Sunday, March 14, 2021

Wondering About Wolves: An AudioPost


I want to tell you a story of wondering about wolves.

One day Mary, our friend Leo, and I follow a snow-covered service road to the edge of Yellowstone’s Blacktail Deer Plateau. Our plan—if you can call it that—is to walk as far as we want onto the plateau. Little snow has fallen in the last couple of cold weeks so our hiking boots crunch on shallow snow as we proceed.

Within a hundred yards, Leo finds the tracks of a single wolf; they look fresh... To listen to the rest:



HTML5 Audio Player
This reading based on a chapter of the best selling Deep into Yellowstone.

Photo Credits:
Photo of wolf tracks by Rick Lamplugh

Rick Lamplugh writes, photographs, and speaks to protect wildlife and wild lands.

His bestselling In the Temple of Wolves; its sequel, Deep into Yellowstone; and its prequel, The Wilds of Aging are available signed. His books are also available unsigned or as eBook or audiobook on Amazon.

Signed Sets Available



Monday, March 8, 2021

The Reality of Yellowstone's Bison Hunt


[Note from Rick: Buffalo Field Campaign recently reported seeing 21 bison shot at one time in Gardiner Basin. That report reminded me of a day when Mary and I witnessed a similar massacre. This blog is based on that day and describes the reality of the Yellowstone bison hunt.]


One winter day, Mary and I take turns scanning with binoculars along the floor of Gardiner Basin and to a thin line of conifers that marks Yellowstone National Park's northern border. Just beyond that border is Beattie Gulch in Gallatin National Forest. There, winter-hungry bison that migrate past the invisible park boundary in search of dried grass not buried under deep snow are shot by hunters. 

But really, hunter is the wrong word. Those people we watch through binoculars in Beattie Gulch—there are at least fifty of them, some in camo, some in bright orange vests—they’re not hunters. They’re shooters. They’re a firing squad. They stand in the open, within sight of their pickup trucks, their guns ready, alongside the route that bison use each year. The shooters wait for bison to unwittingly enter their field of fire.

When we look toward the park, we count twenty-nine bison, walking in a long line toward the firing squad. The animals seem oblivious to danger. But why shouldn’t they be? They spend most of their lives in Yellowstone protected from hunting. 
We watch and worry as they close in on the firing squad.

Then we hear the first shots, popping sounds at this distance. 

We’re shocked to see a bison fall and amazed that the rest of the herd does not flee. Instead, they circle their fallen member, as if wondering what’s wrong. 

Pop! Pop! Another bison down.


Some of the group moves toward the second bison on the ground.


Pop! Pop! Pop! Two more bison fall. Still the rest don’t turn tail.


Within minutes, twenty-one bison lay scattered and still in front of the firing squad. We feel some relief as eight survivors turn from the slaughter and in a much shorter line escape Beattie Gulch and climb up a draw, heading back towards the park. One limps, perhaps wounded. 



Mary and I sit silent, sad, and angry. We know that if today’s survivors make it back into the park they could be safe. Or their days could be numbered. Though these eight escaped the firing squad today, the annual winter capture of bison by the National Park Service at the Stephens Creek Capture Facility within Yellowstone may take them. (Buffalo Field Campaign reports that the Park Service informed them that the capture facility will not operate this year.)

This controversial hunt outside the park and capture within the park are required by the Interagency Bison Management Plan—the IBMP. That plan was written years ago by a court-ordered coalition of federal and state agencies including the National Park Service, US Forest Service, USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Montana Department of Livestock, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. 
Later, the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, and the Nez Perce Tribe joined. Goals of the IBMP include confining bison within Yellowstone and reducing the park’s population from around 5,000 to 3,000 bison.

Each winter the members of the IBMP decide the number of bison that will die. Many—like the ones we saw slaughtered--will be killed outside the park by shooters. The bison hunting seasons, state and tribal, last at least three months. Many other bison—which may include those eight survivors—could be captured and interred at the Stephens Creek facility. From that facility, Native American tribal members will haul the imprisoned bison to slaughter houses in Montana.


Managing Yellowstone’s bison—our national mammal, mind you—with confinement and death is done in the name of protecting cattle from brucellosis. The disease can be transmitted from elk or bison to cattle and cause infected livestock to abort calves and ranchers to lose money. But there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transfer from bison to cattle. Never.


Elk, on the other hand, have transmitted brucellosis to cattle at least two dozen times since the year 2000. But elk aren’t confined to the park, aren’t captured and slaughtered like bison. Elk aren’t treated as livestock, but bison are. Elk are seen as wildlife, as trophies, to be hunted and stuffed. Bison are used as brucellosis scapegoats to be confined and killed.

The way elk are hunted fits with the "fair chase" model. Elk are not confined to Yellowstone. Elk are free to move about the landscape and can elude hunters. But that is not the case with bison. Every year hungry bison leave Yellowstone along that same route through Beattie Gulch. Every year a firing squad sets up on their known path, leaving little chance for bison to elude hunters: Few bison make it past the firing squad. This approach to bison hunting is close to a canned hunt where game is released from captivity to be shot in an artificial hunting situation where a kill is almost guaranteed. 

If the state of Montana allowed bison to leave the confines of Yellowstone and migrate freely--as elk do--then bison could be hunted under a fair chase model in the fall as elk are. In the fall female bison would only be a couple of months pregnant. But in February and March when they are killed in Beattie Gulch or captured in Yellowstone, bison are just two to three months away from giving birth.

The IBMP’s approach to bison management evokes protests from locals, Montanans, and people all across the United States. The protests often start in early January, after the hunt begins and before the capture starts.
 




As Gardiner residents, Mary and I have been drawn physically, emotionally, and intellectually into this life and death struggle. We can watch through binoculars from our dining room window as the bison walk through the Roosevelt Arch and toward death awaiting a few miles away in Beattie Gulch.

We joined a local conservation group and worked as part of a team of dedicated volunteers to stop the senseless killing. Mary has found news reports and scientific papers detailing the management of bison and elk. I used that information and our field observations to write chapters about the bison slaughter in two of my books. We have attended meetings where those for or against killing bison sometimes shout opposing views at one another. We have joined about fifty others in a Buffalo Field Campaign-organized march down the main road in Gardiner, protesting this inhumane treatment of bison.


But watching those bison fall in Beattie Gulch is not talking, reading, or writing about unfair killing. This is seeing and hearing it. This is feeling the anger and shock and sadness. This is all too real, and no matter how much we dislike it, the controversial killing will not end anytime soon. Neither will the protest against it.

Since 1985 more than 12,500 genetically pure Yellowstone bison have been killed by slaughter or shooters, according to the Buffalo Field Campaign, an organization committed to protecting bison.


If you want to help change this situation, you can find actions to take to protect bison at Buffalo Field Campaign 

This commentary based on a chapter from Deep into Yellowstone: A Year's Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy.


Photo Credits: 

All photos by Rick Lamplugh


Rick Lamplugh writes, photographs, and speaks to protect wildlife and wild lands.

His bestselling In the Temple of Wolves; its sequel, Deep into Yellowstone; and its prequel, The Wilds of Aging are available signed. His books are also available unsigned or as eBook or audiobook on Amazon.

Signed Sets Available
  

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Briefing: What Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming Tell Us About Unprotected Wolves

Wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming lost federal Endangered Species Act protection years ago. Since then, wolves have been managed by each state’s fish and wildlife department and by legislators passing wolf management bills. In each of these states “management” means “killing.” 

Under federal law, each state must have at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs at the end of each year. Each state's management plan aims to keep its wolf population as small as possible but above that required minimum. The methods these states have devised over the years to manage by killing paints a chilling picture of the future for wolves in states where they were recently delisted from ESA protection by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Idaho

Idaho wolves were delisted from ESA protection in May 2011—but not by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Instead, the US Congress attached a rider attached to a must-pass federal budget bill. For the next five years, the USFWS monitored Idaho’s wolf management. Once that monitoring ended, Idaho became very tightfisted with information about its wolves and their welfare. That approach is exemplified by the fact that the most recent annual wolf report published by Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) covers 2016 and half of 2017. 

That 2017 report documents that 226 wolves were killed by hunters and trappers. Another 70 wolves were killed as a result of 76 confirmed livestock losses. Twenty additional wolves were killed “to address wolf predation on elk,” a politically correct way for IDFG to reveal that a Wildlife Services sniper in a helicopter gunned down 20 wolves on National Forest land, some of the last land available to wolves. This controversial aerial slaughter was repeated in 2020 and 17 more wolves died. (Wildlife Services is a secretive—and out of control—federal agency that is funded partially with our tax dollars and kills millions of wild animals each year.)

In addition to sniping from helicopters, IDFG has managed wolves by expanding wolf hunting and trapping seasons and by legalizing the use of snares. A single hunter or trapper can now kill 15 wolves in a given year. Trappers can use both hunting and trapping tags to kill 30 wolves.


Idaho’s legislature has also been busy managing wolves. The legislature created the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board. That board is responsible for killing wolves that attack livestock and other wildlife. The board is funded to the tune of $400,000 per year by contributions from livestock producers, IDFG fees, and taxpayer dollars.

The legislature also passed a bounty bill that allows hunters and trappers to be reimbursed for expenses incurred while killing wolves. Reimbursement can reach $1,000 per wolf. The money to pay these bounties comes from hunters and trappers, fundraising, and donations from groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission even awarded a grant to help pay bounties.

In February of this year, legislation began moving through the Idaho House of Representatives that would allow the hunting of wolves using snowmobiles, ATVs, and even powered parachutes. Additionally, wolves would be reclassified as predators, instead of big game. The goal of this legislation is to reduce Idaho’s wolf population from 1,500 to 500.

In a September 2020 press release, the Center for Biological Diversity described how all this managing by killing has harmed Idaho wolves. According to an analysis of records obtained by Western Watersheds Project, hunters, trappers, and state and federal agencies killed about 400 wolves in Idaho each year for the last few years. But from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 that kill number swelled to 570 wolves, including at least 35 pups, some likely only 4 to 6 weeks old. 

IDFG monitors wolf populations each year to make sure the state has at least 15 wolf packs with breeding pairs, the number required to avoid having Idaho’s wolves relisted under the ESA.  

In just a decade since delisting, Idaho has become the poster state for managing by killing.

Montana


Montana's wolves were delisted with Idaho’s in 2011. At the time of delisting, almost 1,000 wolves lived in Montana, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP). For the next five years, USFWS monitored Montana’s wolf management. Now, after a decade of state management only 833 wolves survive in the state, according to FWP in their most recent (2019) wolf report. Wolves live in only about a third of their historic range as shown in the map below. 



During 2019, 298 wolves were killed by hunters and trappers. An additional 72 wolves were killed, mostly by Wildlife Services, in response to the loss of 94 livestock to wolves.

This year it has become painfully obvious that Montana wants to manage by killing, just as Idaho does. Montana now aims to kill as many wolves as possible while leaving the minimum required to avoid relisting under the ESA, at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs.


To reach this goal, the current Montana legislature is pushing a number of bills. There’s one that aims to cut the wolf population by slaughtering hundreds of wolves in a variety of nasty ways, including baiting and even killing wolves at night using night vision scopes. There’s another bill that would allow the use of snares as well as traps. There’s a bill that would extend the wolf hunting season. There’s even a bounty bill—like Idaho’s—that would reimburse hunters and trappers for expenses incurred while killing wolves. 


There is no science-based justification for this planned slaughter. There’s no evidence, for example, to support the claim by hunters that wolves have decimated big game such as elk. To the contrary, the most recent FWP Big Game Hunting Forecast states, “These are good times for elk hunters, as Montana elk populations continue to be strong across most of the state.”


There’s no evidence to support the claim by livestock producers that wolves are taking more livestock. In fact, the opposite is true. A close review of FWP annual wolf reports reveals that the number of livestock taken by wolves peaked at 309 in 2009. But over the last five years that predation number has fallen significantly and varied little with only 57 to 94 head of livestock taken annually. I say “only” because Montana has more than two and a half million head of livestock, and a loss of fewer than 100 per year represents a truly insignificant percentage of the state’s livestock.


There’s also no evidence to support the claim that Montana’s wolf population is out of control. Again, the opposite is true: FWP data shows that the wolf population has stabilized at around 825 for the last four years. 


The only justification I can see for this explosion of management by killing is extreme hatred of wolves.


Wyoming


The delisting of Wyoming wolves from Endangered Species Act protection was a real ping pong match. Wolves were initially delisted in September 2012. But that delisting was successfully challenged and wolves came back under ESA protection two years later. After that return to protection was successfully challenged, wolves were again delisted in April 2017. Since that delisting, wolves in Wyoming have been managed by multiple agencies: the National Park Service in Yellowstone, a tribal agency on the Wind River Reservation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the National Elk Refuge, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) in the rest of the state. 


At least 311 wolves live in Wyoming according to WGFD’s most recent (2019) annual wolf report. Of that total, 94 live in Yellowstone, 16 live on the Wind River Reservation, and 201 live in the rest of the state.


In 2019, humans took the lives of 88 Wyoming wolves, including 30 killed as the result of wolves taking 70 livestock.


As in Idaho and Montana, Wyoming’s legislators have been busy with wolf management. The legislature passed a law that divides state controlled lands into two wolf management areas. This division, as shown on the map above, essentially created a wolf prison in the northwest corner of Wyoming on public lands that surround Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Wyoming calls this prison its Wolf Trophy Game Management Area. Hunters need a license and there are limits to how many wolves can be taken in the Trophy Area. 


WGFD reports that at least 175 wolves roam within the Trophy Area most or all of the time. In 2019, WGFD implemented a wolf hunting season with the goal of keeping the Trophy Area’s wolf population at approximately 160 wolves. That, of course, is the magic number that will keep the state’s wolves from being relisted under the ESA.


When wolves leave that small prison where they can be hunted four months of the year, they enter the other 85% of the state where they are classified as vermin and can be shot on sight, anytime, anywhere, by anyone. No license needed. Wyoming calls this area surrounding the prison its Predator Zone.


This Wyoming wolf prison is, I believe, a primary reason that wolves have not been able to disperse naturally southward to Colorado and instead must be reintroduced into a state with good wolf prey and habitat.


To read the previous briefings:


Impact of Delisting on California, Oregon, and Washington Wolves


Impact of Delisting on Great Lakes Wolves


WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW TO HELP PROTECT WOLVES?


As shown by the management-by-killing approach in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming wolves across the US will die without ESA protection. Hopefully, the courts will eventually roll back the recent delisting because of low wolf numbers, loss of wolf habitat, and lack of scientific rigor. But there is no guarantee. 


We can ask the Biden administration to begin the process of restoring ESA protections for gray wolves. Here’s a link to the WildEarth Guardians page and a letter you should personalize before sending.


Legal battles are expensive and you can help by donating to the organizations that are fighting the delisting in court. The Western Environmental Law Center represents WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, and Klamath Forest Alliance.


Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Oregon Wild, National Parks Conservation Association, and The Humane Society of the United States. 


The Natural Resources Defense Council has also sued the USFWS over the delisting.


Thanks for taking action, and I’ll keep you updated as this battle progresses.


Image Credits: 

Wolf with pups via Idaho Fish and Game

Wolf running via Idaho Fish and Game

Map of Montana wolf range via MT.gov

Map of Wyoming' wolf areas produced by Rick Lamplugh


Rick Lamplugh writes, photographs, and speaks to protect wildlife and wild lands.

His bestselling In the Temple of Wolves; its sequel, Deep into Yellowstone; and its prequel, The Wilds of Aging are available signed. His books are also available unsigned or as eBook or audiobook on Amazon.

Signed Sets Available



Monday, February 15, 2021

A Briefing: Delisting Impact on California, Oregon, and Washington Wolves

 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has delisted gray wolves across the Lower 48. In my previous briefing, I described the dangerous situation for delisted wolves in the Great Lakes area. The USFWS claims that the wolf population in the Great Lakes area has recovered enough to sustain wolf populations elsewhere. They add that the few wolves that occur “outside of the Great Lakes area, including those in the West Coast States and central Rocky Mountains as well as lone dispersers in other states, are not necessary…” for the recovered status of wolves in the Lower 48. 


In this second briefing, we'll take a look at the situation for the more than 300 delisted wolves living in the West Coast states.


California


The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reported on January 21, 2021 that there are seven known wolves living in California. Three weeks later CDFW announced that another wolf had entered the state.


Though native to California, the gray wolf had been eradicated from the state by 1924. Wolves are ever so slowly returning on their own by dispersing from neighboring Oregon and other states. While California wolves are no longer protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, they are still protected under California’s Endangered Species Act. Shooting at or injuring a wolf, even if it is attacking livestock or a dog, is illegal and punishable by fines of tens of thousands of dollars and prison time.


California’s first pack of returning wolves, the Shasta pack, was created by two wolves from Oregon’s Imnaha pack. The male and female and their five pups were confirmed in August 2015. The pack was observed feeding on a cow carcass in November 2015, and investigators determined the wolves had likely killed the calf. The pack vanished after that incident, except for one yearling who was discovered in northwestern Nevada a year later. 


California’s second pack—the only established pack in the state now—is the Lassen pack. The pack produced four pups in 2017, five in 2018, and four in 2019, all from the same female of unknown origin. The male who mated with that female had dispersed from Oregon’s Rogue pack. He has not been seen with the Lassen pack since June of 2019. 


In 2020 a new male in the Lassen pack—his origin also unknown—mated with the packs original breeding female and her subadult daughter. They produced at least nine pups. As of January 2021, CDFW states that the Lassen pack contains at least five wolves.


Though California has only one resident pack, other wolves have reached the state. OR-85, a male from Oregon’s Mt. Emily pack, entered California by November 4, 2020. He was one and a half years old at the time. In December, trail cameras and tracks showed him traveling with another wolf. The two are pictured in the above trail cam photo from CDFW. Early this February, a CDFW representative told the Associated Press that OR-85’s partner is likely a female and the pair seems to be establishing a territory. 


Another disperser, OR-93 a male from Oregon's White River pack, entered California on January 30.


Consider that since 2015, wolves have entered California and resident packs have produced at least 27 pups. Yet with this influx and births the state currently has a resident population of only seven wolves. Where have all these wolves gone? 


Certainly some died by poaching even while California wolves were protected by both federal and state laws. OR-59, a male from northeastern Oregon, for example, entered California on November 29, 2018. On December 5 he was seen feeding on a calf that had died of natural causes. Several days later and miles away he was found shot dead. His poaching is under investigation. 


Then there was OR-54, a female from Oregon's Rogue pack. She dispersed as a two-year old to California in January 2018 and by April 15 entered the state. She spent most of her time in California but also made three trips back to Oregon. In September 2019, she even crossed Interstate 80 and briefly entered Nevada before returning to California, crossing the Interstate yet again. She covered more than 8,700 miles after leaving the Rogue pack. Sadly, adventurous OR-54 was found dead in California in February 2020. Her death remains under investigation.


Protection is important if wolves from elsewhere are going to come to California, breed, and create new packs. "With federal protections removed from wolves recently almost everywhere across the country," says Amaroq Weiss, a senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, "the protections provided by California's state endangered species act are all the more essential for wolves on the West Coast." 


Oregon


The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) currently counts 158 wolves in Oregon. Almost all are in the eastern half of the state as shown in the ODFW map below.



Gray wolves, native to Oregon, had been eradicated from the state by the late 1940s. One of the first wolves to return naturally to Oregon arrived from Idaho in 1999. The disperser was captured and unceremoniously hauled right back to where she had come from. Within the next two years three other dispersers from Idaho were found dead in Oregon, one killed by a car, two poached. By 2008 Oregon had its first pack and pups. Three years later, in 2011, wolves in the eastern third of Oregon lost protection under the federal Endangered Species Act and came under the management of ODFW.

By 2015, with only around 78 adult wolves in the state, ODFW and its Commission ignored the recommendation of independent scientists and said wolves no longer needed state Endangered Species Act protection. Then legislators passed a bill that essentially blocked conservation organizations from challenging that delisting in court.

ODFW states that hunting and trapping of wolves is prohibited statewide. It is unlawful to shoot a wolf except in defense of human life, or in certain circumstances when a wolf is attacking livestock. (ODFW reports that wolves have never attacked humans since returning to Oregon.) Illegally shooting a wolf is punishable with a fine of more than $6,000 and a year in jail.


That said, the future for Oregon's wolves--with no state or federal protection--still looks threatening. Oregon Wild, a conservation organization, reports on its website that the latest update to Oregon’s Wolf Plan “significantly erodes protections for wolves by lowering the threshold for when the state can kill wolves, removing requirements for non lethal conflict deterrence, and opening the door toward public hunting and trapping.” 


Oregon Wild's concern is reinforced by an article in the Capital Press. This weekly newspaper that informs the agricultural community reported that ranchers now have more leeway under Oregon law to kill wolves than they did under the federal law. The article explained to ranchers how to satisfy two requirements before killing wolves that kill livestock. “First, they must have used at least one nonlethal measure to protect their livestock from wolves ‘prior to and on the day of the incident of depredation,’ according to the law. Second, they must have removed or neutralized ‘reasonably accessible unnatural attractants of potential wolf-livestock conflict,’ such as bones or carcasses, at least seven days before the depredation.”


Washington


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reports that at the end of 2019, there were at least 145 wolves living in the state. 


WDFW reports that wolves were once common throughout most of Washington but disappeared because of trapping, poisoning, and hunting as ranchers and farmers settled the state between 1850 and 1900. By the 1930s wolves were gone. But wolves have returned by dispersing from places like Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. 


In 2008 WDFW documented in north central Washington the state’s first resident pack. This is the same year Oregon documented its first pack.


In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the eastern third of the state but preserved protection for wolves in the western two-thirds (just like in Oregon). Now, with the delisting of gray wolves nationally, there is no federal protection for Washington wolves.


However, the wolf was listed as endangered by the State of Washington in the early 1980s and still receives protection under state law from hunting, possession, malicious harassment, and killing. Penalties for illegally killing a state endangered species range up to $5,000 and/or one year in jail.


Washington’s wolf recovery activities are guided by a Wolf Plan that was adopted in 2011. Under that plan, Washington, as shown in the WDFW map above, is divided into three Recovery Regions: Eastern Washington, the Northern Cascades, and the Southern Cascades and Northwest Coast. Most packs roam across public and private land in the northeast corner of the state, but increasing numbers are present in southeast Washington and the Northern Cascades region.


To help implement that wolf plan, Washington has a Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol. Unfortunately, that protocol does not require livestock operations to use nonlethal deterrents to keep livestock and wolves separate and alive. This means that even though operators have ignored nonlethal deterrents, WDFW can come in and kill wolves in response to livestock conflicts. And kill they do. Since 2012, WDFW has slaughtered 34 state-protected wolves in response to livestock conflicts. The majority of those wolves died because of conflicts with the cattle of just one livestock producer. The Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project, and WildEarth Gaurdians challenged this protocol and a process to make a new rule has begun.    


What is behind this drive to slaughter Washington wolves? The Western Environmental Law Center, a group fighting the national wolf delisting, quotes Timothy Coleman, director of Washington’s Kettle Range Conservation Group as saying, “The finger on the trigger of wolf slaughter is driven by anti-government fanatics who foment fear, lies and mistrust. The Endangered Species Act makes such hostility to wild nature more difficult, more closely watched.” Coleman goes on to say that eighty-five percent of the wolves killed in Washington were in the Kettle River Range where the wolf was delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act. He believes this loss of federal protection has stopped wolves from dispersing to public lands such as Mount Rainier and Olympia National Park.


To read the previous briefing: Impact of Delisting on Great Lakes Wolves


WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW TO HELP PROTECT WOLVES?


Sooner or later, with delisting in effect, more wolves will die in California, Oregon, Washington, and the Lower 48. Hopefully, the courts will eventually roll back the recent delisting because of low wolf numbers, loss of wolf habitat, and lack of scientific rigor. But there is no guarantee. 


Given that the fate of wolves will likely be in the hands of state and tribal agencies for some time, we must advocate for wolves at that level. Here’s a link to the Center for Biological Diversity page where you can tell the governors of states with wolves to act in a way that helps wolves recover.  


We can also ask the Biden administration to begin the process of restoring ESA protections for gray wolves. Here’s a link to the WildEarth Guardians page and a petition you can sign.


Legal battles are expensive and you can help by donating to the organizations that are fighting the delisting in court. The Western Environmental Law Center represents WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, and Klamath Forest Alliance.


Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Oregon Wild, National Parks Conservation Association, and The Humane Society of the United States. 


The Natural Resources Defense Council has also sued the USFWS over the delisting.


Thanks for taking action, and I’ll keep you updated as this battle progresses.


Image Credits: 

Wolf by tree via ODFW

OR-85 and mate via CDFW

Oregon map via ODFW

Washington map via WDFW


To read the previous briefing: Impact of Delisting on Great Lakes Wolves


Rick Lamplugh writes, photographs, and speaks to protect wildlife and wild lands.

His bestselling In the Temple of Wolves; its sequel, Deep into Yellowstone; and its prequel, The Wilds of Aging are available signed. His books are also available unsigned or as eBook or audiobook on Amazon.

Signed Sets Available