Monthly Archives: March 2007

Hey buddy, can you spare some change for my wolf?

I don’t like bullies. Few people do. Yet, it seems like we live in a world where all of the rules are written by (and for) the bullies. Whether corporations seeking to absolve themselves of their responsibility to be good global citizens, governments seeking to secure natural resources (usually for corporate gain) or special interests striving to maintain the status quo, it’s the bully’s way or the highway.

So it is that we find ourselves, now more than 30 years into the effort to weave wolves back into their rightful place in the West, with wolves still only represented across less than 5% of their historic range; this despite the fact that we’ve got plenty of prey, land and public support to ensure the survival of wolves in the region for the foreseeable future. Clearly, 5% is better than nothing, and the government has managed to keep the species from going extinct. Were it not for the bullies, however, we’d be much further along the road to a restored wolf population.

Wolves - government Sponsored Terrorists?


Bullies with guns drove wolves (and grizzly bears) to extinction throughout much of North America, and the lobbies and legal firms that defend the legacy of those bullies continue to bully decision-makers into “keeping America wolf-free” (no doubt a patriotic act on par with fighting terrorism). Amazingly, these neo-bullies act as if every rancher (and hunter) in America hates wolves, when the truth is a few shades different. Amazingly, these neo-bullies represent a tiny fraction of our population and economy, yet their voice rivals that of The Mouse That Roared. Amazingly, most people are not aware of how disproportionately powerful these neo-bullies are.

Consider this: according to the Center for Responsive Politics, between 1990 and 2004, the livestock industry contributed an average of $3,310,896 to political campaigns and candidates for each two-year national election cycle (that’s right, every two years). Notably, these numbers do not include contributions for state-level offices.

During that same period, Sinapu’s annual budget has never breached the $250,000 mark. Money is muscle, and the livestock industry had enough muscle left over to give a hefty chunk away to politicians every couple of years, while groups like Sinapu struggle just to stay in the fight.

If the story of David and Goliath is starting to seep into your subconscious mind by now, it’s because you’re paying attention. Wild carnivores don’t have political action committees throwing down thousand-dollar checks for their favorite sons (oh, what a different world it would be!). In short, we have got to get stronger (and bigger) in order to successfully rein in the legacy of these bullies. I’m more confident than ever that we can do it though, because we have you and a growing legion of good citizens like you who dream of a wilder tomorrow.

So, herewith, I offer a challenge to all who want their children to inherit an America that once again has a writhing, howling, tail-wagging, elk-chasing, wild heart: for every dollar you spend on meat (especially beef and lamb), set aside a dollar to contribute to organizations that work to defend and restore wild America. How’s that for poking a finger in the eye of those wolf-hating bullies! If the scrappy tack doesn’t do it for you, then think of it as tithing for wildlife. Whatever works—just be disciplined about it.

At the end of the day, we will beat these bullies, and the wolves will sing up the moon. The more money we have coming in the door, the more staff we can hire to help us counter the political influence bought by industry lobbyists. Indeed, the more successful we are, the wilder America becomes.


Groups ask Court to Reconsider Lynx in New Mexico

Request Seeks Protection of Rare Wildcat from Harmful Activities

Santa Fe, NM – The fight for lynx (Lynx canadensis), a high-elevation wildcat, in New Mexico is not over. Forest Guardians, Sinapu, and a coalition of conservation groups have requested that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals re-examine a February decision that the U.S. Forest Service does not need to review the impact of Forest Management Plans on lynx in the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests. Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) Attorney Matthew Bishop, representing the groups, filed the request today.

“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service both determined that the number one threat to lynx in the Southern Rockies is the implementation of Forest Plans that fail to include conservation measures for lynx,” said Matthew Bishop. “It’s hard to reconcile this determination with the Court’s decision,” said Bishop. Continue reading

Words & Deeds :: Bringing Balance Back to Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in Ropcky Mountain National Park

Environmentalists say the National Park Service and Congressman Mark Udall are missing the mark on wolf recovery in Rocky Mountain National Park

Congressman Mark Udall has seen wolves in the wild.

“I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to see wolves in their natural habitat, and I reflected on how much wolves exemplify the wilderness experience,” he recounts in the foreword to Comeback Wolves, a 2005 collection of stories and poems that support wolf restoration in the West.

The words exemplify Udall’s appreciation for and alliance with conservation causes. But with his eye on a Senate run — and a need to build statewide political appeal — the five-term congressman from Eldorado Springs is sending mixed signals to environmentalists. In February, he introduced legislation that would allow licensed hunters to kill elk inside Rocky Mountain National Park, carrying out a park plan to thin the binging herd. The bill offers a twist, however, on the National Park Service’s proposal to hire government sharpshooters to cull the local elk population.

Click here to read the entire article by Josh Zaffos in The Rocky Mountain Chronicle.

Wildlife Services Reposts Public Data

Coyote caught in a trap (click for more)

Looking for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) annual tables? They’re a moving target. First it took us 8 months to get them to post their 2005 data–as required by a federal court order the the Freedom of Information Act, and shortly after they posted it, they took it all down. Meanwhile, Sinapu posted a portion of their data to fill in the gap, but then WS reposted their data (without building a link from their broken page.) So here’s a link to their new home (click here) — at least for now!

For your convenience, you can download WS’s tables which show animals killed and by what method here for 2005, 2004, and 2003.

If you’re interested in seeing the numbers of native (mammalian) carnivores killed and by what methods in a more readable format, download Sinapu’s spreadsheets here for 2005, 2004, and 2003.

Hunting in our National Parks? Is Nothing Sacred?

Two black wolves in YellowstoneIn an article on today, columnist George Wuerthner opines about pending proposals to allow the public to tote rifles into Rocky Mountain National Park to help kill elk that are over-stripping the Park’s plant communities. Here’s the intro by journalist Todd Wilkinson, followed by a link to the article:

Taking aim at proposals to open two national parks to hunting, based on the premise that it can be an effective tool in reducing high elk numbers, columnist George Wuerthner says his “On The Range” column it would be a grave mistake and open a Pandora’s box of negative consequences. Wuerthner says he has nothing against hunting but that it might be time to restore some four-legged hunters who could do the job more compatibly with the natural goals of the National Park Service. Are Colorado and North Dakota ready for wolf reintroduction? – Todd Wilkinson

Click here to view the article by George Wuerthner.

Government adopts new Endangered Species policy: denial

Flat Tops WildernessA little over a week ago, a memo from the Solicitor for the U.S. Department of Interior surfaced that seeks to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act by essentially limiting the law’s scope to those places where imperiled species are presently struggling, eliminating any need to actually restore such species to their former range. This shouldn’t really come as a shock, but it should wake people up to the clear view of this Administration: “Nature can go to hell!”. Here’s a teaser from an AP article last week and the link to the full story:

Tired of losing lawsuits brought by conservation groups, the Bush administration issued a new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act on Friday that would allow it to protect plants and animals only in areas where they are struggling to survive, while ignoring places where they are healthy or have already died out.

The opinion by U.S. Department of Interior Solicitor David Bernhardt was posted with no formal announcement on the department’s Web site.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall, contacted in Washington, D.C., said the new policy would allow them to focus on protecting species in areas where they are in trouble, rather than having to list a species over its entire range.

That would make it easier to take the gray wolf off the federal threatened species list in Montana and Idaho, leaving it to the states to manage. And it would leave it listed in Wyoming, where the state has yet to adopt a protection plan that satisfies the federal government, Hall said.

“I think this will be a good tool from a biological standpoint,” he said. “I think a lot of species might be affected in the future, especially species that are wideranging.”

But Kieran Suckling, policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, said the new policy was a sophisticated effort by the Bush administration to gut the Endangered Species Act by ignoring the loss of species from their historical range, making it easier to deny endangered species listings.

Click here to read the full story from the Associated Press.

Taming Mountain Lions?

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) wants to “adversely condition” mountain lions by shooting them with lead-filled bean bags or by chasing them with hounds in a novel study that it has proposed to Front Range county land managers. The DOW wants to haze lions, said Matt Alldredge, a newly-hired biologist for the DOW, in an attempt to change their behaviors.

Alldrege testified yesterday before Boulder County’s Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee (POSAC).

According to Sinapu, a few citizens, and the majority of POSAC members, the DOW’s proposed study appeared unclear in its purpose, objectives, protocols, and methodologies. Thus it failed to pass muster. POSAC voted 7 to 2 to table the matter until further hearing.

Sinapu felt that the DOW had not considered the unintended consequences of its actions. Mountain lions that are relocated, killed, or hazed from their territories could leave orphaned kittens, or leave vacant home ranges that might attract a younger dispersing lion, which as the literature shows, may more likely to come into conflicts with humans and pets. Download Sinapu’s comments (pdf).

Furthermore, Sinapu raised concerns that fundamental baseline data about Front Range mountain lion populations are not part of the proposed study.

Dave Freddy of the DOW confirmed this worry. He testified that the DOW knows enough about lion populations from other sources, and that obtaining population and natality information specific to Colorado’s Front Range would be redundant and of less importance than its novel lion-hazing plans.

Sinapu firmly believes that baseline population data are necessary in making in wildlife management decisions and that the DOW’s rush to haze cats is without merit because the unintended consequences of such actions have not been fully explicated.

The DOW has an opportunity to fully develop its study plan and re-approach Boulder County. Next week, the DOW will try to get the City of Boulder to also allow the study to move forward on its natural lands. Jefferson County has already approved this study on its open space lands.

Read today’s media coverage:


Longmont Times-Daily Call

Boulder Daily Camera