For Immediate Release, September 1, 2016
Contact: Andrea Santarsiere, (303) 854-7748, firstname.lastname@example.org
Investigation Sought Over Approval to Kill 4 Wolves Near Grand Teton National Park
CHEYENNE, Wyo.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project called for an investigation and the release of more public information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s authorization to kill four members of the Pinnacle Peak wolf pack in Wyoming. The Service recently authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to remove the wolves due to alleged conflicts with livestock on private land just south of Grand Teton National Park and four miles north of Jackson. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to provide the public with crucial information to determine the propriety of this authorization, including what, if any, nonlethal techniques were employed to avoid wolf-cattle conflicts at these ranching operations.
One of the wolves has already been killed, according to news reports.
“Killing wolves and other wildlife that leave national parks like Grand Teton has come under increasing scrutiny because of the impact such killings have on the mission of parks to maintain ecological integrity and provide opportunities to the public to view wildlife like wolves. The public has a right to know more when these animals are approved for killing by the government,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney at the Center. “There should be a heightened sense of responsibility to exhaust nonlethal techniques on lands so close to a national park, but the Service isn’t providing the public with any information to determine if nonlethal methods were used at all.”
Recent research has shown that if wolves spend most of their time inside national parks but are killed once they leave park lands, opportunities to view these wolves in the park are likely to decrease, which in turn may impact visitation and associated economic benefits to local communities, including the gateway town of Jackson. Some scientists have also found that removing wolves from the landscape can actually increase the potential for future conflicts because younger wolves are forced to provide for the remaining pack without having developed the hunting skills and knowledge necessary to do so.
“We are concerned that the Fish and Wildlife Service isn’t taking relevant science into account before ordering these removals,” said Santarsiere. “The science shows that hazing and nonlethal techniques are more effective at preventing livestock conflicts in the long run.”
Wolves in Wyoming are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, but when wolves were reintroduced to northwestern Wyoming in the mid-1990s, the Service gave itself the authority to permit the lethal removal of wolves that pose a threat to livestock or property. Under this authority, the Service annually authorizes the killing of wolves by federal and state employees, as well as ranchers who apply for a permit to kill wolves on their property, and it is under these provisions that the Service has authorized removal of wolves from the Pinnacle Peak pack.
The Center has asked the Service to investigate the killing of wolves in the Pinnacle Peak pack, and to provide the public with information about which ranching operations were involved, the location of those operations, whether wolves may be killed on public lands, and what nonlethal techniques were used prior to authorizing lethal removal of these wolves.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.