The War On Wolves Escalates
The wolves of the Northern Rockies have been kicked off the endangered species list. The Natural Resources Defense Council is fighting that decision in court.
In 1930, a federal officer shot what was believed to be the last wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and an ambitious reintroduction program, some 1,500 wolves have returned to the Northern Rockies, and the howling wolf is once again the icon of western wilderness.
But recently, Interior Secretary Salazar rubber-stamped a Bush-era plan to kick the wolves of the Northern Rockies off the endangered species list and leave them vulnerable to mass killing. In September 2009, a federal judge ruled that wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho could go forward, allowing up to 330 wolves in those states to be gunned down. The loss of so many wolves could be a dramatic setback to wolf recovery. Over this past year, the wolf population of Yellowstone National Park declined 27 percent -- and more than 70 percent of wolf pups in the park died of disease. However, the judge also stated that Secretary Salazar’s decision to strip the wolves’ endangered species protections was probably illegal – which means that conservation groups may win the larger war over wolf protection in the Northern Rockies. That war will play out in federal court in the months ahead, as conservation groups fight to compel Secretary Salazar to withdraw this disastrous plan and submit it to the kind of rigorous scientific review that the Obama administration has championed on other issues.
Wolf 527 Slaughtered
will be as saddened by an obituary written about
Wolf 527, one of Yellowstone National Park’s beloved
But I hope this tragic story will motivate you to speak out to save the hundreds of wolves in Greater Yellowstone and beyond that remain in mortal danger.
Wolf 527 originated from the Druid pack -- one of the best known wolf packs in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, the scene of numerous National Geographic and PBS documentaries.
For years, the movements of some of the members of this Yellowstone pack have been monitored by biologists and wolf-watchers equipped with radio tracking devices and powerful spotting scopes. One of those wolf-watchers wrote the obituary for 527 -- and I am honored to share excerpts of it with you today.
"527 was a wolf that marched to the beat of a very different drummer." As a yearling, 527 left the Druids to join the Slough pack -- where she quickly became the beta (second-in-command) female. Then in 2007, she and a male wolf set off to found their own pack -- the Cottonwood Creek pack -- where she became the alpha (first-in-command) female.
As a leader of the Cottonwood pack, 527 was known to be a master of survival strategies. While four other packs that inhabited the same area suffered dismal fates, her pack thrived. As her biographer recounts, "She was a genius wolf in her tactics. Strategy was her game and she was a master at it. She would return to feed her pups in the dark of night because she would not take the risk of crossing the road."
But in the end, despite 527's "unbelievable survival strategies," this resilient wolf "was not able to outthink a rifle" and was killed on October 3 when Montana unleashed its first public wolf hunt in modern times.
Since the public hunts began, 156 wolves in the Northern Rockies have met 527's fate. And over the next year, more than 500 wolves could be shot to death by hunters and government agents ... reducing the region's wolf population by a staggering 40 percent!
But the story doesn't have to end as sadly as 527's life -- if everyone who cares about wolves speaks out against this carnage now.
So please take a moment to join the national outcry to save wolves. Just click this link to tell the Interior Secretary to put wolves back on the Endangered Species list.
Thank you in advance for taking action on the wolves' behalf. Together, we can make sure that the death of 527 will not be in vain -- by winning back federal protections for the rest of Greater Yellowstone's storied wolves.
Frances Beinecke, President
Natural Resources Defense Council