Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

As usual, it was a mixed bag in wolf news this week. So here’s the good, the bad and the … ridiculous.

Bad news first. Despite a tremendous response from Defenders supporters last week (who sent more than 55,000 responses to congressional offices opposing wolf legislation), many Montanans still want to strip federal protections from wolves. A recent poll published by Montana State University-Billings signaled that support may be slipping for protecting wolves under the ESA. That’s even more reason to get wolf supporters to speak out on behalf of protecting wolves for the future. The silver lining is that a plurality of young voters still support keeping wolves on the endangered species list.

A Bozeman Daily Chronicle editorial also mischaracterizes the ongoing problems with wolf management and finding a durable solution. Yes, wolf recovery has been a success on the whole, but that could easily be undone by current plans to kill hundreds of wolves across the region. The Chronicle’s editors need to hear from wolf supporters who want wolves managed based on science, not politics.

Now for the good news. Kirk Robinson, a colleague with the Western Wildlife Conservancy in Salt Lake City, Utah, got an excellent op-ed published in the SLC Tribune. Kirk explains why federal legislation to remove protections for wolves is the wrong approach. More importantly, he takes anti-wolf advocate Don Peay (head of the extreme group Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife) to task for prioritizing hunting over the conservation of all wildlife. He goes on to highlight the critical role that wolves play in regulating ecosystem health and he debunks common myths about the relative impact of wolves on livestock.

Fortunately, other hunting groups are starting to take a more moderate approach. A coalition of seven organizations had their letter published in the Missoulian denouncing statements about poaching and calling for a return to the conservation ethic. Hopefully this begins a new chapter in finding common ground between hunters and wildlife groups.

And finally, Carharrt clothing outfitters is running this ridiculous ad showing wolves attacking three guys around a campfire. Keep in mind that the wolf “stars” are trained captive wolves that regularly appear in movies. Wolves in the wild almost never attack humans. Check out this post from Wolf Awareness Week to learn the facts about wolves.

10 Responses to “Wolf Weekly Wrap-up”



    • Randy J

      I guess it would ok for them to attack you also. You are no different then them. You are human if you didnt know. I think Elk, Moose, family pets all feel pain also. Maybe you should go hiking where the wolves live. Dont think the wolves will treat you any different from them but you can hide in your Hi Rise and let someone else kill your food for you. I guess that makes you better that you dont kill but you let some else do it for you. Take some looks at some wolves kills that the wolves did for fun, then talk about what humans do. It makes you a hypocrite.

    • Cat Lazaroff

      Here at Defenders, we strongly believe that humans and wolves can coexist, and we actively work to prevent conflicts between people and wolves. It’s always a tragedy when anyone is hurt by wolves or other wildlife, particularly when there are so many ways to avoid conflicts with wildlife. For examples of the ways in which Defenders is working to promote coexistence with wolves, visit http://www.defenders.org/coexistence

  2. Randy J

    What about the wolves that attcked hunters in MT. Is this true? DOW says wolves have never attacked humans. Do the wolves put the people in MT or ID in jeopardy? Why are they attacking humans?

  3. Randy J

    How many wolves do the wolf conservationists have collared so they can study them? I would like to see the research that is being done by these groups. I do believe the only collared wolves were done by the USFW. Can the public see the results of the wolf conservationists studies. Maybe even send it to the USFW service, I think they have been asking to see your research.

  4. Cat Lazaroff

    Like other wild animals, wolves could occasionally attack humans. In the recent case now making headlines in Montana , a hunter apparently left a quartered elk carcass on the ground overnight by a road. Hanging meat that can’t be packed out overnight from trees is good practice in bear and wolf country and might have helped in this situation. When the hunter and a friend returned the following day to pick up the elk meat, wolves came to the site while the hunters were loading the fresh meat onto their horses. In the interaction that followed, the hunters shot one of the wolves and scared the rest away. The hunters said they felt the wolves may have tried to attack them. Neither the hunters nor the horses were harmed. The incident is under investigation and more details should be released once the investigation is completed.
    Read Montana’s recommendations on wolves and human safety here
    And here’s some information from the International Wolf Center on whether wolves are dangerous to humans

    Regarding research on collared wolves, Defenders of Wildlife has been involved in research involving collared wolves to study their response to nonlethal deterrents. We have also purchased radio collars and worked directly with the scientists that are tracking and monitoring them. Additionally, we have helped pay for wolf monitoring efforts, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service certainly has access to all of this research. The public can see published research results in the scientific journals that publish such research. For more information, visit the wolf page on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website

    • JJ

      I dont think your version of the story is very close to accurate. It took 2.5 hours to ride from the rode on horseback to get to where the elk was killed. The hunters did shoot 1 wolf but the wolves also followed the hunters for a distance. The hunters shot numerous time in the air to try and scare the wolves off. The MT FWP has confirmed that the wolves did follow the hunters.

  5. somisa

    Wolves do prey on, kill, and consume, people.


    As do bear and cougar. The highest concentration of predator advocates per kilometer is in Westchester County New York and second Marin County California. Two area as far removed from the natural world as it is possible to be in the US, and I’m sure that has something to do with the attitudes of those who advocate.

    If only affluent trustafarian dilettants would find another hobby.

  6. Colleen Dunn

    I’m so excited to finally see a victory for the wolves. Here is a paper I wrote last fall when they were first de-listed. Sorry Its kind of long.


    With only an estimated one-thousand five hundred gray wolves inhabiting the Northern Rockies, every last one of their lives is valuable. Controversy arose when the wolves were de-listed from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana this past spring. It is imperative for the Gray Wolves to remain on the endangered species list. With hunting regulations left in the States hands, the wolves risk a significant population decrease.

    To understand the controversy, Americans have to take a look at the wolves history. The Gray Wolf has a sad and bloody past. In the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the wolves, along with other predator animals, were being slaughtered, trapped and poisoned. Gray Wolves once roamed the lower 48 states, but with no regulations, their numbers fell fast. They once numbered over one-hundred thousand, but then fell to under one hundred nationwide. Yellowstone probably brought about the most controversy in the hunting of wolves. During the early 1900’s, people viewed wolves with fear and ignorance, which allowed for the hunting to continue. This was not only happening in Yellowstone, but other areas of the Rocky Mountain region. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a letter to Yellowstone Superintendent, Lt. General Young, to stop the killings. The letter was blatantly ignored. In 1914, a letter of permission was released by Yellowstone’s acting Superintendent allowing Mr. Cruse Black to shoot, trap or poison wolves, along with coyotes and mountain lions. Cruse Black was employed by the park service as a buffalo keeper as well as a predator hunter. Finally, in 1933, the U.S. National Park Service banned the senseless killings. Unfortunately, the last remaining wolves in Yellowstone were killed in 1926. In 1944, biologist Aldo Leopold was the first to advocate wolf restoration in Yellowstone as well as other parts of the western wilderness.

    Leopold’s vision of wolves roaming the wild once again was a long and arduous process. In 1973, the Rocky Mountain wolf was listed on the Endangered Species List. In 1995, fifty years after Leopold’s plans of restoration, biologists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services finally began the restoration process. The process included bringing thirteen to fifteen Canadian Gray Wolves each year for three to five years. It has taken two decades and more than a million federal dollars, but the restoration has been a success. According to Defender of Wildlife, two wolf packs were spotted in Washington State and Oregon, where wolves haven’t been spotted in nearly seventy years. These wolves would now be allowed to be hunted, with the recent de-listing decision of the Fish and Wildlife Services.

    The wolves de-listing from the Endangered Species list in May of 2009 is said to be unlawful by conservation groups. Earthjustice is a non-profit law firm that takes cases in issues supporting the environment and wildlife. Earthjustice is representing twelve conservation groups including Defender of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Counsel and the Center for Biological Diversity. Earthjustice is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services stating that the delisting is unlawful. According to Earthjustice, the wolves have yet to establish a level of connectivity between Yellowstone, central Idaho and northwest Montana, which is essential to the wolves long term survival. In this past year alone, Yellowstone National Park has seen a twenty-seven percent decline in the Gray Wolf population. With only an estimated fifteen hundred Gray Wolves, Earthjustice argues that no other endangered species has ever been delisted at such a low population and then immediately hunted to even lower levels. On September 9th, Earthjustice was dealt a win as well as a loss. Federal District Court ruled the de-listing illegal while still allowing the wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana to continue.

    The Fish and Wildlife Service are happy with the ruling, claiming they have done their job in restoring and maintaining the wolf population. They have set a “minimum level” of wolves per state, but regulations will be left in the hands of Idaho and Montana. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services have set a mandate that Montana and Idaho maintain a wolf population of no less than fifteen breeding pairs or one hundred fifty wolves per state. This would bring about the potential loss of two-thirds of the regions’ wolves. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Idaho’s estimated wolf population is seven hundred eighty-eight. Idaho has set a quota allowing two hundred twenty wolves to be hunted. Conservation groups main concern is that Idaho may go beyond this to the “minimum number of wolves” objective of one hundred four. Idaho’s position has always been to manage and control the wolf population. Avid hunter and Governor of Idaho, Butch Otter, announced his support saying, “I’m prepared to bid for that fist ticket to shoot a wolf myself.” A large concern comes from the trigger happy head of states that are absolutely joyous for the opportunity to kill the recovering wolf population.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services have estimated that Montana is currently home to five-hundred wolves. This season’s hunting quota is at seventy-five, but just like Idaho, they can kill up to four-hundred and still be in regulation. They consider wolves “species in need of management.” (MT Code 87-5-102) Bison, which is hunted to reduce its presence in Montana, is also classified as a “species in need of management.” Earthjustice and the conservation groups believe that leaving regulations up to the States’ wildlife agencies could be a shattering blow to conservation groups’ efforts.

    A demoralizing blow came this past December 2nd when Idaho announced that they were extending their wolf hunting season to March 31st. Idaho believes that they haven’t killed enough wolves to allow hunting season to end. Only one hundred ten of the estimated two hundred twenty wolves have been killed. Some critics believe they’ve extended the hunting season to make wolves part of the Predator Derby, a.k.a. The Killing Spree of Carnivorous Animals. The event is hosted by Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife of Idaho. Hunters have twenty four hours to kill as many coyotes, foxes, bobcats and now wolves as they can. Wolves are worth three points and the rest of the animals are worth two points. This “game” shows a blatant disregard for all of the hard work that went into restoring the wolves. The proceeds for this game go to the Sportsman Wolf Litigation Movement, an organization hell bent on wolf eradication. This will also bring hunting season into mating season for the wolf population. This is when the alpha female is most vulnerable while denning. The loss of the alpha male could have detrimental effects on the alpha female and her pups.

    Opinion polls conducted in the past two decades have shown a strong support for restoring wolf populations throughout the United States. Dateline NBC conducted a poll recently and in the fifteen hundred responses received, only eleven percent said they were against wolf re-introduction. A nationwide poll provided by the National Wildlife Federation found that sixty-three percent of people polled oppose the judges’ decision to remove the wolves from Yellowstone and central Idaho. The president’s approval ratings are lower than the wolves.

    Some still argue that the wolf is harmful and provides no benefits to the environment. On the contrary, a thriving wolf population creates ecological benefits and diversity. Changes in Elk grazing because of wolves have enabled willow and aspen vegetation to be replenished after years of overgrazing. Wolves provide the cascade effect, influencing the ecosystem positively. Financial and cultural benefits also come from the wolves restoration into the Northern Rockies and Yellowstone. The wolves have had a significant effect on tourism. Over one-hundred fifty thousand people visit Yellowstone each year because of wolves alone. That’s around thirty-five million dollars annually that the wolves provide to Yellowstone and the local communities.

    To say that the wolves are safe in the States hands is extremely ignorant. Idaho alone has shown utter disregard for the wolves welfare by extending hunting season well into breeding season. The goal of Earthjustice is to keep the wolves on the endangered species list until the States can agree to more conservative regulations and when the population has significantly increased. Northern Rockies Representative of Defenders of Wildlife, Suzanne Stone, said, “We will continue to press our lawsuit challenging the de-listing, and are optimistic that the court will ultimately rule in our favor, restoring Federal protections to Northern Rockies wolves.” It is imparative for the Gray Wolves to remain on the Endangered Species List. With hunting regulations left the the States hands, the wolves risk a significant population decrease.

    Works Cited:

    1.) Defenders of Wildlife- Defenders.org
    2.) Earthjustice
    3.) Earthjustice press release
    -Court Finds Wolf Delisting Is Likely Unlawful 9/9/09
    -Conservation Groups Challenge Northern Rockies Wolf Delisting 6/2/09
    -Conservation Groups Challenge Wolf Hunting 8/20/09
    4.) The Wolves if Yellowstone By Michael K. Philips and Gary Ferguson, 1997
    5.) Decade of the Wolf, Returning the Wild to Yellowstone By Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson
    6.) United States Fish and Wildlife Service- fws.gov

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