President Biden recently ordered a broad review of the Trump administration’s wildlife policies, including the decision to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves. Unfathomably, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asserted that the previous administration’s decision to delist gray wolves was valid in a cursory, three-paragraph letter to conservation groups.
On January 20th, one of Biden’s first executive orders required agencies to conduct a review of actions taken by the previous administration in order to ensure that “the Federal Government must be guided by the best science and be protected by processes that ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making.” At the end of the review, all agencies were required to submit a report to the president with their recommendations on how to proceed.
Instead of complying with this process, the Fish and Wildlife Service claimed in a letter signed by Gary Frazer, assistant director for ecological services, that the Trump administration’s rule removing Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in the lower 48 states remains valid. Ridiculous!
“There is no way the Fish and Wildlife Service followed President Biden’s directive and completed its review in just five business days,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “It’s baffling that they went rogue by not even waiting until there was a new secretary of Interior to assess what happened under Trump. This is a slap in the face to the American public, who want scientific integrity restored to the government, and to ensure that wolves are protected until they’re recovered across this country.”
The Service removed federal protection from wolves in October 2020, despite deep concerns raised by the peer review of the decision. Independent scientists raised substantial concerns that wolves remained still functionally extinct in the vast majority of their former range across the continental United States.
Even before the Trump administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service routinely ranked among the worst agencies in terms of concerns about political interference undermining the scientific process. In a 2015 survey, 70% of Fish and Wildlife Service scientists stated that considerations of political interests in agency decisions were too high.
“President Biden has made clear that listening to the science will be the hallmark of his administration. It’s sad the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t get the memo,” said Hartl. “We won’t be able to take on the extinction crisis or the climate crisis if federal agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service feel free to routinely ignore science whenever it suits them.”
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“The Fish and Wildlife Service is managing this species for extinction,” Sierra Weaver, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center said in a statement. “Faced with a wild population of only seven known wolves left, the Fish and Wildlife Service is now claiming, without basis, that it’s not allowed to take proven, necessary measures to save the wild red wolves. The service urgently needs to restart red wolf releases from captivity, which it did regularly for 27 years. Otherwise we’re going to lose the world’s only wild population of this wolf species.
“Under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mismanagement, the world’s most endangered wolf has only moved closer to extinction,” said Jason Rylander, senior endangered species counsel at Defenders of Wildlife. “We have given the service every opportunity to reverse course and supplement the last wild population of red wolves with captive releases. Sadly, with only seven collared wolves left in the wild, it’s apparent we can’t wait any longer.”
Two years ago, in November 2018, a federal court found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had violated the Endangered Species Act by suspending proven conservation measures for wild red wolves after the Southern Environmental Law Center went to court on behalf of the same conservation organizations.
Rather than resolving those violations, the agency has doubled down on its abandonment of those measures and invented a new, illegal policy, that it claims does not permit it to release red wolves from the captive population into the wild. The agency also now claims that its rules do not allow the agency to address hybridization with coyotes. As a result, the world’s only population of wild red wolves is now on the brink of extinction.
No red wolf pups were born in the wild in 2019 or 2020 for the first time since 1988. Meanwhile, the captive red wolf population continues to increase with more new pups being born every spring, even as the agency refuses to reinstate red wolf releases.
“We hope the USFWS will look closely at its red wolf conservation policies and enact the necessary changes that will make the survival of wild red wolves a priority.” stated Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of the Red Wolf Coalition.
Following successful conservation efforts and reintroductions from captive populations, America’s red wolves rebounded from extinction in the wild to about 100 individuals in 1980. That population level persisted for approximately a decade in eastern North Carolina. Since 2018, however, the wild red wolf population has plummeted by 70%.
“The ESA requires USFWS to carry out programs for the conservation of the red wolf and to ensure that its actions do not jeopardize the species’ continued existence,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior staff attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute’s terrestrial wildlife program. “The agency is failing on both counts. The current lack of action, by USFWS’ own admission, will cause the extinction of the wild red wolf population unless the agency immediately restarts conservation efforts.”
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The post U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Sued For Failing To Protect The Last Seven Wild Red Wolves That Are On The Brink Of Extinction appeared first on World Animal News.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency’s new rule expanding hunting and fishing on 2.3 million acres, in 147 wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries across the United States. The rule authorizes damaging practices like the use of lead ammunition and killing of ecologically important top predators such as mountain lions.
The rule opens hunting on numerous refuges previously reserved for protecting endangered species or other wildlife. Today’s notice asserts that the agency has violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to analyze and mitigate harmful impacts from the hunting expansion on endangered wildlife, such as: grizzly bears, ocelots, and whooping cranes.
“We’re going to court to ensure that our nation’s wildlife refuges can actually provide refuges for wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s carnivore conservation director, in a statement. “We’ve never before seen such a massive expansion of bad hunting practices on these public lands. There’s no sound reason for this, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has either ignored or downplayed the many risks that hunting poses to endangered wildlife.”
The expansion will allow hunters to use lead ammunition, which was prohibited at the end of the Obama administration but then reinstated by former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. For example, endangered whooping cranes rely on numerous refuges in the Midwest, like the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, where the Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized use of lead ammunition but failed to consider the risk of lead toxicity on the birds.
Endangered species like grizzly bears and ocelots can also be poisoned by scavenging on lead-contaminated carcasses. And grizzly bears are now at risk from being killed in mistaken-identity or self-defense shootings by hunters, such as those targeting black bears in grizzly bear territory in Swan River National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Shy ocelots living on Texas’s Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge may also be disturbed by hunters’ gunshots and risk potential vehicle strikes.
“This rule is just another handout to trophy hunters at the expense of the rest of us who recognize the importance of the national wildlife refuge system to the vulnerable wildlife the refuges were created to protect,” said Adkins. “Rare and beautiful animals like grizzly bears and ocelots now face increased risks of poaching, disturbance, ingestion of toxic lead and more. It’s tragic, and I’m hoping the court will set things right.”
The Center’s supporters submitted more than 30,000 letters opposing the rule when it was proposed this spring. Despite this, the agency finalized the rule, which is now in effect.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has 60 days to respond to last week’s notice. If it does not, the conservation group can then sue under the Endangered Species Act.
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It is with heavy hearts that WAN shares the news that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed the last two remaining members of the Wedge wolf pack on August 13th. This is sadly due to conflicts between wolves and livestock. Despite public outcry from around the world to change how the department manages endangered species throughout the state, WDFW still went ahead and killed the last two remaining members of the wolf pack.
“The nonstop killing of wolves in Washington has to end now,” Sophia Ressler, Washington wildlife advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “These wolves shouldn’t be gunned down just for trying to feed their families. It’s ludicrous that Washington officials aren’t implementing appropriate preventive measures and instead choose to slaughter a state endangered species.”
The state has now killed 34 wolves, almost all of them for livestock conflicts in the Kettle River Range, an area of prime wolf habitat. Twenty-nine of the wolves killed have been for the same livestock owner.
Washington is killing endangered species so that livestock can be killed for their meat for human consumption. This should be illegal.
The most recently eradicated Wedge pack wolves occupied very similar territory to the previous Wedge pack. The department killed seven of that eight-member pack in 2012, effectively destroying it. Yet, the 2012 eradication failed to prevent wolves from quickly reoccupying the territory.
The Center for Biological Diversity and several other conservation groups have urged Washington Governor Jay Inslee to require formal rules that would dictate required nonlethal deterrence measures and extra steps that must be taken in areas of chronic conflict. The current guidelines are created by Washington’s Wolf Advisory Group and are not considered enforceable requirements by the state.
Just last week, the state removed a vocal wolf advocate from the advisory group for disagreeing with the department’s choices. This decision outraged conservation groups and prompted a new call to Governor Inslee for wolf-management reform.
“There is no scientific support that killing wolves is an effective long-term solution for preventing conflict,” continued Ressler. “Mandating effective range riding or other appropriate deterrence measures would help to deter conflict and, in turn, save both wolves and livestock.”
The state also has an active kill order out for wolves in the Leadpoint pack, whose territory borders the Wedge pack’s territory.
The killing of these endangered wolves to satisfy human greed is unfathomably, sickening, senseless, and must end.
Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
TTY/TDD call 711 or
Thank you for speaking on behalf of the voiceless!
The post Washington Department Of Fish & Wildlife Kills The Last Two Members Of The Wedge Wolf Pack Over Livestock Conflict So That People Can Eat Meat appeared first on World Animal News.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reported today that a non-breeding adult female wolf from the Wedge pack in the Kettle Range in northeast Washington was killed yesterday, leaving only two wolves in the pack. This action comes days after WDFW shockingly issued a lethal removal order for one wolf in the pack. WDFW has now moved to an evaluation period for both the Wedge and Togo wolf packs.
“The history is clear. Killing wolves is a short-term Band-Aid approach that has not and will not prevent ongoing conflicts,” said Zoë Hanley, Northwest Program Representative for Defenders of Wildlife in a statement. “The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife needs standardized protocols to ensure that effective range riding takes place prior to authorizing lethal control, and the U.S. Forest Service needs to promote grazing practices which reduce livestock vulnerability to predation. Defenders of Wildlife has said it before, and we’ll continue to say it – it’s time to take a new approach.”
• Lethal removal operations are recurring in this region of the Kettle Range, which includes multiple grazing allotments managed by the U.S. Forest Service. To date, the Forest Service has not publicly addressed the depredations or the effect they have on the landscape and the livestock producers, nor has the federal agency taken any meaningful actions to prevent further depredations.
• This region of northeastern Washington state– north of Highway 2 and south of the Canadian border– has been the site of repeated wolf-livestock conflicts. As part of the Colville National Forest, the land is managed by the Forest Service, but to date, there has not been the necessary response by the Forest Service to the “lessons learned” from those prior conflicts. Neither the non-lethal measures as implemented nor previous lethal removal of wolves has stopped this particular cycle of wolf-livestock conflict.
• Since new wolf packs continually return to this landscape and reproduce, even after multiple lethal removal operations, this area is considered highly suitable wolf habitat. Given the number of reproductive packs in northeastern Washington, and nearby populations in British Columbia, and Idaho, this landscape is likely to be recolonized by new or replacement wolves on a regular basis and is already a population source for wolves dispersing throughout the state.
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