Yeah, it's all so above board that they (the few Congressmen involved) had to put thier override on behalf of special interests in a rider on a non-related appropriations bill.
Your facts are opinions that serve special interests, including hunters. There are most certainly biologists, ecologists, conservationists, wildlife experts who do not agree with "management" policies or the special interests.
Your "those who are against hunting and wildlife management are ignorant...blah blah blah....who think its all just too 'icky'" is as unconvincing as you find the moral objections to repopulating wolves just to shoot/snare/trap them unconvincing.
I've never said everybody who is against hunting, especially specific to wolves in the GYE, is ignorant. I've said in general principle, hunting is very defensible. But there are many specific instances in which hunting is just a flat-out bad idea.
Specific to wolves here, I've heard/read some very fine arguments as to why hunting might not be best to include in the managment plans. Or, that hunting as currently implimented might be too heavy-handed.
Not all the biologists and naturalists I visit with work for the Game and Fish Department.
My personal view is that those concerns, while well-founded, don't really bear out at this time. I think hunting can continue to go forward, as planned, and not undermine wolf recovery efforts.
However, if those worries are founded, it should become evident in plenty of time to change or reverse any relevant policies.
Once again, the states have a vested, direct interest in preventing too many wolves from getting killed. If populations dip below certain levels, they lose everything.
I've said the anti-hunting ranting on this particular thread is ignorant -- both in general principle, and specific to the wolf issue. And that still stands. I've yet to see an intelligent, well-informed counter-point from any of you here.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation leaders want state wildlife officials to get more aggressive about wolf control, and they’ve offered at least $50,000 to make it happen.
“We are not utilizing anywhere near to the fullest of what the wolf management plan authorizes,” RMEF president David Allen said on Monday. “The go-slow, take-it-easy approach is not working.”
The Missoula-based group wants Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to use the money to contract with the federal Wildlife Services agency to kill more wolves.
For the past three years, FWP has spent $110,000 annually for Wildlife Services to trap or shoot wolves suspected of attacking livestock or dogs. The money has been a quarter or more of Wildlife Services’ wolf management budget, with the balance coming from the Montana Department of Livestock, private stockgrowers and affiliated organizations.
The suggestion drew criticism from Mike Leahy of Defenders of Wildlife, which in the past contributed $100,000 to livestock producers in compensation for wolf depredation.
“Financial assistance from conservation organizations should further conservation, not undermine it,” Leahy said. “I guess we have a difference of opinion whether predators are part of the system or not. We work for conservation of the whole system and all of the wildlife, including predators. And we think it’s not the federal government’s role to be managing unendangered state wildlife. The federal government’s role is to help recover endangered and threatened species.”
In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 14 wolves from aircraft in Idaho near the Montana border at the request of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The area was one where private hunters had relatively little success hunting wolves during Idaho’s wolf season.
Montana had at least 653 wolves at the end of 2011. Its 2011-12 wolf hunting season tallied 166 wolf kills, including 92 adults, 35 yearlings and 25 juveniles. Most of the adults weighed 91 pounds, with the largest weighing 120 pounds.
Idaho has an estimated population of 746, after hunters and trappers killed 362 wolves in the current season. Many parts of Idaho allow wolf hunting through March 31, with two zones remaining open until June 30.
Both states took over wolf management from the federal government last spring, after Congress passed a law removing the Rocky Mountain gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protection. Montana set a hunting quota of 220 wolves for the 2011 season. Idaho did not set a quota.
....Aasheim said..... “We’re going to manage for a balance, and we don’t know where that is yet. But we are going to aggressively work to reduce wolf numbers in Montana.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation doesn’t say wipe out all the predators,” Allen said. “But we’ve got to be more aggressive in managing them. We want to see substantially fewer than what we have now.”
The American Society of Mammologists (ie, scientists, including PhD"s) has issued a public criticism of lethal "management" operations by Wildlife Services, the agency of the USDA's Animal and Plant inspection service
The American Society of Mammalogists (ASM, hereafter "The Society") is a non-profit, professional, scientific, and educational Society consisting of nearly 3,000 members from all 50 United States and 60 other countries worldwide. The ASM was founded in 1919 and is the world’s oldest and largest organization devoted to the study of mammals. We strongly support the conservation and responsible use of wild mammals based on current, sound, and accurate scientific knowledge. The Society has a long history of reviewing issues related to mammalian conservation, and where appropriate, adopting positions on issues concerning the conservation and responsible management of mammals and their habitats based upon our scientific expertise.
We write to you to urge the redirection of management operations of an agency of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services known as Wildlife Services (WS) and specifically to substantially reduce its funding for lethal control of native wildlife species, especially native wild mammals. Below we explain our reasons, and we cite many statistics on lethal control of native mammals by WS since 2000, found on the agency’s own website.
...with particular reference to certain native species of mammals, especially native carnivores and rodents, we see from WS a heavy and inflexible emphasis on lethal control and a lack of scientific self-assessment of the effects of WS’s lethal control programs on native mammals and ecosystems
We see little evidence that the focus or practices of WS regarding native mammals have changed substantially from its progenitor agencies in the Bureau of Biological Survey 100 years ago
Aldo Leopold, legendary conservationist and founding member of ASM, famously and poignantly regretted his role in lethal wolf control for the federal government after recognizing the central role of top predators in ecosystem integrity (Leopold 1949).
Ecosystem science has progressed a great deal since Leopold’s 1949 essay and has only bolstered his epiphany on the integral value of intact ecosystems with their apex predators, and the pervasive ecological damage done by removing them from natural systems (Estes et al. 2011). WS’s ongoing record of lethal control stands in stark contrast to this growing consensus among ecologists.
Using WS’s own reported kill data from fiscal years 2000 through 2010, WS agents have killed more than 2 million native wild mammals in the United States in those 11 years, including 915,868 coyotes, 321,051 beavers, 126,257 raccoons, 83,606 skunks, nearly 70,000 ground squirrels, 50,682 red and gray foxes, 43,640 prairie dogs, 29,484 opossums, 25,336 marmots and woodchucks, 19,111 muskrats, 4,559 bears, 4,052 mountain lions, and 3,066 endangered gray wolves, nearly all of these intentionally.
More recently, there has been evidence that WS sees another role for itself, and that is to increase the population density of certain favored game species such as elk, ostensibly by targeting entire wolf packs for extermination by aerial gunning in areas where sport hunting groups, without scientific basis, argue that their quarry is not abundant enough (and that the only reason for a perceived but unproven paucity is "too many wolves"; Robbins 2011).
In summary, we believe that current science does not support much of WS’s lethal control of native mammals, that it is wasteful and often counterproductive (e.g., inducing various forms of predator release, and causing increased densities and disease prevalence in prey populations, resulting in habitat degradation). And both target and non-target lethal control by WS often works at cross-purposes to taxpayer-supported efforts by other state and federal agencies to conserve and enhance the very same species that WS kills.
Another case in point is the gray wolf, on which the federal government has spent in excess of $43 million since 1974 in its highly successful effort to reintroduce and conserve the species (USFWS 2011). WS’s collaboration with the State of Idaho in its excessive zeal to remove most of those wolves that the government has restored, for reasons that are not scientifically supported, is perhaps the most troubling of all.
We believe an agency of the federal government should not be in the business of helping any state (or private entity) achieve such a politically motivated and scientifically unsupported goal.
We call on USDA-APHIS......for WS to redirect its efforts at: development, enhancement and public education in non-lethal remedies to avoid native wildlife conflict, and at: research into holistic management, especially non-lethal methods, which acknowledges current ecosystem science and the value of top-down control by apex predators
USDA Wildlife Services is the only federal program that kills native predators at the request of ranchers and state wildlife management agencies. Changing the barbaric, indiscriminate and wasteful predator control methods used by Wildlife Services’ is a primary focus of our legislative work.
We're working to eliminate Wildlife Services' lethal and indiscriminate predator control program. It wastes millions of taxpayer dollars using methods that are ineffective, cruel, and also hazardous to humans and pets.
Wildlife Services, the federal program under the Department of Agriculture, has killed thousands of wolves over the last decade -- including 14 wolves gunned down from the skies over Idaho's Clearwater National Forest to artificially boost elk populations.
Now, they’ve received $51,000 from elk hunters to "collar and kill" wolves. This is unacceptable.
This federal program should not be paid by special interests to collar and kill wolves.
Not really. APHIS is a federal agency, authorized to kill wolves, regardless of whether they were still under "protected" status, and not state managment.
That has nothing to do with public hunting, or the state's managment plans. You could ban public hunting tommorow, and APHIS would still kill wolves. As the report indicates, they have been all along.
And, again, if wolf numbers drop below certain numbers, the states lose control, and federal protections are back in place. The states have a vested interest in not allowing too many wolves to be killed.
"Aldo Leopold, legendary conservationist and founding member of ASM, famously and poignantly regretted his role in lethal wolf control for the federal government after recognizing the central role of top predators in ecosystem integrity (Leopold 1949)."
Hate to break it to you, but Leopold was also a hunter, government agent, and a strong supporter of hunting and ranching (provided they were both done properly.)
I've said many times, I admire and try to follow his "land ethic" philosophy.
But beyond that, the lethal control of wolves during Leopold's time was an all-out, no-holds-barred, effort to exterminate wolves. The feds wanted them off the land. Gone, dead, zero, zip, no wolves, anywere.
That is notwhat's happening now. What's happing now is squabbling and posturing over the managment of a population of wolves which everybody accepts will be a permanent part of the landscape.
So, once again, the debate now has moved past general principles.
The two "Big Questions" have been answered, and are off the table. Will there be wolves? (Yes) Will they be managed? (Yes)
The debate is now over specifics.
I appreciate ASM's input. But the fact stands, the state's managment plans (which include public hunting) will go forward for the time being.
I anticipate changes, and fine-tuning as the years go by. Less hunting? Maybe. More hunting? Doubtful. A complete ban on public hunting? Probably not.
That might take care of itself anyway. Anybody I've talked to who actually has experience hunting wolves says once they are hunted, and realize what's going on, they become almost impossible to hunt -- even with tactics such as baiting -- which won't be allowed here, as it in Canada.
APHIS being forced to back off? Perhaps. To completely stop killing wolves? Probably never.
So yes, there will no doubt be changes. Some ASM will like, some the will not. Some RMEF will like, some they will not.
But anybody wanting a huge general shift, one way or the other, is pretty much SOL at this point. As I've said, those debates were had, and settled, years ago.
I agree with arielg. Those reports sum everything up.
I'd be interested to know how many members of ASM actually did boots-on-the ground work during the lenghty wolf reintroduction program, with the biologists and other experts who were actually involved, getting their hands dirty, doing the real work.
After all, Ed Bangs, the USFWS biologist who headed the program (and caught continual crap from anti-wolf extremists the entire time), was on record numerous times, saying he had no problem with the principle of wolves being hunted once the population was resorted.
I'd give more weight to five of Ed Bang's words than 5,000 from the ASM.
I agree with arielg. Those reports sum everything up.
Thanks to both of you.
Among the many compelling statements made by the ASM, one of the most compelling is this one:
WS often works at cross-purposes to taxpayer-supported efforts by other state and federal agencies to conserve and enhance the very same species that WS kills.
Of course, I don't expect the information to convince...but perhaps we can now put an end to claims that imply there is no conflict regarding the killing of wolves for "management" purposes within the scientific community, and that if you don't agree with the pro-killing philosophy behind it, it's because you're ignorant.
(Check out the predator defense website if you haven't already. They have a lot of links to news articles, including the recent statement by the ASM, and other issues, plus stories of pets that were killed in the traps set by Wildlife Services, and a description of the vicious kinds of traps that are used today, to crush heads or windpipes or ribs, or tear into an animal's paw and stuff like that.)