November 14, 2018

George Orwell, call your office re: Wolves

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The attached news report of a presentation touting the re-introduction of wolves in Colorado is so egregious, we debated even placing it on the Wolf Education International website.  Upon further examination, it was thought to be so misleading and so full of disinformation that it might serve as a useful example of how the public is manipulated and government mislead by radical and extremist views and funding.

What follows are 10 quotes (90%?) from the news report with a short comment about each.  Upon your examination, please consider them in total and you have a composite of what wildlife management as a tool of radical government has come to….  Jim Beers

The news report:

https://www.csindy.com/TheWire/archives/2018/06/18/rocky-mountain-wolf-project-calls-for-animal-reintroduction-amid-pushback

Comments:

1). “Though native, wolves have not roamed Colorado since the 1940s, when unregulated hunting pushed populations to the brink of extinction.” 

  • Comment:  Wolves were not pushed “to the brink of extinction” by “unregulated hunting”.  They were hunted; chased by possees on horseback; trapped; poisoned; snared; and otherwise “controlled” by ranchers, bounty hunters, federal trappers and state trappers with the express goal of exterminating them for a period of almost 100 years.  This is just as they were exterminated in the British Isles, in fact, Irish Wolfhounds were bred expressly to hunt and kill remaining wolves in Ireland. Europeans were engaged in similar programs as recorded in writing since the time of Plato and Cicero.

2). “The animals are still listed as endangered in Colorado.”

  • Comment:  That is a Listing strictly by the state of Colorado.  It implies no responsibility or intention to re-introduce them in Colorado.  Wolves are not present in New York or New Hampshire, yet those states “list” them as “endangered” and only extremists call for their restoration.  This is true of many other states that “list” animals that they have no intention of restoring like cougars and grizzly bears that are especially dangerous to human safety and health as well as destructive of dogs and other pets.

3). “Though seemingly unable to shed the stereotype of the “Big Bad Wolf,” statistically, wolves do not kill people.”

  • Comment: First, this a senseless sentence.  What does “statistically, wolves do not kill people” mean?  Wolves have killed people by the thousands down through the ages.  It is documented in writings and the limited reportage since Roman Times.  It is mentioned in the Middle Ages and in recent times.  It is mentioned circumpolar in Russia, Siberia, Europe and North America.  Read Wolves of North America by Stanley Young.  Read Will Graves’ Wolves in Russia. The fact that the press and governments that introduce wolves for which they recognize no responsibility kill people (recently, like Kenton Carnegie in Saskatchewan, the school teacher on the Alaskan Peninsula, the two ladies in Craters of the Moon in Idaho, the vacationing lady in N Wisconsin and all the annual deaths and disfigurements in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Europe and Siberia etc.) is the only basis for and belie this specious claim worded like a child’s bad English grammar homework. 

4). “[Historically] wolves don’t pose a threat to human safety,” Phillips told the audience, throwing his hands up emphatically. “That’s just a fact.”

  • Comment:  Repeating a lie (when spoken by an “expert as purported in the Introduction it is a lie); when spoken by someone that does not know better it is either misinformation or propaganda spoken for a host of reasons.

5). “But just three weeks prior to Phillips’ presentation, Mesa County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to oppose any efforts to expand or reintroduce wolves in the county, citing threats to moose populations and livestock, and the spread of disease. Phillips says it’s rare for a wolf to kill livestock, and if/when it does the wolf is older, or injured, and it’s not normal pack behavior.”

  • Comment:  I. Ask yourself, “who is Mr. Phillips or for that matter his coterie of national environmental extremists financing his campaigns, to ignore the opposition of the people of Mesa County opposing any wolf reintroduction”?  If the people of a County and their elected representatives oppose such action, the intentions of those in other Counties or states for that matter should respect those legitimate wishes.

II It is as rare for wolves to kill livestock as for foxes to kill mice.  They must eat and livestock has always been a good meal, far more vulnerable to capture than swift wild animals.  They kill as much livestock as they want and can get away with.  They even kill many domestic animals at a time for “fun” as in the hundred + sheep driven off a cliff recently in Idaho.

III. Wolves are no more “normal” than coyotes or the family pet when hungry or excited or just plain “wild” as when Fido runs off with a pack of dogs to harass and kill domestic animals until stopped. “Normal” means “expected”, not “only”.

6). “Between 1997 and 2015, Phillips says 117 cattle were killed by wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. That’s 0.002 percent of an estimated six million cattle during that time. He also notes that ranchers are compensated for their loss when it does happen. The 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act authorized up to $140,000 per eligible state from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for wolf loss compensation and preventing future conflicts. The Act replaced Defenders of Wildlife‘s Wolf Compensation Trust, which paid $1.4 million over 23 years to compensate ranchers. Defenders of Wildlife, which works to protect native animals and their habitats, contributes funds to help states initiate wolf compensation programs. In lieu of the Wolf Compensation Trust, Defender’s created the Wolf Coexistence Partnership, which works with ranchers on nonlethal techniques to keep wolves from livestock.”

Comment:  The Defenders of Wildlife illegitimately “administered” this public relations scheme for the US Fish and Wildlife (whose Director at the time went on to be the top person in Defenders of Wildlife after resigning when the Political Party of the President changed.  Less than 10 % of the claims were even recognized due to the lateness of investigation and the anti-livestock orientation of the DoW investigators.  Ask ranchers in Montana and Idaho about this natural resource Ponzi Scheme that was only meant to spread wolves by protecting them.  “Nonlethal techniques to keep wolves from livestock” are another chimera intended to delay wolf management to make ranching less profitable and vulnerable to buyouts like the current American Prairie Restoration land scheme in central Montana.  There is no evidence that nonlethal control techniques (Fladry, range riders, aversion agents, dogs, exploders, sheds, etc.) are not temporary at best and often quite expensive and impractical. Look no further than your pet dog and imagine some deterrent that, while he is unrestrained, he does not figure out when hungry or when he really wants something beyond it.

7). “As for the threat to the moose population and of disease, Phillips says wolves rarely hunt moose because of their size, and disease is also rare.”

  • Comment:  I. This may be the biggest lie in this presentation.  Wolves all but wiped out moose in Yellowstone in 10 years.  Wolves so decimated the Minnesota moose herd that moose hunting was abandoned about six years ago and will likely never be resumed.  Wolves decimated the moose population on Isle Royale, a large island in Lake Superior.  Wolves decimated the moose herd in E Washington.  Wolves kill moose in Finland and will decimate herds in 5 to 10 years if not controlled.  Alaskan periodic wolf control from planes and on the ground is done mostly for moose and the moose rebounds after a significant number of wolves are taken.
  1. As to “wolves rarely hunt moose because of their size”: it is precisely because of their size and vulnerability, especially in timber, that wolves zero in on moose.  All moose from unborn calves torn from the still living mother to cow moose and bulls are preferred prey. Moose give birth in certain habitat covers that wolves learn to frequent.  Moose caught by several wolves in timber are vulnerable to being hamstrung as the wolves feint in and out and the animal can neither flee nor defend itself.
  • Comment:   How misleading is it for an “expert” to say a state-authorized wolf management program forced on a State by the federal government to maintain so many wolves in such and such area is something wherein “wolves are considered predatory and can be killed without consequence”?   It also tells the reader a lot that, “Although Colorado Parks and Wildlife wouldn’t stop a natural repopulation” because this state agency is trying to please their pro-wolf urban constituency they aren’t opposed to wolves while telling their rural constituency that they won’t force wolves on them.  This has become a national phenomenon during the recent rise in federal power and money resulting in many, what are often called, state agencies that try to canoe down a river with each foot in a different canoe.  Mesa County and western Colorado need support, not platitudes.

9). “A recent Outside Podcast questions the theory of how reintroduction of top-down predators can create a trickle effect on an ecosystem, and how much credit wolf reintroduction should get for the health of the Yellowstone ecosystem over the last 20 years. According to Outside, the benefits of wolves are exaggerated, not giving enough credit to increases in other predators like grizzlies, or the effects of drought, which also contribute to the thinning of elk and deer herds. (Thinning herds makes for healthier woodlands, according to Outside.)”

  • Comment:  I. “Trickle effect” like the following “trophic cascade” are simply words that say nothing but are intended to assuage the consciences of those that might be hesitant to importune their rural neighbors with something that harms them and their families.  They are terms denoting “change” as in the weather changes.
    Health of the ecosystem” fits into the same category.  You either have the “up and down” chaos of a “natural” or “untouched” ((meaning NO people) ecosystem or you have the managed ecosystem of a settled and human-inhabited landscape wherein the interface between humans and “the ecosystem” is managed to be beneficial to humans and wildlife or not beneficial to either.  In our Constitutional Republic, the people should have the final say about the ecosystem THEY live in.
  • II.  As to contributing to the thinning of elk and deer herds. (Thinning herds makes for healthier woodlands)”.  If all these “Johnny Come Lately” claims of wolf benefits (willows along the stream, native plants, etc.) were legitimate, why didn’t federal Yellowstone Rangers, for instance, “thin the herds of elk and buffalo” for decades and decades?  Why were hunter’s bag limits not increased by state agencies?  Where were all these “(willows along the stream, native plants, etc.)” advocates for years? Ask yourself, where are they now?

10). “But Phillips and his colleagues counter that wolves, over time, can restore balance to an ecosystem if they exist in large enough numbers. In the Yellowstone example, multiple pack reintroduction thinned deer and elk herds and increased herd movement. That movement not only aerates the soil and creates healthier woodlands, but also increases competition between coyotes and wolves, and decreases predation on smaller mammals. This is all in line with the idea of Trophic Cascade, and the trickle-down affects everything down to waterways and aquatic life.”

  • Comment:  What is “balance”?  There are times and places where plant thinning or reductions are desired for renewal or fire fuel reduction.  What in the Good Lord’s name is the “decreases predation on smaller mammals” all about?  Should we consider reducing fox populations or hawks and owls?  My silliness here pales in comparison to the absurdity of such claims.  Ditto for ”aerates the soil and creates healthier woodlands”.

11) “Western Colorado represents a true mother-load of ecological habitat for the gray wolf,” he says. “All we have to do is put them back.”

  • Comment:  A cute closing quip for a flawed proposal and philosophy.

Jim Beers

24 June 2018

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC.  He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands.  He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC.  He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority.  He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

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