Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 

Stop the Idaho Aerial Wolf Slaughter Plan
Woes for Wyoming wolves – Defenders raised the alert this week to oppose the imminent delisting of wolves in Wyoming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could prematurely strip federal protections as soon as the end of this month, putting more than 100 wolves at risk of being killed through a combination of hunting and shoot-on-sight predator control. Wyoming could reduce the population by more than a third, leaving just 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park. To get there, they’re plan allows wolves across the majority of the state to be killed anytime by almost any means—shooting, trapping, poisoning, gassing pups in their dens.

We’re calling on the Obama administration to halt the delisting and force Wyoming to come up with a better plan. Wolves should be treated like other valuable wildlife and allowed to fulfill their important ecological role, not treated like unwanted vermin. No other native species is managed to a biological minimum, especially one that has only recently recovered. You can help us by telling the Obama administration to ensure the future of a healthy, sustainable wolf population in Wyoming and across the Northern Rockies. Click here to take action.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information about the pending delisting.

California wildlife agency says state protections warranted – OR-7 still isn’t having much lady luck on his solo voyage into northern California, but there are plenty of people who want to make sure that he and other wolves continue to have safe passage through the state. This week, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Game recommended that the state Fish and Game Commission provide endangered species protections to ensure that wolves are given the chance to recover in California. Pam Flick from our Sacramento office pointed out that these protections will help discourage poaching:
“Illegal poaching has caused 24 percent of all wolf deaths…State listing may not prevent all killings, but it may prevent some.” Read more from the AP story in the Mercury News
Wolves in California are currently protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but those protections may not remain in place for much longer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is currently considering a proposal that would strip protections for gray wolves (except for Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest) across the entire lower 48, including California. Meanwhile, Defenders is working closely with the state to come up with a wolf management plan that will benefit wolves and minimize potential livestock conflicts.

Washington wildlife agency kills first wolf – After reported livestock losses in northeast Washington, state wildlife managers lethally removed a young female of the Wedge Pack this week. She was the pack’s “puppy-sitter,” however, so it is unlikely that she was involved in any depredations.  We are investigating this incident further to determine if there are nonlethal measures that could be better applied to the situation in this area. Listen to this in-depth interview with the assistant director of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Northwest Public Radio’s EarthFix:

The state claims they exhausted all their options for trying nonlethal methods, but we hope they will continue to work proactively to prevent conflict so that no more wolves are removed. Read more from the Seattle Times
and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
 USFWS targets Mexican wolf – Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an order to kill the alpha female in the Fox Mountain pack in response to livestock depredations in western New Mexico. This is the first Mexican wolf removal order due to conflicts with livestock since 2007, thanks in part to Defenders efforts to proactively reduce conflict by working with ranchers in the area. But with only 58 Mexican wolves in the wild, every loss is significant and delays recovery even further. The dire situation once again emphasizes the need for the Fish and wildlife Service to release more wolves to augment the struggling population.

Poachers leave four wolves, six bald eagles dead in Montana – We’ve always known that poaching was a serious (and under reported) problem in the Northern Rockies. Here’s the evidence. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it is investigating the illegal poisoning of four gray wolves and six bald eagles that turned up dead in May in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of western Montana. The Service is offering $2,500 for information leading to a conviction. Tips can be reported to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks via their hotline:  800-TIP-MONT.
 Wolf texting far out but not far off – Wolves are highly social animals, but we never expected text messaging to be in their future. A few Swiss biologists imagined otherwise and have devised a way to use the technology to alert sheep herders to the presence of wolves. The idea is simple. Sheep are fitted with a collar that monitors their vital signs. If they start to panic (like when a hungry predator is on the prowl), the collar sends a signal via text message alerting a nearby herder of the potential threat. The device proved effective during preliminary testing with wolf dogs in a small enclosure. Next, they’ll have to see how it works in the wild. The design team plans to modify the device in the future to issue a sound or spray repellent to keep wolves away, buying the herder more time to try to intervene. Read more from Wired.

Pups in Wood River project area – For the second year in a row, our Wood River team has documented pups moving through the project area. This time the evidence came from one of our trail cameras that snapped a photo of a gray pup and a wolf pup at night. See for yourself: