Snippets: A Defenders Roundup
You did it!
© Graham McGeorge
Bison broke through another barrier this spring when 61 genetically pure bison took their first steps onto Fort Peck Indian reservation in Montana. Defenders helped move the bison from a quarantine facility near Yellowstone National Park and is a leading proponent of returning wild bison to historic habitat on tribal lands. “These tribal bison reserves have potential for expansion and will also lead by example for tribal and public land managers elsewhere,” says Jonathan Proctor, Defenders’ Rocky Mountain representative. “This is a significant milestone in returning these magnificent animals to parts of their historic range.” And it was made possible by thousands of Defenders supporters. Thank you.
Outrunning off-road vehicles on Cape Hatteras
There’s new hope for nesting sea turtles and endangered shorebirds now that long-awaited, permanent safeguards are in place to prevent off-road vehicles from overrunning beaches at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.
Defenders first turned to the courts for help in getting the National Park Service to protect the important nesting habitat beginning in 2007, after unmanaged beach-driving had resulted in alarming drops in population. In 2004, only 44 sea turtle nests were recorded. But after temporary rules were put in place in April 2008 a record-breaking 153 nests were recorded in 2010, with another 147 recorded in 2011. The same thing happened for piping plover chicks. No chicks survived to fledge in 2002 and 2004, but 15 learned to fly in 2010 and 10 more in 2011.
“The new permanent rules will ensure that Cape Hatteras continues to provide enjoyment to beach users while protecting the unique wildlife that call the seashore home,” says Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders.
Feds help Idaho officials kill wolves
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services teamed up with Idaho state wildlife officials to kill 14 wolves in the Clearwater National Forest in northern Idaho in February in an attempt to boost elk numbers. “This is a completely unwarranted expansion of the federal government’s role in Idaho’s unscientific persecution of delisted wolves,” says Don Barry, Defenders’ executive vice president. Hunting, trapping and more government-control activities had already killed 28 others in the same area.
“These actions validate Defenders’ long-held concern that wolves were prematurely removed from federal endangered species protections to allow states to drastically reduce wolf numbers,” says Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ Northern Rockies representative, adding that there is no scientific evidence that the ecosystem is out of balance because wolves are back. Many factors other than the return of wolves have contributed to the decline of the elk herd in the forest’s Lolo region, including road-building, predation by other species, and over-hunting by humans.
Statewide, more than 400 wolves have been killed in Idaho since the beginning of 2011—more than half the state’s estimated 705 total population at the end of 2010.
“It’s wrong to ask American taxpayers to subsidize the killing of wolves to artificially boost game populations,” says Stone. “Killing dozens of wolves without addressing these other factors is hugely misguided and defeats the purpose of restoring the species. Wolves are vital to maintaining nature’s balance and should not be eliminated so carelessly.”