Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

From the Defenders of Wildlife Blog

21 Oct 2011

Happy Wolf Awareness Week!

A collared gray wolf in Yellowstone. Photo courtesy of William C. Campbell/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Hope you had a great one! If you missed any of our special features, be sure to click back to check them out. Guest bloggers included:
  • Peter Haswell, one of Defenders’ summer volunteers on the Wood River Wolf Project
  • David Hornoff, co-president of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition
  • Larry Schoen, Commissioner of Blaine County, Idaho
  • Story Warren, budding wolf activist from Olympia, Washington
  • Michelle Dennehy
    , wildlife communications coordinator for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Yesterday, our own wolf expert Suzanne Stone got her chance to discuss broader wolf conservation issues as well. She was a guest on LA Talk Radio for Wolf Awareness Week to address the history of wolf reintroduction, the current political context for wolf management and the importance of keeping wolves in the wild. You can listen to the show here (jump to the 10:15 mark):

Thanks to all our outstanding contributors for all their hard work and for providing valuable insights into wolf conservation nationwide.

More praise for Wood River Wolf Project

We reported last week on the wrap-up meeting for the fourth successful season of our Wood River Wolf Project, but we weren’t the only ones. The project also got a mention in the Idaho Mountain Express (scroll past the first story) and radio coverage from Public News Servicein Idaho.

Wolf hunt injunction denied

Three conservation groups filed a request for an injunction early this week in an attempt to halt the ongoing wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho. The injunction was denied in court a few days later, but the groups continue their appeal of a lower court ruling denying their request to overturn Congress’ bill removing wolves from the ESA in April. Their case is waiting to be heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Watch this report from KAJ-18 in Kalispell, Montana:
Boots On The Ground: Managing Wolves In Oregon
Posted: 21 Oct 2011

For Wolf Awareness Week this year, Defenders has invited guest bloggers to offer their perspectives on the importance of wolf conservation. Michelle Dennehy is wildlife communications coordinator for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

I’m not a wildlife biologist but in my position I still have a front row seat on wolves’ return to Oregon.
ODFW wolf biologist Russ Morgan takes measurements of a wolf in the Imnaha Pack.
Much of my job is relaying what wildlife biologists see in the field, where the real action is. Most of these professionals grew up in the woods and the first place you’ll find them following a work day in the woods is…back in the woods (just try getting them on cell!).

To give you a taste of what they do: Between January and August of this year, wildlife biologists spent 135 days surveying for new and lesser-known wolves and wolf packs in Oregon, combing the woods for tracks, scat and other signs of wolves.  They use this information to determine new pack activity, home ranges and reproduction. A new pack just discovered in January 2011, the Walla Walla of Umatilla County, had pups this year.

Two new wolves were found in the county over the summer. Two wolves from the well-known Imnaha Pack of northeast Oregon have made their way to central Oregon. Surveys may yet turn up new pups for the Wenaha pack wolves, which would mark three years of reproduction for this pack.

That’s the biology part of the job they trained for in college. But with wolves, sociology is as important as biology. Much wolf management involves people, not wolves.

Biologists have also spent hours on the phone talking with livestock producers, conservationists, government officials and others. In that same time period mentioned above, they personally contacted livestock producers 263 times to let them know about wolf activity in their area or preventive measures to avoid wolf-livestock conflict. They have sent more than 2,500 text messages to ranchers about recent wolf activity. (Ranchers have used this information to change their husbandry practices, turning cattle out at different times and places to avoid wolves.)

Defenders of Wildlife has funded a range rider for some time, to help keep tabs on wolf activity and even haze them away from livestock operations. Carcass piles have been buried, fladry hung and radio-activated guard boxes installed.
The alpha male of the Imnaha pack sits up after being fitted with a working GPS collar in May.
But like every other state, Oregon has experienced livestock losses to wolves. In one of the more difficult parts of the job, wildlife biologists are also on the scene for livestock loss investigations when wolves are suspected.

Emotions run high when producers lose an animal they have cared for and count on for their livelihood. Discerning what actually happened can be difficult, especially if the animal has been dead several days, or when weather or another disturbance effects evidence. Here the job turns into a scene from CSI, with biologists carefully looking for evidence (wolf tracks, signs of struggle). Their previous knowledge of other predators in the area is useful here. To be thorough and make sure the animal wasn’t just scavenged, the dead animal is usually skinned, even if it’s been dead for several days. (Oregon’s livestock loss investigations are summarized online at

When repeated depredations occur, our wildlife biologists are also called to remove the wolves they have been tracking. The decision to kill wolves, an endangered animal in Oregon, is never made lightly. But the hope is that by removing problem wolves, the rest will be able to thrive.

Each year, we learn more about Oregon’s wolves that will help us reach our goal. The state has a wolf management plan with an initial conservation objective of four breeding pairs on each side of the Cascades. Oregon’s wildlife biologists will continue working hard to make that plan a reality.
–Michelle Dennehy

Follow Oregon’s wolf news at, and visit our photo archive here
Speaking Out: The Next Generation Of Wolf Advocates
Posted: 21 Oct 2011 06:30 AM PDT
For Wolf Awareness Week
this year, Defenders has invited guest bloggers to offer their perspectives on the importance of wolf conservation. Story Warren, a seventh grader in Olympia, Wash. testified before the state Fish and Wildlife Commission in support of its wolf recovery plan. The text of her testimony is included below:
This wolf was spotted earlier this year in the Cascade Mountains, about 100 miles east of Seattle. The state is currently finalizing its comprehensive wolf conservation plan.
Members of the commission:  My name is Story Warren. I am in seventh grade at NOVA middle school in Olympia. When I saw my first tiny speck of a wild wolf in a telescope that was almost as big as me, I was six years old.  Ever since that day, wolves have intrigued me and sparked my imagination. Since then, I have painted them, written about them, and studied them extensively. I have watched them in the wild on numerous occasions.  I hope to, one day, make a career out of studying wolves and also coming up with ways to prevent livestock/wolf interaction. It would be wonderful if I could make that career happen right here in Washington state. It saddens me to see that such resentment is fueled toward wolves. Dogs, our beloved companions and workers, are genetically more than 99% wolf, and dogs kill more livestock nationwide than wolves do.
I want to represent young people in saying that I believe it is very important that we keep wolves in Washington for my generation; my generation is going to have to live with – or without – whatever your generation does to the world. My personal opinion is that the Wolf Management and Conservation Plan that we are all here today to discuss is not perfect for any party, but I am here to support it because it seems to be reasonable.

So I ask you to please adopt this Wolf Recovery plan. Thank you for your time.

–Story Warren