Wolf Alpha Female, © Bill Keeting

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Wyoming targets 98 wolves—At a meeting in Jackson this week, Wyoming Game and Fish officials said they expect about 100 wolves will be killed next year under proposed hunting regulations in the state (read full story in Jackson Hole News & Guide). Game and Fish has recommended a quota of 52 wolves in the trophy game management area where licensed hunting will be allowed from October through December. The state estimates that another 46 wolves are likely to be killed via targeted removal, poaching and vehicle collisions.

Defenders has continued to raise serious concerns about Wyoming’s overall management plan which will allow wolves outside the trophy game area to be killed at any time by any means. While the hunting quota would be lower in Wyoming than in either Montana or Idaho, the state also has far fewer wolves (at the end of 2011, Wyoming had at least 328 wolves compared to 653 in Montana and 746 in Idaho). Further, unrestricted killing will be allowed in parts of southwest Wyoming that are vital corridors for wolves to disperse to Colorado and Utah.

Public comments on Wyoming’s proposed hunting regulations will be accepted through April 23 and at the next Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting April 25-26 in Casper. Click here to download the comment form.

Surprise! Wolves are good for the ecosystem – Scientific experts continue to find stronger evidence for the vital role that wolves play in maintaining a healthy environment. A new study for Oregon State University researchers found that the loss of predators, especially wolves, has created a cascade of negative environmental consequences. By removing predators from the ecosystem, game populations (elk, deer and moose) have exploded to historic levels. Having all those extra mouths to feed has destroyed native plant communities in sensitive areas and prevented younger trees from taking root. Fewer trees mean less biodiversity and can also lead to deforestation and less carbon sequestration.

Wolves hunt two bull elk in Yellowstone. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service.

The American Society of Mammalogists has also raised concerns about the negative impacts of removing predators from the landscape. The scientific organization sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in late March, criticizing Wildlife Services continued use of aggressive lethal control. Between 2000 and 2010, Wildlife Services killed more than 2 million mammals, including 916,000 coyotes, 321,000 beavers, and 126,000 raccoons. Notably, the agency also killed thousands of predators, including 3,000 wolves, 4,000 cougars and 4,500 bears. The widespread killing of native species has dramatically altered the health of our environment and reduced biodiversity in many places. Read more in the Billings Gazette.

The Society also shares Defenders’ concern that the federal Wildlife Services agency is increasingly expanding into helping manage state hunting programs by killing predators in attempts to artificially inflate popular hunted species like elk.

Wolves and the River of No Return – Don’t miss the premiere of “River of No Return” on PBS next week. Wolf biologist-turned-filmmaker Isaac Babcock and his wife spent a year exploring the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho, and now they’re sharing their dramatic wildlife encounters and stunning scenery with the rest of us. You can read about one of Babcock’s first wolf encounters in this story from the Idaho Statesman, and check out a preview of the PBS special below.

Watch River of No Return – Preview on PBS. See more from Nature.

Tune in Wednesday, April 18 for the national premiere on PBS.



One Response to “Wolf Weekly Wrap-up”

  1. Shannon Jones - Star, Idaho

    The incident last week involving the trapped wolf who was tortured and photographed before being killed highlights the real need for reform in our handling of animals in the wild. Traps such as this, need to be completely banned and our animal cruelty laws need to encompass this type of issue to be viable in this day and age. The Fish and Game Department has a careless attitude on this problem. They have a daylong workshop for people who wish to kill and trap wolves but this is woefully inadequate in policing the habits of those who trap in this way. Bottom line is that there is no ethical stance you can take on the acceptable use of steel jawed traps. The traps are inhumane, outdated, and subject to use by those who can and will abuse wildlife. It is extremely duplicitous to say that traps are ok to use, as long as photographs are not taken during the trapping process. Idaho needs to lead the way in this reform by banning such traps. Our handling of this issue will determine how animals are treated and what rights we are willing to deem appropriate for the wildlife in our state. Are the Defenders of Wildlife getting involved in this issue? I am joining today and would like to know what I can do here in Idaho to stop this senseless slaughter of wolves.

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