Groups Sue To Overturn Removal of Greater Yellowstone Wolves from Endangered Species List

Known as "B160," this black, collared male wolf was poached in the Salmon River Canyon near Clayton, Idaho, according to the NRDS. Thought to be about six years old and part of the Morgan Creek pack, B160 was found dead about 70 yards from Highway 75. NRDC photo.

Has Yellowstone National Park's wolf recovery program, now more than a decade old, succeeded? The federal government thinks so, as evidenced by the removal of greater Yellowstone wolves last month from the Endangered Species List. But a coalition of conservation group differs, and has filed a lawsuit to overturn the delisting.

Since wolves were returned to Yellowstone and central Idaho back in 1995, that seedstock has blossomed to roughly 1,500 animals. That's a lot of wolves, to say the least. But some biologists say a sound recovery program can't sustain itself, genetically, without two or three times that number.

Since the greater Yellowstone wolves lost ESA protection last month, nearly 40 have been killed in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, according to an Associated Press report. Today the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and the Wildlands Project sought a court order to overturn the delisting.

“Until now the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Northern Rockies was one of our greatest endangered species success stories,” said Louisa Willcox, director of the NRDC’s office in Livingston, Montana. “Now the region has become a killing field for wolves, just as we predicted. Dozens of wolves have been killed already, and more are certain to die under state laws that in many cases allow unregulated wolf killing anywhere, anytime, for any reason.”

The filing argues that the killings must stop while the court decides whether the government acted appropriately in delisting the predators. NRDC filed a petition in February requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establish legitimate targets for recovery of wolves throughout the lower 48 states.

In its petition, NRDC contends that the service failed to recover wolves on much of the available public lands where wolves formerly lived and ignored decades of scientific analysis. Without explanation or any scientific basis, the service set widely different recovery goals in the Midwest, Northern Rockies and Southwest regions, according to the group.

“The gray wolf simply hasn’t recovered yet. Every animal that falls victim to bait or bullet increases the odds that wolves will slide back toward extinction,” Ms. Willcox said.

Of course, a little hyperbole is in play here. The wolf is not in danger of going extinct any time soon, as evidenced by the packs that roam Canada and Alaska, not to mention Russia. But the health of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem just might be in play. After all, before wolves were returned to Yellowstone the park's elk herds had burgeoned, and in turn the ungulates beat down the spread and growth of aspen and willows, which some believe hampered growth of the park's beaver populations. Those are just the most obvious environmental cascades associated with the keystone predator's return. There are many more.

Then, too, there is the economic boost wolves have provided the communities surrounding Yellowstone. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Yellowstone each year to see and hear wolves in the wild, contributing at least $35 million to the local economy each year, the coalition said.

Thousands of gray wolves roamed the Rocky Mountains before being slaughtered and eliminated from 95 percent of the lower 48 states by the 1930s. The gray wolf was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Reintroduction efforts placed 66 wolves in Yellowstone and part of Idaho in 1995-96.

Comments

Man kills everything .....we will have nothing left for our Grandkids to see....run wild.

"Whenever I see a photograph of some sportsman grinning over his kill, I am always impressed by the striking moral and aesthetic superiority of the dead animal to the live one."
~Edward Abbey~

Picture from an Associated Press article:
"BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Tony Saunders stalked his prey for 35 miles by snowmobile through western Wyoming's Hoback Basin, finally reaching a clearing where he took out a .270-caliber rifle and shot the wolf twice from 30 yards away."

When will the government (of the people) not fall prey to special interest groups who convince it that it's necessary to slaughter wild bison and now the gray wolves? In the case of the wolves, have the lessons of the 30's been so forgotten? I'd REALLY like to see the president go out on a strong note and stand up for wildlife and more importantly for the presidential candidates to make it clear of their own beliefs, and intentions!

I am an ethical hunter who believes in the rules of fair chase, so it truly pains me that Mr. Saunders got his picture in the paper for doing what no true sportsman would ever do. What in the bloody blue blazes do they mean when they say that Saunders "stalked" that wolf? Using a snowmobile or plane to chase a wolf to the point of utter exhaustion is not stalking. It is not even hunting. What Saunders did has about as much to do with hunting as rape has to do with spiritual love.

Once again the state of MT shows that there is only one thing on their mind....big $$ and they'll take it however they can get it at the expense of their wildlife. 40 wolves dead already in one month....they didn't waste any time. They take pride in attracting big bucks from all over the country to shoot bison, elk, and now wolves (just like AK does and makes lots of dough on the hunts too). Seems to me the root of many of the problems associated with Yellowstone (bison, wolves, elk population etc.) run right through the heart of MT political/wildlife management offices.
They all need to get their heads out of the 18th century and catch up with the rest of us. I'm not anti hunting, but when a state shows a total lack of respect for a species in recovery and wastes no time implementing their plan to "cull" the packs from over 100 to a total of 40 for the entire state, well that just reeks of mis-management, and alterior motives. Just because a species is delisted doesn't necessarily mean its okay to go out and wipe out half the recovered population. Doesn't that kind of defeat the reason we have an endangered species list to begin with? Wake up Montanans, get involved, cause your state agencies are going to run their wildlife into the ground all in the name of sport hunting and big beef.

Aldo Leopold once wrote many long years ago about the kill of an old wolf which he committed as a forest ranger in the American Southwest. As he describes and remembering "a fierce green fire" in the eyes of dying wolf and her crippled pup. Something that burned in his psyche for years to come. In Mr. Saunders case, I don't know what burns in his psyche after a senseless act of wasting away such a magnificent animal...the Canis Lupus. Perhaps, the joy of this senseless kill that carries with this individual brings much wonder what kind of compassionate man he truly is. I doubt very much he carries the badge of a ethical hunter but I highly recommend Mr. Saunders to get some good education in how to conduct a good clean hunt where the poor animal has fighting chance. You have a lot to learn Mr. Saunders!

It's all about the White House cowboys that own peacock ranches in Montana. Fat bellies, booze and guns!

Sport hunting, to kill an animal for pleasure be it a shark, bear or wolf is wrong.
What Mr. Repanshek did not tell you is that B160 was shot once through the femur and once through the stomach and left to rot.
The famous Hoppy was killed at an elk feed lot in Sublet county Wyoming.
The majority of the 40 or so killings I have read about have not been hunting,
ethical or otherwise by any stretch of the imagination.

A Saturday evening near Daniel in Sublette County...

Bub: What ya wanta do?
Jeb: Dunno, what ya wanta do?
Bub: Ya know them feedlots down at the creek?
Jeb: huh?
Bub: Ya know, where they feed them elk?
Jeb: oh, ya, what about it?
Bub: I was thinkin' ya know them wolfs that hang around there?
Jeb: ya, what ya thinkin'?
Bub: well, ya wanna go shoot some?
Jeb: wolfs?
Bub: yup, wanna?
Jeb: well sure why not?

Bob, you seem to be an ethical hunter and I am so glad there are a few of you left out there ! Wish I could share a beer with you ! Hopefully before we kill most of the great predators AGAIN, mankind will wake up and appreciate what makes our great wilderness and wildlife so very special and precious.

It is perfectly legal to kill wolves that leave the park and threaten livestock. After all, all you environuts were warned that this would happen, and now you're cryin...and you're probably eatin' a fat juicy steak while you're cryin.

Anonymous, your snide comments doesn't merit much sense. I have met a few like you, it's all about guns, bullets and booze with the slogan "a huge gut pile is a happy hunter". In Yosemite we have the decline of the mountain loin which enhances the deer population to explode...another words, the predator-prey ratio is all screwed up. Now with the wolves, which keeps the ecosystems in checked with a balance predator-prey ratio to some degree has some profound success. It's not perfect for you peacock ranchers in Montana but it works. I suppose this makes you cry in your beer at night to hear a few wolves howl. Beware of those green eyes at night anonymous!!

SAVE THE WOLVES, BOYCOTT BEEF!

Nobody is suggesting the solution is simple, or even black and white. One side states that the lands were given to us by the governing body for this expressed purpose. The other side states that you knew better when you undertook you're money-making endeavor. The simple biology of the situation is summarized by one basic premise: Kill the predators and the population of prey animals increases exponentially, no matter what symbiotic relationship you use as an example. Kill the prey and the predators find new sources of nutrients, which in this instance might include YOU. Probably not, since there aren't enough humans in the area to sustain a populace over time.

So, kill the wolf, cougar and other top predators, and when the bison, elk, mule deer, etc. compete unencumbered for the grazing lands, as has happened before and will again, and when in times of strife the lands simply will not sustain the burgeoning population or grazing animals that you have encouraged, do you propose to eliminate them as well?

I hope and pray that the removal of the wolves from The Endangered Species List is overturned.

That there Tony Saunders in that picture is a killin' mochine! I know Tony...he is quite the skilled hunter. He's a good man!

Those wolves are vicious...kill 'em before they get your pets or kids. Our ancestors killed 'em all off for good reason!

Hey Anonymous, you may call Mr Saunders a skilled hunter but he had a cheap shot. Another words, unethical kill! If you peacock ranchers allow wildlife to have it's natural space to roam and breed and just maybe there can be some natural balance between predator and prey ratio. NOoooooo, we need more happy cows and more range land and will just smother out the rest of wildlife with cheap gun smoke. Don't tell me differently, I've seen this kind of scenario played over for years with you yahoo cowboys. Good cowboys know the wisdom of wise ethical hunting and don't expound by cheap cow talk or brag about a easy slaughter of wildlife.

I think that is terrible and horrible to watch or see no animal should be treated this way and you know humans are animals to so its like they are killing family a part of who you are! Its discusting

And to think them thar cowpokes are outsmarting you. Go figure?