Friday, August 30, 2013

#StandForWolves


Although USFWS director Daniel Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating  “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology voiced their concern that USFWS's nationwide delisting rule is terribly premature in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Jewell on May 21st.  They argued  that the delisting rule flouts “the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

The ESA requires that species listing decisions are governed by the best available science, not with political and economic considerations at the helm. If USFWS continues to ignore the scientific community, the agency will open the door to more political assaults on other imperiled and iconic species.  Former Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project Leader Mike Phillips once said, ”Wolf restoration is a touchstone for measuring our reverence for what we have inherited and for the legacy we leave our children.” For the sake of wolves, the environment, and our children, it's key that we safeguard the integrity of science - independent and free from corporate and political corruption, and we tell USFWS not to kill 40 years of recovery.

Please #StandForWolves today by submitting your comment to USFWS.  The National Wolfwatcher Coalition makes it easy with useful talking points

For additional ways to act on behalf America’s gray wolves, please visit the Endangered Species Coalition‘s #StandForWolves page.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

#StandForWolves - Losing Wolves Would Impoverish Us All


Our friends from WildEarth Guardians made a short film (below) about why wolves are so important to the landscape, and to all of us. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered species has hackles up nationwide. Please take a few moments to watch the film, share with your friends and family and take action to help save wolves from extinction.

As the film explains, wolves are critical ecological forces on the landscape, but they have only returned to 5% of their historic range. The job of wolf recovery is simply not done. #StandforWolves by taking action today to ensure these beautiful iconic animals are returned to ecosystems across our country where they are needed and where they belong.

The National Wolfwatcher Coalition makes it easy to submit your comments to USFWS:

For additional ways to act on behalf America's gray wolves, please visit the Endangered Species Coalition's #StandForWolves page.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom





 "A large nose is the mark of a witty, courteous, affable, generous and liberal man."
~ Cyrano de Bergerac

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Friday!

 

Canis Goofus?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coconino Voices: Wolves Deserve Wider Range



The following  guest column published in yesterday's  Arizona Daily Sun by Grand Canyon Wildlands Council's conservation director Kim Crumbo is right on!  Crumbo writes about the critical role Mexican wolves play in nature, and their need for a wider place to roam.  Please show your support for lobos by leaving positive comments on the article site.

Also be sure to tell USFWS that Mexican wolves need a larger recovery area in the wild.  Our friends from Mexican gray wolves offer useful talking points here.

Coconino Voices: Wolves deserve wider range

By Kim Crumbo
Originally published in the Arizona Daily Sun on August 21, 2013

As the Arizona Daily Sun’s recent editorial, “Wolf expansion plan needs more details” points out, Flagstaff residents can provide a significant voice in restoring this ecologically critical, charismatic creature to its rightful place in northern Arizona. The potential for wolves to return, as the Daily Sun reported back in 2007, has been considered for well over a decade.

The Mexican wolf is one of America’s most endangered mammals. With only an estimated 75 of these wolves in the wild, several management actions are urgently required for its survival. In mid-June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species, except the Mexican wolf, which will remain an endangered subspecies subject to certain provisions that have proven problematic in the past.

Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population is derived from only seven survivors rescued from extinction, the agency’s proposal to allow direct releases of Mexican wolves throughout the existing Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is absolutely critical. This action can and should be done immediately.

Twelve years ago a panel of four imminent carnivore scientists urged a revision of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, laying the scientific foundation and imperative to enlarge the recovery area. The USFWS needs to quit stalling and complete a comprehensive recovery plan addressing the current plan’s shortcomings — and let the public see it — and at the same time allow wolves to be reintroduced into additional suitable locations as described above.

The Daily Sun’s editors brought up a good question: Why stop northern wolf migration at Interstate 40 as the USFWS proposes? There is nothing sacred and nothing scientific about the I-10 southern recovery area boundary, nor I-40 to the north. In fact, the USFWS suggests extending the recovery area south of I-10 to the Mexican border. However, the agency completely ignores the recommendations of its own Mexican wolf science team, who emphasize the wolf’s long-term survival requires connected habitats north of I-40, including the Grand Canyon region and portions of southern Utah and Colorado.

Wolves are legendary wanderers. While highways present serious hazards to all wildlife, wolves are capable of finding a way across. For example, one female traveled a circuitous route of more than 3,000 miles from Yellowstone to Colorado. She successfully crossed I-80 three times before she was poisoned in 2009. Closer to home, a female Mexican wolf traveled more than 200 miles and successfully crossed I-40. Sadly, a vehicle later struck and killed her in the fall of 2000, 12 miles north of Flagstaff on U.S. 89.

Wolves are social, family-oriented creatures that play a critical role in healthy, resilient ecosystems by affecting the behavior and numbers of prey species. The overabundance of grazing and browsing wildlife often results in degradation of forests, streams and grasslands.

For example, the wholesale slaughter of carnivores, including wolves, in the early 20th century on the North Kaibab forest and Grand Canyon National Park, precipitated an explosion of mule deer populations that dramatically reduced forbs, grass, aspen saplings, and other native vegetation. Elk, a recent migrant to Grand Canyon National Park and the Kaibab and Coconino national forests, continue to damage riparian vegetation as well as aspen and other native plants.

The recovery of viable wolf populations can dramatically improve the health and resilience of forest, stream, and grasslands. For example, the return of the wolf to Yellowstone discouraged elk from lounging and trashing streamside willow and cottonwood vegetation.  Now, increased vegetation stabilizes stream banks while shading and cooling many sections of creeks and rivers. Increased willow and other native vegetation allowed beaver to return and create numerous ponds providing sanctuary for fish and other wildlife.

Wolves kill and harass coyotes, benefiting hawks and foxes that depend on rodents hunted by coyotes. By killing and scaring off coyotes that otherwise prey on pronghorn antelope, pronghorn fawns are much more likely to survive in areas dominated by wolves. That’s because wolves favor larger prey and generally leave pronghorn alone.

As the most recent polls confirm, most Arizona residents recognize the critical role wolves play in nature, and believe they belong in northern Arizona.   While the deadline for requesting locations for public meetings has passed, you can submit your wolf recovery comments online.

Kim Crumbo is conservation director at Grand Canyon Wildlands Council in Flagstaff. www.grandcanyonwildlands.org or (928) 606-5850.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

 

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
~ Albert Einstein
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

USFWS Reviews Plan After "Delisting" Three Scientists From Wolf Peer Review Panel



On June 7, 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) officially announced its plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States.  Just 2 months later, USFWS has postponed the evaluation of the delisting plan.

It all started with a letter.  Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating  “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists  with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology voiced their concern that the delsiting rule is terribly premature in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on May 21st.  They argued  that the delisting rule flouts “the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

The Endangered Species Act requires that the decision to delist a species is based on the best available science, so federal law requires that that an independent panel of scientists examine wolf numbers, population dynamics, etc... to evaluate the delisting motion.  USFWS hired a private contractor to oversee and select participants for a peer review panel but did not effectively conceal the resumes of the panelists.  Once the identities of the panelists were revealed, USFWS discovered that three of them, Dr. John Vucetich, Dr. Robert Wayne, and Dr. Roland Kays, were among the 16 who signed the fore mentioned letter and thus removed by the agency because they have an “unacceptable affiliation with an advocacy position.”

The New York Times Editorial Board writes that " in the peer-review process, there is only the illusion of independence, for the simple reason that the Fish and Wildlife Service controls the appointment of panelists. The agency would like to pretend that these panelists were removed for their lack of impartiality. In fact, they failed to measure up to the agency’s anti-wolf bias."

If  USFWS carries out their nationwide delisting proposal in spite of the exposure of its possible anti-wolf bias, the Wolf Conservation Center fears we'll be opening the door to more political assaults on wolves and other imperiled species.  Without realizing the serious ecological consequences, we already came close to totally exterminating wolves from the lower 48 states.  But the ESA gave us a second chance to right this wrong.  Let's not let history repeat itself.  We need to take this second chance  to hear the valid concerns shared by the scientific community. For the sake of wolves, the environment, and the integrity of science, we must continue to urge USFWS not to kill 40 years of recovery.

The USFWS’s delisting proposal is open for public comment for 90 days, ending September 11.

We encourage you to begin taking action immediately via the Federal Registerhere

Our friends from National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers useful talking points here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom



"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
~ Henry David Thoreau

How will you #StandForWolves?



August 14th is the National Day of Action for wolves!  Today the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) and coalition partners launch a multi-month campaign of events and activities that highlight the importance of wolves to ecosystems and teach people of all ages easy ways they can participate as effective voices for wolves now and in the future.  There are many ways people can join the movement to support wolf recovery and voice their opposition to USFWS's nationwide gray wolf delisting proposal.

Wolves in the Northeast, California, Pacific Northwest, Southern Rocky Mountains, and elsewhere would be left to be managed by state game agencies. These states would be free to allow hunting, trapping, even gassing of wolves within their borders.  Still-recovering wolf populations could be decimated for sport and their would be no recourse under Secretary Jewell’s proposal.

Are you on Twitter?  Tweet #standforwolves @SecretaryJewell!

Join the Thunderclap that promotes the #StandForWolves message as part of the National Day of Action for Wolves.

Tell Secretary Jewell you Stand for Wolves by submitting your comment opposing this plan and attend a National Day of Action event near you.

If you're in NY, please consider attending service-learning event sponsored by PRAI Beauty and the Center for Biological Diversity, “Family Walk to Protect America’s Wild Heritage.”  The event is FREE and hosted by the Wolf Conservation Center and National Wolfwatcher Coalition. Click here for info.

If you’re in Washington, D.C. please attend our National Day of Action for Wolves event at the White House on August 14th at noon.

More info/materials from our friends at Endangered Species Coalition



Monday, August 12, 2013

Mexican Gray Wolf Conducts a Symphony

Mexican gray wolf F810 leads a diverse group of singers: one Arctic gray wolf, two Canadian/Rocky Mountain gray wolves, five red wolves, and thirteen fellow Mexican gray wolves. Enjoy this wild adventure for your ears!


Mexican gray wolf F810 is one of the fourteen critically endangered captive Mexican gray wolves that call the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) home. As a participant in the Mexican gray wolf Species Survival and Recovery plan, the WCC's efforts to conserve this wolf is priority. Under USFWS's June 2013 proposed rule, federal ESA protections would remain for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest, the only gray wolf that would avoid delisting. This is GOOD news. The proposal, however, also includes changes to the rules governing Mexican wolf reintroduction. The one and only rule that is a welcome step in the right direction is to finally allow direct releases onto a larger area in the southwest. At present, when USFWS integrates Mexican gray wolves into the wild directly from captivity, the animals are only released into Arizona even though other parts of Mexican wolf range, like New Mexico's Gila National Forest, is home to a greater amount of available habitat. That being said, it troubles the WCC that USFWS will continue to designate Mexican wolves as "experimental, non-essential" and prevent them from ever dispersing to last best places for wolves in Grand Canyon region, including northern Arizona and southern Utah, or to northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Please do what you can to assist in Mexican wolf recovery and take this opportunity to submit your comment to USFWS re: the new proposed rule for Mexican gray wolf management. This proposal is extremely important to the future of Mexican wolves, and in order for this endangered species to recover in the wild, your participation is needed.

USFWS is accepting public comments until September 11, 2013 We encourage you to begin taking action immediately, please submit your comment today here. Our friends from Mexicanwolves.org offers useful talking points.

If you want to watch Mexican wolves in live time, visit our live Mexican gray wolf webcams!
If you see something cool, let us know! Thank you!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Interior Department Excludes Scientists from Independent Peer Review


On June 7, 2013, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its controversial plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest.

Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology voiced their concern that the delsiting rule is terribly premature in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on May 21st. They argued that the delisting rule flouts “the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

Yesterday, a new wrinkle in the controversial debate emerged, the Interior Department removed three scientists from participating in the independent peer review of its delisting proposal and the move is drawing fire from environmentalists who charge that the scientists are among the country’s leading wolf experts and are being blocked from the review to stifle dissent.
Read more

Our friends from the California Wolf Center interviewed Dr. John Vucetich, one of the excluded experts, to get the story.
What do you think about USFWS's move to blacklist credentialed scientists?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day Four in Yellowstone - See You Next Year!



The final Yellowstone Adventure report from Wolf Conservation Center's Alex Spitzer:

Our final day in the park started off cool and foggy.  As we arrived in the Lamar Canyon, we realized there was too much fog to see far so we stopped to have breakfast in the field.  As we ate, we watched the fog slowly lift out of the valley.  As the fog lifted, the bison started to show, but we got word that the Lamar Canyon pack was spotted down the road so we packed up quickly and headed over.  We were able to spot the tail of a gray female from that pack and a little while later; she popped over the hill and made one final appearance before disappearing.  We did manage to hear a pack-rallying howl before moving on. Our other wildlife sightings for the day included several large herds of bison, sandhill cranes, a beaver, ground squirrels, pronghorn, and a family of golden eagles.  Two of the golden eagles were juveniles who were waiting at the nest, and mom and dad were viewed flying overhead looking for their next meal.

Throughout the whole day, Scott Frazier joined us.  We had a great time discussing the history of Native Americans in and around Yellowstone National Park, his history with the park, and some about his personal experiences over his years exploring the park, including the fact that he was asked to be a special guest and to perform a ceremony for the release of the original Crystal Creek Pack back in 1995.  It is always great to be joined by Scott and we thank him for his friendship.

Finally after dinner, we were joined by Dan Stahler.  Dan talked about factors affecting the wolves since their reintroduction in 1995 and about genetic difference in wolves within the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  A great end to a magnificent trip.  Huge thanks to The Wild Side, Scott Frazier, and everyone who joined us on our 2013 Yellowstone trips.

If you're interested in joining the WCC crew for a wild adventure in Yellowstone next year, please email spencer@nywolf.org.  Thank you!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom



"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
~ Anatole France