing of wolves everywhere outside of the national parks. Such attitudes underscore that wolves still warrant protection. “The lawsuit that will result from this plan could well be called The 21st Century versus Wyoming,” said Edward.
With Wolves, Wyoming Keeps Shooting Self In Foot
It was during the latter half of the 1980s in a conference room at Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole. The topic was restoring gray wolves to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem and to a wider swath of the intermountain West.
Ronald Reagan was in the White House and William Penn Mott, Jr., Reagan’s director of the National Park Service, made a trip to Wyoming to talk about why wolves deserved a second chance.
Western lawmakers didn’t know what to do about the elderly Mr. Mott who proved to be more wiley than themselves.
Privately, behind the scenes, they furiously made calls to the president’s staff, demanding that Reagan fire the small old man with snow-white hair for speaking what they claimed was cultural blasphemy. Part of the (short) oral tradition of their kin folk in the West was based upon demonizing wolves; it united them against a common bogeyman. Continue reading
One Year Later – No Agency Accountability for Couple Living in Rural Utah
Vernal, UT-From the highway, a dirt road makes its way onto federal lands. The entry gate was marked with a sign that warns visitors that predator poisons are being used in the area. The man, accompanied by dog, drove his truck through the gate and set out as dawn approached.
Later, when sun was at its winter zenith and the rabbits had hunkered down for siesta, the hunting day ended for the man. It was February, near the close of the Utah rabbit-hunting season. That day, which had started out like all of the other outings taken in the three preceding months, ended in a nightmare that the man could not have anticipated or imagined. A bureaucratic web would enshroud him; a web the man unsuccessfully tried to unravel in the year that followed.
On February 21 2006, Sam’s two-year-old dog Jenna accompanied him on a rabbit hunt in the Utah desert near Vernal. They hiked on federal lands that were managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is the largest federal land management agency. It administers lands for the public, for livestock growers, and mineral and gas miners. BLM lands are located in some of the driest and harshest climates in the West.
Jenna trotted a few feet behind Sam in a landscape dotted by sagebrush and cattle and marked by rolling hills. They were headed back to Sam’s truck on a dirt road rutted by tire tracks under a powerline. The powerline provided a convenient navigational tool to find the truck in the desert expanse.
By the edge of the road and between two rocks, a smell enticed Jenna that Sam could not detect. She tugged on a lure sticking up from the ground that was specifically intended to attract wild canids such as coyotes and foxes, but also calls to domestic dogs. A pellet of sodium cyanide shot into Jenna’s mouth from a spring-loaded device called an M-44. Sam heard a commotion and whipped around. “Jenna started gagging, frothing, and then threw up,” said Sam. He saw the spent M-44 and his heart sank. Sam had seen a sign on the entry gate onto the BLM that had warned of predator toxicants. He later told state investigators that he thought the M-44s would be clearly marked in the field; the M-44 that killed Jenna had not been marked, Sam told the state investigator. Continue reading
And now…brought to you by the “deep breath of sanity, in the midst of hysteria” department…here’s your moment of zen
An article in the Denver Post reports that the Colorado Wildlife Commission will seek Congressional intervention to change a decades-old law that prohibits hunting inside the Park. This is the latest installment in the soap opera playing out as the Park Service tries to deal with the ecological effects of not having wolves in the system to help keep the elk moving around. Notably, the very problem that Rocky Mountain National Park is trying to solve (the decline of aspen and willow because of too much browsing pressure by lazy elk) has been dramatically solved in Yellowstone in less than a decade. The solution: restore wolves to the Park. It’s not rocket science, folks! It should be ecological science, but instead, it’s political science.
Citing concerns about risks to people, endangered species and pets, a coalition of public health and conservation groups have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban two poisons for use as wildlife control agents.
“EPA takes very seriously its responsibilities to ensure that pesticides registered in the United States can be used safely without harming people, wildlife or the environment,” said the EPA’s Enesta Jones. “We will review the petition.”
The EPA has no time limit to review the document and respond.
The poisons targeted for prohibition are sodium cyanide capsules and sodium fluoroacetate.
In Montana and Wyoming, sodium cyanide is commonly used to kill coyotes using baited M-44 ejectors. In Montana, three people, 22 government agents and two commercial applicators are licensed to use sodium cyanide.
The poison is most commonly used by Wildlife Services, an agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for predator control across the nation. Continue reading
Enviros ask feds to discontinue uses of livestock protection chemicals
A coalition of environmental groups sent a petition to the Agriculture Department and U.S. EPA last week requesting that the agencies discontinue the legal uses of two highly toxic pesticides used to protect livestock from predators in the wild.
Led by the Colorado-based carnivorous wildlife protection group Sinapu, the petition asks EPA to cancel and suspend all uses of M-44 sodium cyanide capsules and sodium fluoroacetate livestock protection collars, also known as Compound 1080. The uses of the “predator damage management” chemicals should be canceled because they do not yield a high enough number of predator kills per year to warrant the “risks and costs to people and wildlife” that the chemicals pose.
The sodium cyanide capsules are used by USDA and private landowners to protect livestock grazing areas. The capsules are placed in a trap that attracts predators such as wolves and coyotes with an attractive smell and then gases the predators once they spring the trap. The chemical is highly lethal and can kill an animal within moments and human — if ingested — over an hour or more.
Compound 1080 — which is banned in all but 11 states — is a World War II-era chemical that can easily kill a grown man. For livestock protection purposes, quantities of it can be placed in liquid form in a collar that goes around the neck of a cow or sheep. When a predator attempts to bite the neck of its victim, it is exposed to a quantity of 1080 that often results in a slow death brought on by cardiac arrest. Continue reading