6 Apr 2008, 5:20pm
Predators Wildlife Policy
by admin

What They Didn’t Tell You About Wolf Recovery

Dovel, George. 2008. What They Didn’t Tell You About Wolf Recovery. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Full text [here]

Also includes:

Geist, Val. 2008. Two Letters from Dr. Valerius Geist. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Dovel, George. 2008. Attempt to End Airborne Predator Control-How Alaska’s Governor Responded. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Collinge, Mark. 2008. Relative risks of predation on livestock posed by individual wolves, black bears, mountain lions and coyotes in Idaho. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Dovel, George . 2008. Outdoorsmen Document Surplus Wolf Kills Hunters Comment on Declining Elk Harvests. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

The Outdoorsman is edited and published by George Dovel. For subscription info please contact:

The Outdoorsman
P.O. Box 155
Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629

Selected excerpts:

By 2006 many people in the West were aware that minimum estimated fall wolf numbers in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming already exceeded the criteria for delisting wolves by several hundred percent. But few seem aware that the FWS agenda to allow this to happen was exposed by wildlife ecologist Dr. Charles Kay way back in 1993 – before any Canadian wolves were transplanted into the three Northern Rocky Mountain states.

In an article entitled, “Wolves in the West – What the government does not want you to know about wolf recovery” in the August 1993 issue of Petersen’s Hunting, Dr. Kay asked the question, “If wolves are brought back how many are enough?” He pointed out that the federal government’s recovery plan announced that when 10 breeding pairs (approximately 100 wolves) existed in each of the three recovery areas for three consecutive years, wolves would be declared recovered and removed from the Endangered Species list.

Then Dr. Kay also pointed out that to prevent harmful inbreeding and protect against random environmental changes, most scientists believed that a minimum population of 1,500 wolves must be achieved. When he attempted to find out why such a low number was being sought for recovery FWS could not produce evidence of any scientific research to justify such a low recovery number. …

Six years after the 10 breeding pairs per area was established as the criterion for delisting, Wolf Project Leader Ed Bangs included Appendix 9 in the draft EIS stating that a questionnaire had been mailed to 43 wolf biologists in Nov.-Dec. 1992 asking whether they agreed with the minimum criteria of 10 pairs established in 1987. The names of the 25 biologists who reportedly responded and the specific answers they provided were not included.

Meanwhile Bangs initiated a letter-writing campaign to discredit Dr. Kay among his peers and elsewhere. Instead Kay’s scientific associates defended him and rebuked Bangs for his attempt to destroy Dr. Kay’s scientific reputation while also attempting to suppress legitimate scientific opinion. …

Following the 2007 announcement by FWS of its intention to de-list the wolves in 2008, the agency issued a minimum estimated wolf population in the three states of ~1500. And on May 8, 2007, the nonprofit environmental law clinic, Earthjustice, sent FWS a documented 35-page objection to delisting wolves in the three states.

A major objection to de-listing was that wolves in all three states do not meet the MVP of 2,500-5000 that computer models indicate is necessary to insure survival of any species for the next 100 years. The Objection, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and the Humane Society of the U.S., points out that the 1979 Minnesota population of 1,235 wolves in 138 packs did not qualify for delisting and asks how only 300 wolves in 30 packs in three states could possibly meet delisting criteria, which should be comparable to Minnesota. …

According to an Idaho Statesman article posted at 5:01 P.M. on January 15, retired IDFG Salmon Region Supervisor Gary Power, who is now F&G Commissioner from the Salmon Region, told Idaho House Resource Committee members that Idaho has more than 800 wolves in 72 documented packs and 41 breeding pairs. …

On January 14, 2008 Idaho F&G Director Cal Groen authored a News Release titled, “Wolves Are Here to Stay.” He emphasized that wolves will be managed like deer and elk but with the following differences:

“The point of wolf management will be to stabilize numbers, not to cut wolves to an absolute minimum. In fact, the (wolf) plan recognizes wilderness area packs as ‘core’ populations and as ’source’ areas for surrounding regions.”

By infiltrating every federal and state natural resource management agency and many universities during the past 35 years, these extremists have substituted their radical agenda for sound resource management. They have even hijacked the term “Conservation” – changing its meaning from “the protection, planned management and wise use of natural resources” (Gasaway et al.) to restoration of native plants and large meat-eating predators in a made-made wilderness that restricts human use. …

That agenda has been promoted in “Society for Conservation Biology” publications by federal biologists involved in wolf recovery since Canadian wolves were first transplanted. …

Wildlife biologists in all three recovery states knew about the numbers deception but only Wyoming G&F, under pressure from its Governor, attempted to hold FWS to the original de-listing criteria. IDFG Director Groen’s Jan. 14th News Release declared the Department’s intention only to “stabilize” (halt the dramatic annual increase in) existing wolf populations in Idaho.

Because IDFG estimates Idaho had a minimum population of 732 wolves in the fall of 2007 that means F&G intended to maintain a minimum of at least seven times as many wolves in Idaho as we were told would exist after recovery. But pretending that the biologists’ estimated minimum fall wolf population is near the actual wolf population is simply another deception misleading Idahoans and their elected officials…

Public input on the Draft Wolf Plan was accepted by IDFG through December 31, 2007 and that input was scheduled to be provided to the Commission during its January 15-18, 2008 meeting. The Commission would then discuss and adopt a final wolf plan during a legally advertised meeting that was open to the public.

Instead, on January 14, 2008, without knowledge or approval of the full Commission in a public meeting, Director Groen issued the News Release advising how wolves will be managed and on the following day Commissioner Power told the House Resource Committee members how wolves will be managed. Although the full Commission did not adopt a wolf plan until March 6, 2008, F&G publicized its intent to maintain 500-700 wolves.

Meanwhile a closed-door Commission session was held in which the Commissioners were apparently informed of legal complications they might encounter if they managed wolves to benefit Idaho citizens. Whether or not that information is completely accurate, the Wolf Management Plan announced by Groen and Power clearly violates Idaho Wildlife Policy (I.C. Sec. 36-103). …

Not controlling wolves in Idaho wilderness just as they are not controlled in national parks will ultimately result in the same depletion of big game and other prey species and rapid turnover in wolf packs. It is important to remember that Idaho law requires F&G to manage wildlife to provide continued supplies for hunters, fishermen and trappers to pursue and harvest – but it is being ignored.

Pretending that limiting the number of hunters who can harvest wildlife is somehow providing continued supplies of wildlife for all hunters to harvest (sustained yields) is absurd. Limiting harvest opportunity for everyone is a last resort tool that must be used when all of the other wildlife management tools at the Commission’s disposal have failed to halt population and harvest declines.

Ignoring the studies indicating that wolves kill two to three times as many prey animals as they can consume, the wolf advocates promoted the lie that wolves kill only what they can eat. The Wolf EIS estimated the average wolf would kill only 12 big game animals per year in YNP – including both elk and deer. All subsequent studies in YNP found the elk kill per wolf per year has averaged between 18 and 36.

Un-refuted evidence of IDFG and FWS providing the erroneous information to Congress to justify wolf reintroduction was included in the hearing record of a Congressional Investigative Committee. Also included was an Aug. 12, 1994 letter from Bangs to FWS’s Charles Lobdell insisting that he de-emphasize the wolves that already existed in Idaho and thus show unanimous FWS support for reintroducing Canadian wolves.

In that letter Bangs changed the definition of a confirmed wild wolf to be protected under the ESA to any animal that looks and acts like a wolf and has either survived in the wild or reproduced in the wild. He boldly asserted that neither domesticated wolves nor wolf-dog hybrids can survive in the wild and said any animal that has been observed to survive is “confirmed” as a wild wolf.

By providing that new definition, Bangs ignored 20 years of scientific deliberation during which the FWS Deputy Solicitor ultimately determined that only the distinct subspecies known to have inhabited an area could be reintroduced to satisfy ESA requirements. Bangs paved the way to protect and propagate assorted wolf-dog, wolf-coyote and wolf-wolf hybrids in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains Wolf Recovery Areas. …

But during a recently completed 2-year study, evolutionary biologists Leonard and Wayne genetically tested 68 of those wolves and found that none of them were the Eastern Timber Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) that existed when they were listed as “threatened” in Minnesota. They found the wolves were crossbred with local coyotes (Canis latrans) and Eastern Canadian Wolves (Canis lycaon) or combinations from crossbred offspring.

Only 31% of the wolves tested had any Eastern Timber Wolf genes and none were purebred. Yet all of the genetic samples taken and preserved from Eastern Timber Wolves from the early 20th century tested purebred with no evidence of crossbreeding with coyotes or other wolves.

When confronted with this information by the news media in November 2007, FWS Eastern Gray Wolf Recovery Team Leader Rolph Peterson (Bangs’ Great Lakes counterpart) admitted they had known all along that the wolves were crossbreeding with coyotes. When one of the evolutionary biologists suggested the wolves should be re-listed, FWS Wolf guru David Mech responded, “It is not clear what would be gained by keeping the Midwestern wolf population on the endangered species list.”

Mech continued, “Whatever their genetic identity, there are over 4,000 wolves in the population, they are increasing rapidly, and are legally protected by the states.” From the statements by Bangs in Aug. 1994 and Peterson and Mech in Nov. 2007, the willingness of FWS wolf biologists to ignore the intent of the ESA and deceive Congress and the American public cannot be denied.

Residents of the three Great Lakes states are forced to protect thousands of “super coyote” hybrids that have become far more efficient killers because they are part wolf. And because all surviving wolf hybrids, including wolf/dog, are treated as endangered wild wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, it appears that a similar situation may be developing in the NRM.

In the recent Outdoorsman article entitled, “The Big Bad Wolf…How Bad Is He?”, the author reported that wolf damage claims from two Montana sheep ranchers totaling more than $40,000 were rejected because genetic testing showed the wolf that did the killing was a wolf-dog hybrid. Hard evidence supporting the existence of wolf-dog hybrids in the wild exists in all three wolf recovery areas and that will be documented in a future Outdoorsman article. …

During his highly publicized cougar study in the Central Idaho Wilderness, biologist Maurice Hornocker learned how dangerous it can be to release a pen-reared large predator into the wild. He raised two cougar kittens in a large chain-link fenced enclosure near the Taylor Ranch on Big Creek and killed mule deer and even his lion hunter’s horse to feed them.

When the young lions were nearly full-grown, they were quietly removed from the pen and were next spotted by loggers near a North Idaho campground. Several days later, one of them attacked pre-schooler Sally Carlson in that same campground while her mother, holding her hand, accompanied her to a restroom.

The youngster’s father struck the lion repeatedly with a shovel until it released its grip on his daughter’s head. His quick action undoubtedly saved the little girl’s life as a newspaper account reported more than 90 stitches were required to close the wounds in her head, face and neck. …

Citizens living in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Area report living in constant fear that a similar attack on their children will occur from the pen-raised wolves turned loose in their midst by FWS. Recently one resident contacted Canadian wildlife behavioral scientist Valerius Geist for indicators revealing when pen-reared wolves may be expected to attack humans.

Dr. Geist responded that, unlike wild wolves whose actions predict the degree of danger to humans, pen-raised wolves released into the wild attack humans for very different reasons and the timing of their attack is highly unpredictable. He explained that the pen-raised wolves may continue to kill cattle and pets yet not attack humans for an extended period but if an attack happens it will almost certainly be aimed at a child.

Dr. Geist also warned, “No matter what the origin of wolves in a settled landscape, be they wild or captivity raised, ultimately a (habituated) pack will attack a human. From that there is no escape, unless the offending wolves are shot as they start on their aberrant behavior.”

He explained that wolves are plentiful where he lives but when they begin to be a nuisance they are quickly killed by licensed hunters who are allowed to kill three in a long annual season – or by landowners who do not need a license. In New Mexico and Arizona concerned residents cannot be sure whether the wolves they see were pen-raised and transplanted – or born in the wild either recently or several generations ago – which makes their situation more dangerous and unpredictable. …

In Denali Park an intensive two-year study was conducted to determine how accurate their wolf population estimates had been for nearly two decades. The National Park Service/FWS researchers found that despite recording all of the known wolf packs and sightings, they had been underestimating total wolf numbers by about 50%.

If one similarly doubles IDFG’s 2007 minimum fall estimate of 732 wolves in Idaho, it would reflect a total of 1,464 wolves in just one state – not counting the new crop of pups. Instead of managing for the 512 wolves (2005 population estimate) unanimously approved by the F&G Commission on March 6, 2008, Idaho may be perpetuating up to 1,000 wolves – or even more.

That is 10 times as many wolves as Idahoans were led to believe would exist following wolf recovery. Yet these numbers still do not include wolves in most of the 16 wolf packs recorded along the Idaho-Montana border in 2007. …

By allowing wolves to multiply without interference, except for the few dozen that are killed each year after attacking livestock, a growing number of uncollared wolves will be overlooked. With admittedly inadequate resources to continue to document, count and radio-collar 1 or 2 wolves each in the rapidly increasing number of packs, accurate estimates of total wolf numbers will be impossible to obtain. …

“Appendix B” describes how FWS will allow all three states to estimate rather than continue to document the number of breeding pairs as they assume management. With the requirement for accurate wolf counts waived, it becomes increasingly important for state wildlife managers to admit the impact of excessive wolf populations and reduce wolf numbers dramatically where it is indicated.

Instead, on March 6, 2008 the Idaho F&G Commission ignored the wolf plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and FWS to manage for 15 breeding pairs, and unanimously endorsed a plan to maintain at least 500 wolves – the equivalent of 50 breeding pairs! …

In a February 20, 2008 article in the St. Maries Gazette-Record, IDFG Wolf Biologist Dave Spicer told Editor Ralph Bartholdt that deep snow in the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe River drainages was preventing normal movement of deer and elk. Spicer predicted a high winter mortality for elk, especially elk calves, and said in addition to floundering in the deep snow, game herds must contend with predators that can walk on the snow’s crust.

The article quoted Spicer, “Predators from cats to wolves have an easier time killing their prey when the snow piles up – it’s like a kid in a candy shop, they are out there doing their thing. The health of game herds, though, is driven by weather not predators,” he added.

Lacking fact or science to justify their failure to control excessive wolf numbers, the federal biologist used the magic word “habitat” and the state biologist blamed unhealthy game herds on “the weather.” Yet the vast majority of wolf-big game research concludes that wolves – not habitat or weather – prevent big game species from recovering once their numbers are temporarily reduced by either natural or man-caused disasters.

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