Reprieve for Wolves in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness: We’re sure all of the wolf advocates reading this blog will remember earlier this year when Idaho Department of Fish and Game – with no public notice – hired a trapper to exterminate wolf packs in central Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Defenders and our conservation partners took this issue to court, asserting that the program disregarded IDFG’s own policy on predators, violated wilderness policies, failed to appropriately consider the environmental impacts of this action, and was conducted without appropriate public input. We were successful in getting the trapper to pack out of the area at the end of January.
But still more good news came last week! On July 24th, IDFG submitted a sworn statement to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asserting that it will forgo any wolf control actions in the wilderness area prior to November 1st 2015, and will make known any plans to do so after this date. This year long truce offers a new opportunity to seek a permanent end to wolf eradication in wilderness areas. In response, Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ regional representative who has worked nearly three decades to restore wolves in Idaho, said: “The Frank Church is both the largest forested wilderness area and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. Wolves belong here as they have made the ‘Frank’ truly wild again. Ensuring healthy wolf populations here is critical for the recovery of wolves throughout the entire northwestern region.”
A New Rule Will Impede Recovering Mexican Gray Wolves: Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to change the rules about how Mexican gray wolves are managed in the wild. Although the draft rule could help the current population by providing more space to roam and more sites for releases, it also would give landowners greater permission to kill wolves on their property, not exactly what this highly endangered population needs. The proposed rule would also block the establishment of the two additional populations which are needed for recovery. In response Eva Sargent, Defenders’ Director of Southwest Programs said: “The new proposal is based on politics, not science. When the best science tells you that the population can’t recover unless killing is reduced, it doesn’t make sense to come up with more reasons to do the opposite.” We still have a chance to tell the Service to improve proposal before it is finalized. For those of you in Arizona and New Mexico, we hope you will consider attending one or both of the Service’s public hearings on this topic later in August. We need to let the Service know that the public wants full recovery of Mexican wolves! Click here for additional details/registration information about the public hearings.
Confirmed: Wandering Wolf OR-7 Has Pups! We’d heard the good news that OR-7, the first wolf to cross into California since 1924, found a mate and may have fathered pups. But last week we got proof that OR-7’s wolf family is alive and well. Remote trail cameras installed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service captured some adorable photos of OR-7’s wolf pups. These pups signify the first known wolf reproduction in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s. These pups give wolf advocates great hope that we may continue to see wolves disperse further into the Oregon Cascades and perhaps down into California as well.