‘Wolfer’ Author to Discuss Hunting Predators, Appreciation for Reintroduction

courtesy of The Missoulian
by Perry Backus

Carter Niemeyer didn’t set out to become an expert on wolves. For the first 26 years of his career, the author of “Wolfer, A Memoir” was the man behind the gun who killed predators that threatened livestock.

This week, Niemeyer will tell that part of his story in appearances around Missoula. He’ll also let people know how he learned to appreciate the need to bring wolves back to the American West.

Right out of college, Niemeyer moved to Montana from his home state of Iowa and used trapping skills perfected from childhood to kill coyotes, foxes and black bears as a government trapper for a little-known agency called Animal Damage Control. When wolves began crossing from Canada into Montana and ranchers started complaining about predation of sheep and cattle, Niemeyer was called upon to investigate livestock deaths. A nonprofit group called Defenders of Wildlife compensated livestock owners for animals that officials like Niemeyer confirmed were killed by wolves. Livestock producers wouldn’t be paid without confirmation. The results of the investigations were often the difference between life and death for wolves. That conflict often led to face-to-face confrontations with people on both sides of the wolf issue.

Niemeyer was not a rubber-stamp kind of guy. His detailed forensic investigations with their meticulous scientific notes and refusal to back down from furious landowners and environmentalists caught the attention of officials preparing to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995. Niemeyer became part of the team that captured the Canadian wolves that became the nucleus of the packs that roam the Northern Rockies today. Along the way, he gained respect and understanding about the predator and the polarizing effect it had on the human population. Niemeyer saw there were two sides to this story and his search for the middle ground cost him friends and respect with Animal Damage Control officials (now called Wildlife Services).

He left the agency in 2000 for a job overseeing wolf recovery in Idaho for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the time he retired in 2006, Neimeyer had handled more than 300 wolves. “Not once did any of us ever have a close call,” he said Monday from his Boise, Idaho, home. “We weren’t stalked. We weren’t chased. There were no problems at all.”

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Congress, in a First, Removes an Animal From the Endangered Species List

courtesy of the NY Times
by Felicity Barringer

Congress for the first time is directly intervening in the Endangered Species List and removing an animal from it, establishing a precedent for political influence over the list that has outraged environmental groups.

A rider to the Congressional budget measure agreed to last weekend dictates that wolves in Montana and Idaho be taken off the endangered species list and managed instead by state wildlife agencies, which is in direct opposition to a federal judge’s recent decision forbidding the Interior Department to take such an action.

While the language on the Rocky Mountain wolves was a tiny item in budgetary terms, environmental groups said it set an unnerving precedent by letting Congress, rather than a science-based federal agency, remove endangered species protections.

The rider is the first known instance of Congress’ directly intervening in the list. While Congress overrode the protections extended to a tiny Tennessee fish called the snail darter about two decades ago, it did so by authorizing the construction of a dam that had originally been tabled to protect the fish. In that case, Congress did not overturn scientists’ findings about the fish’s viability.

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Big Bad Wolf – USA (short film)

Produced By ABC Australia
Distributed By Journeyman Pictures

Click here to watch the video on YouTube

Fragile species in need of protection or dangerous predator – the wolf is strongly dividing opinion in the USA. As the debate intensifies both sides are raising their hackles and squaring off for a fight.

“I think if the devil had an animal it would be the wolf.” With a license plate that simply states, ‘no wolves’, hunter Ron Gillette is on a mission. Since the reintroduction of Canadian wolves to the Rocky Mountains their numbers have grown rapidly and for Ron they are a menace growing out of control:”the wildlife terrorist”. Yet he faces strong opposition, with courts keeping the wolf on the endangered species list. For conservationist Nancy Taylor, the wolf has mystical qualities and she is equally hell-bent on protecting it.”If somebody threatened my wolves I would step in front of them and take the bullet.” Under threat or posing a threat, the question remains – how wild will the west become?

Click here to watch the video on YouTube

A Message from Senator Mark Udall

Dear Guy,

Thank you for contacting me about the status of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.

As you know, the gray wolf was among the first animals protected under the Endangered Species Preservation Act (ESA; a predecessor to the current Endangered Species Act). In 1978, the animal was listed as endangered in all of the lower 48 states except Minnesota.

In April 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed Endangered Species Act protections for the Western Great Lakes population and the Northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves (except for Wyoming). The agency cited strong successes in population recovery efforts. On August 5, 2010, the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued an order that vacated the Northern Rocky Mountain delisting, which means that most of the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves are treated as threatened species.

In March 2011, the USFWS and several environmental groups reached a settlement that would conditionally delist gray wolves from the ESA in Montana and Idaho while leaving protections intact for the rest of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf population. This settlement must be approved by the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana. For more information, please visit http://www.doi.gov.

Recovery programs vary based on geographic area, and it is critical that the USFWS continues to make scientific evaluations of wolf populations as hunting, human encroachment and other factors change. I am encouraged by the success of some of the gray wolf recovery efforts, but I continue to have concerns about the wolves’ ability to maintain healthy population levels. This remains an important issue and I will monitor it carefully. As a native Westerner, I am passionate about preserving our natural environment and the wildlife that inhabits the land.

I will continue to listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say about matters before Congress, the concerns of our communities, and the issues facing Colorado and the nation. My job is not about merely supporting or opposing legislation; it is also about bridging the divide that has paralyzed our nation’s politics. For more information about my positions and to learn how my office can assist you, please visit my website at http://www.markudall.senate.gov.

Warm regards,

Mark Udall
U.S. Senator, Colorado

Rewarding Bad Behavior

courtesy of Oregon Wild
by Rob Klavins

Over the last few years, we’ve had some laughs at the expense of the anti-wolf crowd. But just as crazy political rhetoric and misinformation got a lot less funny with the shooting of a Congresswoman and federal judge; it’s gotten a lot less funny in the wolf wars too – Especially after yet another illegal killing.

After being shot out of existence to pave the way for easier grazing, the recovery of western wolves is poised to become one of America’s greatest conservation success stories. Oregon’s less than 2-dozen wolves have successfully had pups 3 years in a row and are beginning to take their first real steps towards recovery. That’s welcome news for most Oregonians.

Still, that recovery is tenuous, and from DC to Salem to the Umatilla National Forest, wolves are facing serious threats. Since the first wolf made its way across the Snake River in 1998, over 1/3 of Oregon’s wolf population has been killed by government agents, cars, and poachers.

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Of Wolves, Elk, and Men: an Interview with Yellowstone’s Wolf Project leader

courtesy of Examiner.com
by Beth Pratt

For over thirty years, Douglas Smith has been studying wolves, and has worked on the wolf restoration project in Yellowstone since it’s inception. But this year during his annual winter research, he was taken aback by the sight of a remarkable wolf his team captured for study, 760M, now the largest wolf ever recorded in Yellowstone.

“I’ve handled hundreds of wolves, so I have sort of gotten hardened to the process. He was something—not just another wolf. As a scientist you always take the viewpoint that you can find answers. And for the first time I thought that this is a wolf who truly has secrets.”

Smith points out that 760M lives in the most remote area of the Yellowstone and of the lower 48 states. “I just started thinking in my head as I looked at him that this is the kind of wolf that remoteness produces.” At 147 pounds, 760M replaces the previous record holder for the largest wolf in Yellowstone, 495M, who weighed in at 143 pounds. But as Smith observes, 495 is still a pretty remarkable wolf. “495M is a pro. He’s doing great. We think he’ll turn 7/8 in April, so he’s past his prime, but he’s still hunting bison. And that is what is interesting about wolves, there is no such thing as a generic wolf.”

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Look Out, Varmints: Rep. Schaufler’s Coming!

courtesy of Capitol Currents
by Chris Lehman

Democratic Representative Mike Schaufler does not appear to be a fan of the Endangered Species Act.

During a hearing of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this afternoon, Schaufler sympathized with eastern Oregon ranchers who were advocating for several bills dealing with wolves.

One bill would allow people to “take” a grey wolf if the animal is close to their house or threatening their domestic animals. Schaufler seemed to think this was a good idea.

“In my humble opinion, if your cattle, your pets, your family, your property is threatened, you should be able to shoot any varmint that’s making that threat, even if it’s the last one on earth,” he said.

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Lawmakers to Keep Pressing Wolf Bills Despite Settlement Between Wolf Advocates and Government

courtesy of The Washington Post
by the Associated Press

Lawmakers in the West said Friday they will keep pushing to lift federal protections for gray wolves despite a proposed settlement between environmental groups and the Obama administration.

The settlement would end a decade of lawsuits over the animals. But it faces significant legal hurdles that leave uncertain whether court approval will come before lawmakers act.

Approval is being sought from a judge who has twice ruled against attempts to lift wolf protections. Also, the deal faces opposition from some wildlife advocates who say their prior court victories are being squandered in a political compromise.

Given the uncertainties, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, of Montana, told The Associated Press he won’t wait to push through his legislation taking wolves off the endangered list in Montana and Idaho.

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Wolf-Fearing Idaho Lawmakers Want Emergency Declared

courtesy of the Idaho Statesman
by the Associated Press

Wolf-fearing lawmakers want Idaho to declare a disaster emergency that could include enlisting local law enforcement officers to help eradicate packs of the predators.

Rep. Judy Boyle from west-central Idaho, one of Idaho’s most active wolf opponents, told a hastily organized meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee that residents feel physically and psychologically threatened.

Boyle wants a new law giving the governor authority to declare a disaster emergency that allows rapid steps to be taken against wolves until the species is delisted, or the emergency no longer exists.

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Hundreds of Scientists Denounce Congress’ Attempt to Undermine Endangered Species Act

Press Release – courtesy of The Union of Concerned Scientists

Nearly 1,300 scientists today urged senators to oppose efforts to undermine the scientific authority of the Endangered Species Act, which they fear would threaten the long-term survival of all species protected by the law.

The letter, signed by 1,293 scientists with expertise in biology, ecology and other relevant disciplines, urges senators to block any legislation that would compromise the scientific foundation of the law. The Senate is now considering its version of the House’s Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R. 1), which includes language that would take the gray wolf off the endangered species list. The lone rider on the Senate version contains similar language.

If Congress passed the continuing resolution with the gray wolf provision, it would be the first time a species was delisted without the benefit of scientific analysis, establishing a precedent for Congress to delist other species without scientific review.

Click here to read the rest of the press release

State of Alaska Removes 9 Wolves on Military Base

courtesy of the Anchorage Daily News
by Mike Campbell

Ten Anchorage wolves have been killed — nine of them trapped or shot by the state — as a six-month predator-control effort on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson wraps up.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor Mark Burch said the effort to remove wolves considered dangerous to humans and their pets succeeded. All the wolves that were killed were on base property.

“We believe we’ve mitigated the risk,” said Burch, who added that one wolf died after being hit by a car not connected to the control effort. “We’re not trying to eradicate wolves; we’re trying to reduce the risk.”

He estimates four wolves remain in the area.

As spring approaches, trapping conditions worsen and bears begin emerging from their dens, hastening the end of the program.

But some contend the wolves didn’t pose much risk to begin with.

“I’m not a biologist in any way, shape or form,” said Gary Gustafson, chairman of Chugach State Park Citizens’ Advisory Board, which criticized Fish and Game for nearly wiping out the wolf population in that portion of the half-million-acre park. “But what’s troublesome to us is that the department has decided one size fits all and that the plan is to exterminate all wolves.”

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Feds Give Tentative OK to Wolf Hunt in Bitterroot Mountains

courtesy of The Missoulian
by Rob Chaney

Montana has won tentative approval for a government-led wolf hunt in the Bitterroot Mountains, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced on Monday.

The federal agency released a draft environmental assessment of the state’s request to shoot wolves in the West Fork of the Bitterroot that are preying on a diminished elk herd there.

If approved, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agents would kill up to 18 of the estimated 30 wolves in the area.

On Nov. 24, Montana requested permission for a Rule 10-J wolf hunt. The federal Endangered Species Act allows 10-J hunts of threatened or endangered species when they are causing unacceptable harm to other wild animal populations. However, the hunt may not lower the state’s wolf population below a total of 200 wolves and 20 breeding pairs.

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Missing Idaho Snowmobiler Found Safe, Spent Night near Trio of Wolves

courtesy of KTVB.com
by Ty Brennan

The snowmobiler who went missing in Elmore County Sunday was found alive and well Tuesday morning.

Col. Tim Marsano with the Idaho Air National Guard said they found 54-year-old Craig Noll of Boise during a helicopter search shortly after 8:30 a.m.

Noll had been missing in the Bennett Mountain area, about 30 miles northeast of Mountain Home, since Sunday afternoon. He was snowmobiling with two friends Sunday when they became separated in fog and heavy snow.

“I noticed there were a couple of wolves running around some trees over there, I walked back about 500 yards, started setting up my shelter under this tree and these three wolves were about 50 yards away just sitting there watching, just watching the whole thing you know,” said Noll.

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A Message from Senator Michael Bennett

Dear Guy:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1). I appreciate hearing from you.

I share your concern that conservation efforts are critical as habitat loss and past extirpation efforts continue to affect many sensitive animals and plants. Due to decreasing numbers in the species population, the gray wolf has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1967. While gray wolves have rebounded to some degree in the Northern Rockies in recent years, several recent court decisions have recognized the continued importance of protecting this species and prevented delisting efforts by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. I understand your concerns regarding legislative efforts to delist the gray wolf and I intend to monitor this issue very carefully.

As you know, Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky introduced the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 on February 11, 2011. This bill provides the necessary resources to fund the federal government for the rest of FY2011. While I agree that we need to be aggressive about getting our fiscal house in order, I disagree with the strategy employed in H.R. 1. Instead of targeting programs designed to protect some of the most vulnerable, including animals protected under the Endangered Species Act, we should seek deficit reductions using comprehensive cuts across the federal government and by updating our country’s complicated tax code.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission has created a blueprint for comprehensive budget reform. Even though I don’t agree with everything in the Commission’s plan, I agree with its effort to put all aspects of the federal government on the table. H.R. 1 is at best a symbolic effort, which does not look across the full spectrum of government programs and would not significantly reduce the deficit.

You should know, on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, I voted against the passage of H.R. 1. I voted against this bill because I don’t believe it demonstrates the meaningful, comprehensive and fair budget reforms that our country needs. I am happy to report that H.R. 1 failed in the Senate by a 56-44 vote.

As Congress continues to work on a responsible plan to fund the government for the remainder of FY2011, I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and concerns with me.

For more information about my priorities as a U.S. Senator, I invite you to visit my website at http://bennet.senate.gov/. Again, thank you for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Michael Bennet
United States Senator

Spotting Wolves for Would-be Watchers

courtesy of the Billings Gazette
by Donna Healy

At first light, Big Blaze, a black wolf with a white chest, trotted across a distant slope, following the scent trail of the Blacktail pack.

At a turnout overlooking the valley, spotting scopes set in snow were trained on the wolf.

A day before, the Blacktail pack fed on an elk carcass nearby. Big Blaze, one of the pack’s older males, was losing no time rejoining the pack.

The sun, rising over the Yellowstone River valley in March’s morning chill, lent the landscape a pristine glow. Casual tourists, missing from the scene, were replaced by wolf-watchers and park researchers.

Karen Webb and her husband, Alan, came from England to see Yellowstone’s wolves. Wolves were their only reason for visiting America, Karen Webb said.

“I never understood why Americans use the word ‘awesome.’ It seemed like the strangest of words, until the first time I stood here in the silence on a cold icy morning,” she said.

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