BREAKING - Disturbing information, made available today through email correspondence with the Center for Biological Diversity and phone calls to Idaho Fish and Game, reveals that USDA Wildlife Services is using radio-collars on wolves in an outrageous, long-term "Judas wolf' culling strategy like that used in British Columbia. The details of this troubling practice are worse than anyone suspected, and will outrage wolf and wildlife advocates everywhere.
The Wildlife Conservation Examiner had just come across alarming news on the Never Cry Wolf (Wildlife Defence League) website. In their February 18, 2016 press release, they revealed that BC Liberals in the South Selkirk region have been radio-collaring wolves, purportedly to save dwindling mountain caribou herds. But the purpose isn't 'research', as some believe, or even, as wildlife advocates have suspected, to track collared individuals back to their den sites, after which Bighorn helicopters come in and slaughter the entire family - pups and all. No, it's much worse than that.
In their post South Selkirk Wolves Confirmed Slaughtered in Second Year of BC Wolf Cull, Never Cry Wolf revealed with horror that the tragic collared wolf, the so-called 'Judas' wolf, is doomed to a life of repeated persecution, adversity and mourning.
“We were shocked to learn the Judas wolf is kept alive year after year,” said Tommy Knowles, Campaign Director for Wildlife Defence League. “He or she is left to pack up with a new family, who are deliberately baited into the territory. The next winter, the Judas wolf’s new pack is slaughtered. If watching your family killed year after year by snipers in helicopters is what this government considers a “humane” cull, I shudder to imagine what they consider inhumane.”
Appalled, The Wildlife Conservation Examiner wondered if it's just British Columbia using a poor, lonely, unwitting 'Judas' wolf to repeatedly betray his or her own family - Or if we're doing it here, too. When asked if the use of 'Judas' wolves goes on in America, the Center for Biological Diversity confirmed the unsettling truth and furnished this statement specifically for this article:
“After Congress bypassed the Endangered Species Act through a rider that stripped wolves in Idaho from protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency began radio-collaring so-called Judas wolves, shooting their families from the air, and sparing the collared wolf so that they can do it again,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Congress now threatens to inflict the same cruelty on wolves in Wyoming through stripping them of their protections as well as protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region.”
With this chilling information, a call was made to USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, where a chipper and extremely helpful lady named Sue offered to transfer the call to a man in Idaho who, she happily assured, could answer any questions about their wolf-collaring program. A couple minutes later, a gruff-sounding man named Todd picked up. This reporter innocently asked who would be the person to could talk to, to learn about the program and the collaring of Idaho wolves?
Turns out 'Todd' was none other than Todd Grimm, himself, Idaho State Director of the infamous rogue agency Wildlife Services - And he sounded edgy, hesitant and nervous. "Uhm, we - uh, we don't really do that, no," he said, after a long pause.
"You don't collar wolves? For any reason? Ever?"
"Well, that's not - No."
"Oh - but I was told that you were the one to talk to about wolf collaring."
Hesitantly, "Well, we do some - uh - No, not here - No, that's not really something we do."
"Oh. So who does collar the wolves?"
Then, suddenly more sure of the direction he was going to take, his voice grew more authoritative, edged with anger, "That's a State issue." He provided some names and numbers at Idaho Fish and Game.
The next call was to the very pleasant Jennifer Struthers, Wildlife Biologist with Idaho Fish and Game. Jennifer was easy to talk to and very generous with her responses. We talked for several minutes about how her team traps, collars and then monitors wolves. At one point, when asked if they ever used the collars to track down and 'take out' so-called problem animals, she said "We don't personally but yes, they can be used that way." She continued, "We authorize control in those (conflict) situations. . . . Wildlife Services may put a collar on a pack to help find them." When asked who actually does the collaring then, if it's more than one agency, she said, "It's mostly us, but Wildlife Services does occasionally put out collars as well."
Asked directly about the use of 'Judas' wolves, Struthers said, "We don't call it that but I know what you're referring to. So, sometimes, in areas were we have control, or we want to do control, either because wolves have been depredating on sheep and cattle, or because in some areas we have predation management plans where wolves are heavily impacting elk population, in some of those areas we're actually removing wolves to help the elk population recover. So sometimes you collar a wolf with other wolves, and you collar one and then that wolf then can be used later to locate the pack to remove more wolves." When asked what they call the method she said they didn't have a name for it but it was 'collaring for later control.'
When asked if the collared wolf is used indefinitely she said "Well, it just depends, sometimes, well, usually that animal is left alive.They remove what they can of the rest of the pack, and it may not be all of them because of the conditions and the trees, so it may only be a few out of the group, (but the group) continues on. So then the next year, the control, at least for depredation management plans, it's done in the winter, so next year, if they come back, you locate that wolf. It may be with other wolves or it may be on it's own and not have anything else with it." (Notice how wolves and their families are referred to as 'it'?) "So it can be used for multiple years. But it just depends whether it joins up with more wolves in the same area where we're doing the actual control. If it leaves the area and goes somewhere else then it won't be used for that The battery life (of the radio collar), again, on most of them is about 4 years." Which, it turns out, is the average life expectancy of a wolf in their management territory - But wolves should live much longer. According to Big Run Wolf Ranch, "Wolves in the wild have an average life span of six to eight years, but wolves have been known to live up to 13 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity."
Struthers continued, "We follow all the wolves we have collared but if it moves outside of an area where we have an approved depredation management plan then it would not be subject to control. We can go locate it, we still use that collar for monitoring data, but if it left the control area then there wouldn't be any control on it, unless of course it got into trouble with sheep or livestock, and that's a different kind of control that we contract to Wildlife Services."
When asked directly if Wildlife Services does that actual collaring (for lethal control), Struthers replied, "Sometimes they put out collars . . . Really their objective, they're not, usually not putting out collars to collect data on the population like we do, they put out a collar that the purpose is that they use that to help them with subsequent control actions."
So there it is. Our United States Department of Agriculture certainly is collaring and slaughtering wolves using an unwitting 'Judas' wolf to torment repeatedly. But the Director of USDA Wildlife Services, Todd Grimm, maintained they didn't collar wolves, at all. Why lie? Another curious discrepancy; Ms. Struthers confirmed that no research is done by Wildlife Services, yet their (public) website (USDA APHIS Wildlife Damage Management) says they do. Again, why lie? To present a friendlier face to the public? Who are we to believe?
More to the point, is this how we want our tax dollars being spent, to slowly torment a being as social, emotional and family-oriented as a wolf, systematically destroying everything that matters to her, over and over again? Will we allow our government to continue carrying out these atrociously unethical familicides on one of our most beloved and iconic species, our beautiful, intelligent, melodious and vulnerable gray wolf?