Report: Wolf Conservation Hijacked by User Groups
States Prove Incapable of Managing Wolves, Montana to Consider Higher-Kill Quota
Denver, CO. Just
as the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission will consider increasing its
wolf hunting quota for the 2012-2013 season, WildEarth Guardians has released a
report on Northern Rocky Mountain wolves that argues that two user groups, the
livestock industry and some hunting organizations, caused decisionmakers to
prematurely revoke federal protection for the population and it is now in jeopardy
from high levels of hunting. The report describes the many negative biological,
ecological, economic and social effects of wolf hunting and should be used to
inform the current debate about wolf quotas.
“The livestock industry and some hunting groups pressured
Congress to delist wolves based upon grossly inaccurate claims,” stated Wendy
Keefover, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “Now
Montana’s decisionmakers are under their spell and willing to consider a
longer, more deadly hunting and trapping season that could have even more
devastating effects on wolves.”
Congress, in unprecedented action, legislatively delisted
Northern Rockies wolves from the Endangered Species Act in spring 2011. Idaho and
Montana commenced hunting seasons for wolves in late August and early September,
respectively. The two states sold more than 62,000 wolf-hunting tags to hunters
and trappers, most of whom were Idaho and Montana residents, who killed more
than 500 wolves in eight months, eliminating more than a third of the bi-state
population (estimated at fewer than 1,300 in 2010). Now Montana is considering
lengthening its hunting season, increasing the statewide quota, and even
allowing trapping for wolves (Idaho already allows trapping for the species).
The Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission will meet on May 10 in Helena,
Montana, to review the policy changes.
WildEarth Guardians’ report, “Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves: A Public Policy Process Failure, How
Two Special Interest Groups Hijacked Wolf Conservation in America,” documents
how the livestock industry and some hunting groups influenced key federal
legislators to delist Northern Rockies wolves last spring, to the detriment of
the wolf restoration and in opposition to majority public opinion. These vocal
minorities claimed that wolves had recovered and that packs were depleting
domestic livestock and elk herds, but none of these contentions are true.
- Years of government data show that wolves have a
negligible effect on the domestic livestock inventory. , Wolves killed less
than one percent of the cattle (0.07 percent) and sheep (0.22 percent)
inventories in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming—before the commencement of the
2011-2012 wolf hunting season and even using unverified livestock loss data (that is, the numbers that are based
upon livestock growers’ uninvestigated complaints of wolf depredation). Verified livestock losses are even
- Wolves also have little effect on elk herds in
the Northern Rockies, while biologists have demonstrated how human hunters have
a much greater impacts on elk populations than wolves. Moreover, Idaho, Montana,
and Wyoming all have abundant elk populations, with over 100,000 animals each,
with each state managing its elk population “at” or “above” their own
management objectives throughout most of their state.
- Wolves had not even been recovered to even five percent
of their historic range in the
West when they were delisted in the Northern Rockies and unsustainable levels
of wolf hunting began in Idaho and Montana. Wyoming is also preparing to offer
wolf hunting as soon as the federal government delists the species in that
The American public has spent $40 million dollars and two decades
to restore wolves in the Northern Rockies. Now that effort is threatened because
of misguided Congressional action based on mythical claims about the species.
Biologists note that hunting not only has direct effects on
individuals, but also causes secondary mortality. Wolves, highly social beings,
experience disruptions in their packs from hunting, which puts pups and
yearlings at risk for starvation and death and can cause packs to disband.
The report recommends five ways to reduce wolf/human
conflicts and to conserve wolf populations in the Northern Rockies, including
restoring federal protection for Northern Rocky wolves until local hostility towards wolves dissipates;
designating more more protected areas for wolves, such as national parks;employing
a host of non-lethal methods to protect domestic livestock from wolves; authorizing
voluntarily grazing permit retirement on federal public lands; and prioritizing wolf-watching
tourism which generates much higher revenue for the region than wolf hunting.
“The federal government and western states must act quickly
to protect wolves for our environment, economy, and future generations, or they
may end up right back on the endangered species list,” said Keefover.
View the Report:
Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves