Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Will Judge Molloy Challenge Congress When It Comes To How Wolves Were Delisted For A 2011 Management Hunt?

Above, Scott Rockholm, of Save Western Wildlife, is being interviewed during a protest rally at the U.S. Dsitrict Court - Missoula courthouse back in March. JOIN US ON JULY 26TH...WE NEED SOME NUMBERS!

Back in April, President Barrack Obama signed H.R. 1473 into law. This legislation, known as the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriation Act of 2011, also contained a briefly worded rider which removes wolves in several states from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. And that has not set well with several pro-wolf environmental organizations, who are challenging the constitutionality of the manner in which Congress slipped this issue in among the 459 pages of the continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded, and working.

The wolf rider reads: "Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15213 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming in Case Numbers 09-CV-118J and 09-CV-138J on November 18, 2010."

Judge Donald Molloy, of the U.S. District Court in Missoula, MT, has accepted a lawsuit filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Center for Biological Diversity, and despite the wording "shall not be subject to judicial review" found in the wolf rider, it is now very apparent that this federal judge has decided to do just that. Many residents of the Northern Rockies now feel that this issue no longer has anything to do with establishing and maintaining a recovered wolf population, but rather it has become all about a federal judge making law instead of enforcing the law.

The lawsuit filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Center for Biological Diversity seeks to determine the legality of adding the wolf rider to a budget continuing resolution. Their goal is to stop the wolf management (i.e. control) hunts in Montana and Idaho this year. Despite the fact that the number of wolves in these two states are now upwards of 10 to 12 times the recovered population goals established in the early 1990s Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan and the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement filed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, such environmental groups keep moving the goal post - and the over population of wolves is now making a severe negative impact on elk, moose, deer and other big game herds, with escalated depredation of livestock as well.

A large segment of those sportsmen and ranchers who have been fighting to gain control of wolf numbers now see Judge Molloy as the real threat. His decisions have stalled wolf control hunts, resulting in a tremendous loss of wildlife and making it more difficult for ranchers to raise livestock profitably. One such decision cancelled a much needed 2010 wolf hunt. Molloy found that Montana and Idaho could not conduct such a hunt, even though both states had approved wolf management plans, because Wyoming's plan had not been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Actually, the Wyoming plan had been approved by USFWS. However, Molloy did not agree with the manner in which the state intended to manage wolves in only the northwest corner, to insure the 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs mandatory under the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan and the 1994 EIS. In the rest of Wyoming, wolves would be considered a predator, and could be shot on sight. Donald Molloy so harshly criticized the plan that USFWS turned around and disapproved how the state intended to manage wolf numbers. A couple of months after Molloy's decision, a federal court in Cheyenne, WY stated that USFWS had been wrong to reject the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan. Still, the 2010 wolf hunts did not take place in Montana and Idaho, and tens of thousands of big game animals were lost to a burgeoning wolf population.

Last month (June), Molloy received the briefs for the wolf rider lawsuit, and on Tuesday, July 26th, he will hear oral arguments by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Center for Biological Diversity, and by the U.S. Department of the Interior. In June, a dozen or so sportsman, conservation and ranching organizations filed to become interveners in this case, which Molloy denied. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., at the Russell Smith Federal Courthouse, 201 E. Broadway, Missoula, MT.

This could prove to be a "no win" case for this judge. Should he side with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Center for Biological Diversity, and rule that Congress did not have the constitutional right to add a wolf delisting rider to the budget continuing resolution, that could be the catalyst to push Congress to amend the ESA, returning wolf management to every state. Should Molloy decide in favor of the rider being added, Montana and Idaho will conduct wolf control hunts this fall and winter - on top of which Congress could very likely still act to amend the ESA.

That same day, sportsmen groups from the Northern Rockies are organizing a wolf protest on the sidewalks around the courthouse, to show support for wolf control, and calling for an end to wildlife management being decided by an extremely biased federal judge. The rally will begin at 9 a.m. and run until the hearing has ended. There's sure to be some extremely colorful protest signs being carried that day. - Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

Friday, July 1, 2011

At The Heart Of The Northern Rockies Wolf Problem Is USFWS & State Wildlife Agencies

Following is some correspondence I received from one of our state senators here in Montana. That senator had requested some info on how neighboring Idaho would attempt to get a handle on an out of control wolf population, and this is what was sent.

"I was finally able to speak with Idaho Fish and Game today about their current wolf management efforts. Here's what they've been doing under the most recent delisting:

1) Ungulate protection: use of control activities in the Lolo game management unit. This includes:

a) aerial control -- which was used for less than a month after delisting in the Lolo unit due to the weather and a change in wolf movement. The wolves moved into the timber, making aerial control unfeasible. 5 or 6 wolves were killed in the effort, but that's far less than the goal, which sounds like it was 20-30 wolves.

b) authorization for licensed outfitters to shoot wolves on site in the Lolo game unit during the spring black bear season which runs through June 30. None is believed to have been taken this way yet.

2) Hunting: the Idaho Commission is expected to adopt its hunting proposal in July. The details of the proposal are expected to be released in the next week or so for review. The commission is expected to be more agressive than the 2009 hunt, authorizing trapping as well as rifle and perhaps use of more liberal quotas and issuance of multiple tags to individual hunters.

3) Designation of sheriff's officers as special agents in Idaho County, specifically in the Elk City area. Elk City apparently has traditionally had elk within its boundaries and the wolves have followed the elk in. The agreement between the county and Idaho Fish and Game delineates the circumstances under which sheriff's officers may shoot wolves. Apparently, the first wolf was just taken in the city limits.

The person I spoke with promised to send me some written materials related to Idaho's efforts via email next week. I'll be happy to forward them to you if you like.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance."

One concern this elected official has centers on the liklihood that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will, once again, adopt a quota that will accomplish nothing in the way of controlling wolf numbers...or the damage wolves deal the state's wildlife resources and the ranching community. Following is some of what I sent back...

"The biggest obstacle we face here in Montana is the false image of just 566 wolves in this state.

I have personally now seen 16 wolves in the state over the course of the past 12 months. If one person can physically see that many wolves while travelling a state the size of Montana...there are a heck of a lot more wolves here than the "at least" number that Fish, Wildlife and Parks is now touting.

If we use the math that wolf biologist Dr. L. David Mech used in his 2008 delisting declaration, Montana now surely has "at least" 1,500 to 1,600 wolves (possibly as many as 2,000). If FWP sticks with their 566 population count, and fills a quota of 220...that means there will still be 1,280 to 1,380 wolves in this state.

And with the birthing of pups next spring, at a 25% reproduction increase, the number of wolves will jump right back to anywhere from 1,536 to 1,656 wolves - more than the number we truly have now.

The wolves we already have here are already decimating game populations, and putting an ever bigger dent into livestock production. Still, FWP is hell bent to insure that with each new year, we will have more wolves than the year before. And that will mean still greater depredation losses."

This morning, the senator sent a link to an article in today's Idaho Statesman newspaper, headlined "Idaho To Offer Looser Wolf Hunt Rules As Tag Sales Lag". The only comment made was... "The gap between Idaho and Montana management just grows and grows!"

To which LOBO WATCH responded...

"Here is how the majority of sportsmen now see this issue. USFWS and state wildlife agencies (MT FWP and IDFG) have created the problem, this bona fide wildlife disaster, by "managing" wolves to insure that their numbers rapidly increases year after year. And now that this not-so-grand experiment has gone terribly wrong, with excessive wildlife resources lost and growing livestock depredation, these agencies now expect the sportsmen to step up to the plate and save wildlife in this country once again. The real fallacy of all this, at this point, has been any talks of quotas...and selling "wolf hunting permits".

Those agencies created the problem, now they want sportsmen to pay to fix the problem they created. And that is pure hogwash.

MT FWP's extremely low "at least" wolf number is part of the junk science that plagues this failed project. What FWP needs to do this year, is to allow any hunter with any valid hunting license/permit to shoot a wolf (or wolves)...and to keep a count of the number killed...those wolves need to be checked in. No "wolf" "wolf" "wolf" season. When, say 400 wolves are killed, then close down the hunt, and then make an all out honest effort (through the winter) to get a feel for how many wolves are still here. Rest assured, there will still be far more wolves than what was culled.

Over the weekend, I will be putting together a July LOBO WATCH news/editorial release that looks at the junk science behind the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan, and in the crosshairs will be state wildlife biologists and wildlife managers, the greenie academic type professors now teaching wildlife ecology (and their new agenda), the lack of technology and manpower to adequately research and account for wolf numbers and the damages caused by wolves, and how the radical environmental groups are now buying off "scientists" (and probably a few politicians, wildlife department heads, educators, etc.) for them to support their environment/wildlife cause or agenda.

Hope you don't mind, but I want to share this with a few others...some of which I do believe have been enticed (or ordered) to outright lie to or misslead the public when it comes to wolf numbers, wolf impact, what it will take to get a handle on this problem, and other threats and dangers of allowing wolves to spread basically unchecked across a settled land (i.e. - physical harm and the more than 30 infectious diseases wolves carry and spread)."

What are your thoughts?

Toby Bridges