Collaboration in Washington State leads to dead wolves/ need to stop Rolling Over!! 

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Collaboration in Washington State leads to dead wolves/ need to stop Rolling Over!! 

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Thank you George for the EXCELLENT ARTICLE!! No Worries here…. We not only stand our Ground, we are acquiring new ground daily!!


I am reminded of David Brower’s admonishment “Polite conservationists leave no mark save the scars upon the Earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground.”


by  on JULY 31, 2017

The shooting of the Profanity Pack last year and now a kill order for the Smackout Pack in Northeast Washington clearly demonstrated the failure of the current strategy of many conservation groups who are involved in wolf recovery efforts.

In this case, a number of organizations, including Wolf Haven International, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society had joined the Wolf Advisory Group or WAG, a collaborative group that worked with the state of Washington as well as other “stake holders” (read ranchers) to produce a wolf recovery strategy.

The plan, among other components, calls for the lethal removal of depredating wolves. This applies to both public and private lands. Therein lies the rub. Who should have priority on public lands? Public wildlife or private livestock?

I am sure that these organizations have the best intentions—they want to see wolves thrive—however, they need to take a step back and consider whether their current strategy ultimately gains acceptance for wolves and other wildlife or merely becomes a “green washing” of actions that maintain the status quo and ultimately never really improves conditions for wolves and other wildlife.

When the Profanity Pack killed some cattle on a public lands grazing allotment, these organizations supported the killing of the pack, despite the fact that the rancher involved had placed his cattle on an allotment with a known wolf pack. He even placed salt blocks within a few hundred yards of a wolf den and rendezvous site. In essence, the Profanity Pack was set up to be killed by the agencies managing the land and wolves. But as members of the WAG, these organizations did not object to the killing which they called termed “regrettable” and other adjectives, but which they ultimately supported.

As members of the WAG they were silenced from voicing outrage, and even more importantly, condemning the entire situation where private livestock are given priority on public lands. And in this case, where the rancher and public agencies like the Forest Service did not take actions to avoid the conflict.

What could have been done differently? Well for one, the Forest Service, the agency managing these lands could have closed the allotment temporarily to grazing to preclude interactions between wolves and livestock. Better yet it could have removed the cattle entirely. But without a united voice from wolf advocates, the agency allowed this tragic and almost inevitable conflict to occur.

This gets to the heart of the issue. Which animals should have priority on public lands? The public’s wildlife or domestic livestock being grazed as a private use of public resources for private profit?

The conservation groups that are part of the WAG cannot change the paradigm. The reason is simple. Collaborations like the WAG start with certain assumptions—that domestic livestock has a priority on public lands—and if you don’t agree with that starting premise, you are not welcome on the collaboration.

It is no different than timber collaborations where the starting assumption is that our forests are “unhealthy” and “need” to be “managed” (read logged) to be “fixed”. If you disagree with that starting assumption, there is no welcome for you in forest collaborations.

This gets to the issue of strategy. As long as the assumption is that private livestock has priority on public lands, nothing will change. Wolves will continue to be shot unnecessarily.

But it goes further than whether wolves are shot. Domestic livestock are consuming the same forage as native wildlife like elk. On many grazing allotments, the bulk of all available forage is allotted to domestic livestock, thereby reducing the carrying capacity for wild ungulates (like elk) which are prey for predators like wolves.

In addition, there are a number of studies that demonstrate that once you move domestic cattle on to an allotment, the native wildlife like elk abandons the area. This means wolves must travel farther to find food, exposing them to more potentially greater mortality from hunters, car accidents, and so on.

You won’t hear any of these conservation groups articulating these “costs” to native wildlife because one of the consequences of joining collaboration is that your voice is muted. You remain silent to “get along.”

The groups joining the Washington WAG defend their participation by saying ranching on public lands is not going away, so the best way to influence wolf policy is to participate in these collaborative efforts.

The problem is that this legitimizes the idea that ranching and livestock have a priority on public lands. Keep in mind that grazing on public lands is a privilege. It is not a “right” despite the fact that the livestock industry tries to obscure the truth by referring to “grazing rights”.

If we are ever going to change the situation for wolves and other predators, not to mention other wildlife from elk to bison, we need to challenge the starting assumptions that livestock have a “right” to graze on our public lands.

Imagine for a minute what the Civil Rights movement would have accomplished if its leaders had joined a collaborative with the KKK and folks who were intent on maintaining the status quo in the South. Under such a paradigm nothing much would change. Sure they could have made the same rationale that today’s conservation groups make when they argue that public lands livestock grazing is not going away—and I’m sure many people involved in the Civil Rights movement assumed that segregation would never end either.

But some brave souls did not accept the starting assumptions. They refused to give up their seats at the front of the bus or at lunch counters. They demanded that all citizens had a right to vote without polling taxes and other measures designed to disenfranchise black voters.

The failure of conservation organizations to avoid questioning the presumed “right” of livestock operations to exploit the public’s land means we will never really change the circumstances under which predators live.

While any organizations that continue to support public lands grazing might defend their decision by suggesting that changing the paradigm is too difficult, I respond by saying as long as they never challenge anything, nothing will change.

I am reminded of David Brower’s admonishment “Polite conservationists leave no mark save the scars upon the Earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground.”

Source: Collaboration leads to dead wolves | The Wildlife News


  1. Mak July 31, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    A process needs to be developed.

    Many western politicians are ranchers.Some are “hobby” ranchers (owning vast acreage, acting knee-jerk against public land grazing retirement for some reason. Each has articulated differently), while others have corporate-type structures wherein they can delegate authority.
    Ranchers also have massive lobbying organizations, that collect membership monies, much of which is used to influence policy and elections. For some reason, perhaps because many graze on both their own acreage AND public lands (this is the case in the mountain west).
    Others graze entirely on public lands, moving cattle from summer pasturage on higher-elevation USDA Forest Service lands, then trucking them down to BLM land.
    There is also the loyalty generated by co-memberships, neighboring , and regard for those like them.

    States promote ranching, subsidizing it (Do remember that ranching also protects from inane urban sprawl, and some conservation orgs, knowing this, support the practice. Real estate agents are one of the banes of wildlife in the USA, and these, too, although sometimes at odds with ranchers, are NEVER the friend of wildlife.

    I’ve mentioned that USDA has a mandate and programs promoting ranching, including seeking international trade.
    A few wealthy ranchers do welcome wildlife. From Ted Turner to some individuals who promote “predator-friendly” beef or sheep products, there is a spectrum of opinions about wildlife. Several ranchers have voiced support for wolves so long as they are not identified, as most would ostracize them.

    The Wilderness Act was written to maintain grazing allotments within, to allow passage – it would not have been passed in the US legislature without keeping this exception.
    Utah (the mormons are anti-USA from their initial immigration west, and have never relented this opposition) legislators have consistently attempted to block retirement of grazing leases on public lands. Of course all know that they also attempt to privatize public lnads – they neither have nor will cease, and are among the worst in US Congress. They retain an alliance with Trump on tjhis issue.
    I may have mentioned the roots of antifederal fervor of the west. After the killing of the bison, wealthy English (and I believe, at least one German) nobles saw the free range grazing and built land empires railroaded to stockyards, refrigerated/frozen for export to England. In Nuevo Mexico – TX, NM, AZ, the historical Spanish and US expats wanted “grandeeship” – lordship and a separate nation. Texas has some unique treaty for its inclusion as a US state – that’s why its inordinate size and tiny proportion of federal public land.

    So, to remove public lands grazing will be difficult. It has to start right in the White House changing National Forests from USDA, and changing the worded mandates of BLM and FS to reflect preservation rather than extractive or economic use.
    There also exists a severe problem of the various state interpretation of “water rights.” while some of these have been reinterpreted to recognize native tribal water rights, most has perpetuated water as belonging to someone, often the oldest ranching interests. Ranchers have then, some financial interests in mineral rights and water – both lucrative, which makes them harder to dislodge as powerful political movers.

    A candidate for extremely high public office once, before giving up to become a campaign strategist, angrily intimated to me that it would take a revolution to make these necessary changes to protect native species and unexploited natural land and water. The thrust of US politics is development – either extraction or promoting immigration, both of which are involved in creeping death to the natural communities of the continent.
    Since only 11% of voters say they base their votes on environment, and most of those mean only that they engineer ways to increase population and “jobs” while not poisoning the water and air. Preservationists tend only to be a microcosm – a small percentage of land management agencies, some native tribal factions, and a few others.

    Wolves, more than any other species, are discounted, even though a large proportion of the public favors their “existence” and return. Up to a surprising 80% or so in NM, even though they consistently elect antiearth republicans, and countenance sss-u poaching by ranchers and disaffected gun/speed -freaks.
    Maybe 3% woud favor wolves over ranching. Some of the big compromising orgs DO favor lease buyouts.
    I’ve mentioned the possibility of federal buyback of land to protect it. A few decades ago, the nature Conservancy used to ask for donations to do this, but focused on exurban and small lands, often to save some endemic organisms without other hope. That org has since internationalized, almost abandoning its US buy-and-preserve agenda.

    I have always voiced my more radical opinion of complete preservation and natural self-modulating wild populations. I can only say that all who feel this way, should continue to communicate their wild and no other opinion TO the sbig orgs.
    Although I would never join Sierra Club, for instance – they build things, compromise in DC, etc. BUT, local chapters often keep good agendas, like NO MORE logging of public lands. A few are pro-wolf/predator, and fewer retain the original recognition that human population growth must stop , here and now.

    This may be the #1 method of long-term survival of the wolf.
    Europe and the developing parts of Asia, show us that humans in quantity will ALWAYS kill wolves. In France and Spain and Italy, sheepers and farmers lobby threateningly to kill the slightly recovering wolves. In huge Kazakhstan, the new cash from fossil fuels, causes gun-toters to snomo out just to kill wolves (but that nation is an ancient herding area, and the original “falconry” was eagle training , wherein female Goldens were trained to kill wolves for well beyond a thousand years.).
    Even Mongolia has been more inimical to the wolf, and of course, Russia now markets wolves as trophies to rich Trump-baby types (the famous NAMWM types I thought you were promoting last week in an article by an ignorant supposed”biologist.”)

  2. Ed DAVIS July 31, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I am reminded of David Brower’s admonishment “Polite conservationists leave no mark save the scars upon the Earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground.”

    That about sums up the present conservationist and why cattle still graze on public land which gets wolves killed. If the public wants the killing of wolves to end take a good hard look at They are accomplishing things the so called conservationist would not bother with because they feel Ranchers have right to use public land. If that is not changed wolves will lose out to ranchers.

  3. mm August 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Here’s a new comprehensive article by cognitive ethologist on the issue of wolf-killing in Washington state, just published yesterday in mainstream press – The Huffington Post:

    In the article he interviews Brooks Fahey on his new film about killing the Profanity Pack, The Profanity Pack: Set Up and Sold Out”
    which can be found here:
    Washington’ Dept of Fish & Wildlife’s secrecy in their lethal response,
    The supposed conflict-mitigation Wolf Action Group, composed of
    several large nonprofit organizations, and other interests.
    Bekoff names the big national orgs that have collected cash from those who wish to preserve wolves and wildlife, and within the WAG, have utterly betrayed their massive constituencies along with the wolf and the public trust. Please read, if for this purpose only, and make the effort to contact those orgs about their claiming they protect wolves and then their utter failure to protect

    Dr. Bekoff is a famous animal animal ethicist as well, and his article here is filled with important references.

    Although the Huffington Post is often attacked as “liberal”, their content has almost never reported on environmental and wildlife issues. This common failure illustrates that political constituencies largely ignore the real world, focusing only upon their own human agendas.
    Right now, we have seen the massive attack on wolves (going on in the US legislature right now), and the outrageously destructive policies of the Trump Administration toward air, water, land, and wildlife ignored without major mainstream media comment. Huge ruckus is made by urban self- and special-interest groups about their getting money and respect. The only real destruction this administration has been able to get away with without general resistance, is of native wildlife, NEPA, ESA, the Wilderness Act, especially focusing on North American key predator species, almost everywhere severely threatened by the solipsism of humans and their governing agencies.

    However, the DC District Court of Appeal just today 8/1, ruled that Great Lakes DPS Wolves must remain under federal jurisdiction. This ruling affects out into the Dakotas and down into Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana (wolves have dispersed from MN/WI as far as Missouri, which does have some suitable habitat, although all the latter states have been the sites of pleasure-killers shooting those dispersing wolves).
    That ruling did NOT protect Wyoming wolves.

    Wolves remain under planned republican attack with the anti-wildlife and misnamed HELP for Wildlife Act, to be found here:
    I have repeatedly spent hours contacting Senators and Representative on this bill, urging them to deny action and passage. I hope you will as well. It’s a resurrection of one in the previous Congress.

    There are riders attempting to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act, and to defund US Fish and Wildlife Service going on right now, and having demanded Senators and Rep to strip these or deny passage to the “must-pass” appropriations bills to which they are corruptly attached.
    Please do this yourself. Even republicans listen if they believe they could lose significant votes. They remain out of touch because too few voters in their districts speak up about this. While a few will never listen, make your voice heard; many will be facing re-election next year.
    The Riders’ wordings attempt to deny judicial oversight on this proposed wolf delisting. So, please attack the attempt to override the Constitution, by such legislative power-grab, as well as the unethical method of using Riders to pass anti-wolf legislation.

    They are doing this because even in New Mexico 4 out of 5 voters want wolves saved. In every state the proportion of people polled shows that at least 2/3 to 4/5 of Americans want wolves to survive and return, even though only about 10% of original wolf habitat is occupied as yet.

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