Words from Walt, #3

In this my third Words From Walt, I lament two particular crisis situations for wolf recovery in our country. The first involves Wyoming, where wolves have now lost any Endangered Species Act protection. The second concerns the State of Washington, where wolf packs are being exterminated on federal lands at the behest of ranchers.

There has been a long and tortured struggle over the acceptability of Wyoming’s wolf management plan by the US Department of the Interior, which was a necessary step before any delisting under the ESA. After much back and forth litigation and legislation, a revised Wyoming plan was finally accepted by Interior and ultimately sustained in the federal courts in 2017, thereby removing federal protection of wolves in that State. The Wyoming management plan allows wolves to exist as “trophy game animals” in less than 20% of the State, while subject to being shot on sight in the rest of the State (which actually contains much suitable wolf habitat). Of course, as “trophy game animals” ( the very term makes me sick), wolves can be hunted in that small percentage of the State where they are allowed even to exist. The minimum number of wolves in that area is designated  as 100 wolves in 10 breeding pairs. Since studies show that there may be up to 328 wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone, with 27 breeding pairs, it sure looks like the death warrants of these “surplus” wolves have been signed by the State and federal governments. I expect that the actual executions will take place this Fall during Wyoming’s planned wolf hunt. What a disgrace and stain on our supposed humanity. There is more detailed information on all of this where I obtained the foregoing facts  in the Fall 2017 Issue of International Wolf.

Regarding Washington State, Predator Defense has recently released a short film entitled “The Profanity Pack: Set Up & Sold Out”. The subject of the film has been described by Predator Defense as reporting on “… the irresponsible rancher in Washington State who set up a pack of wolves living on public land in a remote forest to attack his cattle” in 2016, and on “how state wildlife officials and major conservation organizations were party to this killing of the wolf pack, a slaughter that resumed against a new pack in 2016”. As to the complicity point, the wildlife organizations were members of that State’s Wolf Advisory Group and clearly gave in to the other members representing ranching interests and state wildlife officials who simply do not comprehend the wolf’s value in and of itself as a part of a healthy eco system untarnished by humans. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of this is that the Profanity Pack was living in classic wolf habitat of mountainous terrain that happened to be within the boundaries of an alleged “grazing allotment” on public land. I suspect that common sense would dictate that there be no such allotments that encompass any such terrain.

Brooks Fahey, the Executive Director of Predator Defense, could not have described the situation better: “Wolves are being slaughtered so cows can be raised to be butchered for profit. It is outrageous that ranchers are allowed to destroy public lands with livestock grazing while taxpayers help them externalize their business costs and fund the killing of wolves and other native predators. We must acknowledge that there are simply some places where it is absolutely inappropriate to have livestock. Wolves should have priority over cows on public land. They need a place to live in peace.” For more information, go to predatordefense.org/profanity.  

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