Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up
Posted: 13 Jan 2012

Wolves in town – Residents of west Jackson, Wyoming, had some uninvited guests drop by this week when three wolves were spotted on the outskirts of a subdivision. The area is not far from Grand Teton National Park, so the locals are already accustomed to seeing wildlife moseying through town. Elk commonly move through the area seeking refuge from wild predators. But this marks the first time that wolves have been seen in a primarily residential part of Jackson. While the wolves are not considered a threat to humans, residents should take steps to remove any attractants and protect their pets.

As of now, wolves are still protected in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act, which means they cannot be harassed or harmed unless a person’s life is in danger. But that may not be the case for much longer. The comment period closes today on the federal proposal to strip protections for wolves in Wyoming that would allow wolves to be shot on sight across the majority of the state, including on some national forest lands that provide excellent wolf habitat and where wildlife is supposed to be a priority. In the latest wrinkle, federal park officials are raising concerns that the current state management plan would allow wolves to be hunted in along the Rockefeller Parkway that connects Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park.

OR7 stirs the California pot – OR7 (aka, Journey) has been in California only two weeks, but his appearance has been greeted with both cheers and fears. The lone dispersing male has been on the move, making his way into northern Lassen County early in the week. Meanwhile, at a meeting in Yreka with a capacity crowd, Siskiyou County supervisors listened to comments and concerns of local residents. Some urged the county to ban wolves outright, while others pleaded for tolerance and celebrated the return as a momentous occasion.

State and federal wildlife managers have been attending a series of meetings in northern California to address questions about the return of wolves and meeting with Defenders and other stakeholders in Sacramento. More information can be found on the state’s new wolf website at

And in case you missed it, here’s Brian Williams’ report on OR7 featured on NBC Nightly News last Friday:

Don’t turn that dial – Wolves were featured in a flurry of radio shows this week. First, American Public Media did an in-depth interview with Carter Niemeyer, former wolf trapper and recovery coordinator, who published a memoir about his experiences. His accounts are brutally honest, including often graphic detail of his gruesome depredation investigations. But his story reveals the complexities of dealing with both ranchers and wolf advocates during an extremely volatile period.

Wednesday, Montana Public Radio aired a feature story about Nathan Varley who runs a wolf tourism business that operates in Yellowstone. Nathan regularly leads wolf tours focused on educating park visitors about basic wolf biology and behavior. Listen below, starting at the 15-minute mark:

Yesterday, Defenders’ wolf expert Suzanne Stone did an extended interview with Christopher Gabriel, a popular talk radio show host in Fargo, North Dakota. She explained the importance of wolves in California, the ecological role of wolves, and the importance of reducing conflicts with livestock to promote social tolerance. And of course, she taught Chris how to howl. (Archived show coming soon!)

High school students perform the Quileute "wolf dance" while facing off against a visiting amabassador wolf from Mission Wolf.
Twilight in DC – The shape-shifting “werewolves” in the Twilight Saga are pure fantasy, but the Quileute tribe on which the story is based is not. These Native Americans have a long and rich history living on the Olympic Peninsula in modern-day Washington State that dates back to a time when real wolves still existed. In fact, the Quileute creation legend is that the original tribal members were transformed from wolves into humans. That’s why wolf iconography and ritual dances remain an important part of Quileute culture today. (Suzanne even got to witness the sacred “wolf dance” during a visit last summer when she met with tribal leaders to discuss the return of wolves!)

An exhibition of Quileute art opens today at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Click here for more details

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