ESA protection lifted, wolf killing accelerates

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2011:

WASHINGTON D.C.–“Interior Announces Next Steps in
Protection, Recovery, and Scientific Management of Wolves,” Kendra
Barkoff of the U.S. Department of the Interior and Chris Tollefson of
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service headlined a May 17, 2011 joint
press release.
What “protection, recovery, and scientific management”
meant was that wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, western Great
Lakes region, and Oregon may now be shot, trapped, poisoned, and
strafed from aircraft as state governments see fit, so long as they
do not actually reduce wolf populations to the verge of regional

Wolves in most of the Lower 48 states where they exist were
removed from Endangered Species Act protection by Congress through an
April 14, 2011 budget rider. The rider was challenged as
unconstitutional on May 5 by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies,
Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians, and was
subsequently challenged in a separate filing by the Center for
Biological Diversity. The cases were judicially consolidated.
Friends of Animals then filed a Motion to Intervene on May 27.
Expecting the case to fail, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, &
Parks Department tentatively approved a plan to allow hunters to kill
as many as 220 wolves in fall 2011, about 40% of the present
estimated state wolf population of 566. “It would be Montana’s
second wolf hunt since 2009, when 72 wolves were killed,” wrote
Scott Volz of Associated Press.
The Idaho Department of Fish & Game was reportedly also
considering setting a quota of 220. About 705 wolves are believed to
inhabit Idaho. Like Montana, Idaho authorized a wolf hunt in 2009,
with a quota of 220. Idaho hunters actually shot 188 wolves. While
the Idaho quota will not be finalized until August, the Department
of Fish & Game started the killing early by hiring USDA Wildlife
Services to shoot wolves from a helicopter in an area where wolves
are blamed for an elk population decline. “Gunners killed five
wolves before the helicopter was grounded because of costs and
because of difficulty targeting radio-collared wolves under the cover
of trees,” wrote Laura Zuckerman for Thomson/Reuters.
“The state has recruited outfitters to kill another 55 wolves
in the area,” Zuckerman added. In addition, Zuckerman wrote, “The
state of Idaho has authorized sheriff’s deputies to kill a pack of
about seven wolves near Elk City, a community of 200 residents in
north central Idaho.”
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife personnel killed a young
male wolf on a ranch near Joseph on May 17, the very day of the
Department of the Interior “next steps” announcement, shot another
10 days later, and in between issued permits to 12 ranchers that
allow them to shoot any wolf they see in the acts of biting,
wounding, or killing livestock.
Congressional Representative Candice Miller (R-Michigan)
meanwhile on May 10 introduced legislation which would remove all
wolves in the Lower 48 from federal protection. “Backed by extremist
groups like Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife and Big Game Forever,”
fumed Defenders of Wildlife president Rodger Schlickeisen, “this
shows what a dangerous path we are on. Congress should uphold
America’s commitment to protecting imperiled wildlife,” Schlickeisen
said, “rather than trying to appease radical special interest groups
that are working against the public interest.”
No longer responsible for wolves in most states, the U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service quietly dropped a policy introduced during
the administration of former President George W. Bush which allowed
endangered species listing decisions to vary from state to state.
Allowing wolves to be downlisted in Idaho and Montana, while
remaining protected in Wyoming, the policy was successfully
challenged in a federal court lawsuit by a coalition of 13
environmental advocacy groups and the Humane Society of the U.S.,
who argued that political boundaries have no relevance to
conservation status. The August 2010 ruling, by federal District
Judge Molloy, led to the Act of Congress that stripped most wolves
in the Lower 48 of Endangered Species Act protection.

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