Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 20 Apr 2012
Jackson wolf put down over safety concerns – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it euthanized one of two female wolves that had settled near Jackson Hole, Wyoming in recent months. While it’s sad to hear the large white wolf was killed, ultimately a suburban environment like Jackson is not a great place for wolves to be. The longer they stick around, the more likely they are to get into trouble.

Wild wolves tend to keep their distance from people and generally are not a threat. Not a single person has been injured by wolves in the Rockies since they were reintroduced more than 15 years ago. But accidents can happen once wolves become habituated and lose their fear of people.

This incident is a good reminder that people living in wolf country can help protect wolves by scaring them away. Nonlethal hazing, such as yelling, or banging pots and pans, blowing airhorns, and shining lights, is a good way to make sure wild wolves maintain a healthy fear of humans and don’t come around again. Wolves are curious creatures but will usually head for the hills if they feel threatened, especially by humans.

RMEF pays feds to kill more wolvesThe Missoulian reported this week that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation gave $51,000 to Wildlife Services to target more wolves in response to livestock depredations. It’s strange that a wildlife organization is offering money to a federal agency to kill a native species in order to benefit the livestock industry. But the bigger issue is that killing wolves only perpetuates Wildlife Services outdated predator control strategies without addressing any of the underlying problems.

A better alternative is taking proactive steps to prevent conflict before problems arise. Using nonlethal deterrents and innovative husbandry practices is a much better long-term solution. Groups like Defenders of Wildlife and others have been investing in these types of projects for years with impressive results. For the last few years, federal legislation sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester has also made $1 million available annually to support wolf coexistence and livestock compensation in 10 western states. This funding goes a long way to helping ranchers purchase and implement the tools they need to coexist with all our native wildlife.

Three must-see wolf videos – In case you missed the premiere this week on PBS, you can now watch the full episode of River of No Return online (below). The stunning documentary follows Isaac and Bjornen Babcock on their year-long honeymoon tracking wolves through the central Idaho wilderness.

Watch River of No Return on PBS. See more from Nature.
Another fantastic feature-length documentary will be coming to theaters this summer, starting with the world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 31. True Wolf tells the story of a couple that adopted a wolf and spent 16 years touring the country and educating people about wolves. Their story has never been more relevant for addressing the conflicted relationship of man and wolf.

Last but not least, here’s a heartwarming story about a wolf that was rescued in Italy after falling into freezing water. It’s hard to ignore the stark contrast between valiant efforts to keep this one wolf alive and aggressive efforts to eliminate wolves in the Northern Rockies.