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(Petition by Dr. Beth Louise Wright)
The Northern Rocky Mountain states are considering various proposals to commence denning, the killing of wolf pups in or near their dens. It is viewed as a wolf population reduction method. The letter below requests Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Scott Talbott to not include denning in any wolf management measures:
Dear Director Talbott:
The Billings Gazette and Tree Hugger reported (July 2011) that Governor Mead promoted the killing of half of Wyoming’s wolves. Their subsequent designation to “predator status” has made them vulnerable to killing by anyone at any time without licensing in 90% of Wyoming (Howling for Justice, January 2012; Switchboard, November 2011). The Huffington Post (January 2012) reported that wolf management proposals for Wyoming include killing wolf pups through denning, the practice of killing wolf pups in or near their dens in spring. Historically, even where illegal, this spring practice has involved use of gas, live burial, bullets, fire, dynamite, poison and hooks on poles; in some cases, wildlife officials have participated in denning wolf pups (Alaska Wildlife Alliance, January 2012; Howling for Justice, January 2012; Huffington Post, January 2012; Project Gutenberg EBook of Wolf and Coyote Trapping, 1909; The Great American Wolf, 1997; WolfSongNew.org, July 2008).
I am writing this letter to express my strong objection to denning in Wyoming. Paul Paquet described the killing of wolf pups as “destructive and morally reprehensible” (Canada.com, March 2008), and his sentiments certainly reflect mine. Many have expressed repugnance to this practice, and members of Alaska’s ADF&G biologists and Board of Game members have condemned it as “too despicable for use in state-sponsored programs” (Alaskawolves.org, July 2008). It is unimaginable to me that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is actually considering wolf management that includes this unspeakable practice, and I sincerely request an explanation as to how you, as its director, can justify it.
The usual justification for wolf population reduction is livestock and big game predation, but scientific research has not supported this claim. California Senator John Tunney addressed this specious allegation when he wrote, “Data and studies from the state game agencies in charge of managing elk and from federal and state agencies that monitor livestock attacks clearly tell another story” (wolves_at_a_crossroads11_secure-2.pdf, February 2011). Indeed, of Oregon’s 1.3 million cattle in 2005, 0.11% was lost to wolves and 2.42% was lost to coyotes. Similarly, 2.5% of sheep predation was attributed to wolves which compared to 23% by coyotes (Defenders of Wildlife). Similar findings were reported by Oregon Wild (September 2011). A study of sheep deaths by Echegaray and Vila (Zoological Society of London, 2009) compared prey remains in wolf and wild dog feces and found that wild dogs, not wolves, killed livestock and domestic animals. Thus, the view that wolves are primary livestock predators is false! Moreover, the cost borne by low wolf livestock predation has been significantly overcome by tourism revenue related to wolf watching-sighting (George Wright Forum, December 2008). And successful humane alternatives to low-incidence wolf predation have been scientifically verified (Defenders of Wildlife, September 2008; Wildlife Damage Management, Colorado State University; Wolf Depredation Management, dissertation).
Not only is wolf population reduction wrong because of low livestock predation and the availability of humane alternatives, the wolf has been found to have benefited ecosystems where reintroduced because of a link between the wolf, elk, beaver and aspen tree (Huffington Post, December 2010; National Wildlife, October 2003; YellowstonePark.com, November 2011).
With lacking evidence regarding significant wolf livestock predation, humane alternatives for low-incidence predation, and findings that underscore wolves’ benefit to ecosystems and local economies, the underlying premise for wolf population reduction by denning appears grossly flawed. I earnestly request and urge the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to abstain from denning practices in spring 2013 and to re-examine the reasons for wolf population reduction. Thank you for your time and attention, respectfully