No science behind war on wolves, coyotes

By on June 6, 2019 with 9 Comments

Scientists have long cautioned against the indiscriminate hunting of wolves because of the harmful effects it can have on the natural balance of an ecosystem. But this has not stopped states or the federal government from conducting a war on these beautiful native carnivores. The latest salvo is a proposed rule to strip Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the lower 48 states.

This week, a Washington Post article highlights the damage that the indiscriminate killing of wolves has already caused: the migration of coyote populations to new territories in the east, where they are quickly assuming the role of apex predator. The coyotes, the article says, surged from their original habitat in the West after government-sanctioned predator removal programs that virtually wiped out red and gray wolves.

Predictably, perhaps, but tragically, many state wildlife officials have responded to the rise in coyote populations with the same cruel and scientifically unjustified mass killing tactics used to extirpate wolves, including cash bounties, killing contests and unlimited hunting quotas.

But increasingly, states are beginning to admit that these programs do not work. Cruel killing contests have become especially controversial in this regard. In recent years, some states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, have either taken steps to ban killing contests or they have publicly declared that predator control and mass killing of coyotes are ineffective. Georgia, which waged a vicious and pointless statewide killing contest on coyotes for years, found it was a failing approach and eventually turned to educational programs to raise public awareness.

Here at the Humane Society of the United States, we have exposed the gruesome realities behind killing contests, in which contestants vie to kill the most, or heaviest, animals, and bounty programs where the state pays a reward for each kill. This is no way to control coyote populations and, as scientists point out, such culling only leads to the animals bouncing back in larger numbers.

The HSUS is now working with local governments, including, recently, the city of Atlantic Beach, Florida, on coyote management plans to humanely and effectively prevent and solve conflicts among coyotes, people and companion animals.

Science shows that maintaining wolf populations will, in turn, maintain the natural balance in areas where these native carnivores live. But state wildlife officials who are calling for federal protections against wolves to be lifted – and those who want coyotes culled using cruel means – are not taking science into consideration. Instead, they are acting at the behest of political, trophy hunting, and agricultural interests trying to put wolves in their crosshairs or traps for a trophy, out of misplaced fear or hatred, or because of trumped-up claims of the damage wolves cause to livestock – claims we have exposed as untrue in a recent report.

The fact is that wolves are still recovering and they need to maintain their federally protected status so their numbers continue to grow, and so they can stay out of the hands of hostile state management programs. The HSUS is on the front lines, working to protect native carnivores by fighting to end trophy hunting, predator control and cruel wildlife killing contests, through our investigations and through legislation. We are also engaging with grassroots advocates, scientists, veterinarians, farmers, elected officials, ethical hunters, celebrities and other conservation organizations to fight the proposed rule to delist wolves. But we cannot do this without your support. There’s still time to weigh in on the proposed federal rule delisting wolves, so please join our fight by submitting a comment opposing the proposed federal rule to delist wolves.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Aldo Roosevelt says:

    I think wolves are beautiful and majestic, however, I’m confused, how does killing wolves push coyotes to the east? Wolves kill and eat coyotes. they view them as competition. So wouldn’t the increase in wolves in the west push coyotes east?

    While I love wolves and want to see them succeed, I have a few concerns about the wolf population growing unchecked.

    Wolves kill dogs. It’s a simple fact that was overlooked in the wolf reintroduction
    scheme, but it’s become heartbreakingly too familiar to many ranchers, pet owners, and hound hunters in the region.
    Wolves consider dogs a territorial threat and may attack and kill them.
    Wolf attacks on dogs have been documented in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,
    Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Alaska.

    Wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995/1996. In the 1990’s the West Yellowstone elk herd was estimated at 19,000 head and had plummeted to ~4,900 in 2015. Idaho’s Lolo elk herd was ~13,000 head in 1994, and was reduced to ~1,945 by 2016.

    “Idaho’s Rangeland Resource Commission says wolf attacks on livestock in Idaho hit a record over the past year, and they’re anticipating more this summer. From January to June of 2018, state and federal authorities documented 61 confirmed wolf-livestock kills, the commission said Tuesday, and over the fiscal year that ended in June confirmed wolf-livestock kills on a record 113 different Idaho cattle or sheep ranches.” Idaho Press – July 24, 2018

    Officials with the Montana Department of Livestock believe that, for every “verified” wolf kill, most of which must be verified by a DNA lab if any remains are found, another seven head of livestock killed by wolves go unreported.

    Again, I love wolves and believe they’re absolutely majestic and beautiful creatures, however, I believe we have to use common sense with our approach to wildlife management and take other factors into consideration. I want to see the wolf succeed and I want to see other wildlife such as deer, elk, bears, moose, coyotes, etc. succeed. I also want to see people’s pet dogs protected as well as rancher’s livestock.


    • Kelly L. McInerny says:

      Does it surprise me a “Roosevelt” loves animals and wants to see them saved, yet equally supports the senseless killing of animals in the name of conservation? Teddy Roosevelt was not a conservationist. He was a prolific trophy hunter who murdered animals for sport and fun. He created quite a following of fellow sociopaths with Boone & Crockett.

  2. Barbara arana says:

    It is so true. Animals are vital part of environment to destroy them will breakdown our environment. Yellowstone park prove how important wolves are. Protect them

  3. Cathie Kwasneski says:

    Please do not delist these beautiful creatures. They are an Integral part of our fragile ecosystem . Thank you

  4. Ray Uriarte says:

    Without a balance of prey/ predators, the balance of nature is distrupted to cause even more distress to wildlife and habitat loss.

  5. Peggy says:

    Wolves are the most essential and necessary apex predator to maintain the healthy balance in a great many ecosystems.

    The entire notion of removing Wolves from their Endangered Species Act is rotten to the core – and an increasing number of people are aware it is ONLY corrupt politics that is the root of this ongoing War on Wolves.

    The vocabulary often used to describe a complex and beautiful creature in the smear campaign against Wolves is always the signature of the psychopathic killing machines themselves ( the trophy hunters, the soulless gun nuts who believe forests are their personal Elk farms and dirty politicians who only care about NRA money and arent capable of ethical leadership on any level) : ruthless, bloodthirsty, indiscriminate killers, etc.

    They want to kill Wolves for no other reason than hatred based on ignorance and a brutish desire to dominate a force of nature that outclasses them by by design and in spirit on EVERY LEVEL.

    The only species that needs “managing” is the human species – so let’s start by replacing this crooked disgusting administration with people who respect nature and understand Wolves are also a NATIONAL TREASURE worth protecting.

    It is long-overdue that Wolves are given permanent protection because of the type of outright lying that goes into justifying their slaughter.

    Thank you HUMANE Society of the United States for taking a stand on this issue.

    Keep it up.


    Help overthrow this CRIMINAL PLAN of stripping Wolves of their ESA protections.

    • Peggy Overbaugh says:

      100% Agree with you! humans are the cause of All the WRONGS in the world that are effecting the animals world..
      We can blame it all on humanity for the losses of are animal kingdom

  6. Rfoz says:

    I believe they’re called hunting contests, not killing

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