HELENA, Mont. — Environmentalists upset with a federal proposal to remove protections for wolves across most of the U.S. have posted a manual on how to disrupt wolf hunts and sabotage traps.
The 12-page manual published online Monday by Earth First! tells would-be saboteurs that Internet activism alone can leave activists with an empty feeling, so “why not try direct action?”
The manual instructs how to find traps and take them out by destroying or hiding them. It also instructs how to release a trapped wolf, noting that doing so is very dangerous, and suggests forming blockades where wolf permits are sold and walking ahead of hunters with air horns.
Earth First! Media spokesman Grayson Flory said his organization published the manual written by a group calling themselves the “Redneck Wolf Lovin’ Brigade.” The impetus was the Obama administration’s announcement in June that it plans to end Endangered Species Act protections for almost all wolves in the United States, he said.
“We don’t believe something being illegal automatically makes it right or wrong,” Flory said. “The wolf hunt manual that we’re redistributing is only about protecting life, not killing it. We’re completely against the harming of living things.”
Wolf hunts are already allowed in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Minnesota. A hunt is scheduled for this fall in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the state’s wolf hunting policy was a public process that deserved respect.
“This shows you the extremes people are willing to go to in making their points and affecting public policy,” Aasheim said. “But if something comes to pass and people do break the law, they will be prosecuted.”
Montana Trappers Association president Tom Barnes said hunters and trappers help manage the wolf population.
“All we ask is that we can manage these wolves,” Barnes said. “Hunting is a tool to do that, just like trapping, for any other animal species.”
A draft of the U.S. Department of Interior proposed rule to lift wolf protections said the roughly 6,000 wolves now living in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes are enough to prevent the species’ extinction.
The agency says having gray wolves elsewhere — such as the West Coast, parts of New England and elsewhere in the Rockies — is unnecessary for their long-term survival.
A small population of Mexican wolves in the Southwest would continue to receive federal protections, as a distinct subspecies of the gray wolf.
Federal officials have delayed a required analysis of the proposal after three scientists were told they couldn’t serve on the review panel because they signed a letter supporting continuing wolf protections.