CA Wolf Plan Due to Be Released
The Wolf Stakeholder Group meeting reports, as well as the subgroup meeting reports (Wolf-Ungulate Interactions, Wolf Conservation, Wolf-Livestock Interactions, and Combined Wolf Conservation and Livestock Interactions), can be found at: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Stakeholders
The vast majority of citizens support wildlife protection from wanton killing by humans, including predators from apex species at the top of the chain to the most vulnerable at the bottom. Public agencies are finally recognizing the role predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystem balances and diversity. Regulatory agencies are also taking steps to correct negative impacts created by previous uninformed decision making, some of which was influenced by self-serving special interests.
Bobcats: They are “baited” to draw them just outside parks and refuges (where they cannot legally be trapped), and are killed by the tens of thousands—solely for their beautiful pelts, which are reportedly sold primarily in China and Russia. After five hours of testimony and more than 100 speakers, at its August meeting, on a 3-2 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) banned commercial bobcat trapping in California. To watch or hear one speakers’ eloquent presentation, go to http://www.cal-span.org/media.php?folder=CFG , scroll down to August 5, 2015, click on “Linked agenda,” and go to 1:35:35 on the timeline scale.
Coyotes: They are not considered “game” animals and are not protected. Killing contests with prizes are illegal, but a potential loophole may allow the killing “contests” to continue if no “prizes” are awarded. Mass coyote killing drives in remote areas, with the goal to bring in as many carcasses as possible, result in a huge disruption of wildlife balances. In October, the CA FGC is expected to rule on killing contests. For more information and addresses to support a ban on killing contests, go to: http://projectcoyote.org/action/choose2BAN_MarcosMessage.html
Wolves: On many fronts, the biggest news this year was the discovery of a pack of wolves living in CA! In anticipation of wolves dispersing to California, we (CA DFW’s “Wolf Stakeholder Group”) spent almost three years hammering out a “wolf management plan” after the arrival of OR 7 (who now lives in OR with his seven-member “Rogue” pack). The CDFW announced in early August that a new gray wolf was spotted in Siskiyou County via a trail camera. Subsequently, unexpectedly, a trail camera caught two black gray wolves and five pups, which meant that California has its first official pack—now named the “Shasta Pack”—since wolves were extirpated in 1924. Wolves are protected under both federal and state laws as endangered species, but vigilance is needed to keep them safe.
California’s Wolf Management Plan: The CA Department of Fish and Wildlife should complete its Draft Wolf Management Plan this Spring (2015), followed by a public comment period. As previously reported, participants in the “Wolf Stakeholder Group” that met for over two years were primarily from three groups: environmentalists, ranchers, and hunters. The goal is to have a plan in place for handling wolf interactions with livestock, ungulates, pets, humans, etc., in the very real likelihood that wolves will disperse into California. While wolves are listed as an endangered species, they are protected by law. As their recovery reaches certain phases, their listing levels are expected to change. Environmentalists believe that non-lethal methods can be especially effective in deterring wolf-livestock conflicts; some ranchers believe otherwise.
Grand Canyon Wolf: Unfortunately, on December 28, last year, a collared female wolf was illegally killed in Utah, when a hunter supposedly mistook her for a coyote. The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that DNA tests results confirmed that she was the same wolf that had been seen on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim a few months earlier. She had been named, “Echo,” and was the first wolf to have been near the Grand Canyon since the 1940’s.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “She was born in 2011, collared in January of 2014, and—after she roamed about 750 miles to northern Arizona and then southern Utah—shot dead 11 months later….”
Congress Watch: In Wyoming and the Great Lakes states, wolves were de-listed, but environmental groups filed lawsuits, and federal courts reversed the delistings in those areas as unlawful. Unfortunately, Congress is now considering a bill that would step into the Endangered Species Act’s authority with wolves and leave their future status in the hands of the state wildlife agencies that are all too willing to hunt and trap them.
CA FGC Update: At the February 11-12, 2015 CA Fish and Game Commission meeting in Sacramento, there were many interesting topics on the two-day agenda. Noteworthy were discussions around the implementation of AB 711 that will phase out lead ammunition, a proposal to ban bobcat trapping (to be brought back at the next meeting in Santa Rosa), and a change in regulations to stop the importation of Bullfrogs into the state. Meeting documents can be found on the FGC’s website, www.fgc.ca.gov, go to “Meetings,” and scroll to the date. To watch the FGC’s meetings, visit: http://www.cal-span.org/ and scroll down the page.