California Fish and Game Commission and Director Bonham,
I would like to express concerns about the wolves currently inhabiting California, specifically in Siskiyou County. There are several issues related to these wolves that I believe require the attention of both the Commission and the Department. Given that wildlife is considered a public trust, I firmly believe that the Commission and the Department bear the responsibility for their proper management.
First and foremost, I want to emphasize the alarming rate at which wolves in Siskiyou County are killing livestock. The number of livestock casualties does not align with the currently estimated wolf population figures reported by the Department. These population figures are factually incorrect, and it is the ranchers of Siskiyou County who are bearing the brunt of this mismanagement.
Another critical issue is the hybrid origins of California’s wolves, which do not meet the threshold necessary for Federal Endangered Species Act protection. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, any “wolf-dog hybrid” they encounter must be euthanized. The USDA defines a “Hybrid Dog” as a canid resulting from the crossbreeding of a domestic dog (Canis familiaris) and a wild canid (e.g., grey wolf, coyote) or their descendants. As per the USDA Wildlife Services Directive, every wolf in California must be euthanized upon capture. It is widely recognized that California wolves are a mix of wolf and Malamute, making these wolf-dog hybrids less fearful of people and, consequently, posing a greater danger to the public and property. These “hybrid-dogs” do not qualify for protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), as they are not native species. Therefore, listing these canids under CESA is a violation of the Act itself.
Furthermore, California’s ungulate population is declining, particularly in areas where wolves are present. Elk and deer populations in regions inhabited by wolves are decreasing significantly. While the Commission and the Department have supported the reintroduction of a predatory species that cannot be vaccinated against rabies, they have not made any concerted efforts to rehabilitate the whitetail population in the northeastern part of the state, where ungulate populations are being decimated by wolves.
I strongly urge the Commission and the Department to adhere to the Federal Wildlife Services Directive by addressing wolves of hybrid origin (which currently comprise the entire population). At the very least, they should manage these canids using accurate scientific data and take prompt action before further damage occurs. California taxpayers and outdoor enthusiasts invest significantly each year in the Commission and Department to manage the state’s wildlife, but they are consistently let down by policies driven by emotion and sentiment. It is essential to base decisions on accurate scientific data and implement responsible management practices. Merely placing a species on the protected list is insufficient as a management tool and has been overused for apex predators in California. It is time to exercise responsible stewardship and effectively manage California’s wildlife.
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