Media Release: Wolf Patrol monitoring project arrives to protest hunt in Wisconsin

10628931_278537145679266_6780196933498532182_oCoinciding with National Wolf Awareness Week, a coalition of citizen monitors from Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and other states will  be patrolling Wisconsin’s recreational wolf hunt, which begins October 15th. Great Lakes Wolf Patrol (GLWP) will be documenting the use of steel-jaw leg hold traps on public lands to capture gray wolves, and investigating claims that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is under reporting wolf mortality, and failing to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Wisconsin.

GLWP is made up of members of the same group that led a citizen monitoring effort outside Yellowstone National Park in Montana. YELLOWSTONE WOLF PATROL members hiked into the back country, without incident, on the opening weekend of Montana’s wolf hunt in September, to document the hunt. GLWP members in Wisconsin are hoping that their monitoring efforts will help empower citizens to act in defense of wolves, and lobby their elected representatives to stop the trapping and hound hunting of wolves in Wisconsin.

GLWP believes that wolf recovery in the great lakes is still a work in progress, and that wolf populations in Wisconsin and Michigan while healthy, are still a fraction of what they once were, and what they could be again. Members of GLWP believe that the near extinction of gray wolves in Wisconsin and Michigan in the last century, was the result of our past misunderstanding and ignorance of the role apex predators such as gray wolves play in a healthy ecosystem. Yet, after only 30 years, Wisconsin’s recovering wolf population has seen a return to lethal control policies that are drastically reducing the state’s wolf population between 20-50% annually.

GLWP maintains that state and federal agencies, as well as individuals are legally allowed to kill wolves involved in the depredation of livestock, and that a recreational hunt only increases the likelihood of new predations by younger less savvy wolves. GLWP also supports the development of wolf watching tourism such as that in Yellowstone National Park which brings much needed income to economically depressed areas. “Wolves are worth more alive than dead, to smart states that have decided to bank on their return.” says Matt Almonte, a patrol member new to the campaign.

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Activist teams enter Yellowstone backcountry to document and protest Montana Wolf Hunt

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014 – Americans outraged with the killing of wolves from Yellowstone National Park (YNP) have organized the YELLOWSTONE WOLF PATROL, whose members have entered the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness to monitor and document Montana’s wolf hunt which begins September 15th. Nine members of the Wolf Patrol are currently trailing hunters, who in the last two years, have killed wolves belonging to packs originating from YNP where hunting is prohibited.

Wolf Patrol members are opposed to the sport hunting of wolves in Wolf Management Units (WMU) 313 & 316, and are asking Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) to immediately stop the hunt before more wolves are killed. Yellowstone wolves cross over from the park into WMU 313/316 where since 2012, twelve have been killed by hunters. At least three of the wolves shot in the 2012/2013 season were of high social rank (alpha female or beta male), thus negatively affecting reproduction, hunting behavior, and territorial defense of these unique packs. 7 of 10 (70%) packs living primarily in YNP had at least one wolf killed by hunters.

Wolf hunting in WMU’s 313 & 316, negatively impacts the local economy, including wildlife guide companies, hotels, restaurants, park tourism, and other wildlife-observation-based industries. Yellowstone National Park is one of the few places left in the world where wolves can not only be studied, but also provide tourists from all over the world an opportunity to see a wild wolf. The recreational killing of apex predators is negatively impacting important predator research while also robbing wildlife watchers of a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Yellowstone Wolf Patrol supports the growing economy in wolf tourism, and believes that MFWP is catering to a few special sport hunting interests, all at the expense of one of our nation’s most pristine ecosystems. “In allowing the killing of Yellowstone wolves, MFWP is not just shooting wolves, but also itself in the foot, because this hunt is giving the entire tourism industry a black eye.” says Patrol member, Julie Henry, “We are not opposed to Montana residents filling their freezers with elk, but the wolves were here first, and deserve protection from recreational killing.”