States Continue to Undervalue Wolves
Idaho and Montana are selling wolf tags far below market value, depriving residents of state revenue, and disrespecting these majestic animals, declared WildEarth Guardians, a conservation organization that has thrice challenged the removal of federal protections for the Northern Rocky Mountains population. Given their rarity and the huge demand for wolf-hunting tags, states should honor wolves' conservation and only offer exclusive tag prices commensurate with their ecological import. An estimated 1,170 wolves lived in Idaho and Montana before the wolf hunts began last August.
“In South Africa, trophy hunters pay ten thousand dollars to hunt a leopard, a species that is about as rare as mountain lions in the West," stated Wendy Keefover. “Instead of valuing and conserving wolves, or lions or bears for that matter, Idaho and Montana have given away hunting tags like party favors," she added.
- Idaho charges residents $11.50 for a wolf tag, while Montana charges $19 (and $31.75 and $350, respectively, for non-resident tags). Idaho and Montana have sold nearly 54,000 wolf tags during the 2011-2012 season at these rock-bottom prices.
- As of Jan. 5, Montana has received $402,037 in license sales and Idaho has derived $479,123.
- The vast majority of wolf hunters in both states are residents—31,313 resident versus 3,785 non-residents in Idaho (an 87 percent difference), and 18,323 compared to 154 non-residents in Montana (a 99 percent difference). In Idaho, the resident trappers numbered 324 to 17 non-resident trappers.
Wolf tags are so devalued in Idaho, for instance, that it is twice as expensive to hunt pheasant, which are priced at $23.75 per tag. Pheasant, an Asian exotic, add little if any ecological value to the Northern Rockies' ecosystem, compared to wolves' enormously-documented, top-down effects.
“Wolves are priced to kill in Idaho and Montana," said Mark Salvo. “Federal taxpayers paid to reintroduce wolves in the West, paid for innumerable studies on their behavior and ecological influences, and continue to pay for their recovery across the region, and now these two states are squandering wolves and the benefits they provide to the ecosystem," he added.
While charging a pittance for wolf tags, Idaho and Montana demand substantial fees for species they consider as trophy animals—bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goats:
- Idaho requests $166.75 for a resident tag and an extravagant $2,101.75 for a non-resident tag—for each species.
- Montana charges $80 for residents to enter a drawing to hunt for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat (and then an additional $50 if one is so lucky to win a tag). Meanwhile, for non-residents Montana charges $755 for each of these trophy ungulate tags.
The majority of Americans surveyed want to see wolves conserved. Wolf-watching in the Northern Rockies by 94,000 visitors generated $35.5 million in economic activity in 2005. In comparison, Idaho and Montana have derived only $881,160 in revenues from wolf tags (although hunters have likely also generated a few million dollars in associated economic activity).
“Given the price point set for wolf tags, it is clear that Idaho and Montana have cheapened the wolf-hunting experience and demonstrated they are uninterested in managing wolves for the public interest. The insignificant fees sharply undervalues these rare, wonderful beings and insults the vast majority of Americans who do not want to see wolves hunted at all," Keefover added.
Wolf Hunting Seasons in Idaho and Montana
Wolves Killed in 2011-2012 Hunting Season
(data: Jan. 5, 2012)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that Idaho is home to 705 wolves (although the state claims it has 1,000 wolves). Idaho has neither set limits on the number of licenses it intends to issue to hunters and trappers, nor restricted the number of wolves that may be killed (although the state intends to maintain a population above the federally-mandated minimum of 150 wolves). Hunting seasons began August 30, 2011, and extends until March 2012, making pups vulnerable to starvation and death if adult pack members, particularly the alpha pair, are killed. Residents pay just $11.50 for a wolf-hunting license, while non-residents pay $31.75. To date, Idaho has sold 35,339 wolf tags.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that Montana has 566 wolves (although the state estimates the total at 645). Montana has issued more than 18,500 hunting licenses and set a kill quota of 220 wolves for 2011. The hunting season, which commenced on Sept. 3, 2011, was supposed to end in December, but was extended to Feb. 15, 2011 so that hunters can attempt to fill the quota. Residents pay $19 for a wolf tag, while non-residents pay $350. Wolf hunters in Montana can choose to leave wolves they have killed in the field, wasting the head, hide and carcass of the animal. As of Jan. 3, 2012, Montana has sold 18,323 resident tags (generating $348,137 in revenue) and sold 154 non-resident tags (generating $53,900 in revenue).
Wolf Hunting Licenses Sold for 2011-2012 Hunting Season
(data: Jan. 4, 2012)
Resident Wolf Hunting Tags
Non-Resident Wolf Hunting Tags
Resident Wolf Trapping Tags
Non-Resident Wolf Trapping Tags
Wolves as Ecosystem Engineers
Wolves, considered coursing carnivores, chase their prey over long distances. They select for vulnerable animals (aged, sick, injured), which can improve the health of prey populations such as elk. Wolves increase biological diversity where they occur. By preventing elk from loitering on meadows and fragile stream systems, wolves indirectly benefit a host of species such as beavers, songbirds, herons and moose that are unable to compete with elk for forage. Wolves also regulate the effects of medium-sized carnivores. In the Yellowstone ecosystem, for instance, wolves have significantly reduced the coyote population, which, in turn, increased the number of pronghorn in the area. Wolves even effect soil nutrients. Soil microbes and plant quality increase in the presence of wolves because decomposing carcasses enrich soils.
American Values, Federal Expenditures and Wolf Recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains
The majority of Americans surveyed want to see wolves conserved. Taxpayers and private donors have funded the wolf recovery program in the Northern Rocky Mountains since 1995. Moreover, wolf-watching tourism by 94,000 visitors to the Northern Rockies in 2005 generated $35.5 million in one year. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2006), 197,000 hunters spent $310,540,000 in 2005, while the total number of wildlife watchers equaled a whopping 755,000. Wildlife watchers spent $376,451,000 or 21 percent more than hunters.
Taxpayers have also funded research, including Yellowstone National Park's wolf project in the amount of $480,000 over a 5-year period. In 2009, hunters shot six members the Cottonwood Pack on the northern border of the park. Two wolves had radio collars that cost $1,500 per wolf. The pack was destroyed and so the long-term research project abruptly ended (95 percent of the Cottonwood Pack's territory was in the Park).
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- 29 Wildfires Blaze Across the West, Fueled by Drought and Wind ... ›
- Large Wildfires Scorch Forests in Drought-Stricken Southwest ... ›
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. mixetto / E+ / Getty Images
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. New research has found that 5.4 million Americans were dropped from their insurance between February and May of this year. In that three-month stretch more Americans lost their coverage than have lost coverage in any entire year, according to The New York Times.
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- 'Unfathomable Cruelty': Trump Admin Asks Supreme Court to ... ›
On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.
- Extreme Heat-Stressed Locations Could Increase by 80% - EcoWatch ›
- African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed to Extreme Heat ... ›
- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Government Neglect ... ›
Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.
- Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom ... ›
- Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices - EcoWatch ›
- As Fracking Companies Face Bankruptcy, U.S. Regulators Enable ... ›
A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.
- Under Trump, EPA Workers Seek Bill of Rights to Allow Them to ... ›
- Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel ... ›
By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
- Trump Admin Rejects CDC Reopening Guidelines - EcoWatch ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Breaks U.S. Daily Record With Over 15,000 New ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
- DNC Ignores Progressive Climate Activists - EcoWatch ›
- Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster? - EcoWatch ›