For Immediate Release, September 27, 2021
Tom Rodgers, Global Indigenous Council, (703) 980-4595
Federal Officials Urged to End States’ Wildlife Management Funding in Response to Extreme Wolf-Killing Programs
WASHINGTON— State game agencies could lose a substantial portion of their budgets for eradicating their wolf populations under a proposal put forward by the Global Indigenous Council, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Center for Biological Diversity and a coalition of 25 Native American, conservation, and animal welfare organizations. The plan would deny federal wildlife management funding to states that excessively target predators, such as wolves, cougars and grizzly bears.
With the removal of federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves, states across the country have expanded controversial predator control programs by permitting trophy hunting and hunting and trapping of predators, particularly wolves, without regard for maintaining sustainable population levels.
The coalition’s rule-making petition would have Interior Secretary Deb Haaland adopt regulations making states ineligible to receive grants under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act if they allow hunting and trapping at levels that compromise healthy populations of wildlife, including predators. That condition is currently required under Pittman-Robertson, but those requirements have not been enforced.
Following public comment, Haaland would decide if a state applying for a federal grant is pursuing wildlife management practices inconsistent with the national goal of naturally diverse wildlife populations and healthy predator-prey dynamics.
This year Pittman-Robertson funneled approximately $1 billion to state game agency coffers. This federal aid constitutes a significant portion of state game agency budgets across the country.
“These wolf extermination bills passed and signed into law by rightwing extremists at the state level demonstrate that they are not only hunting democracy to extinction, they are also conflating Euro-Medieval sadism with so-called wildlife management to the same ends with wolves,” said Rain, film director and executive director of the Global Indigenous Council.
The petition targets recent actions in states such as Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wisconsin to, in essence, declare open season on wolves. In addition, the petition targets practices such as baiting and snaring of bears, “Judas” wolf collaring, use of dogs to hunt predators, shooting bears, wolves, and their young in dens, aerial spotting for land-and-shoot removals, and nighttime hunting with artificial lights.
“A healthy predator-prey relationship is necessary for healthy wildlife populations as a whole,” said Rick Steiner, a PEER Board member, conservation specialist, and retired University of Alaska professor, noting that on a wide variety of issues, eligibility for federal funding is used as a way to leverage states to comply with federal policies. “No state, including Alaska, should be granted millions of dollars in federal wildlife restoration aid each year, while they continue their ecologically destructive efforts to severely reduce or eliminate populations of wolves, bears, coyotes, and mountain lions.”
“Federal officials must stop ignoring the use of conservation funding by anti-wolf states to slaughter ecologically important carnivores,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Federal wildlife management funds should only be given to states that can be trusted to conserve their wildlife for all Americans.”
Alongside the Global Indigenous Council, PEER, and the Center, the groups sponsoring the petition are the Humane Society of the US, The Native Conservancy, The 06 Legacy, Alaskans for Wildlife, Attorneys for Animals, Footloose Montana, Friends of the Clearwater, Global International Council, United Tribes, Mountain Lion Foundation, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, Oasis Earth, Predator Defense, Project Coyote, Project Eleven Hundred, Protect Our Wildlife, Sierra Club-Toiyabe Chapter, Southwest Environmental Center, The Endangered Species Coalition, The International Wildlife Coexistence Network, The Rewilding Institute, Washington Wildlife First, Western Wildlife Outreach, Wildearth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, and Professor Adrian Treves of the University of Wisconsin.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.