Newsletter - Animal Writes © sm
1 August 1999 Issue

Wolves on Trial
By [email protected]

Will the Wolves Be Exterminated Again?

On Thursday, July 29th, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, began hearing the arguments in the appeal of the Farm Bureau vs. the wolves trial. A panel of three judges will determine whether to let stand or reverse the 1997 ruling by U.S. District Judge William Downes of Wyoming. Downes found in favor of the American Farm Bureau and ruled that the wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park would have to be removed.

In 1995 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction program after many years of planning. Sixty-six Canadian grey wolves were released in the greater Yellowstone and central Idaho areas. The program was successful in several important ways. The wolves have thrived and increased their numbers to slightly over three hundred. Scientists say that the ecological balance of that region is being restored due to the presence of the wolves. Elk and deer populations are being managed naturally and many species of scavengers from birds to beetles are benefiting from the left-overs of wolf kills.

Judge Downes' decision to remove the wolves amounts to a death sentence for them if it is not reversed. The Canadian government has made it clear that they will not take the wolves and US zoos have stated that they have all the wolves they need and will not take any more. Even if a place could be found to send the wolves, the chances are slim that they would survive once removed from the Yellowstone wilderness.

Hopefully the three judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will not bow to the interests of the cattle slavers who express concerns that wolves will eat into their profits. Wolves rarely attack cattle and when they have, federal agents have destroyed them. The animal protection group Defenders of Wildlife manage a compensation fund and during the last decade have paid ranchers the fair market value for any livestock killed or injured by wolves. Many more cattle die from eating toxic plants, from blizzards, from bad management than are killed by wolves. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition has stated that "only one out of every 25,000 livestock losses in Montana are due to wolves; domestic dogs kill 200 times more livestock than wolves in Montana".

Not long ago a wolf pair ventured south of Yellowstone to the Grand Teton National Park where they had five pups. The male was killed by a vehicle on a park road in late June. Now the female is raising the pups alone and is faced with a great temptation. Grand Teton Park superintendent Jack Neckels granted a permit to a rancher to bring close to a thousand cow-calf pairs into the park to graze, within a couple of miles of the wolf den. If the female preys on any of these cattle she will be destroyed. Three groups, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and Predator Project have given formal notice that they will file a lawsuit in 60 days if these wolves do not receive the protection required by the endangered species act.

Wildlife should be granted first use of our national parks and forests, not cattle. It is long past time for reform of our nation's grazing policies. The vast majority of people in our country want the wolf reintroduction program to work and the cattle slavers should learn to live with that. It is ironic that the greatest threat to wolves in the wild would turn out to be the cow.

Animal Rights Online will continue to follow these cases, but decisions may not come for months. In the meantime you can remember that our food choices determine the fate of the wolves and the bison and the rest of the remaining wildlife. Go Vegan.

For more information about the earlier trial and on the wolves of Yellowstone visit these sites…


Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Ralph Maughan's wolf report

Go on to My Shadow
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