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No Place For Humans!

Well, that is kind of the tone of a recent propaganda piece published by the Defenders of Wildlife on their website.

One paragraph of lies reads…

“Wolves and large grazing animals lived side-by-side for tens of thousands of years before the first settlers arrived. Recent studies on Yellowstone elk and wolves have found that weather and hunter harvest affect elk declines more than wolf predation. In fact, wolves often enhance prey populations by culling weak and sick animals from the gene pool, leaving only the strongest animals to reproduce. Food availability and weather regulate wolf populations. When their prey is scarce, wolves suffer too. They breed less frequently, have fewer litters, and may even starve to death.”

“Wolves fix very few problems compared to the ones they create,” says Ed Bangs, who heads the Western Gray Wolf Recovery Project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The reality and truth of that statement is now sinking in with those who have been forced to live with wolves in the Northern Rockies, and to an even greater extent in the upper Midwest. Depending on whether one chooses to believe the wolf population numbers given by the USFWS and the state wildlife agencies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, who say there are now around 6,500 to 6,700 wolves in these six states, or the 8,000 to maybe 10,000 wolves that hundreds of thousands of hunters and other sportsmen claim are now wiping out big game populations – the fact remains we now have wolves, and they are beginning to expand their range. Which has been the goal of this project from the very start.

One northwestern Wisconsin resident who has found it increasingly tougher to live with wolves and maintain profitable livestock production is Eric Koens. And as the wolf population continues to grow across the northern tier of this state, so have incidents of wolves turning from deer and other wildlife to livestock as a source of food. And that has really started to dig into this farmer”s bottom line. Even though those who lose livestock to the wolves are compensated for losses, they are generally paid for only about one out of every five head the wolves kill.

What they are not compensated for are losses due to the stress wolves put on livestock, causing pregnant females to abort fetuses. Likewise, it is now widely believed that wolves are a contributor to the spread of neosporosis, an organism that also causes abortions in cattle. And when Koens brought this to the attention of the Wisconsin DNR, that agency totally ignored his concern.

“A man is going to get to the point where he won”t be able to tolerate the financial loss and the emotional stress of dealing with the destruction of his life”s work,” says Eric Koens.

The original goal of the Wisconsin DNR was to establish a population of about 80 wolves in the state. According to that agency now, there are around 625-650 wolves in Wisconsin. To the west, the Minnesota DNR claims to have around 3,500 wolves, while the Michigan DNR says there are now about 600 wolves in the Upper Peninsula. However, the hunter harvest of whitetail deer all across the north country of these three states has been down 40 to 60 percent the past few seasons. Collectively, USFWS and the three state wildlife agencies acknowledge close to 5,000 wolves. Sportsmen who have seen the mangled remains of deer slaughtered by the wolves, as much for fun as for food, realize there are more – a lot more wolves. Many very seasoned Wisconsin outdoorsmen put the state”s wolf population at more like 1,200 to 1,500 – with as many as 200, or more, new pups joining the ranks of livestock and wildlife killers this spring.

In Idaho and Montana, wolves have already pulled down big game populations dangerously low in some of what were top hunting units just 10 to 12 years ago. One is the Lolo Unit of Idaho, which sits right up against the Montana state line – including much of the beautiful Bitterroot Mountain range. This unit once harbored 11,000 to 12,000 elk, but this summer fewer than 2,000 elk will roam its high mountain forests and open meadows. The loss has been directly attributed to wolves. Much of it due to direct depredation of all elk – not just the sick, injured and weak that pro-wolf advocates claimed the wolves would only kill. The most significant impact on the elk of this region has been the near total loss of calves in the spring. And without that calf recruitment, these elk are also beginning to die off from old age on the other end of the spectrum. The same thing is happening at an alarming rate across all of the northern two-thirds of Idaho, and all along the western half of Montana.

“Our grandfathers warned us about what would happen if wolves were again allowed to grow in numbers. The folks from Minnesota and Canada warned us about the wolf problems that they have. What is it going to take to open the eyes of the wolf lovers who have forced this disaster upon the rest of us?” exclaims William Kornec, of Lincoln, Montana – who has hunted that area for more than 40 years.

Don Oster, now living in southern Indiana, is a retired outdoor book publisher who spent more than 20 years living and hunting in Minnesota, and says this about the 3,500 wolves that now roam the northern counties of the state, “The Minnesota DNR likes to tout the now out-of-control and growing wolf population in that state as a “Conservation Success Story”…while in reality it is nothing more than another chapter in the “Greatest Ecological Disaster” of our lifetimes. Whatever happened to common sense wildlife management? You don”t let 3,500 to 4,000 wolves run rampant…then, with a really dumb look on your face, ask…”Where did all of our deer and moose go?” The wolves may not have eaten them all…but they are responsible for the loss, even if it is due to the stress those predators put on doe deer and moose cows, causing them to abort their young…or because larger game cannot go into the dead of winter in prime condition when wolves are constantly keeping them run thin.” Don has authored several books on fishing and hunting, plus the management of those resources.

Another impact that wolves are now having on a variety of living species is caused by a tiny tapeworm they carry and are now spreading throughout their range. The eggs of that very small 3mm long parasite, known as the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm, are deposited by the thousands wherever an infected wolf leaves a pile of feces, or scat as wolf researchers like to call it. And those eggs can survive for months, just waiting for a new host. Grazing animals, like deer, elk, moose and livestock, can easily become infected by ingesting those eggs which may be on a blade of grass. Once inside, the resulting hydatid disease can cause cystic tumors in the lungs and on other organs, pulling down the animal”s health and making it more vulnerable to other diseases or the ravages of a bad winter. More than 60-percent of the wolves tested in Idaho and Montana were infested with the tapeworms. But, according the USFWS, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the chance of humans contracting hydatid disease is unlikely.

Will Graves, who researched wolves in Russia for more than a decade, and who wrote the acclaimed book “Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages”, says not to believe that. During a recent phone call with the author, he shared, “Those wildlife agencies that down play the impact and severity of hydatid disease are being extremely irresponsible. While humans do not contract the disease as easily as grazing animals, they can still catch the disease from the family dog that may have run through tall grasses laden with E. granulosus eggs…or which may have rolled in a pile of wolf feces (which they very often do)…or which could have come upon the remains of a deer or elk that may have been infected, and ate on the infected organs. We all enjoy loving on our dogs…which could be carrying and passing on those live eggs.”

In humans, hydatid disease can result in cystic tumors on the brain, which can prove fatal if not surgically removed.

Graves warned USFWS wolf expert Ed Bangs of the probable environmental impact of wolves back into the Northern Rockies in a letter dated October 3, 1993 – approximately two years before the first Canadian gray wolves were released into that wildlife rich ecosystem. Still, Bangs and the Western Gray Wolf Recovery team went ahead with their plans – turning loose 14 of those wolves in 1995, and another 17 in 1996. By 2004, the number of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area numbered more than 450, and much of the destruction of that ecosystem that Graves had warned about was already well under way.

More and more independent wolf researchers are now tearing apart the supposed “science” that pro-wolf forces keep harping about, which supposedly makes the wolf recovery project non-failing. But does it?

Sportsmen and truly scientific minded outdoor enthusiasts are now pointing out that the one major flaw in the Western Gray Wolf Recovery Project is the wolf that USFWS has used to replace the native wolf of the Northern U.S. Rockies. It”s not the same wolf. Not even close.

The native wolf of the Northern Rockies, which was once commonly referred to as the “timber wolf” commonly reached a maximum weight of around 80 pounds. Among those who consider themselves wolf scientists, that wolf is known as “canis lupus irremotus”. What USFWS dumped into the Northern Rockies were two distinctly different sub-species of wolves – one from northern British Columbia, known as “canis lupus occidentalis”, and another from northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, known as “canis lupus griseoalbus”. These two wolves are considerably larger, with adult males very commonly topping out at 140 to 150 pounds. These wolves are in no way endangered, with more than 50,000 still roaming the north country of Canada. Likewise they are not even close to being a replacement for the native wolf of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming – or anywhere else in the Northwest corner of the United States.

Opponents of the wolf reintroduction are now accusing the USFWS of violating the very purpose of the Endangered Species Act – which is to preserve, protect and support the propagation of threatened and endangered species. By introducing an invasive species, the USFWS wolf project has very likely resulted in the demise of several small pockets of native wolves believed to have still existed. Which raises the question, has this government agency violated its own endangered species policy?

To cover its backside, USFWS has attempted to manipulate science by trying to simplify wolf science by pretty much lumping them altogether as “gray wolves”…or “canis lupus”. One Nebraska cattle rancher says bunk to that, likening it to saying that all cattle are the same, remarking “Should a hunter accidentally shoot, or wolves kill, one of my registered red angus bulls, it cannot be replaced with a wild Texas longhorn bull or Brahma bull. They”re not the same…just like a non-endangered wolf from Canada is not the same as an endangered wolf of the U.S. northern Rocky Mountains! That”s why if some of those big ol” coyotes show up around here, we”ll just shoot “em…and drive off!”

One independent wolf researcher who sort of agrees is Lynn Stuter, claiming, “The “Bait & Switch” has been evident from the start…this suggests that the “reclassifying ” to only five sub-species was a matter of convenience , rather than a matter of correction.”

She goes on to say, “What is very obvious is that if environmentalists really cared about wolves, they would NOT want the indigenous species killed off by the invading species. They, however, have shown no sign of caring. This makes it very obvious that their agenda has nothing to do with recovery and everything to do with money and control. In short, the wolf is being used to achieve a political agenda.”

The sportsmen of this country are not the ignorant “rednecks” that the environmental groups work so hard to portray them. In fact, if it were not for the efforts of sportsmen and hunter based conservation groups (which were the original environmental types) big game in this country would have been totally lost a hundred years ago. It was the sport hunter who stepped up to the plate and provided the funding to restore populations of elk, deer and other big game – not early versions of the Defenders of Wildlife…the Sierra Club…or Center for Biological Diversity. Those are all more recent organizations that only exist through bilking donations out of a public that is totally out of touch with reality, and from filing frivolous lawsuits against the federal government.

“All of us hunters here in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan know there are way too many wolves in our states. We also know that wolves are rapidly decimating our deer, elk and moose herds. So, why aren”t there any programs to dramatically reduce the number of wolves? That”s an easy question to answer. The goal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to reintroduce wolves back into every state in the Lower 48! It”s their mistaken belief that once wolves reach adequate numbers, big game numbers will be “naturally controlled” – and then hunting will no longer be necessary. What these educated individuals fail to tell you, however, is that once big game numbers are depleted, livestock is next. So…what”s next after that?” remarks Greg Miller, host of the very popular “IN PURSUIT” hunting show on the Outdoor Channel.

In addition to his outdoor tv show, Miller is also a highly respected writer, with easily more than a thousand magazine articles and several books to his credit. He”s not your “run of the mill” hunter. He spends a great deal of time in the out-of-doors, probably far more than the federal and state wolf scientists who have gotten upper Midwestern sportsmen up to their chin in wolf problems. Greg knows what he sees and what he doesn”t see – and he”s now seeing a lot less deer in the area of his rural northern Wisconsin home…and a lot more wolves. In fact, he photographed one large male wolf practically in his back yard. Like the vast majority of Wisconsin hunters, he is now demanding that wolf numbers be cut back dramatically.

Whether that will happen any time soon may take an act from God, or the next thing to it, a decision by a U.S. District Court judge. More than a dozen environmental groups have kept the wolf management hunt issue tied up in court. And every day that it is, another 1,000 to 1,500 deer, elk, moose, other big game, and livestock are destroyed by wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Some of those wolves are already moving into Washington, Oregon and Colorado. And some residents of northwestern Illinois recently reported seeing large “wolf like” creatures running wild there. Just perhaps, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already started its transplants, covertly, into new areas.

Both Montana and Idaho held its first wolf management hunts this past year. In fact Idaho has extended its season until the end of March. Hunters in Montana had the season there ended prematurely by the state”s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks when the harvest approached the quota of 75. Most sportsmen here feel that this reduction of the wolf population was simply a token gesture by a game department that”s now taking a lot of heat for its failure to prevent the damage wolves have dealt other wildlife. These same sportsmen also feel the agency has been downright dishonest about the number of wolves they claim in the state – 500. Those who spend a lot of time in the wild feel there are easily twice that many, probably more.

Part of the problem is simply getting a good count on the wolves. The Montana game department does their visual count from an airplane…then uses some mathematics to come up with a number. Hunters say that”s not good enough, and feel sportsmen are seeing far more wolves from the ground – and that it is those “extra” wolves that are killing all of the game. And these hunters are now threatening to boycott the agency, not buying any big game permits or licenses, unless Fish, Wildlife and Parks comes clean in regard to the true number of wolves in the state – and makes an honest effort to dramatically reduce wolf numbers. Such a boycott for a couple of years could bankrupt the agency.

But, in 2009, that apparently was not a problem. Like elsewhere in the country, Montana shooters and hunters purchased a record amount of firearms and ammunition, and the state”s wildlife agency received a whopping $3.5-million added dollars from the excise taxes collected on those sales. How will they spend that money? Montana State Senator Debby Barrett, of Dillon, MT, suggests that they may want to invest in a very hi-tech “Forward Looking Infra Red” counting device for that airplane, which will see and count those wolves that aerial wolf counters are missing.

Now, go back and read the first line of this article. Wolf recovery project coordinator Ed Bangs probably had no idea of how squarely he was hitting the wolf nail on the head when he spoke those words.

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