The Beginning of the End

US wildlife officials aim to remove wolf protections in 2020

The Trump administration plans to lift endangered species protections for gray wolves across most of the nation by the end of the year.

Full article here.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection nation-wide is “very imminent,” new data from Idaho show the abhorrent management practices within the state.

According to an analysis of records obtained by Western Watersheds Project, hunters, trappers, and state and federal agencies have killed 570 wolves in Idaho during a 12-month period from July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Included in the mortality are at least 35 wolf pups, some weighing less than 16 pounds and likely only 4 to 6 weeks old. Some of the wolves shattered teeth trying to bite their way out of traps, others died of hyperthermia in traps set by the U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services, and more were gunned down in aerial control actions. The total mortality during this period represented nearly 60 percent of the 2019 year-end estimated Idaho wolf population.

When the wolf, a highly social animal, is delisted, likely by the end of 2020, he will live in constant peril. The species will be hunted down relentlessly. Those who survive, will mourn the loss of family members viciously and unethically trapped, snared, and murdered in droves. He will have to run for his life daily, year after endless year, as his numbers decline dramatically… all because man”kind” will not be bothered by the small concessions it would take to oversee harmonious coexistence.

About 400 wolves have been killed each year in Idaho for the past several years, and the 570 wolves killed in 2019-2020 is record-breaking, perhaps reflecting Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) incentivization of wolf killing.

This inhumane mass killing of wolves abuses federal recovery objectives and is one of many reasons why Endangered Species Act protection is so important for gray wolves nationwide.
Zoe Hanley
Defenders of Wildlife.

As we have already witnessed in several states, removing Endangered Species Act protection and allowing states to “manage” wolves often leads to an all-out slaughter. There are well over 4,000 wolves spread across Minnesota (2,600), Wisconsin (1,200), and Michigan (700), but those states’ management plans only commit to maintaining a population of about half that. This means that up to 40 percent of wolves in Minnesota and up to 70 percent of the wolves in Wisconsin and Michigan could be killed under state “management.” If ESA protections were removed, these states would likely allow for wolf hunting and trapping seasons and an increase in the number of wolves “removed” in the name of protecting livestock—just as they did in 2011 after wolves in the region were federally delisted (before protections were later restored).
History has demonstrated time and time again that societal values ultimately determine the survival of a species as controversial as the wolf. Wolf management evokes a wide range of public attitudes, polarized views, and prolonged contention. Wolves have been feared, hated, and persecuted for hundreds of years in North America, as they are still today.

In an attempt to extirpate them permanently from the landscape, wolves were hunted venomously (poisoned, trapped, snared, and shot from helicopters). This centuries-long extermination campaign nearly wiped out the gray wolf in the lower 48 by 1950. When, and if the wolf is delisted this year, the bloodlust, the hate, and the desire to slaughter the wolf will exact its toll. And in light of the fact that existing state regulations are not nearly adequate enough protection to ensure persistence of population numbers, the losses will be great.

The animals will suffer, the forests and ecosystems will suffer, and many of us will suffer right along with them.

And it will be more than many of us can bear.

Scientists, even those requested by USFWS to complete a peer review of the delisting proposal, agree—delisting gray wolves is premature.

Regardless of whether or not the populations of wolves have recovered in some states, today they occupy just 10 percent of their former range in the continental United States and barely 6 percent in the contiguous United States, with an approximate population of just under 6,400 (2019). Wolves need protection from hate and resentment and the persecution that will ensue. For these reasons alone the species needs to remain under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

Pray for the wolf. History is about to repeat.

“As they have demonstrated time and again, large carnivores will not stay within human defined safe zones. We need to learn to share the land and its bounty with them, to live with them, or we will lose them—and with them a considerable part of what makes us human.” Mark Derr, Saving The Large Carnivores, Psychology Today

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