There was a lot of action last week out in the Northern Rockies with some good news and some bad news for the endangered gray wolf.
First, the good news…
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ petition for a “conservation hunt” was denied, which will prevent the state from killing nearly two hundred wolves that have been blamed for reduced elk numbers and ongoing livestock losses. At the same time, FWP said they were still willing to negotiate on a more reasonable solution for managing wolves within the state.
Anti-wolf activist Tony Mayer made his first court appearance in Blaine County, Idaho after illegally killing a bull elk last year. Mayer, the founder of the extreme anti-wolf group SaveElk.com (WARNING: graphic images), is facing felony charges that could result in a sentence of up to five years in prison, a $50,000 fine and lifetime suspension of his hunting license.
And the bad news…
Unfortunately, Montana, Idaho and the U.S. Department of Justice announced late last week their intention to appeal the August 5 court decision that restored federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies. It’s unclear whether DOJ is serious about the effort, but the action serves as a placeholder for future legal action to remove federal protections.
Over in northeast Oregon, a two-year-old male wolf was illegally killed by an as-yet unidentified poacher. The wolf was one of four adults in the Wenaha pack—the smaller of Oregon’s two confirmed wolf packs—that had been collared in August by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (click here to see a photo taken at the time of collaring). FWS officials have not disclosed details about the killing and continue to investigate.
Defenders stands up for wolves in Montana
Finally, Defenders’ Rocky Mountain Regional Director Mike Leahy participated in a panel discussion on wolf recovery in Dillon, Montana on Tuesday. He was asked to join by Congressman Denny Rehberg who organized the hearings to solicit feedback about his proposed wolf legislation. The crowd was mostly unsympathetic hunters and ranchers and Mike the only wildlife conservation advocate on the panel amidst livestock and hunting representatives.
Mike encouraged Rep. Rehberg not to subvert the Endangered Species Act, but rather to support sustainable management objectives that ensure a healthy future for wolves. The following is a quote from a Montana Standard article about the meeting:
But Mike Leahy, regional director with Defenders of Wildlife, said the groups that filed to reinstate federal protection for wolves are not against hunting. However, they oppose the 300-wolf target to consider them recovered in the Northern Rockies.
“We haven’t seen any science behind that number,” he said. “We’re looking for some commitment to keep the numbers up and ensure that they remain healthy.”
Great job, Mike!