Don't blame Audubon for a judge's bad decision

  Dear HCN,


Letter writer Laurence Jewett of Massachusetts generally took National Audubon Society to the woodshed as the cause of the recent court ruling mandating wolf removal from Yellowstone and central Idaho (HCN, 1/19/98). Only one problem: Audubon didn't cause the order, the Farm Bureau Federation did. It appears that Mr. Jewett, and a number of other people, have been hearing and believing some faulty information.


Mr. Jewett implies that Audubon (a) was attempting to address some minute and unimportant "letter of the Endangered Species Act' - not true; (b) "Their intention was to extend coverage of the act to all wolves, including the ones that had been re-introduced' - completely incorrect, and (c) Audubon acted "thoughtlessly and stubbornly leading us down the dead end that we currently find ourselves on' - wrong from word one.


Audubon addressed a fundamental Endangered Species Act principle - the right of a listed "endangered" species to be protected as such. Audubon simply said that Idaho's naturally occurring wolves (documented by federal biologists) should retain their full ESA protection when the government reintroduced animals; nor did we oppose bringing them in. I'll let HCN readers decide if it's "thoughtless and stubborn" to demand full ESA protection for existing, endangered wolves. I happen to think the terms better describe those in government, and a few conservationist supporters, who said "yes' to stripping this protection.


Let's be absolutely clear about one thing: the "smoking gun" in this case is firmly clenched in a Farm Bureau hand. They argued that there were already natural wolves in both Yellowstone and central Idaho, making the reintroduction of experimental, nonessential animals illegal - not an Audubon argument. They claimed that the only appropriate remedy was to remove all reintroduced wolves - strenuously opposed by Audubon. In both his "ruling" (experimental nonessential is illegal) and his "remedy" (remove the wolves), the judge agreed with the Farm Bureau.


A number of conservation groups, including Audubon, have said they intend to appeal this removal order and do everything possible to keep the wolves in Yellowstone and Idaho, where they belong. We cannot afford to await the appeal outcome. Every environmentalist who owns a pen, postcard and stamp should be writing Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Congress right now, demanding that they stand up for these wolves and the ecological integrity of Yellowstone and central Idaho. Tell them you want these animals kept on the ground by uplisting them to "endangered" status. Tell them you will not let the livestock industry take away our wolves for a second time! That, and not unwarranted potshots at Audubon, will keep wolves in their new homes.





Brian Peck


Columbia Falls, Montana





The writer is former wolf/grizzly coordinator for the National Audubon Society.


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