Hello again from Earthjustice! You might remember our colleague Greg from his AMA on bees and pesticides. We’re Tim Preso and Marjorie Mulhall, attorneys who fight on behalf of endangered species, including wolves. Gray wolves once roamed the United States before decades of unregulated killing nearly wiped out the species in the lower 48. Since wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in the mid-90s, the species has started to spread into a small part of its historic range.

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decided to remove Wyoming’s gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act and turn over wolf management to state law. This decision came despite the fact that Wyoming let hunters shoot wolves on sight across 85 percent of the state and failed to guarantee basic wolf protections in the rest. As a result, the famous 832F wolf, the collared alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, was among those killed after she traveled outside the bounds of Yellowstone National Park. We challenged the FWS decision in court and a judge ruled in our favor.

Now, politicians are trying to use backroom negotiations on government spending to reverse the court’s decision and again strip Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. This week, Congress and the White House are locked in intense negotiations that will determine whether this provision is included in the final government spending bill that will keep the lights on in 2016, due on President Obama’s desk by December 11.

If you agree science, not politics should dictate whether wolves keep their protections, please sign our petition to the president.

Proof for Tim. Proof for Marjorie. Tim is the guy in the courtroom. Marjorie meets with Congressmen on behalf of endangered species.

We’ll answer questions live starting at 12:30 p.m. Pacific/3:30 p.m. Eastern. Ask us anything!

EDIT: We made it to the front page! Thanks for all your interest in our work reddit. We have to call it a night, but please sign our petition to President Obama urging him to oppose Congressional moves to take wolves off the endangered species list. We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention that today is Giving Tuesday, the non-profit's answer to Cyber Monday. If you're able, please consider making a donation to help fund our important casework. In December, all donations will be matched by a generous grant from the Sandler Foundation.

Comments: 2832 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

doughnutman508530 karma

Wolves seem to be doing just fine in Montana without protection. What's wrong with a management plan that keeps a majority of people happy and strikes a good middle ground?

TimPEarthjustice158 karma

Wyoming's management plan is not like Montana's. Wyoming's proposed wolf management approach differs from any other state in the Northern Rockies region by declaring open season on wolves year-round across 85 percent of the state. Because of that sweeping authorization for unregulated wolf killing, it was very important for Wyoming to provide adequate legal protections for wolves in the remaining 15 percent of the state where wolf killing would be regulated. As a federal judge determined, the state failed to do so. From our perspective, a state plan that allows eradication of wolves across 85 percent of the state and provides insufficient safeguards in the remainder is not a good middle ground.

NoFunHere378 karma

You are referring to wolves as endangered species in your second sentence. Isn't the term "endangered species" a phrase with a specific legal definition? Are you arguing that the wolves are still legally an endangered species?

At what population level will the wolves no longer be considered endangered in Wyoming?

TimPEarthjustice239 karma

The official government recovery standard calls for 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park, with genetic connectivity to other wolf populations and adequate state regulations to make sure that neither the population nor connectivity requirements is compromised in the future. Wolves were returned to the endangered list in Wyoming because a federal court found that Wyoming does not provide adequate state regulations to protect the species. In addition, Wyoming wolves remain largely isolated from any other wolf populations.

NoFunHere108 karma

Thanks. for the answer.

Can you explain why it is important to distinguish between inside the park and outside the park? Isn't the goal to have a sustainable population regardless of whether they are in or out of the park?

TimPEarthjustice180 karma

Because Yellowstone National Park is not under the State of Wyoming's authority, the federal wildlife agency established a recovery standard that imposes specific population requirements for the area that the State does control -- i.e., the area outside the Park. This is because Yellowstone National Park is not big enough to support a sustainable population by itself. The idea was that the combination of the Park wolf population plus the required population outside the Park would together ensure a sustainable population for the future.

Lbsaki131 karma

Weren't Oregon wolves removed from state endangered species list? What does that mean for the local population?

TimPEarthjustice50 karma

Oregon removed wolves from its state endangered species list on Nov. 9, 2015. As a result, more lethal measures could be allowed to manage wolves in Oregon in the future. An upcoming wolf plan review could also lead to changes in protections. Oregon's action has no effect on wolves west of highways 97, 20 and 395, which are still protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

ColdLatvianPotato79 karma

Wolves have started to show up here in Denmark again after maybe 200 years without them. Only very few of them but they seem to stay. Came in from the German border its presumed.

How do you feel about wolves reintegrating themselves after being "extinct" In a country for 200 years? I'm happy about it myself :)

TimPEarthjustice53 karma

The experience of wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies shows that wolves can successfully recolonize a landscape if there is sufficient habitat available and human killing of wolves is adequately limited. The return of the wolf can herald a return of wildness to the landscape and many people find that very inspiring.

danceswithbourbons6 karma

Do you favor the proliferation of wolves because you like seeing rural western people unable to self sustain through harvesting elk and moose as we used to? Do you hunt elk? Have you seen firsthand, as I have, the decimation of elk herds at the hands of wolves and people like yourself?

TimPEarthjustice5 karma

Yes I have hunted elk, and I and many others enjoy experiencing elk and other species in a diverse environment that includes native predators such as wolves. As to impacts on elk hunting, the fact is that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported that Wyoming elk hunters killed a near-record number of elk in 2013 -- 25,968 elk with a hunter success rate of about 45 percent. As to sustaining rural communities, the good news is that wolf-related tourism has boosted many local economies in the Northern Rockies region. A recent study documented that wolf restoration has produced a $35.5 million annual economic benefit to the Greater Yellowstone area.

10-2004 karma

Wolves are my favorite animals and I enjoy reading and learning about them as a hobby.

Can you recommend any reading material or documentaries on them?

Most of the things I own or have seen are Yellowstone documentaries. My favorite was the Druid Pack, and watching 302M be a stud.

I also was wondering about wolf migration, and if there is a reason as to why a wolf would travel almost 1,000 miles away from Yellowstone?

TimPEarthjustice4 karma

I always recommend Aldo Leopold's essay "Thinking Like a Mountain." Barry Lopez's "Of Wolves and Men" is another good read. As to why a wolf would travel so far, my understanding is that wolves are natural dispersers and such far-flung travels are not uncommonly undertaken to access new territory.

yertles3 karma

Why are people shooting the wolves in the first place?

TimPEarthjustice7 karma

While some wolves are shot due to conflicts with livestock, others are shot for recreational hunting under state law. But Wyoming's laws go even farther to allow wolves to be killed without any limit, year-round, throughout 85 percent of the State's territory. This amounts to a wolf eradication policy for the great bulk of Wyoming, including areas that are important migration corridors to link wolves in Wyoming up with populations in Montana and Idaho.

yertles2 karma

Thanks! Can you give an estimate (with a source preferably) of the percentage of wolves that are shot for recreation-only purposes?

TimPEarthjustice4 karma

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Program 2014 Report (which is the most recent one available), 481 wolves were killed by hunters in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming in 2014. That represented 68% of all human-caused wolf mortality in 2014.

yertles3 karma

Our of curiosity, what is the counter-argument for keeping no-limits hunting around? What is the total wolf population and what would be a sustainable rate of death per year for the population to remain stable?

TimPEarthjustice0 karma

The unlimited hunting in Wyoming is intended to prevent a wolf population from occupying that area. In the Northern Rockies, the total wolf population is estimated at 1,657. The sustainable mortality rate for a wolf population is a subject of significant debate in the scientific literature.

CypripediumCalceolus2 karma

Aren't most livestock kills from wild dogs?

TimPEarthjustice8 karma

Actually, according to the US Department of Agriculture, most livestock losses are from more mundane factors including disease and weather. Only about 0.6% of losses were attributable to domestic dogs. Losses due to wolves are even less.

Cookiller2 karma

Thank you for doing this! I am currently a 1L looking into a career in Native American/environmental law. Do you have any advice? Also do you guys have summer internship opportunities?

TimPEarthjustice3 karma

My advice is to seek a summer internship with an organization that does the kind of work you seek to pursue and then capitalize on that opportunity by demonstrating your abilities. Our summer internship opportunities are detailed here: http://earthjustice.org/about/jobs

youngauthor1 karma

Maybe not the best place to ask, but how does somebody go about getting an entry level position with a firm like yours?

I have a bachelors degree from University of Vermont and want to go to law school and practice environmental law but I know I'm a few years from being able to afford law school. Ideally I would be able to gain experience and then keep working while going to law school at night.

Anyways keep up the good work.

TimPEarthjustice2 karma

The best way to get a position with an organization like ours is to work with us as a summer intern during law school and demonstrate your abilities. We post summer internship opportunities on our website: http://earthjustice.org/about/jobs

superhotbunnysex0 karma

Why in the world would someone want to shoot a wolf? They are such majestic creatures.

Have you ever seen the film "Never Cry Wolf," or read the book?

TimPEarthjustice2 karma

Thanks for the comment. Never Cry Wolf provides a compelling account of an inspiring experience with wild wolves. Another great literary testament to the importance of wolves for a healthy ecosystem is Aldo Leopold's essay "Thinking Like a Mountain." Still, the fact remains that wolves generate passions unlike any other wildlife species in my experience. Some people love them but others hate them and want to eradicate them.