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A Whole Lot of Howling Going On

A Whole lot of Howling going on - by Maria FergusonWolf Photo - Howl Picture

There is a whole lot of howling going on about Wolves. This past month there has been numerous wolf public hearings and Wolf management meetings across the U.S. Basically there are two factions that attend the various meetings: Pro- Wolfers and Anti-Wolfers. Both groups have mustered convincing arguments to defend their respective stance.

I would like to briefly take you through the States that held meetings or hearings recently. We will take a peek at the opinions, fears and desires of the opposing groups.

Colorado: The state does not have Wolves in the wild or reintroduced Wolves, at this moment but are anticipating that lone Wolves will wander over from surrounding states. A collared female Wolf, who had found her way from the Yellowstone Swan Lake Pack, was found dead on Interstate 70. A panel of Colorado residents has been meeting since one month before this incident to discuss a Wolf Management Plan for the State. The panel is comprised of four wildlife advocates and four livestock producers, as well as two representatives each for the viewpoints of sportsmen, local government and wildlife biologists. The panel looks to the end of October as a goal for coming up with a State Management Plan. It looks doubtful that the group will meet its deadline. Conservation groups such as Defenders want Wolves to be released into Colorado to boost repopulation. Livestock Association members want the ability to shoot Wolves seen near their livestock. Debates are continuing regarding the amount of compensation that will be given to livestock producers in cases of depredation. Two polls conducted in the last decade have shown that most Colorado residents would welcome the Wolf.

Idaho: The State’s Wolf Management Plan would allow for rancher’s to shoot Wolves that are seen chasing their livestock. The Nez Perce Tribe will continue the role of monitoring Wolf numbers as the State takes over Wolf Management from the Feds. Idaho is anxious to assume this role, as there are 300 Idaho Fish and Game officers available compared to the two Wolf Biologists that run the Federal program in the West.

Michigan: Public opinion hearings drew various responses but most agreed that he Wolf should be delisted Federally. Farmers and ranchers want to be able to take the matter of depredations into their own hands. *They complained that the methods the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) took is too little to late as the Wolves who caused the depredations often do not return. (*Author’s note, and the problem is?) The DNR also took criticism from Pro-Wolfers. Steve Nelson of Epoufette expressed fear that the DNR is not doing enough to protect the wolves. He also said there may be more to the wolf depredation complaints than meets the eye. "Dairy farmers don't bury or burn their carcasses, but use them for bait to draw wolves in," alleged Nelson. Conservationists feared that handing management over to the state would once again put the Wolf on the Endangered Species list and an effort of 30 years would be for naught.

Minnesota: The turnout for the public hearings have been low in Minnesota, where the Wolf populations is larger that both neighboring states. The general consensus is in favor of the delisting federally. Karlyn Berg was one of three people who spoke in favor of keeping the wolf on the endangered species list.
She represents a group of people who feel the same, she said. "It is evident the hostile attitude toward the wolf has not ended," she said.

Montana: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to Ed Bangs, Wolf Recovery Team Leader, is anxious to place the responsibility of Wolf Management in this volatile area to the States Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). They are working on revising the 10J Rule which would allow killing of problem Wolves by the Montana FWP and also allow ranchers on private land to shoot Wolves seen chasing their livestock. The revision would also create more leeway for livestock owners who graze on public land.

Oregon: The state does not have Wolves at this time. This was the proposed Wolf Management Plan, it was vetoed after 11 long months of being drafted by an advisory group consisting of livestock producers, hunters and conservationists.

Wolf plan

The wolf plan includes:

A goal of four breeding pairs for three consecutive years before the wolf can come off the endangered species list.

Different management plans depending on the numbers of wolves in the state.

Splitting the state into East and West regions with different management based on the numbers of wolves in those regions — after the wolf population meets the minimum four breeding pairs.

A compensation program that pays market value for livestock and a maximum of $2,500 for working or sporting dogs killed by wolves.

A translocation program that helps spread wolves into Western Oregon from the eastern half of the state.

The use of trapping and hunting in specific situations as a management tool to protect livestock and elk and deer populations.

2 members of the advisory board rejected the plan; one of those members is Ben Boswell, a county commissioner. Aside from the fact that Commissioner Boswell said that managing Wolves in Oregon is a "fools errand", here is what else he had to say "I propose that wolves be kept from Oregon by whatever means are necessary," Boswell wrote in a report to the commission. "Wolves have no biological, social or legal right to be in Oregon and certainly no one has a right to add a threat to our rural lifestyle."

Wisconsin: The delisting plan was favored by most that attended the hearings. Opposition spoke for the northeast states, which would be included in the delisting but do not have Wolf populations. A resident hunter brought the carcass of his dead dog inside a suitcase to the hearing along with pictures to show the effects of a wolf depredation. He was thankfully not allowed to show the remains in the Visitor’s center. An Ashland resident complained that there are too many Wolves that they are walking down Main Street in downtown Glidden?

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