Speak for Wolves

A Celebration of Predators and
Those Who Fight For Them

The mission of Speak for Wolves is to provide an annual wildlife advocacy conference that offers an opportunity for grassroots activists from around the country to learn about and discuss the need to reform wildlife management in the US. It is time for current wildlife management paradigm, institutions, and methods to integrate today’s research, science and values of every-day citizens. The current wildlife management model disenfranchises the majority of people, while grossly favoring the minority of people that fish, hunt and view wildlife as a commodity. The status quo of wildlife management in the US is badly broken and needs to be fixed.

A good example of this is the current management of gray wolves. Predators are self-regulating and their populations fluctuate, depending on a myriad of circumstances, including the availability of prey. There is no need to “manage” predators. The best available science also suggests that gray wolves are a keystone species that fill a crucial niche within an ecosystem. These apex predators generally increase biodiversity across a landscape – soils, plant communities, riparian areas, forests and other fish and wildlife species are all effected by the presence of wolves. Keeping wolves and other predators alive is much more beneficial (and ethical) to our lands. Watch the video.

Five Keys to Reforming Wildlife Management in America:

1. Restructure state fish & wildlife department operations

Western governors currently appoint fish and wildlife commissioners, who in-turn use their authority to influence agency policy, particularly predator management. This is cronyism at its worst. State fish and wildlife 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 the public 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 American 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 taxpayers 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 wildlife advocates to urge their elected leaders to introduce legislation that would ban these practices on federal public lands in the name of the public good. This has been done in Oregon.

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 5000 gray wolves have been needlessly slaughtered across the United States since 2011? Gray wolf recovery has been a failure, in that our federal government prematurely abandoned recovery efforts in order to appease powerful livestock and sportsmen interests, resulting in state fish and game agencies assuming management jurisdiction. State-sanctioned hunting, trapping/snaring, and hounding seasons have resulted in thousands of wolves being killed.

Wolves are also prone to taxpayer-funded, aerial-gunning programs carried out by the federal government’s Wildlife Services. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services eradicates millions of native species every year in the United States, including coyotes, cougars, black bears, bobcats, beavers and many more species. Reforming this rogue and wasteful wildlife killing agency is a priority, if wildlife management in America is ever going to change.

A Decade of Killing:
Funded by Your Tax Dollars

[Click on the map for large view]

[image credit: Humane Society]

Trapping • Snaring • Poisoning • Aerial Gunning

Wildlife Services employees kill native wildlife with traps, snares, poisons, explosives and helicopter snipers. One of the five main principles key to reforming wildlife management in the US is the necessity to rein in the predator-killing program of the federal government.