View Full Version : Off endangered list, wolves face new pressure from hunters

April 27, 2008, 04:49 PM
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Off endangered list, wolves face new pressure from hunters By MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 5 minutes ago

Tony Saunders stalked his prey for 35 miles by snowmobile through western Wyoming's Hoback Basin, finally reaching a clearing where he took out a .270-caliber rifle and shot the wolf twice from 30 yards away.

Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies have been taken off the endangered species list and are being hunted freely for the first time since they were placed on that list three decades ago, and nowhere is that hunting easier than Wyoming.

Most of the state with the exception of the Yellowstone National Park area has been designated a "predator zone," where wolves can be shot at will.

For Saunders, killing that wolf was a long-awaited chance to even things out because he has lost two horses to wolves and blames the canines for depleting local big game herds.

"It's hard for people to understand how devastating they can be," said Saunders, 39, who ranches at Bondurant, Wyo., 30 miles southeast of Jackson, Wyo.

Since federal protection was lifted March 28 and states took over wolf management, 37 wolves have been killed, just over 2 percent of their population. Since 66 animals were transplanted to the region 13 years ago, an estimated 1,500 now roam Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Environmental and animal rights groups plan to file a lawsuit Monday seeking an emergency injunction to block the killings and trying to put wolves back on the endangered list.

They predict that if states continue to control the animals' fate and proceed with public hunts, wolves could be driven back nearly to extermination in the region.

"There will be opportunistic shooting 365 days a year. This will become a continual black hole for wolves," said Franz Camenzind with the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, which is joining the lawsuit.

Despite the removal of wolves from the endangered list, killing them in the Northern Rockies is nothing new. Last year, a record 186 were shot, primarily by wildlife agents, for killing and harassing livestock.

But since the beginning of this year, 59 wolves already have been reported killed in the three Northern Rockies states, about three times the 19 killed over the same period last year — most of them just in the month since they lost federal protection.

State officials blamed this year's increased hunting in part on heavy snow, which kept wolf packs at lower elevations where sheep and cattle range.

"That's the reality of managing wolves in a modern landscape. Some of them are going to be removed," said Eric Keszler, spokesman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

In fact, entire packs have been legally killed off in past years because of livestock conflicts, according to biologist Mike Jimenez with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

With public hunts planned this year, federal biologists project the three states will maintain a population of 883 to 1,240 wolves at least for the next few years — well above the government's goal of maintaining a population of at least 300 wolves.

But wolf advocates say the states could systematically cull the population right down to that minimum unless a court intervenes.

Idaho and Wyoming in particular have a "hostile legal regime" that is stacked against wolves, said Doug Honnold, the Earthjustice attorney preparing the lawsuit.

"If anybody can kill wolves, you have no way of ensuring wolf killing isn't excessive," he said.

Honnold and other advocates say a minimum of 2,000 to 3,000 wolves is needed to protect their genetic diversity. They contend the government was on track to meet that goal when it caved in to political pressure and stripped the species of endangered status.

Some state officials and ranchers, including Saunders, acknowledge a lingering hostility for wolves, which had been exterminated in the region in the 1930s.

"There's times I'd like to get rid of all of them, but that's not realistic either," Saunders said. "And I'd like for my son one day to be able to hunt them, too."


April 27, 2008, 05:09 PM
Shoot-Shovel-Shut up. When something harrasses my livestock or poses a threat to them they are "taken care of";) whether I have PETA's permission or not (it's my livelihood, not theirs)

April 27, 2008, 05:18 PM
Shoot-Shovel-Shut up.

Its nice to see that we're all law abiding gun owners, isnt it? Poaching a wolf is no different than poaching a deer. Its actions like this that give hunters, sportsman, and gun owners a bad name.

April 27, 2008, 05:27 PM
in defense of person and/or property i will not yield. a human with a firearm or bow and arrow can do alot of damage. to simply go out and look for them to kill them. i'll sit back on that,except on my property. i'll leave them be until they look for trouble here. and i refuse to even think about running away should i be within range of one or more when hunting, deer bear,turkey,etc. i am not being bit or mauled.

April 27, 2008, 05:44 PM
I don't mean for everyone to go hunting them just to kill a wolf, but when I have seen the backends of cows torn apart by wolves and coyotes, expensive rope horses killed, too many calves slaughtered, etc... I will not watch my livelihood taken away just to keep somebody lobbying in D.C. happy. I agree poaching is not acceptable, but protecting my assets should not warrant an investigation. What makes a wolf different from a coyote besides their increased killing capacity? They are a varmint who happened to get noticed. 1 dead calf= -$800 +-, Dead rope horse= -$8-12,000 +-, big price to pay to protect game killers. I do not condone just trying to find them to kill them illegally, but I WILL protect my investments/livelihood and I shouldn't need to ask permission or hire a gov't hunter to do so.

April 28, 2008, 07:56 AM
Its nice to see that we're all law abiding gun owners, isnt it? Poaching a wolf is no different than poaching a deer. Its actions like this that give hunters, sportsman, and gun owners a bad name.
While I do have some appreciation with what you are trying to say here Redneck, I think it is has been extremely pompous for folks who do not live here to try and tell us what attitude we should have about this.
If we(westerners) came to your state and introduced a predator into your backyard, woods, whatever against your protests, you might just have some attitude about it as well.
It is our wildlife, and for the rancher, his way of making a living. My biggest concerns have centered around my wildlife getting killed, and my tax dollars going to reimburse the ranchers, a needless cost to us.
The Feds shoved this one up our collective @@@es. They are more than welcome to do what they want in their National Park. I will give them that, not my business, per se.
Our state government(me, via tax dollars) pays enough out to manage and maintain wildlife balanced against the ranching industry needs as it is.

I personally want to see beavers reinstated into the Potomac. A few trees felled in and around that part of the country would make me feel all warm and fuzzy. I mean, they were there first, right?

Art Eatman
April 28, 2008, 09:35 AM
If a rancher or group thereof decide on their own that having free-ranging wolves is highly important and they quit ranching because it's uneconomic in the face of the free-ranging wolves, fine. It's their decision.

For outsiders to impose a situation, a system, where the wolf can make ranching uneconomic is a wholly different matter.

My own, personal opinion is that we have too many people who seem to believe that meat comes cut and wrapped in packages in a grocery store. They have no idea of the production chain needed to provide those neatly wrapped packages. They neither know nor care about the effort or the economics of the cattle business.

Unfortunately, some of these Professional Ignoranti are political activists.

And as I look at the reported numbers, I fail to understand the activists' problems beyond fuzzy emotion...

Philosophically, considering our own hunting ethics, we only obey foolish laws and regulations due to our fear of getting caught, not because we agree (for instance) that something like "No Hunting On Sunday" is ethically valid. Same for the way some laws pertain to some species.


April 28, 2008, 10:06 AM
While I'm not a rancher, I'm also not a soap box preacher typing from a nice little suburb in metro-whatever comfortably located 3 blocks from the local mall. I grew up in very-rural Montana. Having said that, I have a certain respect for the rural economy and the wildlife, and know very well that there is two sides to this.

A pack of wolves can be very distructive to a herd of cattle. But, on the flip-side of that coin, I've seen a plethora of ranchers that play the "it's my livelyhood" card way too often, and virtually take over vast areas of land based on that ideology. True enough, there is a need for management of wolf populations, but there has to be a middle-ground understanding to the matter as well. Extremism on either side isn't a solution. Returning the wolves to the endangered list isn't going to protect them any better, simply because of the SS&S perspective, and that is not going away just because some group of activists wants to protect the fuzzies. At the same time, the 10,000 acres of leased public land that a rancher turns loose a couple hundred head of cattle on is going to have a few hitches, and it doesn't suddenly belong to the rancher just because he paid for grazing rights--which I've seen all-too-often.

Licenses should be available, hunting should be managed, and poaching is still poaching.

JP Sarte
April 28, 2008, 10:23 PM
I agree with you rem870. If an animal threatens people or property is has to be dealt with. Particularly when your living is at stake. No quarter asked. None given.


April 29, 2008, 08:39 AM
The 3rd S is the one that gets everyone in trouble.Shsssssss!

Art Eatman
April 29, 2008, 10:38 AM
"...there is a need for management of wolf populations, but there has to be a middle-ground understanding to the matter as well."

Rangefinder, the common problem with a rationally managed system is that the extremists from both ends of the spectrum get all the media attention, and politicos can't keep their noses out of it. Pick a subject. Any subject.

April 29, 2008, 06:13 PM
Couldn't agree with you more, Art.