Friday, April 17, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

Red Wolf  15 by HOTNStock

How the #wolf became the dog

Vol. 348 no. 6232 p. 277
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6232.277
  • Feature
In Science Magazine

A gray wolf.

Scientists who study canine origins seem to fight about everything: where dogs arose, when this happened, and even the best way to find these answers. But there's one thing most of them agree on: how dogs became domesticated. Still, it's taken almost a century to get here, and the details are still emerging. 

In 1907, the English scientist Francis Galton suggested that dogs first entered our lives when our ancestors nabbed some wolf pups, brought them back to camp, and raised them as pets. If you've ever seen a baby wolf, with its big eyes and oversized ears, the idea doesn't seem so far-fetched—and, indeed, Galton's hypothesis reigned for decades. But scientists eventually realized that domestication is a long, messy process that can take hundreds or even thousands of years. These early humans may have started with a cute pup, but they would have ended up with a wild animal. 

So what did happen? Most experts now think dogs domesticated themselves. Early humans left piles of discarded carcasses at the edges of their campsites—a veritable feast, the thinking goes, for wolves that dared get close to people. Those wolves survived longer and produced more pups—a process that, generation by generation, yielded ever-bolder animals, until finally a wolf was eating out of a person's hand. Once our ancestors realized the utility of these animals, they initiated a second, more active phase of domestication, breeding early canines to be better hunters, herders, and guardians. 

A massive collaboration that's trying to figure out where and when dogs emerged (see main story, p. 274) has found some intriguing insights into the second phase of dog domestication. A comparison of thousands of ancient dog and wolf skeletons, for example, has revealed flattening of the dorsal tips of ancient dog vertebrae, suggesting that the animals hauled heavy packs on their backs. The team has also spotted missing pairs of molars near the rear of the jaw in ancient dogs, which may indicate that the animals wore some sort of bridle to pull carts. These services, in addition to dogs' hunting prowess, may have proved critical for human survival, potentially allowing modern humans to outcompete our Neandertal rivals and even eventually settle down and become farmers. 

Now, a study on page 333 helps explains how man and dog took the next step to become best friends. Takefumi Kikusui, an animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, and his colleagues have found that when dogs and humans gaze into each other's eyes, both experience a rise in oxytocin—a hormone that has been linked to trust and maternal bonding. The same rise in oxytocin occurs when human mothers and infants stare at each other, suggesting that early dogs may have hijacked this response to better bond with their new human family. 

The oxytocin study and the skeletal data from the new collaboration go beyond clarifying the origin of the family pet, says collaboration leader Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “The more that we know about the process of how dogs became associated with people, the more we learn about the origins of civilization.”

84 #wolves killed in B.C. during cull program

The Canadian Press
The provincial government said it planned to have hunters shoot as many as 184 wolves from helicopters this year, but wound up killing just half that amount.
The provincial government said it planned to have hunters shoot as many as 184 wolves from helicopters this year, but wound up killing just half that amount.
Gary Kramer/AP
VICTORIA – Helicopter hunters shot less than half of the wolves they were allowed to kill during the first year of a controversial B.C. government program to protect threatened caribou herds.

The cull began Jan. 15 in the South Selkirks and the South Peace regions of B.C. where the government says wolves preyed on herds with declining populations.

The province initially announced that government-contracted hunters would shoot as many as 184 wolves.

But the Forests Ministry says 11 wolves were shot in the South Selkirks and another 73 were killed in the South Peace when the hunt ended.

Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild has been critical of the hunt in the past, saying the real problem is habitat destruction and the cull is a taxpayer-funded program to kill an iconic species.

The ministry says the caribou population in the South Selkirks declined from 46 to 14 between 2009 and March 2015, and in the South Peace wolves account for 37 per cent of all adult caribou mortalities.


WATCH: There were an estimated 8500 wolves roaming wild in British Columbia when the province made their decision. Kylie Stanton reports.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

#Wolves of the Day

Wolf at the river
Wolf at the river by Tambako The Jaguar

Wolf about to cross the river 
Wolf about to cross the river by Tambako The Jaguar

#Wolves kill sheep in French village

Wolves go on killing spree in French village
The attack took place in this village in south-eastern France. Photo: Jacques Munch/AFP
Published: 15 Apr 2015

A sheep farmer called Daniel said 21 of his animals were massacred in the early hours of Tuesday on the outskirts of Roquebillière, an Alpine village that is home to 1,600 people in south-eastern France, Europe 1 reports.

The farmer was furious that wolves, which have no natural predator, were protected and allowed to roam free, saying France had given “human stupidity” priority over the welfare of local families.

Village mayor Gérard Manfredi stressed just how close the wolves had come to prowling the streets of the village.  “It’s the first time we’ve had an attack in the village. It took place 50 metres from my own house and 100 metres from the church,” he told Europe 1

A dozen sheep were killed outright, while others were so badly injured they had to be put down.
Officials from the agriculture ministry were expected to arrive at the scene on Wednesday to confirm that the sheep had in fact been killed by wolves.

According ot the ministry, 2,800 sheep were killed by wolves last year in the Alpes-Maritime department where Roquebillière is located. This accounted for a third of all sheep deaths attributed to wolf attacks.

Once plentiful, the wolf officially died out in France in the 1930s, wiped out by farmers and hunters.
More than a half a century later, wolves began creeping back, crossing the border from Italy. In 1992, suspicions of the comeback were confirmed when a pair of wolves were spotted in the Mercantour park in the south-east of the country.

Wildlife officials say there are around 250 wolves, 90 percent of them in the Alps, and scatterings of others in the east and south-west of France, including the eastern Pyrenees.

In 2011, a wolf was spotted for the first time in the Vosges, in eastern France, and a year later a wolf was photographed in a cornfield in the south-western department of Gers, the westernmost point of the species' advance.

The wolf is shielded by the Bern Convention on European wildlife, and in 2007 it joined other mammals on a list of species that in France are given special protection, except in specific cases where they pose a threat.

But flocks are under rising pressure as the wolves expand.

Two powerful groups -- the agricultural lobby and the environmental movement -- are fiercely at odds, despite efforts to forge consensus.

Emotions flared in 2013 in the upper house of the French parliament, where rural regions are strongly represented.

Senator Pierre Bernard-Reymond of the High Alps region blasted Parisians for what he said was their cosy image of an ancient predator. "It's time to release a few wolf packs in the Vincennes Park or the Luxembourg Gardens," he said -- a suggestion that was not adopted.

France allows for 24 wolves to be culled each year.


#Wolf enjoys hanging out on sofa

By Xeni Jardin
Tue, Apr 14, 2015 
About Lorne...
Lorne was born at a zoo in Georgia who breeds a select number of wolf pups to be used for educational purposes and for ambassadors for their species. Lorne's brother, Wyatt can be seen at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. Lorne is being raised with the hope of using him in educational talks to raise awareness for an often misunderstood animal. Despite media attention that wolves in the wild have stabilized their numbers, they are still very much at risk. Wolf hunting continues to persist, both legally and illegally. Wolves are still stigmatized in society, especially by farmers and ranchers who if merely seeing a wolf will on sight, no matter the threat. This mentality is hurting our intelligent friend, whose relationship and companionship led us to the domesticated dog we have today and love. Lorne visits with the public regularly and even though he's just a cub, he has instantly charmed his way into the hearts of many others who before misunderstood and feared one of our closest ties to the natural world.
Lorne is a subspecies of the Gray (or Timber) Wolf. He was born in April (wolves are only born in the spring, unlike domesticated dogs) and until he came to me just shy of 7 weeks was used in meet-and-greets at the Georgia zoo. In July he went on a trip across the United States from out West to Chicago. Unfortunately once there, he swallowed a small slip lead and had to have a life threatening surgery to remove it. His recovery was remarkable and the vet that preformed the surgery said it was the fastest she had ever seen. Wolves are strong and very adaptable. Their immune system due to their varied gene pool and lack of interbreeding as seen in domesticated dogs, makes them lack the health problems they often do. It was a scary time, but thankfully today you wouldn't even know it ever happened (except for the constant reminder of paying off the bill!).
I'm working with Lorne every day and I hope that he is able to continue to reach out to the public as he matures. It is common that wolves once establishing a territory upon reaching adulthood have trouble leaving it and feel much more comfortable at home than in strange places. We will see what path Lorne wants to follow in life, but I hope that he will be kind enough to continue to make a positive impression on others and be an ambassador for his species.
You can see Lorne's other videos by checking out his playlist here

OR biologists say there's enough data to decide #wolf listing, but number of wolves still low

A radio-collared male wolf roams in northwestern Wallowa County. Oregon biologists say they have enough data to help decide whether it's time to take the gray wolf of the state's endangered list. (Oregon Fish and Wildlife)

The Associated Press  
By The Associated Press

on April 14, 2015
State biologists are telling the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission there is enough information to consider taking the gray wolf off the state endangered species list.
A draft status review was posted Tuesday on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website with materials for the commission's next meeting. The meeting's agenda includes a formal staff recommendation that the commission determine there is significant information to start the rule-making process.

A final decision is not scheduled until August in Salem, but the commission is to make the first step in the process -- deciding whether it has enough information to consider the issue -- when it meets April 24 in Bend.

At last count, Oregon had 77 wolves descended from animals introduced in Idaho in the 1990s. The 76-page status report says they are projected to increase at a rate of 7 percent a year, and the probability of a major drop in population is very low. There is plenty of habitat available on public lands, and wolves continue to expand their range, establishing at least one new pack in the western third of the state.

The rate of wolf attacks on livestock has been low, the review notes.

Hoping to gain greater freedom to kill wolves attacking livestock, the Oregon Cattlemen's Association has been pressing for the commission to delist wolves since a statewide census last winter showed they had exceeded their restoration goal of four breeding pairs producing pups that survive a year for three years running. At last count, there were at least seven breeding pairs, six in northeastern Oregon and one, led by the famous wanderer OR-7, in the southern Cascades.

Arguing that wolf numbers are still too low to justify lifting protections, conservation groups favor continuing endangered-species status to assure wolves continue to thrive.

A bill -- House Bill 3515 -- to prohibit the commission from listing wolves as threatened or endangered has been introduced in the Legislature. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Taking wolves off the state's endangered list would not open up hunting. However, their rising numbers have already triggered a relaxation of rules that now make it possible for ranchers to shoot wolves they see attacking herds.


Another #wolf in Illinois? Near Dwight

Posted: 04/15/2015
Dale Bowman
For the second time in the past few months, a likely wolf, notably a female, has been found in northern Illinois.

The latest was found near Dwight.
Here is the word from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:
For the second time this year, a canine that is likely a female gray wolf, has been found dead in northern Illinois.
An Illinois Conservation Police Officer picked up a probable wolf that was hit by a vehicle along Interstate 55 near Illinois 47 just north of Dwight on Friday, April 10.
On Feb. 13, a female wolf was found dead along Nettle School Road north of Interstate 80 in Grundy County.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm identification of the animal found last Friday and conduct genetic testing.
The Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the identity of the gray wolf found dead in Grundy County last February. That wolf was determined to be from the Great Lakes Population. The wolf, a female, likely died after being hit by a vehicle.
For more information about gray wolves in Illinois, and for records of recent sightings back to 2002, visit:

Photos courtesy of the Illinois Conservation Police.


ODFW want Gray #Wolf delisting with only 77 Wolves

By on
Gray Wolves Soon To Be Off the Endangered Species List
IN PHOTO: This pair of gray wolves will be moved from the Red Feather Lakes, Colorado wolf refuge, to a new refuge in northern New Jersey. It will be the first time in over 200 years that the endangered animals will be living in the area. The move will take place in mid-July to the Lakota Wolf Refuge, one of only two refuges for wolves in the U.S. Reuters 
Biologists from Oregon reported on Tuesday that wolf population is no longer threatened and there is hope that the species will be removed from the threatened or endangered species list. At the same time, Republican officials have presented a bill prohibiting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, or ODFW, commission from including the species in the list.

In a news from Statesman Journal,  ODFW released a report stating there are factors that indicate wolf population is healthy and growing. “Significant information exists to justify initiating rulemaking to remove the gray wolf from the Oregon List of Endangered Species."

"Wolves are actually doing very well. And so the place we are right now is actually a good thing. Wolves are going to be continued to be maintained in this state in a healthy way I'm sure," said ODFW wolf program coordinator Russ Morgan in a report from Currently, there are four breeding pairs of gray wolves in eastern Oregon and 77 wolves in the entire state, leading biologists to believe that there's only a small chance for the species to go extinct.

A final decision will be in place in August, but the commission can take the first steps toward the process later in April. Michelle Dennehy, communications coordinator for ODFW, said that it doesn't bring a huge change even if gray wolves will be removed from the state list; the wolves are still under the protection of the nation’s Endangered Species Act. Whether or not Oregon wolves will be delisted, they are still part of the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which encourages non-lethal measures to deal with wolves and only permits lethal measures when highly necessary.

According to Defenders of Wildlife, the estimated population of wolves in Alaska is around 7,000 to 11,200. In the Great Lakes region there are 3,700 while 1,675 are recorded in the northern Rockies.
Gray wolves were once commonly distributed in all of North America, but in the middle of 1930s, they were “exterminated in most areas of the United States.” Today, gray wolves can only be found in Alaska, Canada, northern Rockies, the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest. These wolves can be spotted and heard in their natural habitat at the Yellowstone National Park.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#Wolf opponents focus on human impact of predators

Matthew Weaver
Capital Press
Matthew Weaver/Capital Press Steve Alder, executive director of Idaho for Wildlife, talks with Kettle Falls, Wash., resident Susan Fleischman during the Washington Residents Against Wolves rally April 11 in Spokane.
The Spokane nonprofit group Washington Residents Against Wolves says "unconventional" methods to inform the public about the impacts wolves can have on ranchers and ungulate populations.

SPOKANE — A group of wolf opponents says it will use “proactive and unconventional outreach” on social media to inform Washington state residents about the impact wolves have on ranchers. “It’s not about money, it’s not about having the right politician in your pocket, it’s about being smarter about how you play the game,” spokeswoman Jamie Henneman said April 11 during a Washington Residents Against Wolves rally in Spokane.

The controversial billboards the group paid for in Spokane in November and December were a first step, Henneman said. “That’s really how this battle is being fought — it would be nice if it was completely logical, but it isn’t,” she said. “What’s not being told is the story about people being affected every single day, and how that should make us feel.”

Henneman said people are “highly motivated” and connected through social media. WARAW will make use of those tools on its website and Facebook page, she said. Roughly 30 people attended the rally. Board member Luke Hedquist said the group has 60 to 70 members. WARAW’s rally included Idaho and Oregon speakers sharing their own experiences with increasing wolf numbers.

Steve Alder, executive director of Idaho for Wildlife, said it would require killing 70 to 80 percent of that state’s wolf population each year to rebuild declining elk populations. “Maintaining pre-wolf ungulate harvests in a post-wolf landscape is a fantasy and is incompatible with so-called ecosystem management,” Alder said.

Speakers from Oregon Wolf Education in Joseph, Ore., talked about their frustrations in getting state wildlife officials to confirm wolf depredations on livestock. “They have certain criteria they need — they need tracks, bite marks, evidence of the herd being attacked, telemetry,” rancher Lori Schaafsma said. “If one of those components isn’t there, they can’t (confirm). That’s political, where we have other agency personnel on the ground saying, ‘We know what happened here, but we can’t confirm it because A,B,C, isn’t here.’ That’s all politics.”

It’s easy for wolf supporters to dismiss data points or statistics, Henneman said. “You can make an economic argument, you can make a political argument, but in the end, this issue is a human argument,” Henneman said. “When you watch (Oregon or Eastern Washington ranchers’) life’s work being destroyed by this animal, if that doesn’t make you feel strongly, then you are not plugged in.”