Sunday, September 30, 2012

Killing of wolf pack criticized by key Washington state lawmaker

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Washington State completes a sharpshooter cull of a wolf pack that had been feeding on livestock.

KING 5's Gary Chittim reports.
The chairman of the state Senate committee that oversees Washington's Department of Fish & Wildlife tells NBC News that the killing of a gray wolf pack in recent days was "inexcusable" and that he is demanding answers about why the agency thought it was necessary.

"I find it inexcusable that we allowed ourselves to get to a place where killing the entire pack was the necessary decision when other non-lethal options – within the department and with ranchers – were not totally exhausted first," said Sen. Kevin Ranker, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee.

"I find it ironic that the attacks on livestock that caused this situation ... took place on a ranch that has been outspoken about the removal of the pack and has refused to work with the department to implement prevention measures successfully adopted by other ranchers," he added.

The department gave the order to kill the entire pack, estimated to be eight wolves, after the pack became accustomed to attacking cattle instead of relying on wild prey.

"To say I am disappointed in the department's actions would be a gross understatement," Ranker said. "I can tell you, however, as the chair of the committee with oversight over the Department of Fish & Wildlife, this story is far from over."

In a letter Friday to the department, Ranker demanded to know:
  • What specific actions the department took before authorizing the kill;
  • Exact costs associated with killing the pack;
  • What actions the department will take to avoid a repeat.
The department "has provided very general descriptions of a few non-lethal measures taken" under the state plan for managing gray wolves, he said in the letter. "The wolf plan however includes an extensive list of husbandry techniques, non-lethal deterrents, and relocation options that were not utilized in the case of the Wedge pack. The fact that the Department pursued removal of not just individual animals, but the entire pack, clearly evidences the agency's failure to effectively use these non-lethal tools to deter wolf-livestock depredation."

Ranker also said the department's strategy for managing gray wolves could backfire. "I fear that the Department’s actions ... will be viewed by some who do not support wolf recovery as setting a precedent that localized public pressure can dictate wolf plan implementation, including lethal removal decisions," he stated.


State fish and game commissioners consider listing grey wolves as endangered

Officials will consider this week adding California's only wolf to the list of state's threatened and endangered species, nine months after it moved to the state from Oregon.

But the wolf wouldn't be added to the list this year. The California Fish and Game Commission will consider Wednesday to further study whether the gray wolf should be listed as a threatened or endangered species.

That means another year of studying the one wolf in California and gray wolves in general, said Dan Yparraguirre, the California Department of Fish and Game's deputy director of wildlife and fisheries.
Considering the controversy that has surrounded the wolf, known as OR-7, Wednesday's meeting likely will be well-attended, he said.

"There's going to be two very polar positions on this thing," Yparraguirre said.
Siskiyou County Supervisor Grace Bennett said the county is sending a representative to the meeting to testify against the proposal.

"We don't think it's a good idea," Bennett said. "The wolf they are bringing back is a totally different species" than what lived in the state in the early part of the 20th century.

She said the livestock raised in Siskiyou County could become prey for wolves, and the deer herds that already are suffering could be further harmed, she said.

Born into a pack in northeast Oregon in 2010, OR-7 migrated into the southern part of the state last fall. When he finally crossed the border into California in December he became the first wild wolf in California since 1924, according to the DFG.

Since then he has trotted through several Northern California counties, including Shasta, Tehama and Siskiyou counties. He even returned to southern Oregon for a time.

Wildlife officials have been monitoring his movements through a GPS tracking device on his collar and posting his locations on the DFG's website.

In March, the Center for Biological Diversity, Big Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Information Center and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center submitted a request to list the wolf.
During the past summer, OR-7 has been traveling between northern Plumas and eastern Tehama counties. The most recent satellite reading is from Friday, when he was in western Plumas County, according to the DFG.

OR-7 already is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, according to the DFG.
Adding gray wolves to the state list of threatened or endangered species would provide protection for the animals if the federal government delists them, said Amaroq Weiss, Northern California representative for the California Wolf Center.

Weiss said she will speak at the commission meeting on behalf of her organization and two other groups.

The wolf needs protection because it is a population of only one, and if it doesn't reproduce there, gray wolves will again be extinct in California. She said the wolf should not be allowed to go extinct.
"It's bringing back a piece of our natural history," Weiss said.

Yparraguirre said the state is not advocating reintroducing more wolves into the state to ensure the survival of the species.

But the environmental groups support reintroduction, according to the state. A report to the commission says the environmental groups that proposed the wolf's listing recommended taking five steps to ensure wolf populations could recover to the point they're no longer considered endangered:
List the wolf as an endangered species.

Develop a recovery plan showing suitable habitat for the wolf and conservation goals.
Address human-wolf conflicts and wolf impacts on livestock and other property.
Identify and resolve barriers that keep wolves from dispersing.
Support establishing breeding pairs in the state if it doesn't occur by 2017.
Bob Williams, chairman of the Tehama County Board of Supervisors, said the county is not sending a representative to the meeting. But the board sent a letter to the commission opposing listing the wolf.
The letter includes a report that says the rangeland in Tehama County potentially could support up to 173 wolves, which annually could consume from 132 to 1,184 head of cattle, or 166 to 1,496 bison, or 1,263 to 11,366 deer.

"We believe wolves would be a threat that is incompatible with humans (hikers, campers, residents) and ranchers (specifically livestock) in Tehama County, and the potential impacts would weigh as a heavy burden on the county, its citizens and agricultural industry," the letter says.


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5 by peaveydude
5, a photo by peaveydude on Flickr.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 28 Sep 2012 

WDFW wipes out Wedge Pack – The hunt is over, and tragically the Wedge Pack is no more. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced yesterday that they have completed their mission by removing a total of six wolves this week, including the alpha male and female. (See their FAQ for more details.) If there are any wolves left, they might be wise to heed the advice of the Seattle Times editorial board and seek refuge north of the Canadian border.

With the conclusion of this sad chapter, we must redouble our efforts to work with the state and local ranchers to make sure this scenario does not play out again next year. But it won’t be easy. Watch this report from NBC affiliate King5-Seattle to see what we’re up against:

Dog killed in attempted wolf poisoning – It’s one thing for wolf opponents to complain about the return of a native predator to landscape; everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But it crosses a serious line when anti-wolf sentiment results in illegal actions that harm people or their pets. That’s why Defenders is working with local partners to offer a reward for information leading to the conviction of parties responsible for poisoning two dogs
in Blaine County, Idaho. Both animals had ingested chunks of meat which had been laced with an artificial sweetener known to be toxic to wolves. One dog died as a result, while the other survived after vomiting was induced at a local animal shelter. The county sheriff believes the poisoning was intentional, and many believe wolves were the intended target, not the dogs.
Blaine County, home of Defenders Wood River Wolf Project, has generally been very supportive of wolf recovery. The enthusiasm of many community members is what propelled the Phantom Hill pack to national prominence several years ago, and interest in wolf recovery has remained high ever since. Further, the willingness of open-minded sheep ranchers in the area has been instrumental in demonstrating the effectiveness of nonlethal deterrents as a method of preventing conflict between wolves and livestock. But clearly, we still have work to do to promote tolerance and help educate local residents about the value of having wolves.
 Trigger (un)happy – Just two years ago, wolves across the entire lower 48 were federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. But this fall, five states will allow hunting of the recently delisted species. More than 500 wolves were killed in Idaho and Montana during the last season, and now wolves in Wyoming, Wisconsin and Minnesota will be in hunters’ sights as well. In addition to regulated hunting, starting this Sunday Wyoming is set to declare open season on wolves in the “predator zone” that encompasses about 85 percent of the state. Any wolves found in this area can be killed anytime by almost any means.

While we don’t oppose legitimate fair-chase hunting outright, we do think many of these states have been much too quick to cull so many wolves unnecessarily. We also agree with the authors of this great editorial in the Chicago Tribune that Congress should “lengthen the distance from endangered species to ready, aim, fire.”
“In the last century, Americans nearly exterminated one of its most ecologically valuable and majestic creatures. Ours will be a tamer, poorer nation if this century continues the slaughter.” – Chicago Tribune editorial, Sept. 23, 2012
Northern gateway to Yellowstone turns against wolves – Despite the protests of many conservation groups and concerned citizens, Gallatin County is moving forward with an aggressive predator plan that endorses getting rid of all but a small handful of wolves in the area. Nevermind that elk and deer herds are plentiful and that there have been zero livestock losses in recent years. The Commission has apparently succumbed to the fear-mongering of anti-wolf extremists, ignoring entirely all the positive benefits that wolves bring to the region.

Fortunately, the decision is mostly a token gesture since the state, not the county, is ultimately responsible for managing wolves. But it doesn’t bode well for the future of wildlife in what has typically been a pretty progressive part of the state. Gallatin County includes the city of Bozeman, home to many leading environmental organizations including Defenders’ Rocky Mountain office. It’s also the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, which draws thousands of tourists who spend millions of dollars every year to see native wildlife, including wolves.
Gallatin County commissioners should recognize that wolves are a boon to the environment as well as the bottom line the way their counterparts to the south have. Teton County, Wyoming, the southern gateway to Yellowstone and home of Jackson Wyoming, has embraced wildlife as their number one value and will likely benefit from Gallatin County’s misstep by attracting more wildlife tourists and businesses instead of thumbing their nose at them.


Utah groups plead for wolf protections

    Published: Friday, Sept. 28 2012
    This 2004 photograph provided by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows an adult male wolf from the Lazy Creek pack north of Whitefish, Mont. 
    Associated Press

    SALT LAKE CITY — More than a dozen Utah environmental groups have banded together to plead for continued protections for the gray wolf, which they fear could be removed from the Endangered Species List as early as next year.
    The Western Wildlife Conservancy and the Utah Environmental Congress were among 18 signatories that penned a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week, urging the animal remain protected in the lower 48 states.
    Such continued protection could foster reintroduction of the wolf in Utah, where the groups contend the ecosystem is out of balance because of the absence of the predators.
    "Utah has room for wolves," the letter to Salazar reads. "There are large areas of quality wolf habitat on many of our national forests and other public lands. Even without direct reintroduction, wolves will migrate to these places naturally if we let them."
    The prospect of wolves in Utah — they were exterminated in the state nearly a century ago — has been an emotionally charged issue both politically and on the ground, where livestock owners place high value on the sentiment that the only good wolf is a dead wolf.
    Wolf advocates, in their letter to Salazar, stress that by and large, public opinion polls support a different position.
    "A 2004 scientific public opinion survey conducted at Utah State University indicated that a substantial majority of Utahns like wolves, want to see them in the state, recognize that they are a necessary component of healthy ecosystems, and do not believe that they would pose an unacceptable risk to human activities, livestock or big game."
    Over the years, the possibility of wolves existing in Utah has engendered a lot of attention — both good and bad.
    A team of state wildlife biologists in late spring this year took extensive measures to determine if a pack of wolves spotted up Spanish Fork Canyon was just that — or wolf hybrids.
    They eventually determined the animals were imposters — not wolves at all.
    In 2002, however, the wolf lovers and wolf haters were in a frenzied uproar with the capture of wolf No. 253 in Morgan County, where the 2-year-old male was snared in a coyote trap.
    The solitary male wearing a radio collar was from the Druid Pack in Yellowstone National Park and was the first confirmed wolf spotted in Utah in 70 years.
    The discovery spurred Utah's efforts to refine its wolf management plan and just last year, lawmakers were jockeying to establish rules for a "wolf hunt" should they ever make a showing.
    No. 253 was returned to the park, but shot in 2008 outside of Daniel, Wyo., which is an area where wolves are not protected.


    Wolves Meant To Live in Wild

    Wolves may be among the most polarizing and misunderstood animals, but really they’re just big pups – pups that are meant to live in the wild, Stephanie Kaylan explained as she petted Hokshila, a 125-pound, 10-year-old timber wolf.

    Kaylan, founder and president of the Wanagi Wolf Fund and Rescue, has been making the rounds of West Side and Rio Rancho organizations to raise awareness of the plight of domesticated wolves and their brethren in the wild and to raise money for her East Mountains shelter. The shelter houses 12 wolves or wolf-mixed breeds.

    She will have several of them at Rio Rancho Pet Food Gone Wild, 2414 Southern Blvd., from 1-5 p.m. Sunday to help the business celebrate its one-year anniversary.

    Having the wolves out is a cooperative venture because the store’s owners believe in the Wanagi mission, owner Roberto Holmess said.

    Wolves, are a misunderstood breed,” he said. “This is a way of educating people, getting people to see wolves from a different point of view. We try to educate the public about the different things and animals. They’re great animals.”

    But, Kaylan pointed out, breeding them domestically just leads to trouble.

    “I try to go wherever I can to educate because I want people to understand that wolves and wolf-dogs are wonderful. But we really need to stop the breeding of these animals …”

    She said they are deemed exotic so if they are left at the pound, they are the first to be euthanized.

    In addition to outings at stores, Kaylan takes Hokshila to schools and Boy and Girl Scout events.

    “He is our ambassador. He has proven himself,” she said of the timber wolf that is originally from Oklahoma.

    “Somebody was doing terrible things to him in the river,” Kaylan said. “He ran away and ran up to this really angel of a man. This man drove him 10 1/2 hours out to me. He’s just growing and growing. He is an average size timber wolf. I’ve seen them bigger. But he is a big, sweet boy.”

    That big, sweet boy hammed it up for photos, submitted to the snuggling of children and endured the yapping of small dogs passing by while visiting Boofy’s Best for Pets on the West Side last weekend.

    “He’s as a gentle as a lamb,” Kaylan said. “He loves kids.”

    Those who saw him were surprised by that.

    “I think it’s a cool experience,” said 14-year-old Taylor Ranch resident Kristi Hagler. “It’s not every day you get to see a real wolf in real life. They’re pretty cool animals. They’re pretty gentle.”

    Her mom, Rose Cox, said she appreciated the message Wanagi delivered.

    “They kind of have the same beliefs that we do,” she said. “They’re really not meant to be pets. Too many people out there are breeding them because they think it’s a cool idea to have them in the house.”

    University of New Mexico students Katie Holloway and Alejandra Colmenero just wanted to see the animals.

    “I came here especially to see the wolves,” Holloway said. “We’re big on animals and the rights of animals. We figured it was a good cause and it was a fun little outing on a Sunday afternoon.”

    Their demeanor was surprising, given the wolf stereotypes, she said.

    “I didn’t know they could be so calm and domestic,” Holloway said. “They’re so beautiful. There’s that saying that goes, ‘They’re better in person,’ they’re definitely better in person.”
    — This article appeared on page 29 of the Albuquerque Journal


    Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf

    San Francisco
    Jungyeon Roh
    THIS month, a group of environmental nonprofits said they would challenge the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming. Since there are only about 328 wolves in a state with a historic blood thirst for the hides of these top predators, the nonprofits are probably right that lacking protection, Wyoming wolves are toast. 

    Many Americans, even as they view the extermination of a species as morally anathema, struggle to grasp the tangible effects of the loss of wolves. It turns out that, far from being freeloaders on the top of the food chain, wolves have a powerful effect on the well-being of the ecosystems around them — from the survival of trees and riverbank vegetation to, perhaps surprisingly, the health of the populations of their prey. 

    An example of this can be found in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, where wolves were virtually wiped out in the 1920s and reintroduced in the ’90s. Since the wolves have come back, scientists have noted an unexpected improvement in many of the park’s degraded stream areas.
    Stands of aspen and other native vegetation, once decimated by overgrazing, are now growing up along the banks. This may have something to do with changing fire patterns, but it is also probably because elk and other browsing animals behave differently when wolves are around. Instead of eating greenery down to the soil, they take a bite or two, look up to check for threats, and keep moving. The greenery can grow tall enough to reproduce. 

    Beavers, despite being on the wolf’s menu, also benefit when their predators are around. The healthy vegetation encouraged by the presence of wolves provides food and shelter to beavers. Beavers in turn go on to create dams that help keep rivers clean and lessen the effects of drought. Beaver activity also spreads a welcome mat for thronging biodiversity. Bugs, amphibians, fish, birds and small mammals find the water around dams to be an ideal habitat. 

    So the beavers keep the rivers from drying up while, at the same time, healthy vegetation keeps the rivers from flooding, and all this biological interaction helps maintain rich soil that better sequesters carbon — that stuff we want to get out of the atmosphere and back into the ground. In other words, by helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem, wolves are connected to climate change: without them, these landscapes would be more vulnerable to the effects of those big weather events we will increasingly experience as the planet warms. 

    Scientists call this sequence of impacts down the food chain a “trophic cascade.” The wolf is connected to the elk is connected to the aspen is connected to the beaver. Keeping these connections going ensures healthy, functioning ecosystems, which in turn support human life. 

    Another example is the effect of sea otters on kelp, which provides food and shelter for a host of species. Like the aspen for the elk, kelp is a favorite food of sea urchins. By hunting sea urchins, otters protect the vitality of the kelp and actually boost overall biodiversity. Without them, the ecosystem tends to collapse; the coastal reefs become barren, and soon not much lives there. 

    Unfortunately, sea otters are in the cross hairs of a conflict equivalent to the “wolf wars.” Some communities in southeast Alaska want to allow the hunting of sea otters in order to decrease their numbers and protect fisheries. But the rationale that eliminating the predator increases the prey is shortsighted and ignores larger food-web dynamics. A degraded ecosystem will be far less productive over all. 

    Having fewer fish wouldn’t just hurt fishermen: it would also endanger the other end of the trophic scale — the phytoplankton that turn sunshine into plant material, and as every student of photosynthesis knows, create oxygen and sequester carbon. In lakes, predator fish keep the smaller fish from eating all the phytoplankton, thus sustaining the lake’s rate of carbon uptake. 

    Around the planet, large predators are becoming extinct at faster rates than other species. And losing top predators has an outsize effect on the rate of loss of many other species below them on the food chain as well as on the plant life that is so important to the balance of our ecosystems. 

    So what can be done? For one thing, we have begun to realize that parks like Yellowstone are not the most effective means of conservation. Putting a boundary around an expanse of wilderness is an intuitive idea not borne out by the science. Many top predators must travel enormous distances to find mates and keep populations from becoming inbred. No national park is big enough for wolves, for example. Instead, conservation must be done on a continental scale. We can still erect our human boundaries — around cities and towns, mines and oil fields — but in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem, we need to build in connections so that top predators can move from one wild place to another. 

    Many biologists have warned that we are approaching another mass extinction. The wolf is still endangered and should be protected in its own right. But we should also recognize that bringing all the planet’s threatened and endangered species back to healthy numbers — as well as mitigating the effects of climate change — means keeping top predators around. 

    OR wolf back on grid after eluding satellite

    Friday, September 28, 2012
    This May 8, 2012 photo provided by the California Department of Fish and Game shows OR-7, the Oregon wolf that has trekked across two states looking for a mate, on a sagebrush hillside in Modoc County, Calif. A California Department of Fish and Game biologist took this photo while out visiting ranchers in the area. After five days off the grid, OR-7's GPS tracking collar downloaded a location Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, in remote western Plumas County, Califl., allaying fears something might have happened to him. Meanwhile, a public hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif., on whethger to list gray wolves as a state endangered species. Photo: Richard Shinn/California Department Of Fish And Game / AP

    This May 8, 2012 photo provided by the California Department of Fish and Game shows OR-7, the Oregon wolf that has trekked across two states looking for a mate, on a sagebrush hillside in Modoc County, Calif. A California Department of Fish and Game biologist took this photo while out visiting ranchers in the area. After five days off the grid, OR-7's GPS tracking collar downloaded a location Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, in remote western Plumas County, Califl., allaying fears something might have happened to him. Meanwhile, a public hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif., on whethger to list gray wolves as a state endangered species. Photo: Richard Shinn/California Department Of Fish And Game / AP

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's famous wandering wolf was back on the grid Friday after escaping satellite surveillance for five straight days, allaying fears something might have happened to him.
    But OR-7 eluded biologists trying to get a look at him up close and personal on Thursday in the wilds of Northern California, where he has been searching for a mate since last winter.

    Karen Kovacs of the California Department of Fish and Game said she and other biologists found a wolf track in the dirt when they went looking for OR-7 in steep, timbered country on the Plumas National Forest, but they did not pick him up on a radio tracking device or see any other sign of him. The area had abundant deer for him to prey on, she said.

    "Whether or not he was in an area that satellites couldn't get a fix on him, or his collar is starting to malfunction, we don't know," she said. "But he is back online this morning in western Plumas County."

    They left an automated trail camera to see if they can get a picture of him, like the one taken by a hunter in Oregon last year. Though reports of wolf sightings come in regularly, there has been no hard evidence of any other wolves in California, Kovacs said.

    Meanwhile, a public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif., on whether to put gray wolves on the California state endangered species list. Conservation groups petitioned the California Fish and Wildlife Commission for the protection, but at least one rural county — Tehama — has formally opposed the idea.

    The biggest opposition to the restoration of wolf populations has come from ranchers fearful they will prey on livestock, but so far there have been no reports OR-7 has attacked any.

    The gray wolf is a federally protected species in California.

    OR-7 was born in northeastern Oregon as a member of the Imnaha Pack, and was captured and fitted with a tracking collar a year and a half ago. The GPS system sends daily signals to a satellite that plots his position, allowing biologists to follow his trek across Oregon into Northern California. The collars typically last about two years.

    The young wolf left his pack a year ago to find a mate and a new territory. He is the first wolf known to roam into California since the last trapping of a wild wolf in 1924. Not long after he left, state wildlife authorities put a kill order out on his father and another member of the pack for killing cattle. The Oregon Court of Appeals is considering whether the order violates the state Endangered Species Act.


    Wolf pack that killed cattle taken out by sharpshooters

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    Washington State completes a sharpshooter cull of a wolf pack that had been feeding on livestock.

     KING 5's Gary Chittim reports.
    Sharpshooters taking aim from a helicopter shot dead six gray wolves this week, wrapping up Washington state's strategy of killing off the pack because it had become accustomed to eating cattle.
    "It was the hardest decision I've ever made both professionally as well as personally," Phil Anderson, director of Washington's Department of Fish & Wildlife, told NBC station on Thursday after the last wolf, the alpha male, was shot dead. "Going out and killing wildlife is not what this agency is all about."

    The state had placed a GPS collar on the alpha male when the pack was discovered earlier this year in northeast Washington. That same GPS was then used to track down the wolves.

    "The GPS collar on the alpha male enabled us to find the pack’s location fairly easily, although a few times the wolves were pretty inaccessible because of forest cover," department spokesman Dave Ware told NBC News.

    A first wolf was killed in early August to see if that would break the pack's habit of attacking cattle.
    "Ultimately, it became clear that this pack was preying on livestock as its primary food source, and that our actions had not changed that pattern," Anderson said in a statement Thursday. "The independent wolf experts we consulted agreed with our staff that removal of the pack was the only viable option."

    A second wolf was later found dead on land used by cattle to graze. The cause of death was not clear, but the young wolf had not been shot, the department said.

    Those deaths left what officials estimated to be a pack of six members, all of them killed this week.
    Even if the pack was a bit larger than that, officials don't expect long-term survivors since both the alpha male and female were among those killed.

    The wolves were dubbed the "Wedge Pack" because they roamed a wedge-shaped area of the state.
    Gray wolves used to roam Washington but were nearly exterminated a century ago by settlers. Efforts to return them to the wild in neighboring states opened a door for a natural return of wolves to Washington, where seven other packs have been established without attacking cattle.

    Officials expect new wolves will move into the "Wedge" area since it has plenty of deer, elk and other wildlife. They just hope any future wolves don't become accustomed to cattle.

    "It was necessary to reset the stage for sustainable wolf recovery in this region," Anderson stated. "Now we will refocus our attention on working with livestock operators and conservation groups to aggressively promote the use of non-lethal tactics to avoid wolf-livestock conflict."


    Image of the Day

    Canyon Park Yearling
    Yellowstone National Park
    May 2011

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Image of ther Day

    Wolf 3  by Dan Newcomb Photography
    Wolf 3 , a photo by Dan Newcomb Photography on Flickr.

    Utah conservationists ask Interior Secretary not to de-list wolves.

    Endangered species » Wolf populations in neighboring states deemed healthy.
    By christopher smart | The Salt Lake Tribune
    Published Sep 27 2012.

    More than a dozen Utah conservation groups are asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to keep protections in place that would allow "natural re-introduction" of wolves into the Beehive State. In a letter to Salazar, the conservationists say they are concerned with a planned de-listing of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list across the lower 48 states.

    In addition, they fear for the health of the Mexican gray wolf population that straddles the line between northern Arizona and New Mexico. Join the Discussion Post a Comment Read All Comments (8) That sentiment is not shared by a majority of Utah lawmakers.

    In 2010, legislation passed that directed the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to "manage wolves to prevent the establishment of a viable pack in all areas of the state where the wolf is not listed as threatened or endangered ..." In a related matter that is independent of the gray wolf, portions of southern Utah were being considered for an extension of the Mexican gray wolf recovery area. But according to the conservationists’ letter to Salazar, behind-the-scenes maneuvering may have been successful in removing southern Utah from consideration.

    One of the letter’s authors, Kirk Robinson, Western Wildlife Conservancy, said in a Thursday interview that there are fewer than 100 surviving Mexican gray wolves and without a larger recovery area they likely will become extinct. In March 2011, the northeast corner of Utah — east of Interstate 15 and north of I-80 and I-84 — was de-listed as a recovery area for gray wolves.

    Elsewhere in Utah, most notably the Uinta Mountains and eastern Utah’s Book Cliffs region, they remain protected.

    Idaho and Montana were also de-listed in 2011 and the gray wolf populations there put under the management of state wildlife officials. Wyoming was de-listed last month. The complete de-listing of gray wolves across the lower 48 states had been scheduled for this Sunday but has been postponed for several months, Robinson said. "We want Salazar to know there is a growing constituency of Utahns who know what’s going on," Robinson said. "We want to bring a groundswell of opposition [to the de-listing of the lower 48 states]."

    Conservationists would like to see gray wolves migrate into Utah from the north and Mexican gray wolves from the south in what Robinson called "natural re-introduction." story continues below story continues below That’s anathema to agriculture interests, said Randy Parker, CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.

    He said wolf packs in Wyoming have decimated sheep and elk herds. Parker was among a multi-faceted group that developed the Utah Wolf Management Plan in the 1990s that was later adopted by the state Legislature. "We want the state of Utah to hold the line on the Wolf Plan and the state law," he said.


    Wolf Suit Should be Shot Down

    Guest Commentary: Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

    Posted:   09/28/2012
    By Wendy Keefover and Mark Salvo
    Re:"Wolf suit should be shot down," Sept. 22 editorial.

    Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? Not Coloradans, the majority of whom support wolves. And Colorado needs wolves and the many benefits they provide. It's time for the federal government to restore wolves to Colorado, starting with Rocky Mountain National Park.

    WildEarth Guardians is litigating Rocky Mountain National Park's flawed 2008 management plan for failing to seriously consider wolves to control elk herds. In an editorial, The Denver Post complained that, "returning wolves to Colorado ... shouldn't be decided in court." The Post misunderstands our case. We've only requested that the court require the National Park Service to fully analyze a wolf restoration alternative pursuant to required federal planning mandates.

    The park has a long-standing elk problem. Elk have destroyed aspen groves, browsed down streamside vegetation, and degraded the habitat for a multitude of species. The obvious solution: restore wolves. Their work can't be beat and it's free.

    To the shock of many, the Park Service — the federal agency most dedicated to managing natural landscapes — decided against wolves and chose instead to use sharpshooters to control elk herds. Hunting is prohibited in national parks. The Post quibbles that sharpshooting is not comparable to hunting, but that misses the point. National parks are designated to preserve natural processes. Shooting elk returns us to misguided policies of the past when park rangers eliminated socially unacceptable species — including, ironically, wolves.

    What The Post seems most concerned about is the so-called "controversy" of re-introducing wolves in the park. But The Post's concerns are without merit. Wolves might leave the park, but they would have more than 2 million acres of adjacent national forests on which to roam. Wolf restoration has negligible effects on the livestock industry. Even in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming (and prior to recommencement of wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana last year), wolves have killed less than 1 percent of the cattle and sheep inventories.

    Finally, the effects of wolf predation on elk numbers are also insignificant. In fact, in those same states, elk populations have exceeded management goals. Wolf restoration makes good sense. What's in it for Colorado? In addition to myriad ecological benefits, there's money to be made. Wolf-watching tourism generated $36 million in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming in 2005. With wolf hunting and trapping in those three states, wolves are unlikely to migrate to Colorado on their own. We need to actively restore wolves to Colorado, starting in our national park.
    Wendy Keefover is director of the Carnivore Protection Program for WildEarth Guardians in Broomfield. Mark Salvo is the group's wildlife program director in Phoenix. 


    Stop killing endangered species

    September 27, 2012

    Grey wolves killed for preying on livestock

    In other countries endangered species are lost due to habitat destruction, overhunting, and poaching. Here, in addition to the above, we have our state and federal wildlife agents killing endangered species. Under Washington state code, the primary mandate for the Department of Fish and Wildlife is to “protect, preserve and perpetuate” our state’s wildlife.

    Gunning down wolves along with their pups to protect cattle grazing on federal land is abhorrent, a crime against nature, and goes against state code
    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, do your job and stop killing endangered species.
    — Diane Weinstein, Issaquah


    Hunters kill 19 wolves statewid

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Season has been open 1 month

    Express Staff Writer

    A female wolf and her four pups were caught exploring an area north of Ketchum by remote camera in August. So far, no wolves have been killed in the region, though 19 have been killed so far across the state.
    Nineteen gray wolves have been killed so far this hunting season, but the large number of tags sold suggests many more will be—especially as there is no statewide quota again this year.

    The 2012-13 wolf hunting season opened Aug. 30, though trapping in most zones won’t open until November.

    According to Idaho Department of Fish and Game records, none of the wolves so far has been in the Southern Mountains zone, which spans Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Carey.

    No wolves have been killed in the Sawtooth zone, west of the Southern Mountains zone, though one has been killed in the Middle Fork zone and one in the Salmon zone, north and northeast of the Southern Mountains zone.

    Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Niels Nokkentved said Wednesday that it’s difficult to tell how many hunters bought tags for this season, as the department has switched to selling tags on a calendar year basis.

    “People might have bought tags in January and decided not to use them,” he said.

    So far, 19,110 resident tags and 3,262 nonresident tags have been sold for the 2012 calendar year. Nokkentved said the total is slightly down from 2011, when the department sold 28,600 resident tags and about 3,000 nonresident tags.

    Nokkentved said he didn’t know if tag sales would get a boost later this fall.
    “I would have to speculate,” he said, and added that he did not know whether tag sales got a boost last fall.

    New rules approved by the Fish and Game Commission this summer allowed hunters to buy up to five wolf tags per calendar year. However, hunters may only use two tags per year in the Southern Mountains zone. The Southern Mountains zone has a harvest quota of 40 wolves for the 2012-13 season. Trapping wolves is not permitted in this zone.


    Helicopter gunner kills 6th Wedge Pack wolf; effort concludes; alpha male, female dead

    Sept. 27, 2012 . 
    ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say a helicopter gunner killed the alpha male of a cattle-preying wolf pack today, concluding the mission to eliminate the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County.

    The wolf was shot just south of the U.S.-Canada border in the third day of aerial shooting that claimed six wolves, agency director Phil Anderson said in a media release. The alpha male has been wearing a GPS since early summer, when it was caught and released by a state wolf researcher.
    The state has been following the GPS signals of the alpha male to locate the pack, which officials have been targeting for elimination since Saturday.

    The pack's alpha female was killed earlier this week, Anderson said. A younger female wolf was shot by an agency staffer on Aug. 7 during the first lethal efforts to curb attacks on cattle that started in early July.
    How do you know you have the entire pack, considering WDFW originally estimated the pack included at least eight animals?  WDFW state wildlife manager responds.
    A Spokesman-Review photographer has been attempting to get photos of the effort, but was told by agency staff on the scene that they could not include him in the activities or make any official comments.  On staffer did say that none of them enjoyed what they were doing, but that they were doing their job.

    “Directing the pack’s removal was a very difficult decision, both personally and professionally, but it was necessary to reset the stage for sustainable wolf recovery in this region,” Anderson said.  “Now we will refocus our attention on working with livestock operators and conservation groups to aggressively promote the use of non-lethal tactics to avoid wolf-livestock conflict.”

    With the latest operation concluded, Anderson said the department would continue to monitor wolf activity in the Wedge region as it is doing in other parts of the state. While some WDFW staff were working full time with the Wedge Pack for most of the summer, other staffers have been working to document wolf activity in Okanogan, Chelan and Kittitas Counties, the Blue Mountains and elsewhere in Northeast Washington.

    Read on for more background and details.

    From the WDFW media release issued this afternoon:

    The department initiated removal of the Wedge Pack late last week in an effort to put a stop to its persistent attacks on livestock from the herd of the Diamond M Ranch in northern Stevens County.  Since July, the wolves had killed or injured at least 17 calves and cows from the herd.

    The pack takes its name from the triangular shape of the Washington state portion of its range, which is bordered by the Columbia and Kettle rivers and Canada.  Its elimination leaves the state with seven confirmed wolf packs and four suspected packs, most of which range in the remote, rugged forests of Northeast Washington.

    WDFW began to lethally remove wolves from the pack in early August, as its pattern of predation began to escalate despite non-lethal efforts by the rancher and the department to prevent the attacks.  A WDFW marksman killed a non-breeding member of the pack on August 7, and about two weeks later, biologists found the decomposed carcass of a young wolf within the Diamond M herd’s grazing area.  The young wolf had not been shot, and the cause of death could not be determined.

    Teams of WDFW staff remained in the Wedge through August, trapping extensively and tracking the movements of the alpha male, which had been fitted with a location-transmitting radio collar.
    However, Anderson said none of the rancher’s or the department’s efforts to change the pack’s behavior succeeded, and attacks on the Diamond M herd increased through mid-September.

    “Ultimately, it became clear that this pack was preying on livestock as its primary food source, and that our actions had not changed that pattern,” Anderson said.  “The independent wolf experts we consulted agreed with our staff that removal of the pack was the only viable option.”

    With the support of key conservation and livestock organizations, the department announced on Sept. 21 it would remove the pack to create the opportunity for wolves that are not habituated to preying on livestock to re-colonize the region.

    Anderson said he looked forward to continuing to work with interested groups on a broad range of non-lethal management strategies under the terms of the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan approved by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission in December 2011.

    WDFW is urging livestock operators to enter into cooperative, cost-sharing agreements with the department that specify non-lethal measures they will use to minimize wolf-livestock conflict.
    “Lethal removal will remain a wolf management option, but we will use it only as a last resort, after all reasonable non-lethal options are exhausted,” Anderson said.

    He said he respects the opinions of the many citizens who contacted the department to share their support for or opposition to its actions.  “We know these issues spark strong feelings among Washington residents across the state, which is why we are committed to conducting our business openly and transparently,” he said.


    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Images of the Day (2 Days)

    Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford, Oxon, 19.9.2012
    Canadian timber wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis)719-13L by Lozarithm
    719-13L, a photo by Lozarithm on Flickr.


    Killing Wolves for Loss of Livestock is the Rancher's Fault.

    September 26, 2012

    Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor

    Killing wolves for loss of domestic livestock

    Government not responsible
    I grew up with cattle and I've raised beef cattleon land shared with coyotes, and we've never lost a calf to any wild animal. Why? Because at calving time, we'd simply bring the cows closer to the house to protect them.

    There is no excuse in this day and age to senselessly shoot wildlife to raise domestic animals [“State to kill 8 wolves tied to loss of livestock,” NW Saturday, Sept. 22].

    This rancher who irresponsibly lost so many calves to gray wolves is using public land — that is, our land where these wolves have slowly been brought back from the brink of extinction. Yet he is blaming the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for not protecting his cattle and forcing them to kill an entire pack of wolves. This rancher feels not only entitled to public lands — an on-going scandal — but also to government resources to protect his herd.

    Sounds likeone of Romney's entitled 47 percent to me.

    Elizabeth Vandeventer, Vashon


    An Open Letter from the CA Wolf Center

    California Wolf Center
    California Wolf Action Alert
    September 2012

    Greetings Wolf Supporters!
    This newsletter contains information about a California Fish and Game Commission hearing discussing protections for wolves in California.  Keep reading to find out how you can get involved! 

    Help protect the gray wolf under the California Endangered Species Act.  

    Please Come to a Hearing on October 3rd in Sacramento to Testify
    in Support of Protecting Wolves in California

    On October 3rd, 2012, the California Fish and Game Commission will be deciding whether to protect gray wolves under our state Endangered Species Act.

    Wolves, once native to California, were driven to extinction here by the 1920's. But wolves are making a comeback. Your help is needed to protect them.

    In late 2011, a wolf from Oregon, "OR-7," (aka "Journey") crossed the border to become California's first confirmed wild wolf in nearly 90 years. Wolf OR-7 is exploring terrain in northern California that his ancestors once called home.
    It is likely that more wolves will disperse into California in the years to come. Whether they have a future here depends on having strong protections in place.

    Several weeks ago, we sent you an alert asking you to submit letters to the Commission in advance of the October 3rd hearing.

    Now we invite you to join us in attending the hearing -- to testify in support of protecting wolves in California under our state Endangered Species Act.

    Below is Basic Information about the Location/Date/Time; some Talking Points; and some Easy Speaking Guidelines for speaking before the Commission.


    Where: 1416 Ninth Street,Sacramento, CA 95814, in the auditorium

    When: Oct. 3, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

    Note:  The wolf item is #16 on the agenda, so is scheduled to be heard late in the day. But, the Commission reserves the right to change the schedule or leave it as is.  Please plan ahead for a long day; bring something to read while you wait for the wolf matter to be heard.

    Talking Points
    Please use as a guideline for your personalized testimony.

    wolf in California

    I. Having a wolf come into California after nearly 90 years absence is remarkable! I am thrilled that wolf OR-7 is in our state.

    2. Wolves are a native species in California, they belong here, and I believe we should welcome them back.

    3. Wolves will continue to arrive in California and we should protect them as they arrive. They are our wildlife heritage, and we should ensure they are here for future generations.

    4. We can't count on federal protections for wolves here. Right now the federal government is considering removing protections for wolves in California.

    4. Wolves once roamed over most of California. Scientists have identified that good habitat for wolves still exists in large portions of Northern California and the Sierra Nevada.

    5. Humans are the only known predators of wolves, and threats by humans to the existence of wolves will be barriers to the ability of wolves to survive and reproduce here. The State should protect the wolf.

    6. For wolves to thrive here, they need protection and a good conservation and management plan.

    7. In other areas where wolves are recovering, the state wildlife agency has crafted a conservation and management plan with stakeholder input, to best meet everyone's needs and concerns, while providing for the conservation and recovery of wolves. We can and should do the same thing in California.

    8. The return of the wolf brings with it a healthier ecosystem, and economic benefits due to ecotourism in the wildlands areas where wolves live. This has been studied and reported in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding three-state area. We can see those same benefits here, if we protect wolves and allow them to return.


    You will likely be given only 3 minutes to speak, or less. If a lot of people are there to testify, you may only be given 1 minute to speak.

    So -- Prepare in advance. Create a 1 minute statement and a 3 minute statement. At the hearing, the Commission will announce how much time each speaker will get.

    If you wish to give the Commission handouts/written material, please bring 11 copies.  

    When you arrive, complete a Speaker's Card, and give it to a member of the Commission's staff before the wolf agenda item is considered. (It is item #16 on the Agenda for Oct 3rd)

    Organize your testimony as follows:
    -        State your name, city of residence (and whom you represent, if you are representing an organization)
    -        State your major point
    -        Briefly support your major point with factual data, rationale and/or logic
    -        If you are given time to state more than one point, then state your next one and briefly support it with factual data, rationale and/or logic
    -        State a recommended action

    Speak to the Commission, not the audience.

    Make your points clear and short.

    If someone else has already made your point in their testimony, don't be repetitious - simply state that you support the point they made and why. The Commission's decision of whether or not to list the wolf has to be supported by reasons, so be sure you state your reasons.

    Here's a sample testimony:
    "Mr. President and Members of the Commission.
    My name is ______________, I live in __________, and I represent ___________.
    Wolves are a native species to California and I am thrilled that we have a wild wolf here for the first time in 87 years. We drove wolves to extinction in this state, and we now have an opportunity to allow them to reestablish populations here. Humans are the wolf's only predator but we can coexist with them instead. I believe we should protect the wolf, and create a conservation and management plan for this species. Please list the wolf under the state Endangered Species Act."


    In This Email
    CESA Listing Testimony

    California Wolf Center

    Thank you for your support for wolves!

    Wolves deserve protection here in California, and their future here depends on all of us.  We thank you for your support for endangered species protection for gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.