Welcome! I'm the Founder and President of Care2. In this blog I share my thoughts and updates on Care2, and welcome your feedback. Feel free to add me as a friend,subscribe to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter so you can get the latest updates. Thank you for being part of Care2!
"The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to love, mad to talk, mad to be saved; the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." - Jack Kerouac
A week ago I trumpeted the success of wolf-reintroduction efforts in the northern Rockies.How quickly things can change. On Friday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a stunning blow to the wolf recovery efforts: he’ll delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act.
The administration plans to delist wolves in Montana, Idaho, the western Great Lakes and several other states, while protections in Wyoming will be maintained.What this means is that states where wolves are delisted will be allowed to re-establish hunting seasons on wolves.Given the enthusiasm among some hunters and ranchers for exterminating wolves, we can be sure that wolf populations could suffer dramatically.Last time restrictions were lifted (April, 2008), at least 130 wolves were killed as hunters jumped at the opportunity.
With approximately 1,500 wolves in the northernRockies, the various populations are still mostly genetically isolated from each other and from Canadian populations – meaning that inbreeding and disease could decimate US populations. Further reducing populations by hunting could significantly weaken their long term genetic viability.
Many of us believe the new administration was bringing in a new kind of thinking, yet this act is short sighted, fear-based, and caters to a few special interest groups.
So why is Salazar delisting wolves?Two primary reasons:
1. The Big Bad Wolf Bias: We all grew up hearing stories of Little Red Riding hood, the Boy Who Cried Wolf, and other fables warning us to be afraid of wolves. Of course, just about anyone who has seen, or tried to see, wolves knows how fearful they are of humans… but few get to actually see wolves in the wild, and so that stigma persists.
The Hunter Argument: The Idaho Fish & Game department, among others, argues that state revenues from elk hunters are lost when wolves kill elk. While elk hunting is indeed big money (a single non-resident license can be $650 or more, and Idaho estimates each elk harvested to generate about $8,000 in total revenues for the state) the argument is weak:
Wolves generally kill the sick and weakest animals, not those targeted by hunters.
Culling of the weak animals improves the overall health of the herd over the long run, and in the short term reduces feeding pressure on healthier elk during harsh winters.
There were plenty of elk before the wolves were exterminated from much of the region, so there’s little reason to believe wolves will now decimate elk populations.
It doesn’t consider the myriad positive economic benefits of wolves (from tourism to a healthier ecosystem that may actually increases populations of other “game” animals)
The Rancher Argument: Salazar is a rancher himself, and many ranchers fear wolves hurt their incomes. The primary concerns are that wolves are killing livestock and scaring herds. While Defenders of Wildlife helped establish a fund to compensate ranchers for livestock losses, ranchers argue many of their losses are not covered. Ranchers often graze their cattle, unattended, on public land during the summer, only to find a significant percentage of the herd missing when rounded up in the fall. The cause is often impossible to know, but some ranchers blame wolves for their losses.
Of course the above arguments reflect thinking from an unsustainable status quo.We were used to 70+ years without wolves in the northern Rockies, which meant elk populations grew too large for the environment to support, and ranchers got used to grazing their herds nearly risk and cost free on public land.What we need is for the government to stand strong, do the right thing and protect wolves, and eventually we’ll establish a new status quo where the value of wolves in the ecosystem is recognized.Reducing the wolf population today jeopardizes what was becoming one of the great environmental success stories of our generation.
I encourage you to sign our petition to urge President Obama to re-list gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.
I’ve just returned from a week in Yellowstone, observing the wolves in the beautiful winter landscape.Many of us at Care2 have helped support the reintroduction of the wolves, so I’m pleased to be able to give the following update.
I was able to observe 15 wolves, mostly from the Agate and Druid packs in and around the Lamar valley.Most of the time the wolves were a mile or more away and we’d view them through high powered spotting scopes as they rested or pursued elk.However, on one occasion we were fortunate to see a black male wolf on an elk kill just off the road near the Mammoth hot springs.Looking into the eyes of this amazing creature as he stared back was an incredible experience.
Today, there are approximately 120 wolves in Yellowstone, and perhaps a total of 1,500 in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and now Colorado.That’s remarkable considering there were none prior to 1995.The last of the original Yellowstone wolves were extirpated by park officials back in 1926.They were considered a predatory nuisance and detriment to the elk population, while lacking the touristic appeal that saved the grizzly bears.It took many years of fighting and lawsuits to get them reintroduced, in great part due to the efforts of our friends at Defenders of Wildlife.In 1995 and 1996, 31 wolves (from Canada) were released in Yellowstone.
Beyond the sheer number of wolves now living in the region, the wolf reintroduction has been a fantastic success for the whole ecosystem.Because wolves are a keystone species, their impact is widespread.I hadn’t seen the wolves since my last trip to Yellowstone in 2001, but it’s clear the entire ecosystem is now healthier, and many of the imbalances caused by 70 years without wolves are being righted.
Ten interesting things I learned about the impact of the wolf reintroduction:
Since the reintroduction, the number of elk in Yellowstone has declined, though not precipitously. Some reduction is due to wolf predation, but the population of elk was, arguably, too high to begin with as elk had few natural predators.
Because the elk are more skittish now (they can’t lounge around in the open anymore without inviting interest from wolves), the willow, cottonwood and other shrubs they’ve eaten/decimated for decades are beginning to make a comeback.
The increase in willow and other tree saplings is helping to boost the moose population, along with the number of beavers and muskrat.
The wolves have reduced the coyote population considerably, which means there are now more rodents for badgers and some birds of prey which are making a comeback.
The reduction in coyote numbers has also helped to boost the population of pronghorn antelope (whose young are particularly susceptible to coyotes in their first few weeks of life).
The outcry from ranchers has subsided somewhat from the fevered pitch in 1995 (though wolves are killing sheep and cattle outside the park, the government kills these “nuisance” wolves, and ranchers are reimbursed for their loss). Elk hunters are currently some of the most vocal opponents of the wolves.
Wolves tend do well during the winter, as their broad paws allow them to move (relatively) easily through the snow while their prey gets bogged down / weak from the harsh winters.
This past year was particularly hard on the wolves as disease (probably distemper) killed numerous pups and territory disputes lead to a number of wolves killing other wolves.
Wolves from Yellowstone/Wyoming and Idaho are beginning to spread, sometimes wandering hundreds of miles, including south to Colorado and Utah.
When wolves were temporarily de-listed from the Endangered Species Act in 2008, at least 130 were killed (nearly 10% of the total), as hunters jumped at the opportunity to kill wolves outside the park.
While the future of wolves in Yellowstone and the northern Rockies is not secure, it was gratifying to see the progress they’ve made over the past 14 years.The ecosystem is coming back in balance, and the reintroduction program offers hope for other species reintroduction programs worldwide.
Watching the wolves, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for all the people who cared so much, and fought so hard to get these magnificent creatures back where they belong.And I’m proud that so many Care2 members have been a part of it.Whether you sent letters to your representatives, volunteered your time, or financially supported the organizations working on the front lines, I hope someday you all will be able to see these wolves in the wild and feel the joy of your efforts.
Nike is victory, success,
overcoming great odds to
reach ones goal. She does
not teach victory at any
cost, but rather victory
through honesty and fair
play. She was a
companion of Athena She
was depicted as having
wings and wearing a
annual growing up to a
tall. Bunches of oval
shaped leaves at base of
several stems grow up to
produce tubular flowers
late summer that are pink
with yellow centers.
Use: Entire plant is
used, gathered at flow...
Believed to be the
missing herb Atterloathe
of the nine Anglo-Saxon
herbs. This from Culpeper
"It is a most gallant
herb of the Sun; it is a
pity it is no more in use
than it is. It is an
especial remedy against
the biting of the Viper,
and all other ...
cinquefoil leaves, yellow
apricot scent, seedheads
stick to clothes.
Use: steep fresh leaves
in water to make
infusion, used as an
external astringent to
stop bleeding and for
Luna is the feminine
personification of the
moon. She holds great
power over the cycles of
life, including birth and
death, as well the tides
of the Ocean.
She regulates the seasons
and the months, and is
associated with the first
day of the waning ...