Wyoming wolf decision goes to court –Defenders and three other groups took legal action this week to challenge the premature delisting of wolves in Wyoming. After waiting the required 60 days since the Wyoming delisting rule was published, we filed a lawsuit arguing that the Interior Department illegally stripped protections based on a state management plan that treats wolves as unwanted vermin across the majority of the state, including in parts of our national forests. We expect better from the Obama administration, and as taxpayers we should all demand a better return on our investment. The recovery of wolves in the Northern Rockies has been a tremendous success, but now states are reversing years of conservation efforts by aggressively targeting these important animals. We must put a stop to the senseless and unnecessary killing before states follow through on their plans to drive wolf populations down to unsustainable levels. See follow-up coverage, including quotes from Rocky Mountain Director Mike Leahy in the Casper Star-Tribune and Cody Enterprise.
“The predator zone is still the focus of our concern. It’s a bad precedent to set, for the management of all wildlife species, to try drawing a line in the sand for any species.” — Mike Leahy, Cody Enterprise
Yellowstone wolves no longer safe — As the wolf body count continues to rise across the region, some surprising victims are turning up. We learned this week that at least seven wolves that were known to spend much of their time within Yellowstone National Park have been killed so far this year by hunters in Montana and Wyoming. Though no hunting is allowed within the park, wolves often leave the park in search of food or to find a mate. Once they cross the invisible park boundary, wolves are no longer protected and can now be hunted in all three states that border Yellowstone.
Wolves in Yellowstone have been some of the most intensely studied wild animals on the planet and are incredibly valuable to researchers. For years, scientists have been able to monitor wolf activity under unique conditions where humans were not a threat to wolves’ survival. Now it appears some Yellowstone wolves will face the same risks as wolves elsewhere in the Rockies, potentially jeopardizing research on their natural behavior in the wild.
Read more about the Yellowstone wolves that were killed in this post from two veteran wolf biologists, courtesy of our friends at Wolfwatcher.
Wyoming-ites split on wolves – As Patrick Henry famously said, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Which explains why we continue to face an uphill battle with wolf recovery out West. A survey of Wyoming residents published this week shows that people are still deeply divided over wolves. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that 49 percent of residents think reintroduction was a good idea, but only 34 percent think the results have been positive. An overwhelming majority also supported hunting in parts of the state. With these numbers, it’s no wonder that the successful return of gray wolves remains embroiled in controversy.
Fresh air – The good news is that Defenders continues to make headway with Idaho ranchers who are finding ways to coexist with wolves in areas where they graze livestock. Our signature Wood River Wolf Project earned plaudits again this year from our partners for protecting more than 27,000 sheep with only four losses. Listen to a summary of our fifth season from Public News Service, featuring project manager Suzanne Stone and field supervisor Patrick Graham: