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1/04/2005 1:51pm,
Thought you'd be interested in this:


DENVER, Jan. 3 - Killing a gray wolf in Idaho or Montana will soon get easier under new rules issued Monday by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The animals are still formally protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, but starting in 30 days, they can be killed if a landowner believes a wolf is in the process of attacking livestock or other animals. The old rules required physical evidence of an actual attack - bite marks or a carcass.

"Under the old rule, he had to have its teeth in; under the new rule he can be a foot away chasing them," said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the Wildlife Service.

State wildlife management officials were also given greater flexibility in controlling wolf populations to maintain the deer and elk herds upon which wolves often feed.

State and federal officials said that the looser standards, part of the process of removing wolves from federal protections, reflected a robust recovery by wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain region. The recovery has surpassed all expectations since the first experimental populations were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996, the officials said.

"The old rule was written to protect 25 to 50 wolves, and we now have over 500," said Idaho's governor, Dirk Kempthorne, in a conference call with reporters. "The dynamics have changed."

Environmentalists said that the federal estimate of wolf mortality - about 10 percent a year under the more flexible guidelines - is deeply uncertain and could end up being much greater.

"Ten percent in a large, healthy population might not have much impact, but we still have wolves struggling with recovery in some areas," said Nina Fascione, a vice president for field conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group based in Washington. "With all the increased flexibility, I would be surprised if the impact is just 10 percent," Ms. Fascione said.

Wyoming, which also has a substantial wolf population, was not included in the new rules because the Fish and Wildlife Service has not approved the state's proposed wolf management plan.

Gale A. Norton, who as secretary of the interior oversees the wildlife service, said that the full removal of gray wolves from federal protections would proceed only when all three states in the recovery area had plans in place.

Ms. Norton said the old, stricter rules about wolf killing would still apply in Wyoming for now.

I don't follow the wildlife management literature so I can't say one way or the other how this will effect the populations. Given the few years most of the populations have been established, protected and growing; I can't imagine the population models are too robust though.

One of the proponents of this I heard talking on NPR today commented upon how woves have cut into his income as a hunting guide. That gets a big boohoo from me.

1/04/2005 1:52pm,
By the way many of the losses attributed to wildlife like wolves and mountain lions are actually the work of wild dog packs.

Peter H.
1/04/2005 1:55pm,
Reminds me of the South Park episode where Ned and Jimbo had to shout, "It's headed right for us" before they shot something.

Some people will us this rule responsibly, other people, like my uncle, will just use it as a way to get a new trophy on the wall.

1/04/2005 4:27pm,
:angry4: This is the worst news ever. I love wolves and although I don't have expertise in population biology, I would say that lifting the strict rules just because they now have 500 wolves instead of 25 is not a good idea. People are going to take it as more of an excuse to like Peter H. said,

"like my uncle, will just use it as a way to get a new trophy on the wall."

This is awful, the wolves cannot be blamed for everything. :icon_redf

1/04/2005 4:30pm,
Is it true the cougars/mountain lions don't roar ?
I think I read that somewhere...

1/04/2005 4:41pm,
I wish that there was consistent legislation between population controls for animals and for human beings.

Can Chaser
1/04/2005 10:32pm,
Is it true the cougars/mountain lions don't roar ?
I think I read that somewhere...

I'm not sure if they also roar, but they do make a screech/scream sound, as well as an uber-ominous-sounding growl. I'm not easily scared, but it's damn creepy.

1/04/2005 10:55pm,

The issue is usually population studies and wolves don't usually stand still for the census takers. No one actually KNOWS how many there are out there. So they're not so much being culled as being slaughtered.

WOLVES ARE NOT A THREAT TO HUMANS. This makes me very fucking angry.

Roidie McDouchebag
1/04/2005 11:00pm,
What's the environmental impact of a lack of wolves?

1/04/2005 11:16pm,
500 still isn't a lot...

1/04/2005 11:51pm,
What's the environmental impact of a lack of wolves?

Apex predators are the most delicate part of the prey/predator balance. They keep populations healthy, clean-up refuse and provide nourishment (in the form of scraps and waste) for 100's of other species of plants and animals. They breed relatively slowly and are desperately suceptable to ALL environmental pressures.

And frankly, the world is a sadder, lonlier, uglier place without them. The value of any living thing isn't in its environmental impact but in its existence. Chief Seattle never said this, but it's still true: "Man did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. What ever we do to the web, we do to ourselves."

We need to protect wolves because we CAN.

1/05/2005 11:01am,
Once-Hated Gray Wolf Thrives in the U.S. Rockies

DENVER (Reuters) - As the gray wolf hovered on the brink of extinction a decade ago, U.S. officials embarked on a controversial plan to open the vast refuge of Yellowstone National Park to the pack-based predators in the hopes of rebuilding the species.

The whole article at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=570&ncid=753&e=1&u=/nm/20050105/sc_nm/environment_wolves_dc