The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed to de-list the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States. USFWS thinks wolves are fully recovered as a healthy population and can withstand anything thrown their way. If this proposed regulation is enacted, the wolf would lose the protections of the Endangered Species Act in the states where such protections still exist. We have seen what has happened when wolves were de-listed in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. These states submitted management plans to the USFWS which permitted hunting of hundreds of wolves, down to a population of approximately 100 a state. USFWS approved these plans, and the frenzied slaughter continues. Most of our country’s wolves existed in those three states and in the national parks which adjoin them. You have heard me talk about this here before – many times.
Comments on this proposed de-listing can be made to USFWS electronically through December 17, 2013 by following this link: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service electronic comments (The link www.regulations.gov is not functioning at the time of posting; hopefully it will soon work. Please don’t give up.) Update: link is now functioning. Docket ID number is
FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073-30560 You need this number to enter a comment; number is sometimes but not always available on the link (!).
USFWS is coming to Colorado and will hold a public hearing on November 19. I will be there to give my comments in person. On October 16, Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation organizations hosted a public comment meeting to replace one cancelled by USFWS when the federal government shut down. I also made comments at this hearing. What follows is some version of the comments I intend to give November 19 and something like the comments I did give on October 16.
Please, inform yourselves about what is happening and is about to happen to wolves in this country. If you care, communicate with USFWS. They need to hear from more people who have a stake in ongoing wolf recovery and protection in the U.S.
November 19, 2013 Proposed Remarks to US Fish and Wildlife Service:
Hello U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
So happy to have you here, so you can see and hear firsthand how concerned the speakers tonight are about the continued viability on the land, the continued flourishing, the long-term good health of the gray wolf. As they go, so do we go.
Some of us attended and spoke at the meeting held October 16 at the University of Denver College of Law. Just to be sure you got my remarks from that meeting, I have submitted them as a comment. This comment tonight is more of a plea from the heart. Perhaps you might call it a scream from the heart.
What is happening to the gray wolf in the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming is nothing short of a nightmare. I wish it were only a nightmare, but it’s a living truth. Those states have submitted, and you have approved, management plans which called for and successfully carried out the killing of most of the wolves in those states. Numbers don’t lie. They don’t even exaggerate. The small population that survives can’t, without being shot, migrate outside limited national park boundaries to insure reproductive health of the species; may not be able to sustain themselves through cycles of disease; may not continue to thrive in the face of climate change which affects the habitat, health and numbers of their prey populations.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t seem to understand that Americans want wolves on the land. We want their beauty, we need their wildness, we value the benefits they bring to the ecosystems they inhabit. We crave a connection to wolves. Thousands flock to the national parks in the hope of seeing them. And when we are indeed lucky enough to see them, we realize that the fairy tales we were weaned on have nothing at all to do with their reality.
Wolves are not ferocious creatures eager to slash and kill. They are glorious wild things, not subject to our control but still very curious about us, willing to stop and take a good look. Those encounters are moments to cherish for a lifetime.
When wolves were protected by the Endangered Species Act throughout the country, I got up every morning and thought to myself, today is a good day. Wolves are safe. You can imagine what it’s like to get up today and be forced to confront the slaughter that passes for an approved management plan.
The mission statement of the USFWS, as set forth in the June 13 bulletin initiating the comment period for proposed regulations concerning gray and Mexican wolves, requires you to:
work… with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people (emphasis added).
It also requires you to:
actively engage… with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species
[F]or the continuing benefit of the American people – not just for a few people, not just for the ones who live near wolf populations; not just for people who are privileged to graze cattle on public land near wolf populations – land that belongs to every one of us in this room and in this country; but for all Americans, for me, for my children, for all of us and all our children, for our land, for our ideas about ourselves as decent people, for us. That is your mission and your duty.
And working with others in improved and innovative ways to conserve, enhance, protect, recover is also part of your mission. You need to listen to more people. You need to broaden the scope of your collaborators. You need to listen to us tonight. We are sickened by this killing and it has got to stop.
We learned in the civil rights movement that when the states can’t get the job done, the federal government has to step in. That’s why we have a federal government. And the states are not getting the job of preservation done. They’re getting their own agenda done far too well. We need the Fish and Wildlife to act, to take up once again a rather shredded mantle of protection.
Comments in more or less this form given at October 16 hearing organized by Defenders of Wildlife and others:
Thank you, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for being willing to listen to the remarks of those who have a stake in wolf re-introduction in the lower 48 states.
My name is Monica Glickman. I live in Denver and have communicated with the Fish and Wildlife service many times, by letter and email. I hope you think my communications have been civil. I believe utterly that people who disagree, or believe they disagree, can speak and listen to each other in a civil way. It’s the foundation of our democratic system, and without that ability, we do not function as a society.
I have encountered wolves in the wild a few times. Not many but a very special few. These encounters have been in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Some of these encounters have been for extended periods. For example, one encounter at Grebe Lake in Yellowstone permitted us to watch throughout the day a wolf coming and going to his kill at the lake. He knew we were there and permitted us to watch quietly from a distance. When hikers came by, he retreated into the forest. There was never a hint of a threat.
On another very special occasion in the Tetons, we encountered 2 wolves, I believe a mating pair, who may have been concerned about pups in a den. There was never a close approach, never a threat, simply a watchful interest.
Other encounters were quicker. Wolves crossing the road on their way to another kill, where 200 people waited for them. We got our own show, as they stopped at the top of the road cut to look at us. One melted into the trees. The other stopped for a long time. Curious, he stared, before going on about his important business.
On another occasion at Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone, the encounter was of a different kind. We hiked to the lake. My husband decided to take a nap while I explored the lakeshore. I returned about an hour later, and we packed up to go. On the trail, impossible to miss, was an enormous black pile of wolf scat. And disappearing into the grasses across the meadow was a large black canine. My husband was asleep on the ground. Again, no threat. Only a message – “I was here”.
The connection between wolves and humans is palpable. We seek them out, and the fascination is mutual. They always stop to look, and when a wolf looks you in the eyes, you will never forget it. Those days are among the most special of my life.
So I take it personally when wolves are shot. I take it personally when fear and myth govern their management. Management decisions, particularly at the state level, are being based upon the idea of an evil, mythical creature who kills for pleasure. I have heard people say this, and they believe it in good faith.
But you know better. So I am asking you, Fish and Wildlife Service, to take care, to take very good care that decisions regarding wolf re-introduction and continued protection are based upon fact and science, and not upon fear, hate, or myth. Those who have the power to manage wolves, whether they act for federal or state governments, must not base their decisions upon fear. This cannot be permitted.
Others will talk to you about the benefits wolves bring to the ecosystem and the ways their effect on livestock can be minimized. The science is there for you to consider.
Wolves, like other animals, including their prey, are subject to cycles of disease. And we don’t know the effect global warming will have on their ability to find food and to sustain their numbers. We can’t let those numbers get to a bare minimum and then find out we have mis-judged.
Wolves have a right to be here, and we have to find a way to live with them.
You, Fish and Wildlife, can help find another way. The day of large predator eradication is over. The day of government accountability has dawned. As concerned citizens, we ask this of you. We demand this of you. Find another way! You can do it!