National Wolfwatcher Coalition "DECLARATION" on Wolf Hunts
November 7, 2011
Declaration from Executive Director Dave Hornoff, who is also a member of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies…
Idaho and Mont. state wolf hunts head to court
By MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — With more than 150 wolves shot in the Northern Rockies so far this fall, a panel of federal judges on Tuesday is scheduled to consider an emergency halt to public hunts for the animals.
Congress cleared the way for the hunts last spring, when lawmakers took the unprecedented step of stripping Endangered Species Act protections from more than 1,300 wolves in Montana and Idaho.
Wildlife advocates sued to reverse the move and want the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend the hunt while the case is pending. They claim Congress violated the Constitution’s separation of powers mandate by reversing prior court rulings that kept protections in place.
Montana set a 220-wolf quota for its hunt. Idaho’s hunt has no cap.
Prior requests for an emergency injunction to halt the hunts were denied. Now, more than two months after the states’ wolf seasons began, advocates will get the chance to make their case Tuesday before a three-judge panel. They said the killing is removing animals that are valuable to science and beloved by wolf watchers.
“They get a bad rap — they’re the big, bad wolves,” said Dave Hornoff with the National Wolfwatcher Coalition. “But you see them with their pups, you watch them raise their pups and the pups grow up. You become very attached. Dying in this manner (hunting) is very hard to accept. It’s disheartening.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring the hunts, but agency officials said they have no plans to intervene because wolves have recovered in the region.
State officials said they need to curb the predator’s population to prevent attacks on livestock and big game herds.
Montana’s quota was set with the goal of reducing wolf numbers by 25 percent compared with last year, to 425 animals.
Idaho officials have said only that they plan to maintain at least 150 wolves, out of a current population of at least 700 animals.
If wolf numbers drop below 100 animals in either state, federal officials would step in to restore endangered species protections. That safety valve undercuts the plaintiff’s contention that the hunts could cause irreparable harm, attorneys for the government contended in court documents filed in advance of the hearing.
The attorneys wrote that an injunction would be an extraordinary step for the court to take and that the plaintiffs “come nowhere close to meeting the test.”
They also argued that Congress was within its bounds to act on the issue, because lawmakers had been informed by government scientists that wolves were biologically recovered.
“Congress had the right to make that policy choice,” Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno wrote. He added that the plaintiffs’ separation of powers argument was flawed. Moreno also cited prior court opinions that called for a “high degree of judicial tolerance” when Congress intervenes in a matter subject to litigation.
Sporting and gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association and Safari Club have intervened in the case on the side of the federal government.
National Wolfwatcher Coalition Co-President Dave Hornoff made a Declaration that was attached to the Court Action which is being heard on November 8, 2011 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit. That Declaration has been called a very powerful document and we can only hope that the Court feels the same way as do we. We lay great hope in the wisdom of the court to make the right decision in this case and stop the hunting of wolves until the full case can be heard.
We acknowledge that it is certainly a time to celebrate when a species recovers to the point of sustainability once again, as a thriving healthy species once again in the wild. In this case Congress displayed what we like to call “bad politics” by removing wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act by attaching riders to the Budget Bill, 2011. The best scientific eveidence was ignored and now there are wolf hunts going on in the Northern Rockies. This delisting of wolves was done with special interest groups in mind, and not based on science. What is happening in the Northern Rockies with the number of wolves being killed falls far below the level of sustainability of the wolf species. I ask, “When does the American people once again get to be that special interest group in the eyes of Congress?
We can all agree that the economy certainly takes center stage. There is no doubt. But the environment needs to take a very close second. Like ten year old National Wolfwatcher Coalition member Alyssa Grayson states, ” This is the only Earth we have. If we ruin this one there won’t be any other place to live.”
Read the following Declaration, which is actually a statement from ALL wolf advocates, young and old. Wolves certainly do get a bad rap and contrary to the many beliefs, the majority of citizens across this nation have absolutely no problem or hesitation living with wolves. Just ask them.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
ALLIANCE FOR THE WILD ROCKIES, et al., Appellants in No. 11-35661,
CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, et al., Appellants in No. 11-35670
KEN SALAZAR, Secretary of the Interior, et al., Appellees
in Nos. 11-35661 & 11-35670,
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION, et al., Intervenors-Appellees
in Nos. 11-35661 & 11-35670,
SAFARI CLUB INTERNATIONAL, et al., Intervenors-Appellees
in Nos. 11-35661 & 11-35670,
MONTANA FARM BUREAU, et al., Intervenors-Appellees
in Nos. 11-35661 & 11-35670.
On Appeals from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana
Nos. 9:11-cv-00070-DVM & 9:11-cv-00071-DVM
DECLARATION OF DAVID HORNOFF
James Jay Tutchton Rebecca Kay Smith
Tutchton Law Office LLC Public Interest Defense Center P.C.
Attorneys for Appellants, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, et al
I, David Hornoff, declare as follows:
1. I make the statements in this declaration based upon my personal knowledge. I am competent to testify to the matters stated within.
2. I am a member in good standing with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and make this Declaration in support of its Motion for an Injunction Pending Appeal.
3. I am a wolf enthusiast, and spend a great deal of time inside Yellowstone Park for the purpose of observing, studying, and photographing wolves. Most of my time doing this is in an area known as the northern range, between the north and northeast entrances to the Park. I am but one of several that visit this area to watch wolves in the wild.
4. On recent visits to Yellowstone, during the months of April, June, and September/October, I focused on watching three separate groups of wolves: The Lamar Canyon Pack, The Blacktail Plateau Pack, and a group not yet considered a pack, known simply as 642’s Group. 642’s Group was made up of five wolves, two females, being 642F and 752F, a yearling and two pups. However, the last time I saw them, in an area known as Boulder, I only saw 642F and 752F and what appeared to be a yearling wolf, black in color.
5. When wolf-watching in Yellowstone, I engage with other visitors from this country and all over the world, and allow many to use my spotting scope to watch wolves, and also describe to them what wolves they are seeing and answer any other questions they might have. I find it incredible the large amount of people that are there every day I visit Yellowstone, for the sole purpose of wolf watching. It has become like a large knit family of people from around the world. For this reason a website was created and titled, Yellowstone Reports. This site reports on daily behavior of the wolf packs of Yellowstone and serves people in between visits as they become very attached to the wolves they have seen, and want to know of their daily activities. I know this first hand as not only do I engage with many inside the Park, but I also write and post articles for Yellowstone Reports, and many people comment to me about my articles when I am there.
6. Sadly I feel that I may have been one of the last people to watch 642F. I saw her on September 29, 2011 along a ridge in Boulder but for only a very short time. The last report of her and her group on Yellowstone Reports was on September 28, 2011. I learned shortly thereafter that hunters had killed 642F in the area of the Absaroka- Beartooth Wilderness along the northern border of Yellowstone but outside the Park. There were only three hunting tags issued for this area, and 642F was killed by the holder of one of those three licenses. She was positively identified through her radio collar. Many people have expressed sadness and even anger that this Yellowstone wolf wearing a radio collar, and who had become closely familiar to many, had been killed in this wolf hunt. I am one of those many.
7. The death of 642F reminds me so much of the abbreviated wolf hunt of 2009. At that time a wolf pack known as the Cottonwood Pack occupied Boulder and the Slough Creek area, and were an extremely popular and visible wolf pack of Yellowstone. I believe what helped to make them so very popular was the breeding female 527F was a granddaughter of the legendary Druid Peak Pack famous breeding pair 21M and 42F. This pack was made famous by the several PBS, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel films. Today, people still talk about the Cottonwood Pack and how much they are missed. During the 2009 hunt, this highly visible Yellowstone Pack was decimated by hunters as the alpha female, seven-year old 527F, and the four-year old beta female, black in color, 716F, were shot and killed during the hunt just outside Park boundaries along Hellroaring just north of Yellowstone National Park. The death of these two wolves hit the wolf watching community and those that study them and collect research data very hard as many would watch them each and every day in Yellowstone. Losing the breeding female 527F, who was the granddaughter of the famous Druids 21M and 42F sadly signaled the end of this pack. They had been a pack of seven adults and four pups, and the fate of the remaining wolves is unknown.
8. Now when I go to the Park I do think of these wolves and miss not seeing them. I worry along with so many others about the Lamar Canyon Pack. They are in the same region along the northern range and are very close to the park border. The breeding female, known simply as 06, for the year she was born, is the alpha female of the pack numbering eleven. She is also the granddaughter of Druids 21M and 42F, and has returned to her roots and now occupies the same den in Lamar Valley as did her grandparents. It would certainly be devastating to the wolf pack, wolf enthusiasts all over the world, Yellowstone National Park, and the surrounding areas should this wolf or any of this pack’s members become a statistic of the current wolf hunt. To me that would be like losing a good friend.
9. I plan to continue to return to Yellowstone National Park to watch and study the wolf packs, and have trips planned this December and again in February/March of 2012, and then planning for the Spring of 2012. It is important for me to visit Yellowstone all four seasons to study and stay in tune with the wolf pack dynamics. As it is for so many, it is my passion and Yellowstone is truly the showcase for watching and studying wolves. I, along with biologist Dr. Nathan Varley named the pack now known as the Lamar Canyon Pack. They are now a pack of eleven wolves made up of the famous wolf 06, the two males 755M and 754M, four yearlings, and four pups. They are a dynamic pack and 06 is referred to as the “Rock Star of Yellowstone.” She attracts quite a bit of attention and every time I watch her I am joined by huge crowds with spotting scopes, binoculars, and cameras. Other very visible packs on the northern range, I look forward to seeing include the Blacktail Plateau Pack and also the Canyon Pack in Mammoth. During the fall and winter months the elk migrate down from the mountains to Lamar Valley and surrounding areas that provide more food for all the ungulates, and of course the wolves follow. It is really quite spectacular to watch nature unfold before your eyes, and I have several trips planned for the immediate future . I will continue to go to Yellowstone National Park as often as I can. I only hope that 642F and the Cottonwoods are the last wolves to be lost because of hunting. We can understand when a wolf is killed by the hoofs of a bison, but not from the rifle of a hunter. These wolves are ours to watch, study, love and enjoy. I think of the Cottonwoods each time I am in Slough Creek, and now I will add 642F to that list when in Boulder. These wolves are sorely missed, can never be replaced, and their loss makes me very concerned about wolves like 06 and the rest of Yellowstone’s treasured wolves. But I will return. I will continue to watch, along with my many friends, and friends I have yet to meet, for we all share this great passion of watching our wolves of Yellowstone.
(Please note for posting purposes some legal language was removed, including dates and addresses, but the body of the Declaration has not be altered in any way.)
So now we wait and put our hopes into the Court’s hands. A lot of resources and hard work has gone into this Appeal, and we at National Wolfwatcher Coalition continue to urge everyone to support the groups that are presenting this case on behalf of wolves:
Alliance for the Wild Rockies
Center for Biological Diversity
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
November 7, 2011