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April 2009

April 30, 2009

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

I was reading an article today that basically reinforces what I was talking about yesterday.  This article goes a little further with additional data and uses the numbers to encompass more than just livestock kills. It attempts to debunk many of the knee jerk reactions that people may have if they haven't had a chance to learn more about wolves and their habits. My favorite part is when he talks about the documented human death toll in America that healthy wolves have caused (oh wait that number would be ZERO) compared to how many people have died from other causes such as drowning in a bathtub: 352. That's correct, you are 352 times more likely to drown in your bathtub than be killed by a wolf which I find incredibly reassuring.

           who do YOU trust    

April 29, 2009

The numbers don't lie.

Greetings all,

One of the toughest thing about being a wolf in the mid-west is all the bad press you get. The way the news articles are typically written make it seem as if blood thirsty wolves are constantly mauling and killing at a frenzied pace and if you don't stop them now in a matter of weeks they will start on your family after they have finished with all the available animals in the region.  Defenders and other pro-wolf advocates have worked hard to dispel this myth, since the wolves re-introduction, as the fear mongering it is with science and real data.  Below are two reports/news articles that use actual numbers and science to tell the real story of wolf/animal relationships in the mid-west.

1.  The first story talks about the numbers of sheep and cattle killed in one recent storm in Montana.  As you can see from the data below, this far exceeds the number of cattle and sheep killed by wolves in an an entire year.  This is interesting because the public hears so much about wolves killing livestock, when in reality wolf-livestock depredation pales in comparison to the number of livestock killed by weather.

This particular storm just killed 1,759 calves in Montana (compared with 77 confirmed wolf kills in the state for all of 2008) and 501 sheep (compared with 111 confirmed wolf kills in the state for all of 2008 in the state).  Please note that wolf depredation rates for the state of Montana can be found on the first two pages of this year's Montana Annual Wolf Report by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The story, by the Billings Gazette, is titled,"Ranchers count up losses to weather."

2.  The second story come from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary right now.  There's been a lot of chatter about wolf packs decimating elk herds in the region, yet RMEF's own data show that elk herds have, on average, increased 44% in the last 25 years.  In the Rocky Mountain region, for example:

Montana:  1984 - 90,595;      2009: 150,000.       25-year change: +66%
Idaho:       1984 - 110,000     2009: 115,000.       25-year change: +5%
Wyoming: 1984 - 70,352       2009:  95,000.       25-year change:  +35%

State-by-state breakdown of elk population numbers from 1984 to 2009

April 24, 2009

Grab some popcorn, it's movie time.....

Below is a link to the Mo Films wolf film, which they have made available to the public for FREE, as they would like as many people to see this film as possible.  The film is 26 minutes long and features commentary by wolf biologist Doug Smith, as well as Suzanne Stone (Defenders of Wildlife), Melanie Stein (Sierra Club), and Louisa Willcox (NRDC); several ranchers also talk about the return of wolves, what is has meant for their communities, and solutions for living with wolves in the future. 


The film has been downloaded by more than 10,000 people in the last week alone, and just received an award from the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana.  If you are interested in viewing this film or using it during outreach work, just go to the link below and then download the film from the "Download Film for Free" part of the menu bar at the top of the page.


April 23, 2009

Up close and personal...

About 100 University of Colorado students were treated to a rare encounter with the wild side Wednesday evening when they came face-to-face with Magpie, a full-grown wolf, and her wolf-dog sidekick, Abraham.

The article goes on to tell about the feelings and personal observations Kent Weber, the director and co-founder of Mission: Wolf, has on the importance and benefits that the reintroduction of wolves has had to Yellowstone...

"Before introducing Magpie and Abraham, Weber told the students about the important role wolves play in the natural habitat around them, noting that, in the years following their reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park, the creeks hold more water, the vegetation and forests are thriving and the grizzly bear population has started to grow."

Magpie the wolf introduces herself to Sandy Buckner during the presentation.

Kent Weber and Tracy Brooks of Mission; Wolf of Colorado, brought Magpie the wolf and Abraham the wolf-dog, to the University of Colorado Campus on Wednesday evening.  HOW COOL IS THIS!!!!!!!!

April 22, 2009

Bad press but good perspective...

Earlier this week there was the first documented loss of livestock since wolves returned to Oregon a decade ago.  This is an article that was posted in which Defenders of Wildlife's own Suzanne Stone was interviewed.  She makes very good points that as the wolf populations make a comeback in the area it was inevitable that eventually you would have some livestock/wolf interactions but there are still proven non-lethal methods the farmers can use.  It is also important to remember, as Defenders points out, that wolves are responsible for less than 1% of ALL livestock kills. It really goes back to how people feel about wolves, love them or hate them, that get incidents like this so much attention despite such low livestock predation numbers. 

April 17, 2009

This broke my heart...

I saw this post in the news this morning.  The she-wolf that I had previously blogged about that had walked over 1000 miles from Yellowstone down into Colorado looking for love was found dead in Northwestern Colorado in late March.  They are still investigating how she died and we will update you on any findings.

April 15, 2009

Thankful for positive press...

We here at Defenders of Wildlife definitely hear a lot of negativity about wolves from people as we fight for their protection out in the Northern Rockies. But we are thankful that more and more people are standing up and being heard on this issue and we are seeing this reflected in more balanced news being published in the region as of late. Thanks from Defenders of Wildlife!

April 13, 2009

"Science, Mythology, Hatred, and the Fate of the Gray Wolf"

This opinion article from today's New York Times discusses some of the thoughts, problems, and reasons behind Salazar's delisting plan and asserts that the true motivation for wanting to kill wolves is not based on science but instead based on the myth of the American west when wolves were almost completely wiped out last time. 

April 09, 2009

Keeping up with delisting.....

Here is a general information article from the Los Angeles Times that talks a little bit about the upcoming dates of the delisting and who it will effect.  And a little blurb on how Idaho is eagerly awaiting the news.

Gray wolves are scheduled to lose federal endangered species protection in most Western states May 2

April 06, 2009

When hate comes to your town......

There is a quote I saw one day by Edward Abbey that says, "The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing."  It got me thinking about what I consider to be important. Like most quotes or snippets of inspiration I internalized it related it to the things I care about or that I consider to be unjust or unfair in today's society or the world.  However today when I heard this audio of Ron Gillette that was posted to Ralph Maughen's blog I thought back to Abbey's quote.  As I sat here listening to Gillette trying to justify inciting regular citizens in Idaho to shoot wolves and break laws he didn't agree with saying there was nothing that the law would do to them, I realized that there was another dimension that could be found to Abbey's quote that I had not considered. One that highlights  what a dangerous thing anger can be.  Especially the white-hot anger contained in Gillette that leads to a hate so strong that you can see no other alternative except the eradication of the thing you have become fixated on.  I looked up some more Edward Abbey quotes to see if he had any other inspiration for me and I can fortunately find solice in the soothing words he wrote, "The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders."


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