ACTION ALERT: SPEAK UP FOR THE GRAY WOLF!!
The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for wildlife, plants and fish that are on the brink of extinction. A hole is about to be ripped in the net for the gray wolf in the eastern half of the United States.
While few would dispute that the gray wolf has made an unprecedented recovery in certain parts of the country such as the Great Lakes, the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to cross the wolf off of the federal Endangered Species List in more than 20 states would end wolf recovery efforts prematurely in some of these areas. The proposal threatens potential wolf populations by removing protections for wolves in states that have suitable habitat and where wolves are likely to return naturally and thrive with federal protections.
In a way, delisting the wolf in this eastern region might seem odd since the wolf population in most of these states hovers right around zero. Even the term "eastern region" is strange; the area is much larger than you might imagine, stretching from as far west as the Dakotas to Maine and other northeastern states. For example, in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, which have yet to establish wolf populations but still contain sound habitat, wolves would no longer be subject to endangered species protection. This action may preclude future wolf reintroduction efforts in these areas.
1. Submit written comments on the proposed rule. The USFWS is accepting written public comments on the gray wolf delisting proposal until November 18, 2004. Even if you attend a public meeting, it's still important to send written comments as well. A sample letter and talking points are pasted below. Send written comments on the rule to:
Gray Wolf Delist–EDPS
c/o Content Analysis Team
P.O. Box 221150
Salt Lake City, UT 84122-1150
firstname.lastname@example.org (Please put "Attn: Gray Wolf Delisting" in the subject line of the message.)
Be sure that your letter or fax includes the agency name (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the Regulatory Information Number of the proposal: RIN 1018-AJ03.
2. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be having public hearings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Please consider attending one of these hearings and speaking on behalf of the wolf. You can use the sample letter and talking points as your guide. The hearings dates, times, and locations are pasted below.
Thanks for speaking up on behalf of the gray wolf! We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home.
The staff of the Endangered Species Coalition
Each hearing will include an informational open house from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., a presentation on the delisting proposal and a question-and-answer session from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., and an official public hearing from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. It is during this last segment that the public has the opportunity to express their concerns about the delisting proposal. The USFWS wants to know what the public thinks of their proposal; you do not need to be a biologist or a wolf expert to share your views at a public hearing.
August 31 - Bemidji, Bemidji State University, Beaux Arts Ballroom - Hobson Memorial Union, 1500 Birchmont Drive NE, Bemidji, MN Campus Map at: http://www.bemidjistate.edu/cmap.html
September 1 - Virginia, Mesabi Range Community College, F100 - Fine Arts Theater, 1001 Chestnut Street West, Virginia, MN (Use West entrance to campus)
October 6 - Bloomington, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center , 3815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN 55425 Directions at: http://midwest.fws.gov/MinnesotaValley/visitor_center.html Parking available onsite
September 13 - Marquette, Northern Michigan University, Explorer Room, Don Bottum Conference Center, 540 West Kaye Ave., Marquette, MI (Parking will be in Lot #8) Campus Map at: http://www.nmu.edu/campusmap
September 14 - Sault Ste. Marie, Lake Superior State University, Cisler Center, Ontario Room, 650 West Easterday Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie, MI(Parking will be in Lots A, B, E, J, and X after 5:00pm, A, B, and E are closest to Cisler Center) Campus Map at: http://www.lssu.edu/parking/pdf/parkingmap.pdf (Cisler Center is #36 on the map)
September 15 - East Lansing, Michigan State University, BioMedical and Physical Science Building - Auditorium, Corner of Wilson and Farm Lane, East Lansing, MI (Parking is allowed in any "Staff or Faculty" Parking spaces near the building after 6:00) Campus Map at: http://www.msu.edu/dig/msumap
September 27 - Madison, University of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Union South, 227 North Randall Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin Directions and Parking information at: http://www.union.wisc.edu/parking/index.html
September 28, - Wausau, Westwood Conference Room, Westwood Conference Center, 1800 West Bridge Street, Wausau, Wisconsin
September 29, - Ashland, WI, Northern Great Lakes Center, 29270 County Highway G, Ashland, Wisconsin Location information at: http://www.northerngreatlakescenter.org/sitefiles/overviewfr.htm
Gray Wolf Delist–EDPS
c/o Content Analysis Team
P.O. Box 221150
Salt Lake City, UT 84122-1150
RE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIN 1018-AJ03
Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for wildlife, plants and fish that are on the brink of extinction. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home.
As a person who cares about protecting the gray wolf both now and into the future, I'm writing to ask that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revisit its original proposal and distinguish between the recovered wolf population in the three Great Lakes states and the potential wolf population in the Northeast and the Dakotas. This could allow wolves to be de-listed in the Great Lakes where they have recovered and for federal wolf recovery efforts to continue in the Northeast where significant habitat exists and to other areas where wolves may return naturally.
While the wolf has made an unprecedented recovery in certain parts of the country such as the Great Lakes, to cross the wolf off of the federal Endangered Species List in more than 20 states would end wolf recovery efforts prematurely in many of these states. The proposal will remove protection for wolves far beyond the states where wolf recovery is actually taking place. At a time when the wolf has been restored to less than 5 percent of its historic range, and only one population of wolves has been restored east of the northern Rocky Mountains, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's job of wolf recovery is simply incomplete.
Rather than walk away from pursuing wolf restoration in places like the Northeast where sound habitat exists but viable populations have yet to be established, your agency should be working to establish wolf conservation agreements with Canada and the states where habitat exists. By delisting the gray wolf in states with suitable habitat, your agency is threatening the future of this important species of wildlife.
Thank you for your consideration.
TALKING POINTS YOU MAY WANT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTER:
· The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for wildlife, plants and fish that are on the brink of extinction. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home.
· The "eastern region" in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to delist the gray wolf stretches from as far west as the Dakotas to Maine and other northeastern states, even though most of those states in the northeast currently have either no wolves, or no officially recognized wolf populations. There are recognized wolf populations only in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Delisting wolves in states where there are no wolves simply doesn't make sense. Further, it will virtually eliminate any possibility of wolf recovery in the northeastern United States and in other regions with suitable habitat.
· Although there is documentation of wolves dispersing into the Dakotas and the northeastern United States, the USFWS isn't requiring states other than Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin to develop regulations or laws to ensure wolf conservation. Therefore, wolves attempting to disperse into other eastern or mid-western states will be entirely unprotected.
· State wolf management plans, which will guide wolf management in the Great Lakes States after wolves are delisted, would allow for liberal lethal wolf control. Minnesota's wolf management plan will allow people in some parts of the state to kill wolves without cause at any time. The state may even hire trappers to kill wolves for $150 each; this will provide considerable incentive for liberal lethal wolf control. Wisconsin's plan would allow for wolves to be killed "proactively" (i.e., before any livestock losses have occurred). None of the three plans requires livestock owners to implement sound livestock husbandry practices to help prevent livestock losses caused by wolves.
· Wolf management plans for Minnesota and Wisconsin would allow for consideration of trophy hunting and recreational trapping of wolves either immediately after federal delisting or five years after delisting. Michigan's plan is less specific but does not rule out public sport hunting and trapping in the future.
· Some segments of the hunting community in all three states are already pushing for hunting and trapping seasons, in part because they claim that, if unchecked, wolves will cause declines in populations of deer and other favored "game" species, restricting hunters' deer hunting opportunities. However, these claims are based on a simplistic portrayal of predator-prey dynamics; scientific data simply do not support these claims. In fact, Minnesota, with the largest wolf population of any state in the lower 48, consistently boasts of a large and healthy white-tailed deer population. In fact in 2002, Minnesota's deer population was estimated to be the largest population in at least 50 years; subsequent years have yielded record deer "harvests" by hunters in that state.
· Others have suggested that wolf populations must be "controlled" via hunting and trapping to keep wolves at or below carrying capacity. Hunting and trapping are not necessary to control the wolf population. Wolf populations are regulated by natural factors such as prey availability (which is itself affected by wolf population size and weather) and naturally occurring and exotic diseases. For example, in the winter of 2002–3 in Wisconsin, mange was responsible for the death of approximately 36% of all radio-collared wolves.
· Because suitable habitat for wolves is highly fragmented, with few protected corridors, dispersal of wolves—and therefore gene flow among populations—is limited. In particular, heavy exploitation of wolves in Minnesota after delisting may restrict dispersal of wolves to Wisconsin and Michigan.
· Most of the wolf populations in the lower 48 states, including those in the eastern delisting region, are small and partially isolated, and those factors could jeopardize the long-term viability of the gray wolf in the United States. Population sizes in the Great Lakes states may sound large with an estimated 360 wolves in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, 373 in Wisconsin, and 2,450 at last count in Minnesota. But simply counting individual animals doesn't account for the fact that only a small proportion of adults (usually only the alpha pair in a pack) reproduce successfully. The number of reproductive adults is what counts when considering a population's long-term viability.
The state wolf management plans in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin are not set in stone. They may be modified over the years; the limited protection the plans would provide wolves would be subject to modification or even simple a lack of funding.
Charles Phillips, Central States Organizer
Endangered Species Coalition
1407 Santa Fe Trail
Boonville, MO 65233
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