Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mexican wolf - spinning the results for another year

A few days ago US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a news release about the status of Mexican wolves after their annual wolf survey.  The count is down and the media is, of course making a lot of noise about a drop in wolf numbers. 

Interesting about how played down it was that two female wolves were killed during the survey by the people doing it.  And as for the remaining supposed drop in numbers? Well, FWS and the media don't want to mention that that the numbers given are actually a minimum population estimate for 2015, not an actual count. And it seems nobody wants to provide a maximum population estimate, because then one might begin to wonder why the wolf needs so much counting and protecting and all.

You can't get the flat truth from government news releases; you get spin.  And of course we know the media doesn't actually care to report "truth" or "fact" since it doesn't build readership. So you have to go to the official reports, not that US FWS makes it easy to find them.  

The news releases don't describe to the public what actually happens once a year when they're counting wolves, or what the numbers they give out actually mean. 

If you read the official reports you discover that the best that the agency can do is to count the number of wolves with working collars and the ones they were able to trap without working collars - and then to guess at how many more wolves there might be out there (a minimum guess, of course).   

Actual counting is accomplished mostly by herding wolves from the air and counting them as they run. The news releases and media don't tell the public that they also dart the wolves from helicopters so they can get collars on them or replace batteries, or give them physicals or vaccinate them.  

And they trap wolves, too.  

The news releases don't mention how a trap might happen to break a wolf's bones. Or that the agency have turned three-legged wolves back out into the wild.  The news releases don't tell you about whether the three-legged wolves survive.  

Or that sometimes the stress of being run, trapped, darted, and handled by humans happens to kill a wolf. Or two.  

Please explain to me how it could possibly not be a risk for any wild animal, much less wolves, to be treated this way once a year, every single year of their lives.  Please explain to me how often this can be done to wild animals before they are no longer wild.

Please explain to me why people are outraged that "ranchers are bad for Mexican wolves" when there's no study that's been done on the effects of Mexican wolf management itself on the wolves?  

This is not science.  This is not a program being operated for the benefit of wolves or the environment. I can't imagine how any animal lover could support the Mexican wolf program.  It's not a program, it's simply animal abuse.

I never thought I'd ever say this, but where is PETA when you need them?


  1. Lif, you are right on in this article..

    "11 wolves are considered missing according to USFWS Sherrie Barrett"...last year ground telemetry collars were changed out and re-installed, many failed due to manufacturers bad batteries. There is a high probability all 11 of these wolves are still alive.

    One example is a wolf with an orange collar was documented that had been missing for 5 years. It was running with an UN-collared male. The IFT never could capture these wolves.

    The end of the year count was canceled when the IFT killed 2 wolves during capture. The wolf count ended early so the actual end of the year number of wolves are lacking.

    Of 42 wolf pups born, 23 lived, 19 died. The lack of genetic vigor in Mexican wolves, their offspring tend to die. There are 21 packs, 10 packs had pups with at least 1 pup living at the end of the year. These counts do not reflect the number of wolves on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.

    Also, the location (UTM) of two separate sets of wolf tracks (un-collared) were given to the IFT and apparently they did not have time to document and add them to the wolf count.

    Each year the wolf count changes, but as stated, it is the "minimum". These results are based on the effort of the IFT, availability of a helicopter, and ground search. The IFT cannot say definitively there are only 97 wolves on the landscape...possibility; 97 + 11 + 2 = 110 plus numerous un-collared dispersed wolves on the landscape.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Jess. This situation just makes me so mad. Where is the real science with respect to Mexican wolf management?

      Where is the wolf population that was turned out and not ever screwed with to use as a control group? But wait - there never was one. They've been screwing with the wolves ever since day one, so there's no longer any way to actually know why pups fail to thrive or what number of wolves would represent the proper balance in a healthy natural environment.

  2. Lif,

    This comments relates to governmental entities as a whole. Governmental agencies are notorious for providing one sided information to suit their propaganda. The news media are also very good at continuing this propaganda, particularly if it is controversial, in order to increase their sales. I've had doubts on just about anything government tells me from such areas as climate change, crime, terrorism, etc. In your case, it is good to be skeptical.