In Court Today: Environmentalists Sue Obama Administration by Gregory Hilton —
The major environmental groups howled when George W. Bush removed more than 1,650 gray wolves in Montana and Idaho from the endangered species list in May 2008. They said Bush wanted to eradicate all wolves, was cruel to animals and “the decision demonstrates why he is the worst environmental president in history.”
The Bush action was prominently featured in literature last year advocating the election of Barack Obama. It was not surprising when Bush’s decision was suspended during Obama’s first week in office under a broad directive by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The radical environmentalists cheered their victory, but what they did not realize was that Obama would appoint former Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) as Secretary of the Interior. He is a rancher and a lifetime member of the Cattlemen’s Association who is familiar with the damage caused by wolves.
On March 6th of this year Secretary Salazar supported the Bush Administration’s edict regarding wolves. Salazar supported the unanimous recommendation of Fish and Wildlife Service scientists in backing the Bush policy, and said “This was a decision based on science.” Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) preferred a decision based on politics. He organized a Congressional letter of protest that was sent to the White House. Dicks said “I just don’t see what this does for us. Here we are alienating people who did the most — who did a lot to help us in the last election.”
Management of the animals now lies with the states, and for the first time in three decades both Montana and Idaho have planned wolf hunts this fall. The Fish and Games Departments in both states had previous written to the other 48 states asking if they would be able to manage wolves. Idaho and Montana offered to capture and transport the wolves free of charge, but no one has expressed an interest.
A coalition of 13 environmental groups has asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to stop the hunts and put wolves back on the endangered species list. The groups include the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, PETA and the Natural Resources Defense Council. A hearing is scheduled today – the same day wolf hunting permits go on sale in Montana.
Montana’s wolf season calls for a harvest of 75 animals, while Idaho is allowing 220. Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park some 15 years ago, and their numbers grow by about 20 percent a year. Several years ago wolves reached the population threshold and other milestones federal officials set as requirements to remove them from the federal endangered species list.
For the past 14 years the residents of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have stood by as deer, elk and moose populations have been decimated. Ranchers could not do anything when their lively hood was eaten before their eyes. As usual, the environmental lobby is completely distorting the situation. The Defenders of Wildlife have established a http://www.savewolves.org website with a video narrated by Ashley Judd. Wolves are portrayed a cute and cuddly creatures similar to dogs. Of course they do not mention the reasons for the Bush/Obama policy and they offer no management program of their own. They want you to believe that the only reason for the policy is to allow innocent wolves to be used as target practice by aggressive hunters.
No one is trying to eradicate wolves. These states have monitored hunting seasons, and they do not allow wolves to be killed out of season. For some reason the environmentalists have made a poster child out of the wolf, but once again, they are completely ignoring other species such as elk, moose, deer, sheep and cows.
The environmental groups claim wolves are beneficial to the elk population but the statistics do not support that claim. A 2008 study conducted by Montana State University of Yellowstone’s Northern Range demonstrates wolves are responsible for a 67% decline in the elk population. The highlights are as follows:
The Elk population in 1993 –1995 averaged between 17,000 and 19,000
•Wolves were re-introduced in 1995
•Elk numbers 2005 –2007 Averaged between 6,300 and 6,700
Ed Bangs, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator for the northwestern United States, told the Associated Press last week that gray wolves will be able to withstand regulated hunting in Idaho and Montana because the states have pledged to maintain a strong wolf population, and the animals will be able to migrate and interbreed with thousands of gray wolves in Canada. “Right now the wolf population is highly diverse. We’ve done as much as we can,” Bangs said. “The science is absolutely rock-solid.”
The voice of many frustrated ranchers was expressed in this letter to the Department of the Interior.
“Dear Secretary Salazar:
Thank you for making the right decision on wolves, and I am so pleased a western rancher such as your self is now in office. As you well know, wolves kill cows, sheep, coyotes, elk, deer, moose and other animals that are otherwise healthy, without need. They will kill whatever they can, and then move on, making a new kill every chance they get.
These environmental groups would have a different attitude if they spent time working, eating, sleeping and breathing with a herd of cattle or a band of sheep.
“I wish they would spend a year feeding the mothers, and bringing the babies into this world during the cold days and dark nights. We then spend our days keeping them fed and healthy. It is very frustrating to see them not killed for food, but torn to bits and left to slowly die just so a pack of wolf pups can play and learn to hunt. If one of these environmentalists was a western rancher they would have a different attitude. I don’t hunt much anymore, but I do help put food on the tables of the world.”