Wolves

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:

The Denver-based Mountain States Legal
Foundation, a leading wise-use group, on September 7
sued the U.S. government for $500 on behalf of rancher
Eugene Hassey, 74, of Lemhi County, Idaho, who claims
the sum in compensation for a calf he says was killed in
January by a wolf released as part of the Yellowstone/central
Idaho wolf restoration project. An unknown party shot the
wolf as she ate the carcass. Defenders of Wildlife was initially
prepared to pay Hussey out of a fund that since 1987
has paid about 20 Michigan, Montana, and Minnesota
ranchers a total of circa $17,000 for alleged wolf predation
losses––but a federal autopsy found the calf died during
birth, and the wolf only scavenged her remains. Hassey
claimed at a March 29 Congressional hearing that he was
abused by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents Tom Riley,
Steve Magone, and Paul Weyland when they tried to execute
a warrant to search his property for evidence in the wolf
shooting. Idaho attorney general Alan Lance compared
them to “the secret police or the Keystone Kops.” But a transcript
of a tape recording the agents made during the incident,
released September 13, revealed that they remained
calm and professional while Hassey cursed them and threw
rocks at them until sheriff Brett Barsalou arrived and ordered
them to leave.


Charged with the April killing of one of the
wolves who were released in Yellowstone last February,
Chad McKittrick, 43, of Red Lodge, Wyoming, plans to
argue that the deed was not a crime because wolves are not
properly an endangered species and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service does not have the authority to declare them
one. He won a postponement of the trial in August to allow
attorney Gill Burdette more time to prepare his case.
The Davis Mountains Heritage Association, a
ranching-oriented wise-use group, on August 18 pledged to
fight the proposed reintroduction of Mexican grey wolves to
Big Bend National Park. But the reintroduction plan,
released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 28,
doesn’t call for the diminutive wolves to be released in Big
Bend until well into the next century. First 100 Mexican
grey wolves will be released in the Gila National Forest
along the Arizona/New Mexico border, while 30 will be
released at the White Sands missile range. That phase of the
restoration, if not killed by Congress, will start in 1997 and
take 10 years to accomplish.
A group called the Same-Day Airborne
Initiative Committee on August 19 filed a petition with
Alaska lieutenant governor Fran Ulmer, seeking to put
before voters a proposal to bar hunters from stalking wolves,
wolverines, foxes, coyotes, and lynx from aircraft. While
airborne hunting is illegal under the 1974 federal Airborne
Hunting Act, Alaska dodges the federal act by allowing
licensed trappers to spot animals from the air, land, walk
300 feet from the plane, and kill them by any legal means.
To qualify the initiative for inclusion on the November 1996
state ballot, the group must gather 21,600 signatures of registered
voters. Co-sponsors of the initiative are former
Alaska Board of Game members Joel Bennett and Doug
Pope, and Sandra Arnold of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.
A state audit released on August 24 showed that
Alaska spent nearly $300,000 to kill 98 wolves in 1993 and
1994, 25% more than previously acknowledged. The expenditure
produced no apparent increase in the numbers of
moose and caribou in the targeted area south of Fairbanks,
said state representative David Finkelstein (D-Anchorage),
who requested the audit. Governor Tony Knowles cancelled
the wolf-killing program as his first act after succeeding former
governor Walter Hickel last November. On July 25,
Knowles asked the National Academy of Sciences to undertake
an independent scientific review and economic analysis
of the merits of such predator control. Still insisting wolves
rather than ongoing poaching and hunting are to blame for
moose and caribou depletion, hunting interests involved in
drafting a Fortymile Caribou Herd Recovery Plan released on
September 2 compromised with opponents of wolf-killing to
the extent of recommending sterilization of wolves in the
Fortymile area instead.

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