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Environment: Not quite a win for the wolves


It's not that there's anything wrong with the settlement on gray wolves. It's the reason behind it that's so troubling.

The argument has been long and loud over whether the wolves should be listed as endangered. Their numbers are way up, but how likely was that to continue? Renegade state Wyoming's idea of species management sounded basically like "Shoot the varmints on sight!" The never-ending debate and legal wrangling, which was doing more for lawyers than the wolves, prompted several conservative congressmen to introduce legislation that would have gone around the Endangered Species Act by singling out wolves as a species that should be delisted -- though perhaps not in Wyoming.

That's pretty much what the new settlement will do. The gray wolf will be delisted in Montana and Idaho, and kept on the list in Wyoming, Utah, Washington and Oregon. So what did the conservationists get out of this? The federal government agrees to expanded study of the wolves' well-being, including reconsidering whether 300 wolves -- the original goal of the wolf-reintroduction program -- is enough. Probably not; that sounds more like keeping the species teetering on the brink of extinction than returning it to health in the wild.

The bigger win, if you can call it that, is that the agreement would stave off any legislation, which would be a terrible precedent for turning the science of the Endangered Species Act into a political football over each species. But we do have the precedent of politicians undermining the act by threatening to pass legislation. Is that really much better?


Rocky Mountain low

Animal welfare: Getting beyond 'puppy mills'

--Karin Klein


Comments () | Archives (9)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Teresa Trujillo

I really don't know why I bother reading this paper.

How many wolves is enough? I doubt anyone on this paper's staff would know the answer to the question.

And you definitely don't believe anyone on your opinion page staff would ask that question of a cattle rancher or other stockman. Your "source" is probably the liberal environmentalist who believes the planet would be better off without humans.

You actually pay someone to write this--but you don't cover the new Food Safety Modernization Act, or the White House move to create detention centers at closed Army bases--the bids were released on the Federal Register.

You've got stories today about how economically poor the schools are in California. But, you don't explain how much the state pays in interest charges for every dollar borrowed to fund the pie-in-the-sky social programs your paper challenges. Basically, one dollar borrowed costs one dollar in interest payments.

And the federal government is now paying $.42 in interest on every dollar spent.

And you want to write about wolves?

Your newspapers priorities are screwed up.

Cynthia Minde

I thought it was a excellent piece. You told it just as it is. Wolves are not varmits to tourist who pay out millions of dollars every year to go to Yellowstone to see them. They have brought many things back to living since the Reintroduction such as the Beaver. Wolves feed other animals in the wilderness like Bears, Coyotes, and birds. Many things depend on Wolves they are very important to our Ecosystem. When a Wolf hunts it may eat a couple of Elk a week but nothing compared to the amount of Poaching that goes on up there. Our environment is just as important of an issue as anything else out there. I don't know why we spend the money we do on Wildlife. Wildlife is more than cable of taking care of it's self. It has done it for thousands of years. Take that money and use it on other things that are important. They won't do that though. They would rather spend millions tied up in court on issues they bring upon themselves. Wildlife (wolves and so on) have always managed to get along just fine until Man steps in and try's to control it. Ranchers complain about their cattle yet they graze them on Federal land, When one dies who is actually paying the cost. Taxpayers. Maybe we should just butt out of Nature and let her do what she knows best. Spend the money on school, teachers and other important issues. We don't own the earth even though they are trying too, What they are going to do is upset the balance of everything, Then we will have a mess and it will cost us to make it right .


Oh, come on.

Proposed legislation on wolves would “turn... the science of the Endangered Species Act into a political football?” But that's what the ESA is already: nothing but a political football that puts taxpayer money into the hands of environmental lawyers.

The litigation over wolves had nothing whatsoever to do with science or endangered species. It was all about making money.

And it still is.


I suppose this important story crowded out lesser events that you chose not to cover, like the BBC headline below, which is similar to other media coverage:
US Army apology for photos of soldiers with Afghan body
The US are set to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011
Related Stories
Allegations hit brigade's reputation
The US Army has apologised for graphic photographs of US soldiers grinning over the corpses of Afghan civilians they had allegedly killed.

William Barkley

The ESA was signed by President Nixon. In my opinion he was one of the smartest men ever in politics. I believe he would have thought that the Republicans of today are yahoos. So to answer your last question would be that it is not better for the ESA. The environmental issues are always the enemy of the present Republican Party financiers. It is obvious who they are and that they are relentless. It will take people just as tough and determined to protect the ESA. They exist and they will hold politicians responsible for the undermining of the environmental protections.


I think this piece is misleading. Not all of Wyoming is Yellowstone park. No hunting is allowed in the park. The author should spend a little bit of time reading the FWS Wyoming Wolf Reports. You might find out that outside of the "trophy area" - is private property and wolves end up in trouble there. Inside of the "trophy area" are about 350 wolves, most of them outside of the park. The wolf population inside the park is dropping as they have depleted the prey base. "Wolves in YNP declined approximately 60% since 2007 mostly because of a smaller elk population, the main food of northern range wolves. The interior wolf population has declined less, probably because they augment their diet with bison." Quoted from the 2010 report. Yet the overall wolf population in Wyoming increased. Also if you examine the area outside of the "trophy area" you will find that it is not suitable wolf habitat. Or is the author advocating wolf recovery on private land around rural communities? Wolves living around people end up habituated.

Dustin Rhodes, Friends of Animals

Priscilla Feral Slams the Defenders of Wildlife “Settlement” for Selling Wolves Short
March 23, 2011 | view comments (2) | add yours
For Immediate Release:

Photo Credit: Gordon Haber
Darien, Connecticut—This week, word got around that Defenders of Wildlife—together With Sierra Club, NRDC and several others—proposed a settlement agreement, negotiated with the Department of Interior. They claim ‘anti-wolf sentiment’ would grow if they held the line—denoting a political compromise. Yet if this settlement is approved by the Montana court, wolves will be “delisted”; Idaho and Montana will take the cue and kill.

Friends of Animals stands in solidarity with the advocacy group WildEarth Guardians in opposing this settlement. We supported the August 2010 federal judge’s ruling that put wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the Endangered Species List.

We do NOT support the settlement that seeks to stay Judge Molloy’s decision and paves the way for wolf delisting.

How could “anti-wolf sentiment” get any worse when Idaho’s Gov. Butch Otter thinks “respect” and “hate” for wolves are equivalent? (Interviewed by The Idaho Statesman, Otter once boasted of planning to join a wolf trophy hunt, saying: “You can still hate them and respect their cunning and their place in nature.”)

For the 1500 wolves roaming Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, state control would be a death sentence. And if the court accepts the settlement, state wildlife agencies will replace federal protections as the dominant policy makers.

Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral called the settlement “revolting,” adding: “If that’s a settlement, how bad could losing the lawsuit be? At least one could say they objected to the ruling and would get back to wrangling with Congress. They’ve thrown the wolves to Montana and Idaho.”

John Horning, Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians, said: “The multitude of species affected when bad legal precedent is set results in a loss for all of us. If wolves are sacrificed for politics, who’s next? Grizzly bears? Polar bears? Prairie dogs?”

About 250,000 wolves once presided over their lands in what are now the lower 48 states. But ranchers have reviled and tormented them, and hunters want to kill them—and their prey, including elk.

By the 1970s, the population was devastated—down to several hundred. Today, after nearly four decades of inconsistent protection under the Endangered Species Act, some 5000 wolves survive in the lower 48 states.

Friends of Animals will do what our supporters have come to expect: stand firm for wolves, and the biocommunities of Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies that have bounced back because of them. We support wolves roaming free from Alaska across the northern U.S. border to the southern border and beyond.

And to our members and supporters who do NOT support the products of animal agribusiness, thank you for your big-picture awareness. You know that ranchers in Montana and Idaho already are allowed to shoot wolves that kill or “harass” their cattle, sheep or the other animals they breed for profit.

Rather than pay to compensate and appease ranchers for losses by predation, you help us to erode the competition over land at its cause.

Red Williams

Once again with morons who only care for human issues, showing us what a lack of understanding you have about the fact that the wellbeing of humans and animals are inextricably woven together and for good reason.
Get over yourself.

Charles Albert

Your editorial comments do not shield you from your obvious anti-hunting agenda. Your claim that "SCIENCE" is behind the Endangered Species Act is also flawed. I am in favor of SCIENCE as a tool in regards to all things which we humans are so intertwined. Where are your concerns for the elk, deer, sheep, cows and other animals which in the food chain for the wolves? Oh, that's just nature. The famers should just suck it up and let the wolves eat the young. It is a fact that man is also a representative in the food chain and has been since the beginning of time. If you choose to be a vegetarian and refrain from eating, or using anything that originates from animal products, I applaud your sincerity. If not, then you simply choose to apply your vision of SCIENCE to your chosen issues.
Game management, Forest management, Land management, are all flawed as SCIENCE is rarely applied properly. Outdoorsman like myself spend tons of money in states which allow us to enjoy the great outdoors. What do you do?



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