Wolf, © Michael S. Quinton / National Geographic Stock

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Casper Trib blasts delisting – Environmental groups aren’t the only ones crying wolf over the Wyoming delisting. The Casper Star Tribune, the state’s largest daily newspaper, published a scathing editorial this week criticizing the state’s insistence on pursuing a management plan that includes a kill-at-will predator zone. Here’s what they said:

“But the bottom line is that Wyoming could put an end to the legal battle at any time and begin effectively managing the species without the fear of renewed federal intervention if it would withdraw its predator policy and make wolves trophy game in the entire state.”

Unfortunately, it’s too late now. Barring some unforeseen miracle, open season on wolves in the predator zone will start Sept. 30 and the regulated hunting season in the trophy game area will begin on Oct. 1.

N.B. – A total of five wolves have already been killed during the hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana that opened on Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, respectively.

Wedge Pack back under fire – That didn’t take long. Less than a week after Washington’s Wedge Pack was given a reprieve from a kill order, they were implicated in yet another livestock attack. Only this time, it looks like they might actually be guilty.

We’re still concerned that the state is being too hasty in their decision to kill wolves in response to possible conflicts with livestock. But the evidence in this most recent incident does appear to implicate the wolves. Two injured calves were found with bite marks on their hamstrings, usually a clear indication of an attack by wolves. As a result, the state has again issued a kill order for up to four wolves in the pack.

It’s too bad the state spent so much time investigating false claims of wolf predation when they could have been out preventing conflict. We’d much rather see them focusing their efforts on helping ranchers implement nonlethal deterrents. Otherwise, the cycle of depredation and wolf removals is likely to continue. Finding better ways for livestock and wildlife to coexist is the only real long-term solution.

Read more about the Wedge Pack in the Seattle Times.

Montanans down on wolves – We have our work cut out for us. A recent poll conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows tolerance for wolves is dropping in the state. (See full report in the Billings Gazette). The results should be interpreted with a grain of salt, especially since those who dislike wolves are probably the most likely to respond to such a survey. But years of anti-wolf hysteria have clearly influenced public opinion.

That just means we have to redouble our efforts to remind all Americans why wolves are a valuable part of our wildlife heritage. Wolves help create a healthier environment by keeping prey species in check and allowing a greater diversity of plant and animal species to flourish. Further, they provide a boon to local economies through increased eco-tourism. Perhaps most importantly, the return of wolves gives us all a chance to experience the true majesty of America’s wilderness, complete with all its magnificent creatures.

Lone wolf stalks wildfire for food – OR-7 is still on his own in Northern California, but he’s getting awful clever. State biologists monitoring his movements found him within a mile of a large forest fire, on the lookout for smaller prey trying to escape the heat. Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.