Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wolf Weekly Wrap Up

The good and the bad for Oregon’s wolves. Two bills pertaining to wolf management in Oregon – one good and one bad – are moving through the state legislature. The first bill would increase penalties for poaching a wolf, while the second would legislatively delist wolves from the state endangered species act. Increasing penalties for wolf poaching is a meaningful deterrent against unlawful wolf killing, and is essential to wolves’ continued recovery in Oregon. But this second bill is completely unnecessary and very harmful for wolves and other imperiled species in Oregon. Commenting on the second bill, Defender’s Quinn Read said: “This bill is simply bad policy – not just for wolves, but for all of Oregon’s imperiled wildlife. This opens the door for the legislature to make politically driven decisions about the fate of imperiled animals across Oregon.” The bills will be up for a vote on the House today, but must make it through several more procedural requirements before they are sent to the Governor. You can be sure we’re on the ground educating officials about the impacts both bills would have on continued wolf recovery in Oregon.
Breaking news from Idaho.
Gray wolves, (c) Eilish Palmer
The state government with the highest body count of wolves in the West has unleashed a new round of aerial killing. Once again, the purpose is to artificially inflate elk numbers for sport hunters and boost the sale of elk hunting licenses. And once again, the killing is happening on public land.
We’re still trying to learn how many wolves have already been shot from the air in Idaho’s Lolo National Forest. But even one wolf killed in this way is unconscionable.
The deeply disturbing actions by the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency working on behalf of the state of Idaho must stop. And the U.S. Forest Service is letting it happen on its land! It’s now up to the federal government to put the brakes on Idaho’s vendetta against wolves.
What we continue to see over and over again is that Idaho does whatever it wants, whenever it wants, with zero consequences when it comes to wolves.
This latest outrage comes less than a month after Idaho state officials “accidentally” put radio collars on wolves in the nearby Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area managed by the Forest Service. The state has not ruled out using those unauthorized collars at some point to follow the wolves back to their packs and kill them. While those are not the wolves currently being gunned down in the Lolo, it’s just one more indication that Idaho’s war on wolves will continue and is completely out of control.
Since Congress prematurely forced Idaho’s wolves off the endangered species list in 2011, more than 1,900 wolves have been killed in that state.
Both the U.S. Forest Service and Wildlife Services are agencies in the Department of Agriculture.
Idaho’s wolf killing must stop. Idaho officials and the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services completed an aerial gunning operation to kill wolves in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest this week. We requested an immediate and indefinite stop to this senseless killing. We’re sending a petition to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Vilsack, asking him to issue a Secretarial Order prohibiting Wildlife Services from controlling native predators to increase game populations. We’re also demanding that the Forest Service, responsible for protecting America’s national forests, exercise its jurisdiction to prevent wolf killing. Idaho has claimed that wolf killing in the Idaho’s national forests is necessary to boost elk harvest levels – which contradicts independent scientific peer reviewers’ observations that habitat changes, not predators, have been the major factor in this localized elk herd decline. Defender’s Suzanne Stone said it best “Killing wolves in the Lolo District of the Clearwater National Forest is a decision based almost entirely on Idaho’s extreme anti-wolf politics and not sound science.” You can help us demand a stop by signing this petition now.
China busts wildlife-smuggling gang: Police seize 148 wolf skins and carcasses on the border after noticing 'stinky containers'
Police in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China have arrested a large wildlife smuggling gang that were attempting to import illegal wolf carcasses.
A total of 148 wolf skins, six carcasses and a large number of animal organs were discovered after police noticed that several containers smelt like rotting fish, the People's Daily Online reports. 
Wolf meat was also seized during the bust which Chinese media are reporting to be the biggest discovery in 20 years.
 Busted: Police arrested an undisclosed number of people after discovering illegally imported wolf carcasses
Illegal goods: Within the containers was wolf meat, skin and decorative amulets made from bones
The bust took place at the Takeshenken border check point in Altay Prefecture in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on February 4. 
The Takeshenken border check point is 15km away from the Chinese-Mongolian border.  Many goods such as cotton, livestock and tea are exported through the checkpoint.  
The police discovered 148 wolf skins, 255 decorative amulets made from wolf bones and offal which was estimated to be worth around one million yuan (£105,000). 
According to local authorities, the items were set to be sold on China's black market where there is demand for exotic animal meats. 
Local police say they have detained an undisclosed number of members of the wildlife smuggling gang. 
Worth a fortune: Frozen wolf carcasses as well as dozens of bags of wolf skin were seized in Xinjiang
The federal wolf-killing machine is cranking up again in Idaho.
The Center for Biological Diversity has learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services plans to send gunners in helicopters to shoot wolves in the Lolo Elk Management Zone of the Clearwater National Forest.
This is happening as the number of wolves gunned down, trapped and poisoned since 2011 surpasses 4,000 dead -- more than half of them in the state of Idaho alone. We're worried this month will be a repeat of last February, when 19 wolves were shot by aerial gunners in the Lolo.
The Center is committed to fighting wolf killing, but we need your help to win. Please contribute to the Center's Predator Defense Fund, and we'll put your support to work defending wolves.
Anti-wolf militants have made it clear that they won't stop until nearly every wolf in Idaho is gone, and they have powerful friends ready to spend taxpayer money to help. The Idaho Legislature is right now budgeting another $400,000 to kill wolves in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Last year similar funding was used by the state to kill 72 wolves at an estimated cost of more than $7,000 per animal -- and that's on top of the 250-plus killed by private hunters during the 2014-2015 season. The wolf haters are willing to spend a publicly funded fortune to exterminate this intelligent, social species.
We need your help to stand up for wolves. The Center will use your gift to the Predator Defense Fund to defend wolves from the statehouse to the courthouse.
We know how to win for wolves. We have an unmatched quarter-century of experience. We've defeated wolf-killing proposals from the Great Lakes to the Pacific. We've even won in Idaho, the deadliest place in America for wolves -- just last year we forced the state to abandon its plans to send a trained wolf killer into the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness. Our seasoned lawyers, scientists and activists are the best defense that wolf families have.
Help us ground Idaho's helicopters and send Wildlife Services' killers home. You can contribute to our work with a donation to the Predator Defense Fund.
4,000 dead wolves is 4,000 too many. Read more in our press release.