Michigan DNR now-discredited justification for killing the Ontonagon wolves in 2016

ONTONAGON — Bouncing along a sodden farm pasture, Brad Johnson stopped his state vehicle when he came upon the newborn calf, or what remained of it.

The veteran wildlife handler had been to this patch of farmland in the western Upper Peninsula several times the previous fall, when a dozen calves from the Dykstra beef ranch were reported missing.

Gray wolves were suspected in those disappearances. But Johnson had little reason to fear for his own safety on this wet spring day; the local wolf pack was not considered a threat to people.

Which is what made what happened next startling: A single wolf burst into view and Johnson could only watch, frozen, as another calf was attacked, shredded before his eyes.

The brazen strike in the spring of 2016 ‒- which led to three wolves being hunted down and shot ‒- was not the first uncomfortable encounter between people and wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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More than 600 gray wolves are estimated to populate Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a resurgence that pleases conservation groups but can create tensions with ranchers and some lawmakers who worry about the danger to livestock. (Photo courtesy Nancy Warren)

A few years earlier and 60 miles away in Ironwood, wolves were spotted outside a home, forcing residents to pound on a sliding-glass door to chase them away. More ominously, gray wolves were seen circling the perimeter of a children’s day care during recess. Those wolves, too, had to be shot dead.

Taken together, the incidents were powerful evidence that a resurgent wolf population in the U.P. had become habituated and aggressive toward humans, strengthening calls among farmers, hunters and some lawmakers to drop gray wolves from the list of endangered animals protected by federal law.

There was just one problem: None of these harrowing accounts turned out to be true.

Related: The debate is on: Will wolves move to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula?
Related: Wolves face genetic challenge in Michigan’s Isle Royale, study says

No wolf sped past Brad Johnson to attack a calf on the Dykstra farm. No wolves were seen prowling near preschoolers at recess in Ironwood. And no pack congregated on the back deck of a local home.

Officials at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and some lawmakers opposed to wolf protection policies were found to have embroidered, misstated or outright fictionalized the threat that gray wolves posed to humans.

Don Lonsway, the federal wildlife agent who shot three wolves at the Dykstra farm, is shown here examining a wolf taken in 2012 during a period when bans against wolf hunting were briefly lifted. (Photo courtesy John Koski)

But getting to the truth took years.

As a former MLive investigations editor and now freelance reporter, I’ve followed the controversy over the wolf kills for years and broke stories raising questions about DNR’s public statements about the shootings.

Now, internal emails I obtained for Bridge Magazine show that top DNR leaders had blocked the release of documents that contradicted their now-discredited justification for killing the Ontonagon wolves in 2016. These documents indicate that, rather than posing a peril to humans, the wolves were shot because they were decimating herds of high-priced beef cattle at the Dykstra farm, costing the state tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements.

The distinction is critical. The U.S. Endangered Species Act allows the killing of federally protected animals if they pose a danger to people. But it forbids their killing for attacking livestock. Violators can face up to a year in jail.

The obfuscation comes at a critical time: The Trump administration wants to remove wolves from the list of protected animals under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 states, which could impede their recovery of animals once on the verge of extinction.

The records obtained by Bridge raise questions about the credibility of state wildlife leaders as honest brokers in the debate over whether to delist gray wolves from federal protection.

They also highlight fresh concerns about the rigor of Michigan’s public records law, which allows state or local governments to routinely delay or stonewall public requests for documents for months or even years, often with little consequence.

“How can we trust the DNR will manage wolves based on the best-available science with their history of misleading the public, reporters and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?” asked Nancy Warren, executive director of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, a volunteer organization that has been critical of the state’s transparency on wolf encounters.

The DNR has since acknowledged inaccuracies in its petition to the U.S. government to shoot the wolves. But a department spokesman blames the discrepancies on a “miscommunication” among staffers and denies the agency purposely sought to mislead the public or the federal government.

‘Shoot, shovel and shut up!’

The Dykstra farm has become a symbol of wolf depredation in Michigan.

The 700-head operation, on 2,000 acres near Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, has more cattle than the nearby town of Greenland has people.

Dykstra trademarks its herd as “Michigan Craft Beef,” raised without antibiotics, hormones or genetically modified feed. Its Black Angus are pampered right up to the moment they are slaughtered ‒ grazing on grass and alfalfa, with tart-cherry syrup, apples and wet beer barley added to give their meat a distinctive taste.

DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson -‒ shown here releasing a GPS-collared elk -‒ scared a wolf from a field at Dykstra Beef Farm on April 29, 2016. His just-the-facts report on the incident was transformed into a far more dramatic encounter between man and wolf by higher-ups at DNR.  (Photo by DNR)

Ontonagon is geographically closer to Fargo, North Dakota, than to Detroit, making this big snow country, averaging about 200 inches a winter. Snowmobiling is popular here. Wolves are not.

Shoot, shovel and shut up” is a common phrase among the locals, reflecting ranchers’ long-standing frustration with federal wildlife protection policy. It’s a policy, they say, that seems more focused on protecting predators than shielding farmers from economic ruin.

One popular bumper sticker has mock bullet holes and the message: “Michigan Wolves: Smoke a Pack a Day.”

The pack that ravaged Dykstra’s calves follows the Flintsteel River, which runs past the company’s large cattle operation. At the time, the Ontonagon Pack included six adult gray wolves -‒ two males and four females.

There is little question that the wolves struck the Dykstra cattle hard in 2016.

Records show 35 cattle were killed or reported missing that year, a blow even for one of the largest cattle operations in the Upper Peninsula. Spring was particularly difficult. In April and May alone, the farm lost 16 calves. Workers took pains to protect the animals -‒ installing flashing lights around the pasture, moving the herd closer to the farm, performing head counts twice a day -‒ and still the wolves feasted.

But even as the farm was victimized by wolves, it benefited from government help. Not from the federal government, but from Michigan taxpayers and a prominent Upper Peninsula lawmaker.

To date, the ranch has received roughly $50,000 from state taxpayers under an agriculture program meant to keep the peace with farmers. The fund reimburses farmers at “fair market value” for livestock killed or missing because of wolves, coyotes and, if ever necessary, cougars.

That $50,000 is more than any farm has received since the state program began in 2012, according to a Bridge analysis of more than 400 payments totaling a quarter-million dollars.

Farm owner Tom Dykstra documented the killings of calves through the first half of 2016, which allowed him to obtain state reimbursement for their deaths. Despite flashing lights and other measures intended to deter the local pack, the wolves kept coming. (Photo courtesy Tom Dykstra)

Most payments were for Dyktra’s losses in 2016 — $28,915 for 20 cattle killed and 15 missing (and presumed killed), more than all other Michigan farms combined that year.

Tom Dykstra, of Moraine Park Farms near Zeeland, which owns the Ontonagon farm, declined to comment for this article. In previous interviews, Dykstra, 40, has said he does not oppose federal efforts to protect wolves — when they are on public land. But ranchers also need protection, he argued, and he has not hesitated to press for state compensation when predators strike.

Indeed, in early 2016 Dykstra was able to persuade the state to triple the value of his herd based on its craft-level quality, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) records show.

Seven weeks after agreeing to raise compensation for Dykstra’s cattle, the state secured federal permission to kill the wolves, citing the now discredited incident involving a wolf attacking near Brad Johnson.

State DNR and agriculture officials say the high price of reimbursing Dykstra for lost cattle played no role in the state’s efforts to have the Ontonagon wolves killed.

But an internal DNR email obtained by Bridge shows Dykstra was haggling with the state agency over reimbursement money around that time.

The email, written May 19, 2016, indicates Tom Dykstra was angry MDARD was pressing him to waive a $5,000 penalty the state owed him for slow reimbursement.

“(T)he MDARD employee pushed Dykstra into not making an issue of the ($5,000) because the employee would get into trouble,” U.P. wildlife supervisor Terry Minzey wrote to his boss, Wildlife Chief Russ Mason.

“It sounds like the conversation went downhill from there,” Minzey concluded.

The state sought ‒ and received ‒ federal approval the next day to have the Ontonagon wolves killed.

Shootings and talking points

DNR supervisors and wildlife managers would not publicly acknowledge the killing of the three wolves for two years, as detailed in nearly 500 pages of emails Bridge received this year through the state Freedom of Information Act. Even when the agency finally confirmed the killings last November, it stuck by the argument that the wolves posed a danger to humans.

The agency’s internal records tell another story.

In the months before the May 2016 wolf shootings, DNR records show that the agency had repeatedly described the wolves of the Ontonagon pack as posing no threat to humans.

Russ Mason was DNR wildlife chief for more than a decade, and defended the agency’s position that the Ontonagon wolves posed a threat to people. (Photo by DNR)

Brad Johnson, the field technician, had investigated missing cattle at the Dykstra farm three times the previous fall, filling out checklists on wolf activity reports after every visit. In each report, he noted the wolves did not show “fearless behavior” and were not “perceived to be a threat to personal or family safety,” or even to family pets.

More critically, Johnson’s notes say nothing about a wolf racing past him to attack another calf on April 29, 2016, the narrative pushed by the DNR to help justify killing the Ontonagon pack.

Instead, the records show Johnson was in fact on the Dykstra farm earlier that day to check on a dead calf. Hours later, on a return visit, a motorist told him that cows were being chased on another part of the ranch. Johnson had to drive three-quarters of a mile before he spotted a wolf. His report said he blew his horn and fired a warning shot from 60 to 80 yards away to “chase a wolf away.”

Several weeks later, when DNR petitioned the federal government to approve the wolf killings, an agency memo reimagined the circumstances of Johnson’s April encounter with the wolf, making it sound like the wolf was comfortable enough to attack the calf while Johnson was in the field.

“These wolves continued to attack livestock, even in the presence of humans, including a DNR technician,” said a one-page DNR document, dated May 23, 2016.

The document, labeled “Wolf Talking Points,” was not publicly released. In fact, the DNR announced nothing about the calf attacks or wolf shootings at the time.

Wolves terrorizing Ironwood

The Ontonagon encounter was not the only alarming wolf tale to eventually unravel in the U.P. Tales of gray wolves menacing preschoolers and residents in Ironwood ‒ accounts amplified by state DNR officials and lawmakers ‒ would also fall apart under scrutiny.

The daycare story first gained prominence in 2011 when state House and Senate members who favored the legalization of wolf hunts cited the incident in urging Congress to delist gray wolves from federal protection.

In resolutions passed a month apart, the lawmakers wrote:

“Wolves appeared multiple times in the backyard of a day care center shortly after the children were allowed outside to play. Federal agents disposed of three wolves in that backyard because of the potential danger to the children.”

That account was inaccurate, as I first reported for Mlive.com in 2013. Lori Holm of Ironwood told me she was home with children who were inside the house when she spotted a wolf on her lawn near her dog, a white Sheltie. She went outside and screamed at the wolf, which turned away, ending the drama.

There were no children in the backyard that day. It was only one wolf, not three. And the wolves eventually shot in Ironwood were killed, not in the woman’s yard, but seven months later on property nearly a mile from Holms’ land.

The daycare story originated with Anders Tingstad, a pro-hunt Ontonagon County Circuit Court judge who helped write the resolution state lawmakers directed to Congress. An investigation found Tingstad had misconstrued an incident that he had heard about secondhand.

The Senate resolution was sponsored by Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. He would later apologize on the Capitol floor for the misleading account.

“I was mistaken, I am accountable, and I am sorry,” Casperson told colleagues in 2013. “Words matter. Accuracy matters. Especially here, with a topic that is so emotional and is so important to so many, especially those whose way of life is being changed in my district.”

Casperson was not the only state official who had pressed the narrative of prowling wolves in Ironwood.

State Sen. Tom Casperson, who was the powerful chairman of the Natural Resources Committee until this year, was eager to help Tom Dykstra rid his farm of predatory wolves. “Within about a two-week span, he had lost like 14 calves,” Casperson told Bridge. “You can’t wipe out a guy’s herd.”

It was a DNR employee, furbearer specialist Adam Bump, who told Michigan Radio in May 2013 of wolf packs terrorizing Ironwood residents.

“So you have wolves showing up in backyards, wolves showing up on porches, wolves staring at people through their sliding-glass doors when they’re pounding on it, exhibiting no fear,” he said during the interview.

Never happened.

At least not in Michigan, as Bump would later acknowledge in recanting the story on air. He said he had mistakenly recounted an incident from a book he had read about human encounters with mountain lions in Colorado.

Inquiries evaded for years

Warren, of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, said she first heard “casual talk” of wolf attacks at the Dykstra farm in May 2016 as she listened to a country music station at her home in nearby Ewen.

Inquiries to the DNR’s Marquette office that May 26 were met with a string of evasive responses, her correspondence shows. Warren persisted.

She filed a formal request for cattle-attack reports the next morning, Friday, May 27, 2016.

Warren didn’t know it then, but the first of the three killings of the Ontonagon wolves had already taken place.

Under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, government agencies are required to respond to public records requests within 5 business days, though a provision allows them a 10-day extension, which they routinely take.

At the end of that period, the agency’s only obligation is to give a response, such as by sending a letter saying the records will (or will not) be provided.

Agencies are not required to actually provide the records within that time. In fact, one significant loophole in state law is that it provides no clear guidelines for when the records themselves must be turned over, which means that people seeking records often have to rely on the goodwill of the government worker in that office.

DNR charged Warren $87.50 for the records.

Nine weeks later, the agency turned over 35 pages on cattle attacks to Warren.

But when she looked at the papers sent by Chief Mason’s office, the names, addresses and contact information were blacked out, making it impossible to determine which farmers lost cattle to wolves. DNR also excluded geographic coordinates ‒ township, range and section numbers ‒ for farms that suffered livestock attacks.

It’s not unusual for government offices to redact parts of a document. Generally, they’re allowed to block information if they can show it falls under one of several exemptions to public records, usually to protect someone’s privacy. The home address of a judge or police officer, for example, or the Social Security number of a party in a lawsuit are the kinds of information shielded from public release.

DNR sought to extend this same exemption to farms. Victoria Lischalk, Chief Mason’s executive assistant, wrote Warren that the location of livestock attacks was considered “information of a personal nature (and) would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy” if released.

Warren found that argument preposterous. As a longtime wolf advocate who had helped the state develop its wolf management plan in 2008, she said there were plenty of times when she’d received similar information within days.

So in November 2016 Warren hired an attorney to sue DNR, arguing that the location of reported wolf attacks were germane to the public’s understanding of how the DNR handled wolf encounters, and outweighed any privacy concerns of farmers.

DNR’s stonewalling, she argued, was an effort to retaliate against her for her outspoken opposition to wolf hunting.

“In short, it appears that higher-level DNR officials have ended the friendly and informal relationship [Warren] had previously enjoyed,” the suit said, “and have instituted a policy of tight lips.”

Lawsuits take time. It was not until May 2018, two years after Warren first sought the records, that Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens ruled in Warren’s favor and ordered the public records released.

“General geographic information describing where a wolf encountered livestock does not fit the definition of ‘personal,’” Stephens wrote. “Even assuming the information were personal, the balancing test would favor disclosure because the information reveals information about [DNR’s] wolf-management policies.”

The judge ordered DNR to pay $11,000 in fees and costs to Warren’s lawyer, Rebecca Millican of Traverse City, to reimburse Warren for the cost of litigating the case.

A powerful friend in Lansing

The DNR documents released to Bridge add to evidence uncovered in earlier reporting I performed for The Detroit News that suggested DNR had bent to pressure from Casperson ‒ the pro-business, anti-wolf senator from Escanaba ‒- to have the Ontonagon wolf pack killed.

As cattle losses mounted on the Dykstra farm in the spring of 2016, it was Casperson, the influential chairman of the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee, who intervened at the request of owner Tom Dykstra.

The senator’s 38th District covered the western U.P., including Ontonagon County and the Dykstra operation. Casperson ‒ who once wore a wolf-skin cap to celebrate a wolf-hunt victory ‒ was a strong proponent of reshaping the state’s conservation laws to make them more friendly to business, hunting and property interests.

Until term limits forced him from office last December, Casperson led the charge to allow the hunting of gray wolves in Michigan should they ever lose federal protection. When I interviewed him last fall, Casperson acknowledged he had called Terry Minzey, DNR’s U.P. wildlife supervisor, after getting an earful from Tom Dykstra.

The rancher was angry that state and federal wildlife managers had captured and caged two of the wolves the day before, only to release them. The wildlife managers had hoped that harassing the wolves by caging them would scare them off.

Dykstra “had lost like 14 calves and was sending regular pictures and it was just unacceptable,” Casperson said of his decision to call DNR. “You can’t wipe out a guy’s herd.”

Reimbursing Dykstra’s farm for livestock losses was adding up, Casperson said, even as he acknowledged the wolves had no history of being aggressive around people.

“The question became,” Casperson said, “who is going to go first? Who wants to take the first shot, so to speak? I think he (Minzey) understood someone had to go first.”

Three days later, Minzey put his name to the memo describing the phantom wolf attack in front of Johnson.

Dykstra farm manager Duane Kolpack confirmed Casperson’s assessment.

The decision to kill the wolves “was kind of thrown together quick because the [animal] activists kind of frown on killing wolves when they are federally protected,” Kolpack told me last year.

It was only after Casperson and Kolpack separately disclosed the wolf shootings that DNR acknowledged the killings, 2 ½ years after they happened. Even then, the state still insists the pack’s aggressiveness in the presence of humans (and not their killing of livestock) prompted the decision.

Federal wildlife law permits the killing of protected gray wolves in defense of human life, or if wolves pose a “demonstrable but non-immediate threat to human safety.”

In seeking federal permission to shoot the wolves, DNR highlighted Johnson’s purported encounter with the aggressive wolf at the Dykstra farm.

“In one case, the wolf was sufficiently bold as to enter the pasture and kill a calf at the very moment one of our wildlife technicians was in the same field investigating a previous kill,” Minzey, the wildlife supervisor, wrote to the federal government ‒ bolding and underlining the passage.

Curiously, in the version of this letter the department provided to me in 2018, DNR removed the bold and underlined emphasis used by Minzey in petitioning the feds.

Likewise, the department also withheld a portion of the U.S. response which indicated just how influential Minzey’s account was in the federal government’s approval of the wolf kills. That excised paragraph said:

“It is clear that the wolves are acting aggressively including in the presence of humans as documented by the attack on livestock while the MDNR technician was in the same field, ” wrote Scott Hicks, regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supervisor, in approving lethal action.

The emails released to Bridge show DNR pressed the same, discredited account involving Johnson to its own employees. On May 23, 2016, Mason told DNR staff:

“This past week, for the first time ever, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the lethal removal of three wolves that showed persistently, brazen behavior by killing livestock in the presence of the operator and our staff.” 

Johnson declined comment for this article. Minzey, the supervisor who wrote the inaccurate report, did not return multiple emails and phone messages and DNR would not make him available for an interview. He remains with the department.

DNR spokesman Ed Golder describes Minzey’s account as a “communication breakdown.” In an email earlier this year, Golder said Minzey had “no clear recollection” how he got the facts wrong about the 2016 wolf encounter.

But Golder also insists the decision to kill the Ontonagon wolves was not solely based on the Brad Johnson incident.

“That single incident was one factor among others involved in drawing the conclusion that the wolves posed a non-immediate threat to human safety,” Golder wrote Bridge.

He also noted that non-lethal measures had failed to keep the wolf pack from Dykstra’s cattle pastures.

Golder declined to elaborate, writing in March: “We don’t have anything to add to that account.”

But Russ Mason did.

Sticking to its defense

Mason was DNR wildlife chief for over a decade and was well known to hunters, with his sprawling command ranging from furry and feathered game to neurological illnesses like chronic wasting disease in “zombie” whitetails.

Last Nov. 30, Mason told me the Ontonagon wolf shootings were necessary to protect people.

The DNR, Mason said, is “just as transparent as we can be with the number of wolves that have been [killed].” He released a three-page “timeline” purporting to set the record straight.

But Golder, the agency spokesman, acknowledged in an email a few months later that Mason knew the Brad Johnson wolf attack story was false “prior to the time of your interview.” Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife specialist, had told top officials what really happened two days before the interview. This was apparently the second time Roell had raised questions internally about the agency’s description of the incident, email records obtained by Bridge show.

DNR depredation specialist Brian Roell twice raised questions about the agency’s characterization of a wolf incident on the Dykstra farm. Still, the DNR pushed the false narrative of a brazen wolf attacking a calf in the presence of a DNR worker. (Photo by DNR)

Nonetheless, DNR Director Keith Creagh insisted in an interview last year that he was also “familiar with there being menacing behavior” by wolves at the Dykstra farm leading to shootings, adding: “I would be surprised that a DNR employee would fabricate an incident.”

This September, DNR announced Mason was leaving his post as wildlife division chief to become the agency’s first executive in residence at Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Creagh was replaced by Dan Eichinger after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won office last year.

Outcry from conservation groups

The agency’s shifting accounts have drawn scorn from conservation groups, which say they’re worried the Trump administration will soon remove federal protection for gray wolves.

“Federal (wolf) delisting cannot legally proceed without an adequate and reliable state regulator to take over – and the DNR has once again shown it is not up to the task,” Molly Tamulevich, Michigan director of the Humane Society of the United States, told Bridge.

Collette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which advocates for endangered species, calls DNR’s account of the Dykstra farm incident “nonsensical” and “inexcusable,” adding that “leadership at the Michigan DNR needs to fire any employee who lied about the behavior of wolves on that farm.”

“Decisions about the fate of endangered wildlife need to be based on science, not fabricated stories aimed at appeasing politicians,” she said.

The Arizona-based center is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over plans it announced in March to delist wolves in the mainland U.S. states. The proposal closed for public comment on July 15. It remains unclear when a final decision will be made.

Scott Hicks, the regional Fish and Wildlife supervisor who approved the shooting of the Ontonagon wolves, said he still believes the shootings were appropriate, even though the described attack near Brad Johnson turned out to be false.

“It sounds like you are talking with people who perhaps have a different opinion, but, here is the bottom line: I am satisfied with the information the Michigan DNR provided me about this issue and I am confident the decision to take the wolves was fully in accordance with the ESA,” Hicks wrote in May, referencing the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“If you continue to have questions about what the DNR did or said, I suggest you contact them.”

The future of Michigan wolves

Removing gray wolves from federal protections would mostly impact Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. More wolves roam the western Great Lakes, about 4,200, than in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies combined.

Deciding how to manage this vestige of wild America is especially relevant as wolf populations level between 600 and 700 in Michigan.

The future of Michigan’s gray wolf population is uncertain, with the Trump administration weighing whether to delist the animals from its current protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. (Photo courtesy Nancy Warren)

Researchers say the Upper Peninsula is near capacity, with indications some wolves crossed the Straits of Mackinac in the frozen winter months to northern lower Michigan. (Genetic testing verified one wolf near Cross Village in 2014, but no mating pairs have been identified.)

It’s an unlikely resurgence after wolves receded from the Great Lakes like the glaciers that carved their range. A wolf bounty was the ninth law passed after Michigan achieved statehood in 1837, a death sentence that was not repealed until 1960, when the state’s wolf population had nearly vanished.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is credited with the return of Canis lupus’ from Canada to levels not seen in generations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

This year marks the 30th anniversary since a single breeding pair was discovered in the mid-Upper Peninsula. Today, wolves can be found in heavily forested lands in every U.P. county.

“A wolf attack on a human has never been documented in Michigan,” according to the Michigan Wolf Management Plan. “However, wolves have attacked people in other areas of North America … and concerns for public safety are warranted in some situations.”

Aside from livestock, hunting dogs and occasionally pets are also killed, anywhere from a few per year to as many as 17 in 2014. Michigan taxpayers do not reimburse owners for those losses.

The state says 25 wolves have been killed since 2004 as a “non-immediate” threat to human safety. Those cases largely involved nuisance complaints of wolves wandering near residents ‒ not livestock farms. For example, eight wolves from two packs were taken in winter 2012 after following deer to residential bird feeders near Ironwood.

It’s not entirely clear how many wolves remain in the Ontonagon pack today.

The last of the three 2016 shootings, on June 11, involved a female wearing a radio-collar that had traveled 55 miles north from Golden Lake. That left three remaining wolves. But not for long.

A fourth wolf was killed by a vehicle shortly afterward, state records show, a fate experts said is not uncommon among packs that have been disrupted. That left two female survivors. No pups were seen, though a lactating female was spotted by a government sharpshooter around the time of the killings, a DNR spokesperson told Bridge.

That female’s partner was likely among the two males shot, as alphas generally mate for life.

A quieter farm

There have been few verified livestock attacks at the Dykstra ranch since 2016, state records show. In the last DNR survey of wolf populations, conducted last year, three adult wolves were seen in the Ontonagon Pack.

That number likely went back down again this year. DNR arrested a Greenland man in January for allegedly shooting a collared adult female.

A GPS-collared female gray wolf from the Ontonagon pack was illegally shot near Greenland in the Upper Peninsula this past January, not far from the Dykstra farm. (Photo by DNR)

I sent the DNR an email asking if Roell, the depredation specialist  -‒ a Great Lakes and national authority on wolves -‒ could tell me if the poached wolf in Greenland was from the Ontonagon Pack.

My email was forwarded by Golder to Roell, then to Mason, the wildlife chief, and Minzey, the author of the discredited 2016 report. The men engaged in an internal discussion about my inquiry, presumably unaware I had been left on the email string.

Golder: “Brian: Can you please help answer this factual question for this reporter ‒ whether or not the wolf taken near Greenland was part of the Ontonagon Pack?”

Roell: “Why are we helping John Barnes yet again?”

Golder: “Just answering a factual question in this instance. Thanks.”

Roell: “The answer is No! Really the answer to all of Barnes’s questions is no.”

(Roell eventually confirmed in the email exchange that the poached wolf was not from the Ontonagon pack.)

Golder: “Thanks, Brian. No, this wolf was not from the Ontonagon pack ‒ that is a sufficient answer for Mr. Barnes’ purposes.”

Source: Michigan DNR said it killed wolves to protect humans. Then we got its emails. | Bridge Magazine https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/wolfewen.jpg #BanAnimalTrapping #CutOffUSDAWildlifeServicesFunding #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #RestoreWolvesToESL #WolvesInTheNews

Humans and their Wildlife Program sterilizing Deer Didnt Work



Someone’s wandering pet?

The answer could be crucial for all of Staten Island.

There’s a video making the rounds showing some kind of animal dragging a deer carcass off the road. The footage looks to have been shot in Travis, perhaps on the fringes of Freshkills Park.

The nighttime video, shot from inside an idling car, shows the hungry carnivore biting into and then dragging the dead deer into some brush by the side of the road. A large stain and blood trail is left behind. It’s a Staten Island version of wildlife footage from the Serengeti or some other far-flung place where natural selection rules.

There’s been online debate over just what kind of creature we’re looking at here. It could be a coyote. Some folks say it’s a wolf. Others think it’s a neighborhood canine, one that’s been seen out and about in the area before.

I’m no expert, but I’m betting on coyote. There are Eastern coyotes throughout New York state, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation website.

And the presence of coyotes on Staten Island would hardly be a surprise, given the borough’s deer population. In fact, it would be more surprising to not have coyotes here. And wolves, for that matter.

The deer have been able to flourish for years here for a number of reasons. There’s plenty of woodland on Staten Island for them the live and breed and hide in. There’s plenty of foliage for them to eat, including what grows in the wild as well as what can be foraged from the gardens in people’s backyards.

But a big thing working in the deers’ favor all these years has been the lack of predators. Hunting is illegal in the five boroughs, so the deer haven’t had to worry about being shot by any humans. And non-human predators, the deers’ fellow members of the wild kingdom, have generally been lacking here as well.

Until now, perhaps.

Coyotes will kill deer. So will wolves. Animals have good instincts for survival. They’ll figure out where the food is. Maybe that’s what the Travis video is showing us. Maybe word is out that the pickings are good here.

How could these predators have gotten here? Likely the same way that some of the deer did: Via water. Coyotes can swim. So can wolves. The Arthur Kill isn’t all that wide.

So, bravo to the coyote or wolf or whatever it was that dragged that deer off the road in Travis. That’s the wonder of nature, baby. That animal provided a vital service.

Of course, there is a downside to all this. Because coyotes won’t stop at killing deer. They will also attack small dogs and cats, including pets found in fenced-in yards. And, true to their cartoon image, they are wily, doing their damage mostly at night, and generally avoiding humans.

But coyotes will also attack people. Two people were attacked by a coyote on a campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., earlier this month. The animal was captured and euthanized, according to NJ.com.

It’s going to be a problem for the city if Staten Island is indeed becoming a new home for these predators.

For one thing, it would indicate that the deer vasectomy program that the city has been touting the last few years hasn’t been working quite as well as advertised. If the deer population was truly being reduced in significant numbers, predators wouldn’t be lured here.

And the city will also have to deal with coyote attacks on pets and other animals, and possibly on humans. It will add a whole new urgency to the question of our deer population. There will be calls to more quickly and efficiently eliminate the deer in order to discourage coyotes and wolves, as well as calls to forthrightly eliminate the predators.

That video shot in Travis could be the shape of things to come.

Source: Coyotes, wolves will solve deer problem if city can’t (opinion) – silive.com #BanAnimalTrapping #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves

2018 Montana Wolf Season Slaughters 315 Reported Sacred Wolves

Last Year Montana Slaughtered 315 Sacred Wolves.

With only a few days remaining before the end of Montana’s general wolf-hunting season on March 15, a record 315 wolves have been harvested across the state, with the bulk of them taken before cold temperatures and heavy snows made hunting and trapping conditions more difficult.

As of March 10, preliminary results from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the agency tasked with managing the elusive predators, indicate that hunters harvested 165 wolves and trappers killed 130. Train and automobile collisions were responsible for three mortalities, according to FWP.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division killed eight wolves after investigating reports of livestock depredation and other conflicts, while private landowners killed two. FWP lists the cause of one mortality as “unknown,” another mortality as “other” and five wolf mortalities as “illegal.”

Of those preliminary totals, 111 wolves were killed in FWP’s Region 1 in Northwest Montana, which is home to the state’s densest wolf population.

Recent population estimates — figures arrived at through a method known as patch occupancy modeling (POM) — peg Montana’s wolf population at about 850 animals statewide, with around 350 living in Region 1.

This hunting season, the state sold about 17,000 wolf licenses, according to preliminary figures. That’s down from 2013, when wolf hunters bought 24,000.

The state assumed management over the species in 2011, when wolves, once hunted to near extirpation, were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act.

During the 2017-18 season, hunters and trappers took 254 wolves, with 166 by hunters and an additional 88 by trapping. Total wolf mortality was about 305 wolves.

In Montana, archery season for wolves ran from Sept. 1-14, 2018. General hunting season runs from Sept. 15, 2018 through March 15, 2019, while trapping season ran Dec. 15, 2018, through Feb. 28, 2018.

Neil Anderson, wildlife program manager for FWP’s Region 1, attributes the record wolf harvests to the state’s relatively mild winter in December and January, when most of the hunting-related mortalities were totaled.

Between September 2018 and December 2018, for example, 166 wolves were killed, compared to 98 in January 2019 and 47 in February, according to FWP’s preliminary figures.

“I think it had to do with the conditions on the ground, especially for trapping,” Anderson said. “We had a pretty mild December, with not a lot of snow and not a lot of changes in snow patterns. That’s more conducive for folks to get out and get after them. When the temperatures dropped and the snow started accumulating, traps start to freeze up, and we saw the harvests really taper off toward the end of the season.”

Another factor contributing to the uptick in wolf harvests, Anderson said, is the number of hunters pursuing the animal as big game while honing their hunting and trapping chops in the field.

“More people are figuring out this whole wolf-hunting thing, which takes a lot of effort and knowledge,” he said. “These are smart animals.”

The subject of wolves on the landscape has been a contentious one this legislative session, particularly as hunters complain that the state’s wolf population has had an increasingly adverse impact on deer, elk and moose populations in recent years, as evidenced by below-average ungulate harvests, even as wildlife managers attribute the fluctuating harvests to a mixed bag of environmental factors, including back-to-back heavy winters that reduced fawn recruitment.

During the first half of the legislative session, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle proposed a host of wolf-related measures, some of which generated controversy. Among the most controversial was a bill to allow hunting wolves at night, another to reduce trapping setbacks on seasonally closed roads and still another to reimburse licensed wolf trappers for their costs, which will head to the Senate Fish and Game Committee March 21.

The other bills, both introduced by Rep. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls, who also introduced the reimbursement measure, didn’t survive the session’s midway transmittal point, but others have gained bipartisan support.

Nick Gevock, conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, said his organization supports Brown’s bills to decrease the cost of resident wolf licenses, as well as others that would provide discounts to certain license holders, such as those who purchase a combination sportsman license.

Although Gevock opposed the measure to allow wolf hunting at night, he emphasized the importance of the role hunters and trappers play in managing the state’s wolf population.

“We have supported a package of bills that lower the cost of wolf hunting, and we have worked with Rep. Brown on them,” he said. “We want to have ethical, fair-chase wolf hunters in the field helping to manage the species, but we also want to keep the wolf population healthy. They are a difficult species to hunt, and I think Montana hunters and trappers are stepping up and showing that they are able to get the job done. I think that’s reflective in this year’s record wolf harvests.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that House Bill 279, which would reimburse trappers for their expenses, did not survive the Legislature’s transmittal deadline. The Senate Fish and Game Committee will hold a hearing on the bill March 21.

Source: Montana on Pace for Record Wolf Hunt – Flathead Beacon https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/shutterstock_wolf1.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #ProtectTheWolves #RestoreWolvesToESL #SacredResourceProtectionZone #WolvesInMontana

Wolf kills Possible Yellowstone Wolf in Montana zone 313

Perhaps One of these Days the Public will begin supporting Our Proposed “Sacred Resource Protection Zone.” With the recent Indigenous Case Law Our Position has strengthened.

Status Updated: November 22, 2019, 11:22 AM



Wolf Management Unit 110: General Season — OPEN

Wolf Management Unit 313: General Season — OPEN

Wolf Management Unit 316: General Season — OPEN

Source: FWP :: Harvest Quota Status https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/19088082_web1_TSR-Wolf-EDH-191025-300×200-1.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #WolvesInTheNews

Forest service cautions hunters to be careful around wolves in Apache Site Graves NF

GREER — The U.S. Forest Service issued a warning to hunters in the White Mountains area of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests this week.

ASNF noted that Mexican wolves are present within the forests and that hunters should be careful what they shoot.

“Hunting season is in full swing in the White Mountains, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds coyote hunters that Mexican wolves are present in Game Management Units 1, 27 and 3B,” ASNF wrote. “In addition, wolves could also be present in Units 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3C, 4A, 4B, 5A, 6A and 6B.”

Source: Forest service cautions hunters to be careful around wolves | News | eacourier.com https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/5dd1aec4ae02b.image_.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #ProtectTheWolves

Two calves killed by Rogue Pack  in Jackson County, ODFW says 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said on the morning of November 13, a ranch hand found a dead 300-pound calf in a pasture between Butte Falls and Mt. McLoughlin.

ODFW investigated the incident and determined the death was the result of wolf depredation by the Rogue Pack, which roams between eastern Jackson County and western Klamath County. They believe the calf was attacked about 12 hours before it was found.

The morning after the discovery, another calf was found dead in the same area. It’s also believed to have been attacked by Rogue Pack wolves about 12 hours before it was found.

The depredations are very similar to attacks two attacks that occurred in the same area last month.

ODFW actively works with livestock producers in southwestern Oregon to mitigate wolf attacks. “Unfortunately, in Jackson County and in Klamath County the Rogue Pack has really found a way to kill cattle and we have seen quite an increase over 2018 in the amount of animals the Rogue Pack is responsible for killing,” said Steve Niemela with ODFW.

The goal of ODFW is to conserve the population of gray wolves while balancing it with the social and economic interests of Oregonians.

Deterrents to depredations in southwestern Oregon have included flashing lights, inflatable air dancers and radio activated guard boxes.

You can read more about how ODFW plans on dealing with the increasing wolf population here: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/docs/2019_Oregon_Wolf_Plan.pdf

Source: Two calves killed by Rogue Pack wolves in Jackson County, ODFW says | KMVU Fox 26 Medford https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/1011-Rogue-Pack.jpg #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #ProtectWolvesInOregon

Gray wolves are protected, so why is the WDFW killing them?

Inslee its time to replace Holzmiller, Susewind as well as Martorello. There is no room for State Employees that only care about pandering to Ranchers. Holzmiller is to slow to figure out that ite 40 years later, and the slaughtering of Our Children’s Resources is no longer needed. Hunters have this dream that they are somehow Conservationists. They need to read the definition.

By Richard Read / Los Angeles Times

ANATONE, Wash. — Somewhere near this tiny farming town last month, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife hunter conducted what officials call a lethal removal, killing a gray wolf, a member of a species that the state considers endangered.

Most likely the agency employee or contractor fired a 12-gauge shotgun from a helicopter after following signals from a radio collar on a member of the Grouse Flats pack. Citing “safety reasons,” officials won’t say how or where the wolf — which they now believe to have been a breeding female — was exterminated Sept. 25.

A century after gray wolves were all but eradicated from Washington, the state is trying to encourage the return of the iconic predators, which normally hunt deer, elk and smaller wild animals. The state’s gray wolf population has gradually recovered to at least 126 since 2008, when the first two packs since the 1930s established dens.


But wildlife officials ordered the Grouse Flats extermination after determining that the pack roaming grasslands in the state’s farthest southeast corner had killed four farm animals in two months. That’s the minimum number of deaths or injuries required within 10 months for them to begin killing wolves until the livestock attacks cease.

Five days after the mother wolf was killed, Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee wrote to the director of the Fish & Wildlife department, an agency accused by animal advocates of bowing to the interests of ranchers hostile to wolves. Inslee cited public outrage over the elimination of packs near the Canadian border, and asked Kelly Susewind to find ways “to significantly reduce the need for lethal removal of this species.” He gave the director until Dec. 1 to report back.

The ultimatum from Inslee, who’s seeking a third term as governor after dropping out of the Democratic presidential campaign, irked rural residents who often feel marginalized by politicians from Washington’s more populous west side. The political divide between red and blue runs roughly north-south along the Cascade Range, with Seattle and Olympia, the capital, holding sway over the state’s eastern range country.

Jay Holzmiller, 62, is a hunter and cattle rancher in the Anatone area, the Grouse Flats pack’s home territory. He pulled himself recently into the driver’s seat of a tall crew-cab pickup in his tidy farmyard and gestured toward a neighboring ranch, one of two next to his woodlots and pastures where cattle were lost last summer to the pack.

Holzmiller, whose ranch-house walls are festooned with mounted heads of wild animals he’s shot, is troubled by declines in elk and deer herds preyed on by wolves, bears and cougars. He said that Inslee’s directive disrupts painstaking compromises reached through years of negotiations between wild-animal advocates, farmers and hunters.

Inslee nominated Holzmiller in 2013 to a six-year term on a commission that oversees the wildlife department, and then opted not to renew his appointment. The rancher feels that the commission’s membership favored environmental interests.

“We’re fighting for a way of life,” Holzmiller said. “There’s a huge concern whether our hunting culture is going to come to an end, and there’s lots of us rednecks that love to do it.”

Source: Gray wolves are protected, so why is the state killing them? | HeraldNet.com https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/19088082_web1_TSR-Wolf-EDH-191025.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #ProtectWolvesInWashington #WolvesInTheNews #WolvesInWashington

Hold hunters liable for shooting bears Letters | missoulian.com

Letters to The Editor:

You The hunter. You bring your weapon into the back yard of the grizzly, seeking your own right to kill and harvest deer and elk meat. You do this because you don’t know better. You’ve been trained for it,(yeah right) and lack the consciousness to see it otherwise.

You are out in the grizzly’s back yard hunting deer and elk, and a grizzly greets you. You shoot him because of your fear — your lack of preparation — your lack of awareness. You lack the very skills you claim. Your bullet ends the life of someone you killed in his own back yard.

You feel justified — tough— skilled — when all you are is a colonialist with a gun. So you keep on taking the land from the Other. Eat his meat. Drink his dairy. Soil it with your male aggression because you could not possibly be wrong.

If you are in bear country you should be liable for the grizzly you murder because your father did not teach you well!


Source: Hold hunters liable for shooting bears | Letters | missoulian.com https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/5aa6d04fbf78a.image_.jpg #CutOffUSDAWildlifeServicesFunding #EndangeredSpeciesList #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves

Monthly Wolf Report – October 2019 | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

The Public need to Demand that they add a Pro Wolf Native American Voice like Protect The Wolves™ to the WAG that can represent all Traditional Tribes whom hold the Wolf as Sacred.

Monthly Wolf Report – October 2019

This update provides an overview of gray wolf conservation and management activities in Washington during October 2019.

Program updates

WDFW is currently accepting comments on the scope of an updated wolf conservation and management (post-recovery) plan. The deadline for submitting comments was extended two weeks to Nov. 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm.

WDFW held three online, interactive webinars in September and October to discuss this effort and answer questions from the public. The recorded webinars may be viewed at the following links:

Printable PDFs of shareable information about wolf post-recovery planning for public distribution are available here:

​​On Nov. 1, a Thurston County Superior Court judge dismissed three of four claims against the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in a case filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands in November 2018. See details here.

Communication and coordination

The Interagency Wolf Committee (a group consisting of state, federal, and tribal land and wildlife managers) met this month for updates on post-recovery planning, the periodic status review for gray wolves, and general updates.

Department staff shared information and materials at a wolf outreach booth at Northwest Trek’s annual Hoot and Howl public event.

Current population status and proactive conflict mitigation

The year-end minimum population count for 2018 was at least 126 known wolves in 27 known packs including at least 15 breeding pairs. Annual wolf population surveys are conducted in the winter because wolf populations experience the least amount of natural fluctuation during this time. Counting the population at the end of each year allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year when the wolf population is most stable. The year-end minimum population count for 2019 will be released in April 2020.

Reports of remote camera images or videos, wolf tracks, or sightings from the public are extremely helpful in locating previously undocumented wolf activity and potential new packs on the landscape. Please take photos of wolves or wolf sign (use some way to measure the size of a track) and upload them to the wolf reporting page via the following link: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/observations

Definitions: A “pack” is defined as two or more wolves traveling together in winter, and a “breeding pair” is defined as at least one adult male and one adult female wolf that raised at least two pups that survived until December 31. In any given year, the number of packs will always be greater than or equal to the number of breeding pairs. The known territories and more information for each pack can be viewed by clicking the pack name.

Beaver Creek pack
No activity to report.

Butte Creek pack
No activity to report.

Carpenter Ridge pack
No activity to report.

Diobsud Creek pack
No activity to report.

Dirty Shirt pack
No activity to report.

Goodman Meadows pack
No activity to report.

Grouse Flats pack
No activity to report.

Huckleberry pack
No activity to report.

Leadpoint pack
No activity to report.

Lookout pack
No activity to report.

Loup Loup pack
No activity to report.

Naneum pack
No activity to report.

Salmo pack
No activity to report.

Sherman pack
No activity to report.

Smackout pack
No activity to report.

Stranger pack
No activity to report.

Strawberry pack
No activity to report.

Teanaway pack
No activity to report.

Togo pack
See update posted on Oct. 18.

Touchet pack
No activity to report.

Tucannon pack
No activity to report.

Wedge pack
No activity to report.

Miscellaneous/lone wolves
No activity to report.

Note: The FrostyNasonNc’icn, and Whitestone pack territories are within the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) reservation and are managed under tribal authority. Information regarding these packs is proprietary and reported at the discretion of the CCT.


There were no wolf mortalities documented in October.

Below is a summary of packs with documented depredation activity within the past ten months (some packs have depredation history prior to the current ten-month window; this timeframe is considered based on guidance from the wolf-livestock interaction protocol).

Pack Depredation date Depredation type Proactive non-lethals Ten-month window Agency lethal removal actions
Togo 7/24/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 5/24/20 Adult male lethally removed 9/2/18
  7/29/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 5/29/20  
  7/31/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/31/20  
  8/11/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 6/11/20  
  8/11/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 6/11/20  
  8/11/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 6/11/20  
  8/23/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 6/23/20  
  8/31/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 6/30/20  
  9/10/19 Probable kill of calf Yes 7/10/20  
OPT 7/6/19 Confirmed kill of cow Yes 5/6/20 Adult male lethally removed 7/13/19
  7/18/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/18/20  
  7/18/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/18/20  
  7/20/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 5/20/20  
  7/22/19 Probable kill of calf Yes 5/22/20  
  7/26/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/26/20  
  7/26/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/26/20  
  7/26/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/26/20  
  7/31/19 Confirmed injury of calf Yes 5/31/20  
  8/5/19 Confirmed kill of cow Yes 6/5/20 Juvenile lethally removed 8/7/19, juvenile lethally removed 8/8/19, adult lethally removed 8/13/19, two adults and two juveniles removed 8/16/19
Grouse Flats 7/8/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 5/8/20  
  7/22/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 5/22/20  
  8/30/19 Confirmed kill of calf Yes 6/30/20  
  9/12/19 Confirmed injury of cow Yes 7/12/20 Adult female lethally removed 9/25/19
Wedge 6/12/19 Confirmed kill of cow Yes 4/12/20  


Source: Monthly Wolf Report – October 2019 | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/denaliwolfeye-2-300×200-2-300×200-1-300×200-300×200-2-300×200-1-300×200-2-300×200-2-300×200-1-300×200-1-300×200.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #RestoreWolvesToESL

Washington’s Wolves Need Your Voice

Action Alert!! — Washington’s Wolves Need Your Voice

Deadline for Public Comment is November 15

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking for your comments on how it should managed endangered gray wolves after they are “recovered” in the state.

WDFW background information and Scoping presentation slides presented at each of its three video conferences and printable PDFs of shareable information about wolf post-recovery planning for public distribution are available here:

Background and FAQ
Information postcard
Scoping comment form

All information about the wolf post-recovery planning process is available at wdfw.wa.gov/wolves-post-recovery.


What’s important to know about this issue?

  • This is NOT a RECOVERY plan, this IS A WOLF DELISTING PLAN!! Washington wolves are currently listed as ENDANGERED – WDFW estimated there were only126 wolves in December, a 3% yearly growth rate.
  • This is all about Politics – not science. Politicians bowing to pressure from the Livestock Industry, that is attempting to smother and confuse science and public opinion about wolf recovery.
  • Wolves in Washington are NOT even close to being recovered.  The State’s existing Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, page 64, #3, sets recovery objectives for “delisting” at 4 successfully breeding pair of wolves in each of the three recovery regions (Eastern WA, North Cascades, Southern Cascades) for three years and 3 successful breeding pairs anywhere else in the state. 
  • Only one region that currently meets the state’s delisting objectives – Eastern Washington.
  • Washington’s current wolf population falls far short of a scientifically credible recovery level. Page 67 of the Wolf Plan notes “there is little empirical data from wolves in Washington to include in population persistence modeling.”
  • WDFW is relying on inappropriate data from other states to support delisting wolves. Of those states, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming has about 1500 wolves; Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan has about 4,000.  Washington’s wolf population is 126.
  • Public Opinion is against it! The WDFW Wolf Conservation and Management Plan cites four public opinion and attitude surveys conducted in Washington from 2007 to 2009. All reported overwhelming support for the presence of wolves, including the most recent, which noted; “Among respondents living in eastern Washington, most preferred a situation in which wolves become reestablished in many, most, or all eastern Washington counties (68.4%) vs. in no or fewer eastern Washington counties (27.8%).”


Please send in your comments:

Make them personal as best you can. You can use some of the information above or below.

Tell the Department how you feel personally about this delisting gray wolves.  Delisting has been shown to lead to more wolf killing.

Tell the Department you do NOT want Washington’s wolves delisted and that it’s inappropriate for the Department to pretend a state-listed endangered species that is not close to meeting state recovery objectives is in any way at a sustainable population levels.

What is clear is the Department is bowing to pressure from a small group of special interests who hate wolves. In 2014, WDFW proposed moving wolf management into their Game Management Plan that guides huntable game species.

This is little more than a slight of hand trickery.  Not only is the gray wolf an endangered species, it is a family structured animal.  Wolves are successful hunter only 5 to 10 percent of the time – wolves survive by living family groups.  Even the loss of one member of a wolf family can send the entire family into disarray.

Wolves are not like deer, elk or other hunt-able species.  They should not be listed with other hunted species.  Even more stunning, Department of Fish & Wildlife include in their online survey for the 2015-2017 hunting regulations a category for wolves!

Evidence clearly shows livestock and wolves can coexist – but can humans learn to live in harmony with wolves?  Wolf and livestock conflicts have predominately occurred on public lands and in situations where livestock were not observable and essential indefensible.

Deadline for comments is November 15.  Send your comments to:

Online:  https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/post-recovery-planning

By Mail:

Lisa Wood SEPA/NEPA Coordinator

WDFW Habitat Program

Protection Division

P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504-3200

  https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/5dbb1a1ae5f63.image_-300×179.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #RestoreWolvesToESL #WolvesInTheNews #WolvesInWashington