Gray wolves are keystone predators that fill a crucial ecological niche across the landscape. Known throughout the scientific community as trophic cascade, wolves are apex predators whose behavior effects dozens of other species, leading to an increase in biodiversity. Soils, plant communities, other wildlife species, riparian areas and forests are all effected by the presence of wolves. Watch the video.
Five Keys to Reforming Wildlife Management in America:
1. Restructure state fish & game department operations
Western governors currently appoint fish and game commissioners, who in-turn use their authority to influence agency policy, particularly predator management. This is cronyism at its worst. State fish and game departments are funded in large part by the sale of hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses. As a result, these agencies serve the primary interest of “sportsmen”, while sentiments of citizens that do not hunt, fish or trap are given considerably less consideration. Terminating the political appointment of agency commissioners, creating innovative funding mechanisms, applying the best available science, and incorporating genuine public involvement in decision making is sorely needed within state fish and game departments. Since state legislatures determine state fish and game department operations, however, a more likely alternative would be for the federal government to assume the management of all wildlife on federal public lands.
2. Remove grazing from all federal public lands
Grazing is the most ecologically damaging form of land use in the arid America West. Research has proven that non-native livestock is responsible for soil compaction, destruction of wetlands and riparian zones, a decrease in water retention and aquifer recharge, soil erosion, flooding, and a net-loss of biodiversity. Livestock grazing contributes to the spread of harmful invasive plant species, which greatly affects the West’s historic fire regime. To make matters worse, destructive grazing practices are heavily subsidized by the American taxpayer every year to the tune of tens, if not, hundreds of millions of dollars. At the very least, the federal grazing fee ($1.35 cow/calf pair) must be substantially raised to recoup administrative costs, voluntary grazing retirement (grazing permits are bought out by conservation groups) needs to be enabled on all federal public lands, and Congress must cease the use of legislative riders to handicap the ability of federal agencies, and the public, to use our public land laws to asses the cumulative impacts of harmful grazing.
3. Reign in Wildlife Services
The USDA Wildlife Services has a death grip on wildlife management in America. Literally. Every year Wildlife Services kills millions of animals, including wolves. coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, beavers, birds and countless other species, including house pets. The agency is an indiscriminate killer that uses neck snares and foot hold traps, toxic cyanide (M44’s) and aerial gunning (helicopters) to slaughter native wildlife across the country. Under the guise of various names over the past century, this agency has historically, and continues today, to mainly serve the interests of the livestock industry.
In 2013, Congress called for an investigation of Wildlife Services, questioning it’s fiscal responsibility, public accountability and environmental impacts. Perhaps under greater scrutiny than ever before, the time has come for the predator-control segment of the agency to cease and the entire agency be overhauled.
film by Predator Defense – a national nonprofit helping people & wildlife coexist since 1990.
4. Ban trapping and snaring on federal public lands
We must evolve as a society and move away from these barbaric, unethical, cruel and torturous methods) of killing native wildlife. Leg-hold traps, conibear traps and neck snares are indiscriminate killers that have no place on federal public lands. Human populations are growing, demographics and values, are changing, and more people are recreating on public lands than ever before, meaning leg-hold traps and neck snares are threats to native wildlife and humans. Recently, there has also been an increase in the number of dogs being trapped and/or killed on public lands in states like Idaho. Some states currently require individuals to check their traps once every 72-hours, while other states do not require trappers to check them, at all. With trapping on the decline around the country, it’s time for the American people to urge their elected leaders to introduce legislation that would ban these practices on federal public lands in the name of the public good.
5. Cease wildlife derbies and the hunting of carnivores
The best available science suggests that carnivores, including gray wolves, are self-regulating species. Carnivores don’t need to be managed, they do not overpopulate, nor they kill for fun. They have evolved with their prey over thousands of years, with species populations constantly fluctuating. The livestock industry and sportsmen groups have controlled the rhetoric and the media over the last decade, once again demonizing the ‘big bad wolf” similar to centuries past. The trapping, snaring, hounding, and trophy-hunting of carnivores, particularly of gray wolves, runs counter to public sentiment and ethics. Over the past handful of years, the public has laid witness to a growing number of wildlife derbies with cash prizes being offered for the largest or greatest number animals killed during the contest. Thanks to recent public pressure, the state of California is close to banning awards and prizes for killing native wildlife like coyotes. Instead of slaughtering them, we need to better understand and celebrate the fascinating and crucial niche of carnivores.
Did you know…
Did you know that approximately 3500 wolves have been slaughtered across the United States since they were stripped of federal protections (2011) afforded under the Endangered Species Act?
Under state management, gray wolves are being persecuted in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Below are the estimated number of wolves killed in the lower 48, as of December 2014. This does not include the hundreds of gray wolves slaughtered by the federal department USDA Wildlife Services, nor does it include wolves killed by poaching, natural causes, and other reasons.