A pack of problems for wolves

 

This past year, the West’s wolves have had an even rougher time of it than usual. In the Northern Rockies, they’ve been bounced on and off the endangered species list, and in Yellowstone, more than usual have died. In the Southwest, it’s back to the drawing board after reintroduction plans failed miserably.

After the Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming last February, hunters immediately shot more than a dozen. Enviros sued, and last September the agency agreed to keep the predators listed until it could determine whether wolves would survive long-term without Endangered Species Act protections. That decision apparently didn’t require much extra thought – the agency just announced that it will again take wolves off the list (except in Wyoming, where the state has yet to come up with a reasonable management plan). Expect another lawsuit.

Meanwhile, for the first time in three years, the wolf population of Yellowstone has dropped. The northern range lost 40 percent of its wolves in 2008, while packs in the interior part of the park were down by 11 percent, due to distemper, mange, and fatal fights between rivals. The park now has 124 individuals and just 6 breeding pairs, the fewest since 2000. Wildlife populations fluctuate naturally from year to year, though, so it’s hard to say whether this represents a trend.

Speaking of population declines, the feds recently admitted that their 1982 plan for recovering the Mexican wolf has not worked and needs a major overhaul. Only about 50 Mexican wolves now roam free in Arizona and New Mexico, while federal officials have killed or removed more than 50 over the past decade for preying on livestock. Fish and Wildlife blames its failure to develop a new plan for the Mexican wolf on all the litigation over the gray wolf.

Wolves have shown us over and over that all they really need is for humans to leave them alone and give them some space. At this point, it's not wolves who need managing -- it's people.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!