Volume 6, Number 19 - August 3, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
People in Alaska have been having harrowing encounters with wolves in the last few weeks. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, a wolf chased a bicyclist last week, gaining on the man as they traveled down the Dalton Highway until a trucker going by swerved and ran over the wolf, not stopping to receive his thank-you from the cyclist.
A week earlier and 35 miles to the north, a wolf chased down and bit a woman who finally escaped, with several bites to her legs, by seeking refuge in a porta-potty. This wolf was killed by wildlife officials and tested negative for rabies. The wolf was believed to have been involved in two other human conflicts, including harassing about 10 tourists at a bus stop, and a second incident of chasing a motorcycle.
Last Thursday, Wildlife Services confirmed that five 100-pound lambs were killed by a wolf in the same area of the Bighorn Mountains, east of Ten Sleep, where a wolf had killed sheep in July. Wildlife Services was authorized to remove the wolf.
Defenders of Wildlife issued a press release applauding the Fish and Wildlife Services rejecting Wyoming’s request to remove wolves in the state from the endangered species list.
“Defenders of Wildlife supports enlisting the help of the states with wolf management where appropriate,” said Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen. “But Wyoming’s wolf-management plan to nearly eliminate restrictions on killing wolves in the state could jeopardize the future of the wolf in the region.
“Many states such as Montana manage their wolf populations well with a conservation-oriented state plan. Idaho and Wyoming can easily join these states if they focus more on wolf conservation than on appeasing anti-wolf extremists,” said Schlickeisen. “A balanced plan that protects ranchers and livestock, while ensuring the continued recovery of the gray wolf is easily achievable.”
The Defenders press release stated “Defenders pointed out that while claims are made that wolves take a heavy toll on livestock producers, federal statistics show that more livestock are lost to domestic dogs than to wolves.” That’s not the case locally, but nationally that claim is correct.
Defenders also pointed out that it “operates a compensation program that pays ranchers for verified losses to wolves, as long as non-lethal alternatives are utilized to avoid conflicts.”
The release also said, “The fact is that, as large carnivores, wolves play an enormously important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem that benefits us all. Suggestions that they take a huge toll on human activities like ranching and hunting are simply not true,” quoting Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies Representative for Defenders.
The Defenders press release failed to acknowledge the substantial economic harm that occurs to individual livestock producers due to wolf predation and also failed to acknowledge that Defenders does not pay forall costs associated with those depredations.
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