The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist gray wolves nationwide is flawed because it’s based on the total number of wolves, a statistical approach that, according to wolf biologist Gordon Haber, is “ecological nonsense.”
Haber spent over 43 years observing Alaska’s wild wolves, mostly in Denali National Park, before dying in a plane crash while tracking the animals. To locate wolves, he snowshoed, skied and flew in winter; he backpacked and hiked in summer. He endured minus-50-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, blizzards, thunderstorms, mosquitoes and the risk of grizzly and moose attacks. Few modern biologists have such unassailable experiential authority.
A healthy wolf population is more than x number of wolves inhabiting y square miles of territory. The notion that we can “harvest” a fixed percentage of a wolf population corresponding to natural mortality rates and still maintain a viable population misses the point. According to Haber, it’s not how many wolves you kill, it’s which wolves you kill.
The government has extended the comment period for delisting gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection to Dec. 17, 2013. Go to www.regulations.gov and click on Gray wolf: Docket N. (FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073).
Minnesota's wolves: Dead or alive?Although 79% of the people of Minnesota oppose the wolf hunt, it continues through manipulated politics. There are 7 hunting groups on the Wolf Advisory Committee, the scientist researchers have been excluded and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) people have been reduced.
Wolf as icon
Despite current rhetoric against the wolf, the species has long been an icon of the great north woods of Minnesota. Open season on the wolf is open season on our remaining natural heritage.
In contrast to the current war against the wolves, the Red Lake and White Earth Ojibwe Bands have approved policies protecting the wolf on their reservation lands. The Ojibwe warn that hunting and trapping pressures will put the wolves back on a path toward extinction.
The indigenous people see Wolf as brother. What befalls the wolf befalls us all.
Minnesota wolf management proves the science on wolf packs, After the first year of hunting and baited trapping, the population dropped 25%. So the DNR had to reduce its planned quota for this year by 50%. A species that was protected for 38 years suddenly faced a one third reduction in its population in one year. That one third is a total of the legal kill, poaching, depredation kill by state and federal agencies, road kill. Most of the kills were by trapping which is exceeding hunting. The idea of the "fair chase" of the hunt is being lost. The trapper walks up the the cowed wolf anchored by a steel foot trap and shoots the animal. Fortunately in one case of 6 traps only one wolf was caught but there were wolf tracks going up to all the other traps. The young healthy less wary wolves are getting caught in the traps.
Here's a quandary. The wolf is listed as a game animal. Game animals are not allowed to be caught with baited traps, except the wolf. Rob Meador of the MINNPOST asks:
"wolves really aren't on the same plane as other game species but on a different morally inferior one?"
Wisconsin's proposed wolf reduction worries scientists
As hunters prepare for Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, some scientists are warning that a proposal to sharply cull the population could destabilize it — just two years after wolves were removed from the federal endangered list.
The wolf committee is one of 16 wildlife advisory committees that were revamped this spring to exclude university researchers and reduce DNR staff — a move that internal DNR records show was controversial among some of the agency’s scientists. The committees now have more representation by interest groups, including sportsmen.
Van Deelen estimated the carrying capacity for wolves in Wisconsin to be about 900. At 350 wolves, he told the advisory committee at its July meeting in Wausau, small mistakes in management are no longer self-correcting; they could lead to instability.
Michigan wolf hunt begins todayMichigan has sold 1200 licenses to kill 43 wolves. The total wolf population is estimated to be 658. The allowable number hunted in one year is only 50% of the wolves actually killed that year if poaching, depredation and road kill are added. How many of those killed will be alpha wolves? We know that trophy hunters like to stalk the biggest wolves so the chances are good that many alphas will be shot.
As hunters excitedly prepared for the hunt Thursday, the mood was far more somber about 300 miles to the south in Mount Pleasant, where the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe planned a candlelight vigil for the animal so iconic in their tribal heritage.
"The gray wolf is significant to our culture," said tribal spokesman Frank Cloutier. "It's a part of our creation story, very significant to who we are and what we believe."
UPDATE: Nov. 16, 2013, 17:30 PST
Rock Legend Iggy Pop Urges Gov. Snyder to Cancel Wolf Hunt, and Let the People Decide
“As a Michigan native and someone who has cared about animals, both wild and domestic, for as long as I can remember, I was dismayed…that a bill you signed last May (S.B. 288/P.A. 21) gave Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission the authority to decide which animals can be hunted…which resulted in the first authorized wolf hunt since wolves underwent state protection in 1965.”
“To further compound the issue Mlive.com just unveiled several investigative reports that reveal the state used ‘half-truths’ and ‘falsehoods’ to support authorizing a hunting season on wolves in Michigan. The reports make clear that the decision to approve wolf hunting was based on fraudulent information and not sound science,” said Pop.
“I am asking all of my fans in Michigan to sign up and help gather signatures to reverse this decision and protect the wolf from future hunts,” Pop continues. “The senseless killing of these majestic animals for sport is a disappointment to the people of Michigan and a stain on its Government.” He called on Gov. Snyder to “do the right thing by staying the hunt and allowing the people’s voice to be heard” on the issue.
In some regions, there is no limit to the number of wolves a hunter can take; in some there is a 3 bag limit. I'm hesitant to define the territories and lax hunting rules because in my last diary on wolves, hunters were discussing the best place to hunt as many wolves as they could.
In Alberta the woodland caribou is endangered because of human activity and habitat loss. The Alberta tar sands extraction is destroying the boreal forest the home of the woodland caribou. The government response to the decimation of the caribou herds has been a massive slaughter of wolves.
Wolves in AlbertaOn a happier note:
June 2011, News article by author Ed Struzik states that over the last 5 years, the Alberta government has spent over $1 million poisoning wolves with strychnine and shooting them from the air. Over 500 wolves have been killed this way in Alberta's Little Smoky region to stabilize its caribou population. Scientists interviewed by Struzik say that wolf kills alone are no long-term solution for caribou, that wolf populations will immediately rebound, and that habitat protection and restoration is needed to save caribou.
Wolves Go Salmon Fishing
Ian McAllister, a wildlife photographer and executive director of Pacific Wild, said over the years he’s spent countless hours haunting riverbanks, praying for a shot of a wolf catching a salmon. Now he’s got high-definition images streaming into his office, near Bella Bella, showing entire packs of wolves splashing through the shallows, ducking their heads under water to catch fish.
The activity is so rarely seen that it wasn’t until a decade ago that scientists finally got proof that wolves hunt salmon.
“I can’t tell you how many weeks I’ve spent, sitting in the rain, getting up before dawn in the pitch black and quietly waiting, only to fail to see a single wolf catch a salmon,” he said. “With this recent camera we placed on a salmon spawning river, I witnessed more [wolves] catching salmon in just a couple of weeks … than I have in 20 years of being out there trying to observe that first-hand.”
Ian McAllister, of PacificWild.org has written a book Following the Last Wild Wolves
We Can Do Something
The government has extended the comment period for delisting gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection to Dec. 17, 2013. Go to www.regulations.gov and click on Gray wolf: Docket N. (FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073)