In September, a Wyoming judge put gray wolves in that state back on the Endangered Species List, and now wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan will join them, thanks to Judge Howell of the US District Court in Washington DC (and all the environmental groups that went to court).
On December 19, Howell ruled against the Department of the Interior’s decision to remove wolves from endangered species status in the Great Lakes, calling it arbitrary and capricious.
He says, "The DC Circuit has noted that, at times, a court ‘must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough.’" There’s been nothing but carnage since the agency turned management back to the states.
Judge Howell concludes: "This law reflects the commitment by the United States to act as a responsible steward of the Earth’s wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult for the localities where an endangered or threatened species resides."
The Great Lakes are home to the largest number of wolves in the Lower 48 states, at about 4000 individuals before they were removed from List. Since 2011, over 1500 have been killed. Many are alpha females, breaking up packs and leaving orphans to fend for themselves.
In this year’s hunt in Wisconsin, nearly 80% of the quota -119 wolves – were killed in just over a week – mostly through indiscriminate trapping, says the Endangered Species Coalition. The state’s newly rechartered "Wolf Advisory Committee" excludes the conservation community, leaving only hunting groups to advise on "management." The goal is to maintain 350 wolves in the state and in just two years, they are more than half-way there.
A Wolf at Grand Canyon!
One female gray wolf has made epic journey, spotted at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in October – the first wolf there since the 1940s! DNA analysis confirms the wolf traveled 450 miles from the northern Rocky Mountains.
Here she is! Echo
The area is prime habitat for wolves if they would be allowed to recover there. In fact, there’s 359,000 square miles of habitat waiting for them in the Grand Canyon, Rockies, Northeast and West Coast, says the Center for Biological Diversity.
Sadly, we have an update on December 30 – a hunter killed a 3-year old wolf 150 miles away in Utah. It is most likely Echo.
Earlier this year we wrote about another lone wolf – OR7 – who also traveled 500 miles, from Northeast Oregon to the California border. He managed to find a mate and now lives with his pack – the first in California in a century. Just in time for his arrival, wolves were put back on the state’s endangered list.
"Our findings imply that we can’t restore formerly widely distributed species like the wolf to isolated populations in a few parks and expect them to remain genetically healthy," says Dr. Carlos Carroll, a researcher at Klamath Center for Conservation Research.
Wolves Return in Europe
Living with wolves just takes tolerance (and awe), as Europeans are learning.
Thanks to protective legislation such as the EU Habitats Directive, adopted 20 years ago, and Natura 2000, they have returned from the brink, and are living much closer to humans than in the US, even in suburbs. Most populations are stable or increasing, returning to many areas where they have been absent for decades.
There are 12,000 wolves, and other big carnivores are thriving – 17,000 brown bears, 9,000 Eurasian lynx and 1250 wolverines co-exist on the crowded continent, where their prey also abounds.
Found in a third of Europe, most of them live outside of nature preserves, reports The Guardian. And that’s not counting the very active Rewilding Europe efforts.
New Members Elected to US Congress
Meanwhile, the mid-term elections in the US will elevate rabid wolf-hater Rob Bishop (R-UT) to Chair of the powerful House Natural Resources Committee.
"Bishop and his cronies will use their budget-setting powers to hamstring conservationists’ ability to implement the Endangered Species Act," says the Center for Biological Diversity. "They are bound and determined to do everything they can to push wolves back to the brink of extinction."
Other newly elected members of the "Wolf-Haters Caucus" are Mike Enzi and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Louie Gohmert (R-TX); Cory Garner (R-CO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) in the Senate.
In November, environmental groups managed to halt Idaho’s "Predator Derby" on more than 3 million acres of public land. The Bureau of Land Management cancelled the permit for the contest – who can kill the most wolves, coyotes, and other species in three days – for cash and prizes. It was scheduled to take place every year for five years, beginning on January 2.
Idaho is the worst place for a wolf to live right now.
There are at least a dozen groups working on behalf of wolves (and other wildlife), here are some of them: Center for Biological Diversity; Defenders of Wildlife; Born Free USA; Humane Society of the United States; Help Our Wolves Live; Friends of Animals and Their Environment; Endangered Species Coalition.
Read our background article, Wolves In the Cross Hairs, Can’t They Be Allowed to Exist?