Winter 2005

    Issue: Winter 2005

    Table of Contents

    • Wolves were again killed in large numbers throughout Alaska in 2005. The state issued permits for more airplane shooting, there was much other killing statewide, and even the world-famous Toklat family group was devastated by trapping and hunting.Three large areas were added to the statersquo;s formal aerial wolf control program in winter 2004-05. These areas and the two where the program began in winter 2003-04 add up to some 35,000 square miles, about six percent of Alaska and roughly the size of Maine. The same five areas remain active as the aerial shooting resumes this winter, possibly with other areas to be added. A total of 420 wolves have been killed as of this writing (October 2005), including 273 last winter.One of the new aerial control initiatives, covering some 6,500 square miles of the Fortymile region in east-central Alaska, brought the reality of the killing home for me. I have been studying Fortymile wolves since 1993. A wolf sterilization-relocation effort in 1997-2001 was to have been the last control program in the area, but the state reneged on this promise. The 1997-2001 program was designed to increase the number of caribou for human hunters; it was frivolous and unwarranted in many of the same ways as the current program is.Aerial Hunter Hits Copper CreekAmong the Fortymile groups I have followed closely is an extended family referred to as ldquo;Copper Creek.rdquo; Over recent years, Copper Creek maintained a late-winter size of about a dozen wolves. It ranged across much of the Fortymile region and southeastern areas of adjacent Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, often on distant winter migrations to hunt caribou. I began studying the Copper Creek family in 1993, apparently early in its history. Since then, I have observed it through a series of natural and human-caused disruptions, behavioral responses, and related changes in its territory, movements, and use of prey.The established Copper Creek alpha male died in a snare in March 2000. Two unrelated males essentially took the group over within the next few months. One of the newcomers, the new alpha male, helped the mother raise the dead malersquo;s seven pups; the following year they produced their own young, with some of her yearlings present as helpers.This provided a rare field opportunity, alongside my similar research on the Toklat wolves of Denali National Park, to gain important insights about reciprocity and other underpinnings of vertebrate cooperative behavior. I had come to know Copper Creek well, not only as a family whose trials and tribulations I had followed for 12 years, but also through the way it stirred my sense of wonder as a scientist.On January 27, six days after the Fortymile control program began, an aerial hunter found the unsuspecting Copper Creek wolves on an open, snow-covered ridge. He was able to shotgun five of the 11 family membersmdash;the alpha male and four offspring.The alpha female became separated during the shooting. For almost two weeks she searched for her family, until finally reuniting with the five surviving young. Aerial hunters continued to look for these six Copper Creek wolves. Four or five were still alive and together as of April 23, after the last tracking snow had melted and just prior to the denning period.I hoped that the survival of the alpha female and likely at least one mature male would be enough to keep the group and its territorial and perhaps other traditions going. I also hoped they and any new offspring would be lucky enough to elude aerial hunters in succeeding winters.But there may never be a clear ending to the Copper Creek story. Throughout summer and fall 2005, the alpha femalersquo;s radio collar transmitted from a single location, out of view in brush near a denning area. The collar had either detached or she died there from a natural or human cause. It has not yet been possible to get to this remote location for a closer look on the ground. There was no obvious activity at the nearby den or any other of Copper Creekrsquo;s known dens. This was the last Copper Creek radio collar, so it will be difficult at best to find and identify any remaining survivors.Efforts to stop the statersquo;s aerial wolf-shooting program continue. They are led by a lawsuit in which Friends of Animals challenges this program from various biological and procedural standpoints. A full trial will likely be held in Anchorage Superior Court this winter.Key Toklat Wolves TrappedWinter 2004-05 was also fateful for the Toklat family, a group that has survived for at least the 40 years of my research in Denali National Park and probably dates back to 1938 or earlier. Toklatrsquo;s losses were not associated with the formal control program described above. They provide an example of the killing that results in an additional 1,000-1,500 or more dead wolves each year throughout Alaska under state and federal almost-anything-goes trapping-hunting regulations and from hidden control efforts. In this case, the trapping and shooting took place just outside the park boundaries.Toklat began winter 2004-05 with the alpha male and female, their four pups of 2003 (17-month-olds), their six new pups of 2004 (five-month-olds), and an unrelated young female of unknown origin who joined the group in July 2004, probably as a 14-month-old, in thin, undernourished condition. She was readily accepted by the alpha pair but endured a week of rough treatment from several of the young adults, particularly the dominant female. But within a couple of weeks she was fully accepted, had returned to good physical condition, and became the primary attendant of the six new pups.All 13 were still together on October 17, 2004. Two of the pups disappeared from unknown causes by November 21, leaving 11. My pilot and I left the 11 on January 30, 2005 to monitor Copper Creekrsquo;s problems in the Fortymile region. We returned on February 11 to take a break from those depressing observations only to be depressed by others.Our first observation upon returning was of local trapper Coke Wallace and his partner removing the dead Toklat alpha female from a trap and a snare just outside the northeast park boundary. Wallace had just shot her. The alpha male was departing the trapping area with the nine others. He was about to begin two months of erratic behavior related to this loss.First, he took the others 13 miles straight to the established natal den, arriving later that day. They cleaned out the den even though it was under two feet of snow. Dens are not normally prepared for use until sometime after the annual courtship and mating activities in March, and they are not occupied until just before the pups are born in May. The Toklat wolves most likely visited this den on February 11 because it was a place they closely associated with the dead female as mate and mother.The next morning, the Toklat alpha male retraced the 13 miles straight back to the trapping area. This began a series of at least a half-dozen returns, during which it was obvious he was focused on finding his mate and little else. He no longer seemed concerned about the surviving family members, who could barely keep up with his rapid, determined pace and repeatedly lagged well behind.Two more wolves were soon trapped on these returnsmdash;the young female who joined the family in summer 2004 and a 2004 pup. The young female died in her trap, but the pup eventually broke free with the trap still on a front foot. The pup made it 20 miles back to the central portion of the Toklat territory, alone and still dragging the trap, but was never seen again.By late February, the alpha male had essentially abandoned six of his seven surviving offspringmdash;three 22-month-olds and three 10-month-olds (his pups of 2003 and 2004, all now adult-sized). They continued ranging together, in good condition, within a central portion of the Toklat territory. The seventh young wolf, probably a 22-month-old daughter, still accompanied the male.He mated with this female on March 9 and likely for a few days before and after (successful inbreeding is not uncommon for Denali and other wolves). Still, he seemed focused on his dead mate. Overnight on March 12, after the mating, he left the established Toklat territory and went 20 miles straight back to the trapping area, paying little attention to the young female as she struggled to keep up.Final ThroesThe alpha male and young female became separated in the trapping area on March 15; the cause of this separation was unclear. They never saw each other again or reunited with the six others. She ended up 50 miles westward. He began a final series of erratic travels, mostly along the east park boundary, 20 miles east of the established Toklat territory.Within two weeks he was with an unrelated young female near one of the statersquo;s aerial wolf control areas, just southeast of Denali; she may have been a survivor from a group decimated recently in that control program. Shortly afterward, a snowmobile hunter shot her. The male escaped.Three days later, on April 12, he returned to the established Toklat territory for the first time in a month, to the area where his six young were ranging. But he left again, alone, on April 15, and soon went back to the area 20 miles to the southeast where he had met and then lost the unrelated female. Two hunters in a pickup truck shot him there, near a highway, on April 17. Like his original mate, he died in his prime.Even though he lost two more females soon after his original mate was trapped, it was clearly her loss that caused him to become erratic in the extreme, to the point of dissolving his two strongest remaining bondsmdash;with his surviving young and his home territory. Sad as this outcome was, it is perhaps understandable. She had been central to his entire history with the Toklat family. It was as if her death completely erased that chapter of his life.Readers will recall my earlier accounts of his arrival as a three- or four-year-old newcomer to the Toklat family in 2001, just after being taken from his original family and dumped 240 miles away in the 1997-2001 Fortymile sterilization-relocation control program. Over the next few weeks he found his way, coincidentally, 180 miles southeastward to Denali, shortly after the established Toklat alpha male was killed in his prime during careless Park Service radio collaring.This femalemdash;two or three years old at the timemdash;was instrumental in introducing him to the family, at the natal den where her mother had just produced the alpha malersquo;s (her dead fatherrsquo;s) new pups. The bond the newcomer had already formed with her helped him establish a cooperative relationship with her five- or six-year-old mother. Within a few weeks, he was essentially controlling the group.The mother maintained a more-or-less equal though standoffish relationship with the newcomer. She never seemed to recover from the loss of her mate. Ten months later she went off on her own and starved to death in her prime. Her daughter and the newcomer were now the Toklat alpha pair.Losing a mate so integral to his four-year Toklat identity could, by itself, explain the malersquo;s 2005 departure from the group. But it was worse than that.A Park Service necropsy and satellite radio-tracking data later indicated that she was caught on about January 30-31, just after my pilot and I went to the Fortymile to follow Copper Creekrsquo;s ordeal. She had struggled in the trap and snare for 10-12 days until the trapper shot her on February 11. This struggle left her completely emaciated with nothing but dirt and other trap debris in her stomach and all of her teeth broken or badly damaged from chewing on the trap.The male and rest of the family were probably with her during most if not all of this prolonged struggle and suffering. I have observed the traumatic effects that this can have on mates and offspring in other trapping incidents. The agony and desperation on their expressive faces as they try to help is obvious even from a circling airplane.Siblings Carry OnThe six young Toklat siblings continued to do well and in May produced eight new pups at the same natal den where they were born in 2003 and 2004. Their story involves one sexually mature (two-year-old) male, multiple nursing females, and possibly one or two pseudo-pregnancies. There was never much doubt that wolvesmdash;survivors or recolonizersmdash;would rebound quickly in the Toklat territory. But this numerical recovery does not mean that what happened to Toklat can be dismissed as being of little consequence.First, no biologist, manager, policymaker, trapper, hunter, or anyone else is excused from feeling shame and disgust for the kind of unethical, senseless killing and suffering to which the Toklat wolves were subjected. Unfortunately, much the same and worse is done regularly to wolves throughout Alaska.Second, the Toklat killings converted a vibrant, extended family with a seven- or eight-year span of ages, and all the experience and accumulated learning that embodied, to a sibling family structure consisting of only one- and two-year-olds and their new pups. Regardless of the number of wolves that may survive, this portends major short- and long-term scientific, ecological, viewing, and other losses. The scientific losses are especially significant in view of Toklatrsquo;s unique, decades-long research history.The trapping that triggered Toklatrsquo;s problems just outside the northeast park boundary is still allowed. While a few trappers and hunters did the actual killing, the real culprits are the state and National Park Service biologists, managers, and policymakers who for the last 15 years have refused to support an adequate protective buffer zone in this area and continue to lobby against it.[fn]It should also be remembered that, in October 2002, a supposedly friendly state Board of Game and other ldquo;alliesrdquo; threw away an ideal opportunity to finally create an adequate buffer. See the Spring 2003 ActionLine for details.[/fn]The consequences of this inadequate buffer were predictable. And what happened to Toklat in that area last winter will happen again to Toklat and other Denali wolves unless adequate protection is provided soon.Gordon Haber, Ph.D., is an independent wildlife scientist who has studied wolves in the Denali region since 1966 and in the Fortymile region and other areas of Alaska since 1993. Friends of Animals provides the funding for his research.

    • On October 20, 2005, electronic recording artist Moby entertained a crowd at an exceptional art gallery event and benefit hosted at 583 Art Factory in Stamford, Connecticut. Moby arrived to launch and autograph his new T-shirt line at the beautiful art studio.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;Friends of Animals was present at the opening of the five week show, and enjoyed the festivities including Moby#39;s performance with a band that evening. Included among the limited edition prints, clothing and originals for sale that night were T-shirts printed with Little Idiot characters illustrated by Moby and featuring Friends of Animals#39; slogan, Spare an Animal, Eat a Vegetable. A portion of the profits from the sale of these shirts, as well as an original banner by Moby, benefits Friends of Animals.

    • The online version of this article was updated with the new Prime Minister#39;s name in March, 2006.Canadarsquo;s Department of Fisheries and Oceans wrapped up its Seal Forum in November. Half of the Forum, which is historically used to help set seal kill quotas, went on behind closed doors. Reporters were asked to leave prior to the start of the session. [fn]CNN Matthews Media Advisory: ldquo;DFO Holding 2005 Seal Forumrdquo; (4 Nov. 2005).[/fn]Our autumn feature ldquo;What Next for Canadarsquo;s Hunted Seals?rdquo; questioned the participation of animal protection groups in this noxious affair. Theyrsquo;re beginning to take the cue.The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has finally acknowledged the harm caused by participating and helping to design welfare regulations that are used to justify continued seal kills.Less than two weeks before the November Forum began, Olivier Bonnet, the new director of IFAW Canada, publicly decided not to turn up.Listed along with IFAW on the regrets letter to Canadarsquo;s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans were: the Animal Alliance of Canada; the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International; the Animal Protection Institute; and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, among others.[fn]As we go to press, Whole Foods Market still posts a statement that it will ldquo;provide the Canadian government input on the seal hunt issue at their Seal Forumrdquo; (website visited 11 Nov. 2005).[/fn]The groups wrote that their participation in the Seal Forum would provide ldquo;a false legitimacy to a staged eventrdquo; that Canadarsquo;s government would ldquo;exploit.rdquo;Are they finally waking up and smelling the coffee? IFAW acknowledges taking part in the Forum at least four times before, and producing hundreds of pages of documents on seals, welfare opinions, and hunt management recommendations.[fn]Canadian Press, ldquo;East Coast Seal Hunt Opponents Boycott Forum on New Management Planrdquo; – (8 Nov. 2005) (quoting Rob Sinclair, IFAW spokesperson).[/fn] Rick Smith, as director of IFAW Canada, participated in the 2002 Forum mdash; the meeting used to justify dispatching Newfoundlanders to kill nearly a million harp seals between 2003 and 2005.The government has thrown seal-killing permits around like confetti: Up from 10,383 in 1995, it issued 13,777 permits in 2004.[fn]Rob Antle, ldquo;Forum Seeks Input on Huntrdquo; – St. John#39;s Telegram (8 Nov. 2005).[/fn] The kill, which public outrage seemed to doom 20 years ago, has made a comeback after setting welfare-minded restrictions on its most unpopular practices, such as the killing of newborn seals.For years wersquo;ve maintained that continued tweaking of the legal regulations mdash; whether more training, or straighter shooting, or poking the seals in the eye, or smashing skulls before skinning[fn]IFAW employees have videotaped hundreds of incidents to show that workers donrsquo;t always apply the now-mandated eye blinking test to ascertain if the animal is dead before skinning. Now, veterinarians are suggesting a skull-crushing test.[/fn] mdash; is all beside the point. The killing is simply immoral.Unfortunately, the humane groups closed their letter with more of the old moral ambiguity, looking forward to the day when organizations ldquo;can assistrdquo; in ldquo;developing a sealing policyrdquo; that ldquo;protects the seals and the marine environment.rdquo;Not only does such wording still imply an agreement that seals are mere commodities; it also ignores all animals but seals. Indeed, the U.S. Humane Societyrsquo;s boycott against Canadian fish sales has only pitted the profit of one animal commodity against another, and is destined for a cyclical pattern.Friends of Animals will continue to insist that Canada reinvigorate a depressed coastal economy in ways that acknowledge the importance of the biocommunity as an interconnected whole, and the inherent worth of all feeling beings.rdquo;Patricia of México wrote to our Internet log:I am happy to know that every day more people are coming together to help stop the killings. Everything is part of an all too predictable cycle of ldquo;exploit, deplete, and move onrdquo; which has characterized human commercial hunts of wild animals. hellip;I would think that a country like Canada, civilized, modern, literate, and with vast natural resources and technology and scientific research, could find a different way for the people in these communities to make a living without depending on the life of the seal pups.Patricia, we are sorry to inform you that fisheries minister Geoff Regan plans to proclaim yet another quota in early 2006, stating: ldquo;The commercial seal hunt is a humane, sustainable use of an abundant marine resource and ending it is not warranted.rdquo;[fn]See ldquo;East Coast Seal Hunt Opponents Boycott Forum on New Management Planrdquo; (note 3).[/fn]Please tell Canadian Consulate General Pamela Wallin and Prime Minister Paul Martin that ending the killing certainly is warranted. Ask them to have the government stop tossing seals at the coastal residents, and start formulating plans for a viable future for all. Contact:Pamela Wallin, Canadian Consulate General1251 Avenue of the AmericasNew York, NY, USA 10020-1175Telephone: 1.212.596.1628Facsimile: 1.212.596.1790The Honourable Prime MinisterOffice of the Prime Minister80 Wellington StreetOttawa Ontario Canada K1A 0A2Facsimile: 1.613.941.6900

    • This article, the third in a three-part series begun by Daniel Hammer in Spring 2005, was reported from Chincoteague’s 80th Annual Pony Swim and Auction, held July 27-28 2005. Most information for this story derives from personal observations of the author. Between late summer thunderstorms, in the balmy midnight air, a mare bore her first colt in captivity. On this hot July night, miles from her home, a white fence and the silhouettes of volunteer firefighters replaced marsh grass, pine forests and sand dunes — a view the mare would have seen had she given birth on any previous evening.It wasn’t twenty-four hours after the newborn entered the world that the firefighters asked him to perform before an audience of thousands. Two men paraded the baby horse around a dusty arena, as the auctioneer took bids on the colt. The foal went for $4,400. A sad sound came from behind the arena — the call of a mother horse to her baby.As luck would have it, this foal became one of the small number — usually less than ten percent — of auctioned foals who are returned to their mothers. Through a buy-back plan established by the local fire company, the buyer is deemed a sponsor, and receives title to mare and foal, who are then returned to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. But due to an agreement reached with the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1946, most ponies cannot return home. The fire department is only permitted to graze 150 horses on the refuge. The auction provides a venue to sell the excess animals, who would otherwise be counted as threats to the area’s natural ecological balance.The selling of the foals took place at the annual pony swim and auction, made famous by Marguerite Henry’s 1947 story, Misty of Chincoteague. Proceeds from the auction’s sponsorship and sales help purchase firefighting equipment, and also provide hoof trimmings, vaccinations, and de-worming treatments for the horses on the refuge. More than 40,000 visitors attended.“It’s $300,000 for a new fire truck and $150,000 for a new ambulance; we never make enough,” said Roe Terry, a volunteer fireman and event coordinator.[fn]Phone interview with Roe Terry (20 Jul 2005).[/fn] The department makes an average of $150,000 from selling the foals, with additional money raised from visitor contributions.Locals line the streets selling stuffed ponies, hand-made t-shirts, and other hometown crafts. Hotels are booked full; for on these two July days, more tourists flock to the town than visit the island throughout the rest of the year.On the day before the auction, fire company staff force the ponies to swim the channel from Assategue Island, home of the National Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, to Chincoteague, Virginia, where the auction takes place. Firefighters perform the roundups and manage the auction of the legendary ponies. For two days, the group of wild ponies turn local fire fighters into small-town heroes.As families slog through the muddy Veterans Memorial Park to witness the 80th annual swim, firefighters, some afoot, others on horseback, do their best to control both the horses and the crowd.“We got a lot of pissed off ponies coming through here,” shouted Terry. “Stand back, the stallions are going to be separated from the mares, they’re going to be mad. Step in there and you’ll get your head kicked in.” To prevent such calamities, Terry and the other firefighters work with a group called the Salt Water Cowboys. The Cowboys, who come from all over the United States, dress the part. They ride tall on their horses and crack their whips to show who’s in control, as the ponies rather listlessly pull themselves out of the water after the 500-yard forced swim.[fn]“Firefighters Care for Herd,” The Delmarva Daily Times (20 Jul. 1995).[/fn]The press photographs and pets the horses for about 45 minutes after their arrival. Despite the dramatic tough talk and actions of the cowboy’s their ponies appear to be used to people. Throughout the year they are shod and handled by veterinarians; and each year they see more than 1.5 million people come to visit to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. [fn]“Refuges Boon to Local Economies, National Wildlife Refuges Generate Jobs, Sales Revenue for Locals,” ESPN Outdoors (2002).[/fn]The fire company has no problem letting the crowd get close to the horses once the auction begins. After spending one last night with their herd, on Thursday morning, the foals are separated from their mothers and put on display for hopeful bidders.The auctioneer barks to the crowd: “They make show ponies, pony club mounts, best friends for life. Put your hand up when you see a pony you like.” Two burly firefighters circle a three-month old colt. Tagged A-87, the small chestnut is the first to go that day. As one man holds the colt’s tail tightly between his legs for optimal grip, another staffer walks on the animal’s other side. The young horse’s shaky stance doesn’t deter the bidder, who offers $900 within two minutes.Hoping for a new best friend, children lean anxiously forward to get a glimpse of each pony entering the gated arena.Anyone able to pay about $800 to $10,500 can have a horse. The firefighters conduct no preliminary background checks or interviews to determine a buyer's ability to properly support a horse's well-being; the legendary foal becomes an item to be bought and sold. Some owners even breed their own Chincoteague ponies. The Chincoteague National Pony Association now has 187 purebred Chincoteagues on record. [fn]“Breeders Share Interest in Ponies From Afar,” The Delmarva Daily Times (26 Jul. 2005).[/fn]The ancestors of these horses roamed freely on Assateague for 300 years before pony penning began. Eighty years after the first auction took place, they are treated as pets. Over the years, through events such as the pony swim and auction, the free-living status of these ponies has become illusory.For more background on the Chincoteague ponies, please read “Chincoteague Ponies: Wildlife on the Brink,” Part One of our three-part series.

    • The Michigan Nature Association was established in 1952 as a nonprofit to save the state’s natural areas. The Association currently has 162 nature sanctuaries throughout Michigan, and has never allowed hunting, angling or trapping on any of them. [fn]Although the Association cannot legally forbid angling if they do not own the entire length or body of water, it can and does prohibit angling form its shores.[/fn]Jeremy Emmi, executive director since 2001, says the association’s original members belonged to other preservation groups, but also opposed pesticides and nuclear power. Virtually all of the group’s founders were women, explains Emmi, in a time when men and hunters dominated the conservation community.“One of our founders, Bertha Daubendiek, was our director from 1952 until 2001,” recalls Emmi. “The policies remained in place during her tenure, and she gave up funding and political connections because of that.”Hunting is said to be a part of the culture in Michigan. With 754,000 hunters, the state ranks third among all states for the most hunters.[fn]U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation: State Overview” (published 2002).[/fn] And so it was from a 330-acre confined hunting operation in Concord, Michigan that The New York Times recently announced television networks’ plans for new reality shows based on the prospect of urbanites and suburbanites coming face-to-face with hunters. The compound, stocked with boar, buffalo, deer and rams, belongs to Michigan native Ted Nugent, the star of a new cable show, “Wanted: Ted or Alive.” [fn]Danny Hakim, “Vegans, Keep Out: It's Hunting Season,” New York Times (27 Sep. 2005).[/fn]“Hunters, fishermen and trappers were the first and remain the ultimate environmentally responsible stewards and managers of life, quality, air, soil and water,” Nugent says. “Biodiversity is mine, environmentalism is mine.”According to the Times, the rock star, fresh from butchering a deer, then goes on to endorse nuclear warfare.“I’ll show you some security and I’ll show you some peace: Nagasaki and Hiroshima,” he said. “You [expletive] with us and we’ll [expletive] melt you.”Conservation, Through Peaceful EyesNugent’s bellicose views stand in stark contrast to the policies set in place by the pacifist founders of the Michigan Nature Association, which its current director calls “one of the few organizations started by people who didn’t want to save land because we wanted to go kill things.” Instead of protecting habitat as a giant feed-lot for hunted animals, Emmi carries on the moral and scientific perspective that animals can live perfectly well without our management.As for the control paradigm, says Emmi, “The problem with that logic is that billions are poured into creating ‘wildlife habitat,’ which usually means habitat for game species.”Thus the word “management” is often used as an excuse to hunt and to kill other animals, and the term “wildlife habitat,” especially with regard to deer and elk, usually refers to an unnatural setting “with plenty of planted foraging crops and cutting of older trees or even clear-cutting.” Human beings, Emmi muses, “try to manage everything; they seem to have this mindset that without humans nature wouldn’t know what to do. Obviously it knew what to do for the last few 100 million years or so before us.” [fn]Emmi notes that the association makes an exception when it comes to creating largely natural “wildlife habitat” that supports the organizations goals, such as habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds.[/fn]In 1971, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources established the Deer Range Improvement Program, which allocates $1.50 from each deer hunting permit “for the purpose of improving and maintaining habitat for deer, for the acquisition of land required for an effective program of deer habitat management, and for payment of ad valorem taxes on lands acquired under this section.”[fn]Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “Deer Management in Michigan,” (state government Internet page dated 2001-2005; last visited 3 Sep. 2005).[/fn] Between 1972 and 1987 about $20 million dollars was spent on making habitat more amenable to deer hunting. The department evaluated and planned forest alterations for more than 550,000 acres during this time, and logged more than 137,292 acres to create artificial deer habitat. [fn]Ibid.[/fn]When conservation is discussed by hunters or management agencies, it often means saving nature as a resource for human use. To the Michigan Nature Association, however, conservation means saving nature from human despoliation.Thus, the association might remove exotic plant species that have been introduced in the last 10 to 30 years, but it won’t pave trails, and it won’t fence open sanctuaries. Nor will it allow logging, in contrast to conservation agencies claiming “wise use”[fn]According to Gifford Pinchot in The Training of a Forest, the Wise Use movement was started in the late 1980s to lobby against environmental protections. The movement barrowed its name from the conservation theory of Gifford Pinchot, first head of the U.S. Forest Service, who believed that nature, specifically forests, should be managed to produce “whatever it can yield for the service of man.”[/fn] means cutting down trees every 20 or 30 years. When an association member asks, from time to time, why the association won’t log some of its sanctuaries to “create better wildlife habitat,” Emmi says the point of logging is normally to create areas attractive to hunted animals — turkeys and deer. “Well,” says Emmi, “That’s not what we do.”Not Following the MoneySome of the pressure to allow hunting on the association’s sanctuaries is connected to funding. “Our current board and staff continue to support our policies, but it is difficult especially with the ‘carrot’ of funding for wildlife habitat dangling in front of them,” says Emmi, who adds that hunters will pay a few thousand dollars to lease a 20-acre piece of land. Some organizations offer grants to cut down some of the trees to create habitat. Once the trees are logged, the timber can be sold, producing additional funding. Some organizations even lease their land for grazing by big agribusiness.The Michigan Nature Association has also faced pressure from the federal Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, formerly Animal Damage Control, to allow killing and egg-oiling of double-crested cormorants on one of the three of the association’s island sanctuaries acquired specifically to benefit the cormorants when the birds were struggling for survival. Wildlife Services is dedicated to reducing cormorants to benefit fish farmers and local fishing industries; and although the cormorant is a federally protected bird under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Wildlife Services has devised an order to allow 24 states to kill the birds. In 2004, the first fully effective year of the order, over 23,000 cormorants were killed. [fn]Lisa W. Foderaro, “Protected Birds Are Back, With a Vengeance,” New York Times (1 Jul. 2005).[/fn]Several ornithologists reported to the association that no scientific reason exists to kill the cormorants, but anglers, annoyed by the sight of birds eating fish, helped to rally the government to arms. Indeed, Emmi explains, vigilantes will come onto islands and kill cormorants themselves.In one case, 500 birds where found illegally killed on one of the islands not owned by the association. Likewise, 1,000 cormorants were found dead in 1998 on an island in eastern Lake Ontario. Nine anglers pleaded guilty to what was referred to as the largest mass killing ever of a protected species.[fn]Ibid.[/fn] The killers were given a nominal fine and three months of home confinement; yet those who supported the illegal shootings felt vindicated when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation planned to go ahead and kill nesting pairs to reduce the existing colony to a fourth of its remaining size.[fn]Andrew C. Revkin, “9 Men Plead Guilty to Slaughtering Cormorants to Protect Sport Fishing,” New York Times (9 Apr. 1999).[/fn]Emmi and the association continue to bar Wildlife Services from killing the birds or oiling their eggs, despite a concerted letter-writing campaign from public officials on the state and federal levels as well as an area chamber of commerce. At some point, however, the group might be legally forced to allow agents on to the island.Says Emmi, “At that point we don’t have any alternative except a lawsuit.”The Michigan Nature Associations derives most of its funding from individuals. Through the support of people who care about protecting natural areas for nature’s sake, the organization can continue to stay true to its philosophy, and create viable alternatives to hunting.Michigan Nature Association326 E. Grand River Ave.Williamston, MI 48895(517)

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