Endangered Species Act: Only Obstacle to Annihilation of Wolves: Idaho shows what will happen if Endangered Species Act is altered and give states control. An article by Andrea Santarsiere in the Idaho Statesman is revealing about how states unconstrained by a robust Federal Endangered Species Act would do if the law is “defanged” as appears likely. She reports that Idaho is considering allowing “baiting” so that more wolves can be killed. The “problem” that this change is to address concerns the fact that the number of wolves killed by hunters was down to 256 in both 2014 and 2015 compared with 356 killed in 2013. She notes that the logical conclusion about the decrease is that the wolf population has declined in a major way. She also reports that State wildlife officials will cease “monitoring wolf populations”—they don’t want to provide evidence of the decline of wolves in the state. Although surveys even in conservative Western states like Idaho show strong overall support for predators like wolves and grizzlies, the truth is that wildlife (these states only care about “game”) “management” (i.e., killing) is dominated by a coalition of ranchers, hunters, and extractive industries)—they control the State “game departments” and wildlife “advisory” committees—this coalition “calls the shots.” It is only the Federal Endangered Species Act that stands between them and the annihilation of wolves. Check out the article at: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article167907557.html
Multiple Causation of Deaths of Mule Deer—Look to causes other than Wolves! Blame for drop in game populations is generally focused on predators such as wolves and grizzlies but the situation is much more complex. This point has been proven time and again as I discuss in Chapter 2 and elsewhere in my Wildlife Politics book. There are many causes of mule deer death in Wyoming with weather-influenced starvation in winters being a major factor. Researchers in Wyoming have been studying mule deer fawn survival in Wyoming because “Fawn survival has been declining since the mid-1980s and no one knows why.” Wildlife managers have long focused on wolves as major causes of decline but there are multiple causes such as “climate change, habitat loss, and disease.” Indeed, one of the lead researchers, Kevin Montieth of the University of Wyoming, admitted that he “was surprised when the first year of the study revealed adenovirus had the greatest impact on fawn populations, not predators.” Feeding of deer can lead to adovirus which has led to a change in policy. Of course, unlike humans, if the prey of wolves declines, there are automatic correcting factors as their numbers are likely to decline too. Climate change can make for extreme conditions on weather which has much bigger impact on game than predators but is not a factor that politicians or “game departments” pay attention to. Check out the Wyofile article on Fawn survival & its multiple causes at: http://www.wyofile.com/column/devastated-deer-herd-offers-rare-research-opportunity/
ORVs and wildlife in National Wildlife Refuges: The disappearance of remoteness and ability to hide from humans
ORVs and wildlife in National Wildlife Refuges: The disappearance of remoteness and ability to hide from humans. I just read an article by Robert L. Fischman et al. in the June 2017 issue of the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management titled “An Evaluation of U.S. National Wildlife Refuge Planning for Off-Road Vehicle Use.” It demonstrates how technology (in this case in the form of Off Road Vehicles) has erased the ability of wildlife to seek refuge and remoteness from humans and how the future of “wilderness and wildlife” is gloomy. The article cites evidence that “off-road vehicle use is one of the fastest-growing forms of public land recreation in the United States” and makes an argument for managing this fast-growing threat to wildlife. The article notes that ORV use is especially prevalent in lands run by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management but this article focuses on ORV use in national wildlife refuges that, though they do support multiple uses related to “wildlife-dependent recreation” including viewing and hunting of wildlife, are supposed to prioritize protection of wildlife. I was aware before this article that hunting was allowed in national wildlife refuges but I was not aware that hunters could use off-road vehicles to make their task easy—not my idea of sportsman hunting—not in the mode of Teddy Roosevelt hunting! Even when ORVs are used to just view wildlife and improve access such as to handicapped humans, they have many harmful effects on wildlife and their habitat such as: (1) “Recreational ORV activity can kill wildlife directly through collision but may also disturb animals by increasing stress and decreasing reproduction”(2) “ORVs increase access for illegal hunting” (3) “Soils are vulnerable to compaction and erosion from ORV use…mud holes and gullies causes sediment to be discharged to streams, decreasing water quality, destroying in-stream habitat, and harming aquatic organisms” (4) “Offtrail ORV use may destroy vegetation and impair wildlife habitats…plants are often weakened and become more susceptible to diseases and insects” (5) “Recreational use of ORVs also contributes to the spread of invasive species by transporting seeds and plant materials” (6) “Snowmobiles may destroy the habitat of the mammals living under the snow, and engine noise stresses larger mammals” (6) “Wheeled ORVs on beaches have been shown to adversely impact birds and crustaceans.” This article is not written by authors who are determined opponents of ORVs in wildlife refuges (though this is my position!) For example, they cite positively the provision of “ORV-aided hunting ATV shuttle system” in the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge as a good practice to allow hunters to extract wildlife from “remote areas of the Refuge.”! Thus this article is not written by anti-hunters or anti-ORVers.
They are trying to suggest “best management practices” to minimize the harmful impacts of ORVs on wildlife! However, because this article is written by dispassionate observers, it is all the more alarming to me. They cite data that 20% of the U.S. population (over 16 years of age) uses ORVs and this rapidly growing population of ORV users have completely outstripped the ability of the USFWS, Forest Service, or BLM to prevent harmful uses. Indeed, the budgets and personnel of these agencies will decrease greatly under the Trump Administration & their enforcement ability will be much weaker. The one effective mechanism to preventing harmful use concerns the use of “barriers, such as barricades and fencing, though potentially costly, are especially important where fines for violators of ORV rules may not provide sufficient deterrence.” But, the trend is towards MORE ACCESS due to pressures from the powerful ORV lobby which fights such restrictions. I feel confident that if a survey were done of the general U.S. public about the use of ORVs in national wildlife refuges that they would strongly oppose the practices described above but, as with most wildlife issues, the smaller group actively involved in these harmful practices cares very much about their rights and their intensity far outweighs that of the general American public. This is one more example of how the nature of U.S. politics means that wildlife conservation will lose until the group that cares intensely about wildlife preservation grows in numbers and takes political action. The full article is available at: http://www.ulib.niu.edu:4911/doi/pdf/10.3996/052016-JFWM-040
During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.