HOWL Colorado

161 wolves are dead and the season is still young

It’s been a little while since I last updated the site. Sure, there have been plenty of stories I saw that I could post, but it all paled in comparison to the massacre happening just north of Colorado.

Just take a second to reflect on that headline. One HUNDRED and sixty-one wolves are dead.

Each death of a wolf does not happen within a vacuum. The damage each death inflicts on a pack is hard to measure. Is the wolf an alpha? Does it represent 1/7th of a pack? Or does it represent a quarter?

Certainly a single wolf can die while hunting a large prey animal. Cars are an omnipresent threat to all wildlife, but dispersing wolves face that danger head on. The natural world is dangerous, and wolves will die as a result of many things.

However, the extermination under way in Montana and especially Idaho is reminiscent of centuries past. Have we really devolved to the end of the 1800s and early 1900s? Michael Robinson, author of “Predatory Bureaucracy,” answered in an interview with HOWLColorado:

Do you see anything which gives you cause for concern when you compare the behavior of federal and state governments from today with those from the late 19th in to the first third of the 20th century?

The institutions of government have shifted in shape and structure, changed their names multiple times, and adopted the antiseptic modern lexicon of “wildlife management.” But the USDA Wildlife Services agency is still poisoning wildlife, setting leg-hold traps and wire snares, and shooting wild animals. At any time, even as you read this, they may be gassing a den of wolf pups in Montana, aerial gunning wolves in Idaho, or calling and shooting them from the ground in Wyoming. And the agency’s once-conjoined twin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which spent 100 years as the same agency as Wildlife Services and was only separated 25 years ago, has almost uniformly worked to hand over responsibility for wolves to Wildlife Services, and to approve destruction and capture of wolves even when they are officially listed as “endangered.” Sadly, the record of both these agencies with other wildlife is comparable.

What is the greatest threat to today’s wolves?

Government “predator control.”

Though there are promises out there that the states will maintain healthy wolf populations, it’s hard to believe that these are anything but words. Montana, the state which admittedly is the most moderate of the three, is still aiming for 220 dead wolves by season’s end. Lets assume that there are between 550 and 600 wolves in the state of Montana. The quota in the “moderate state” represents 42 percent of the population in the state!

That’s unconscionable and scientifically unsupportable. It can only be assumed that the quota is to satisfy political and special interest needs.

And then there is Idaho.

With only a cursory nod to any kind of concept of quotas for the year, Idaho is not veiling their hatred of wolves at all, and the goal of driving the wolf population down as far as possible without re-inviting the Federal government to relist the wolves.

This is horrific and gets only worse when you consider the numbers so far and the fact that Idaho will allow trapping of wolves in several of the “problem” zones starting on November 15.

If it weren’t so serious, the “quota” would be laughable. It’s only 25 percent filled, and only applies to 5 of the thirteen zones. It’s clear that Idaho isn’t really trying to disguise their disinterest in scientifically valid wildlife management.

So, to the numbers. Idaho saw a wolf population reduction in 2010. Being generous on the wolf population, based on that 705 wolf number, lets say that there are 800 wolves in the state of Idaho.

On week 3, the pace was less than 5 wolves a week.

On week 6, they were killing at a rate of 7 wolves a week.

Idaho is killing wolves at a pace of 11 wolves a week based through the first 9 weeks.

By week 12, not accounting for trapping in Lolo, Selway, Panhandle, Dworshak-Elk City and Middle Fork zones starting on November 15, this type of escalation in killing rate would extrapolate out to 16+ wolves per week.

There is good reason to believe that more than 400 wolves will be dead by March 31, 2012. That, of course, works out to more than 50 percent of the wolf population for the state being eradicated.

Of course, this is all speculation based on existing data, but Idaho only real concern it seems, is ensuring more than 10 packs in the state, since less than that would trigger a relisting of the wolves, and that’s their greatest fear.

In combination, the states are looking to destroy well over 600 wolves, or close to half, of all the wolves in their states.

Wyoming offers another significant threat to the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population, but that’s for a different article.

As mentioned, Idaho is implementing trapping in some of its zones on November 15. This is not only a disturbing decision in terms of allowing trapping as a hunting method for a fragile wolf population, but raises many significant concerns.

Trapping is not a selective hunting method. Any animal, or human for that matter, can trigger that trap, and the rules require hunters to check their traps only once every three days. A dog, or a wild target, can be caught in these traps and suffers for days before dying, or chewing off their own limbs.

The use of traps is just an unforgivable, inhumane and morally wrong and should simply be outlawed.

So, this first update in a couple of weeks is somber, thought provoking, and highly concerning. And it’s the only story right now that matters for American wolves. When Wyoming finally gets control of their wolves, we will see the worst situation for our wolves in nearly four decades.

Tomorrow, we will begin posting wolf stories from around the world again, but for today, we will mourn the loss of 161 of our wolves, we will contemplate the current situation, and we will remain hopeful that the words, and actions of wolf advocates around the country and around the world will force science back to the forefront as the deciding factor in all wildlife management decisions.

But just as money is an unwanted participant in our country’s politics, and HOWLColorado certainly stands behind the Occupy movement and supports their message, money and special interests control the decision making for our environment and our animals.

Wolves are lost in the massive issues of this country. It is hard for a wolf-supporting American to give our wolves much support when their concern is getting some food on the table for their kids, or getting a job, or seeing a doctor.

Jon Tester, who will forever be etched in our minds as a pathetic politician who pushed through a rider on a must-pass budget bill, forcing the delisting of wolves, doesn’t just want wolves to suffer. Jon Tester was also only one of two democrats to vote against the Jobs bill too. Human or wolf, Jon Tester really would rather you didn’t thrive.

“It is an expensive, temporary fix to a problem that needs a big, long-term solution,” Jon Tester regarding the Jobs bill.

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