Saturday, March 31, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Image of the Day

Gray Wolf by Max Waugh Photography
Gray Wolf, a photo by Max Waugh Photography on Flickr.

You can help the wolves, too!

Too Hot to Trot  

With wolves no longer protected, western states move forward with hunting plans

Wolf, © Sandi Sisti
© Sandi Sisti
Wolves in the West fan some people’s passions and fuel other people’s rage. The one thing they can’t seem to do is stay out of the crosshairs.
After Congress passed a budget bill last spring that stripped federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies, Idaho and Montana began planning fall wolf hunts to begin as this issue went to press.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved wolf-management plans for Idaho and Montana, and Idaho’s sets no hunting limit in much of the state. There, where the 2010 wolf population stood at about 700, hunters can now pick off as many wolves as they want seven months of the year as long as at least 150 remain in the state.

Idaho’s wolf management plan takes another unparalleled step.  It allows wolf trapping and snaring—up to three per person—in the Lower 48 for the first time in modern history. Leg-hold traps clamp down on a wolf’s foot,  holding the animal until someone comes to shoot it—unless the trap isn’t checked for days. Then the animal will die a slow painful death from heat exhaustion or hypothermia. Snares work to snag a wolf’s head and then asphyxiate the animal as it tries to struggle free. “The plan allows the traps to go unchecked for three days, virtually guaranteeing wolves—and other nontarget species like endangered wolverines and even domestic dogs—will die in these devices,” says Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ Northern Rockies representative.

In Montana, where the wolf population is 550, 40 percent of the population is now targeted for a three-month hunting season beginning October 22. Although Montana’s plan is more moderate and scientifically managed and monitored, Defenders believes that if hunters take that percentage the population may become fragmented. “Fragmentation puts wolves at greater risk for disease outbreaks and reduces the important ecological impact they have on the land,” says Stone.

Eager to start killing more wolves as well, Wyoming officials reached an agreement with the Interior Department in August to allow the state to let anyone shoot wolves on sight—no license needed—across much of the state for nearly the entire year—including into denning season while wolves are trying to raise their pups. Wyoming wolves, whose numbers stand at only 350, would have a slight reprieve only in a small pocket near Yellowstone National Park. There wolves would be labeled “trophies” not “predators” and the trigger-puller would need a license in hand.

“The killing of pregnant females and newborn pups on our national forests could seriously harm the long-term viability of the population and affect biodiversity on our public lands,” says Stone. “These plans are overly aggressive and they could seriously undermine the decades of hard work spent restoring wolves to these states. Under these guidelines, the fall wolf hunt could result in the loss of hundreds of wolves, potentially crippling the ecological function of wolves in their native habitat—most of which is on our public lands.”

Like other top predators, wolves ensure that prey species like deer and elk don’t grow too abundant. When wolves were absent from the West for nearly half a century—after the federal government’s relentless predator-control program undertaken on behalf of ranchers—grazing deer and elk decimated plant species. Only after the wolf returned in the mid 1990s did the willows, cottonwood and aspen begin to recover.

Allowing potentially hundreds of wolves to be killed near border regions could also significantly impair dispersal of wolves into Oregon and Washington, where populations are just starting to take hold. And Wyoming’s shoot-on-sight plan could prevent wolves from ever finding their way back into Colorado, a state badly in need of its historic top carnivore to help repair native ecosystems.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

California Wolf Center E-Newsletter - March 2012

California Wolf Center
California Wolf Center E-Newsletter  March 2012


lone pup 
Dear Friend of the California Wolf Center,

Here's a reminder about a unique opportunity to view wolves in the wild while supporting the California Wolf Center and Keystone Conservation.  Only a few spots remain, so keep reading to find out more!  

Yellowstone Wildlife Trip, June 9-13, 2012


Keystone Conservation is partnering with the California Wolf Center to offer this spring's wildlife viewing trip, led by the Wild Side LLC out of Gardiner, MT (guides Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston).  During the trip, participants will travel the park's northern range in search of grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions, bison, bighorn sheep, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, and more!

Viewing areas include the Blacktail Plateau, the Slough Creek Valley, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and many other regions of the park where wildlife roam.  The trip will include local rangers, scientists, and the expert wildlife trackers.   

Participants will arrive in Bozeman, MT on June 9th, 2012 in time for dinner and orientation in Gardiner, and will depart following breakfast on June 13th, 2012.  For more information including price, detailed itinerary, and registration please visit www.wolftracker.com
 
or call Keystone Conservation at (406) 587-3389.  You can also sign up directly at https://yellowstonewolfguides.com/trip_detail.php?tid=52
 
.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the California Wolf Center and Keystone Conservation.  

4 pups
Help us continue our important work!

Can't make the trip but still want to support the California Wolf Center?  We support our resident wolves, our educational efforts, and our conservation work through private donations from people like you.  If you would like to support the California Wolf Center's mission of education, conservation, and research, please visit our website at  http://californiawolfcenter.org/cart/index.htm#donation
 
to learn more.  We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.  We hope we can count on you to help us continue our important work!

Thank you for your support!
 
Sincerely,
 
California Wolf Center

Study Says Yukon-Charlie Wolves Healthy, Population Rebounding

From Anchorage, AK
Updated 3/26/2012
By
KTUU-TV
 
An 18-year National Park Service study, of wolves monitored by radio collars, says the Yukon-Charlie Preserve's population is healthy and rebounding.
The 2.5 million acre protected land area is located in northeast Alaska, along the Canadian border.
A couple of weeks ago biologists made their latest helicopter trip, looking for wolf tracks in the snow.
After being tranquilized, a collar was installed on a three-year-old female.  It gives officials weekly email updates about things like where she lives, travels, and how big of a home range she has. 
"This is the Iron Creek pack," biologist John Burch says.  "We're putting a second collar in the group because we try to keep two radio collar wolves in each pack, no matter how big the pack may be, because you never know when the wolf may disperse or die, or the radio collar may fail."

Since 1993, National Park Service officials have been able to determine the fate of 139 wolves using the radio collar technology.  Currently, biologists say out of the nine Yukon-Charlie packs they track more than seven wolves can be found in an average pack. 

A copy of the report can be viewed by click here.

source

MSNBC Features Wolves (Video)


                                         Visit msnbc.com for breaking  news, world news, and news  about the economy

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Image of the Day

Wolves on the Mind


Reported sightings pour into local FWP office while federal appeals court upholds delisting
Wolf Biologist Kent Laudon
Kent Laudon, a Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf biologist, inspects a hair sample mixed with a smear of blood on U.S. Highway 2 near West Glacier after receiving a call saying a wolf was struck by a vehicle at that spot. Evidence was insufficient about whether it was a wolf or another animal, and the carcass was missing. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
 
After a wolf wandered through Kalispell recently, phone calls of other possible sightings began pouring into the local Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office. Specifically to Kent Laudon’s desk.

Laudon, 48, has been a wolf biologist for FWP’s Region 1 since 2004. A large share of his 22 years studying wildlife has been focused on wolves and their habits, predation and shifts in populations.

Since the wolf sighting in town on Feb. 24, Laudon has been receiving reports from people all over the map, claiming everything from the predator tearing apart garbage cans to tracks being found near houses.

One call came in from someone who claimed to be following a wolf that was running through a neighborhood. The caller told police they were trailing the wild animal but then “the wolf” ran into a yard and a person opened the front door of the house and it went inside.

Several similar situations have emerged since the original sighting, and so far only one report has been deemed accurate outside of town and FWP is actively investigating it, Laudon says.

In many ways, the sightings represent the current polarized environment regarding wolves, where perception is grappling with reality.

Is the wolf coming into town symbolic of the predator’s overpopulation, a common belief?

“No,” Laudon says. “Of course if there was a wolf in town that was acting oddly, we would be proactive about that. In this case, this wolf looked like he was just running for his life.”

Should people be afraid of being attacked by wolves, either in town or in the wild?

“Never say never, but you want to be realistic about the real odds of everything,” Laudon says, later adding: “Wolves are not that scary. I’d be very comfortable walking in on a kill or a den site by myself, unarmed, not even with pepper spray. Not a big deal. I would not do that with a grizzly bear.”

Laudon acknowledged he has to carefully walk through a political minefield when discussing wolves.

“It’s a delicate thing. If I say the wrong thing,” he says before pausing in conversation. “This thing gets a life of its own.”

Laudon is scheduled to speak at the Museum at Central School on March 26 for the winter lecture series sponsored by Glacier National Park Associates. He’s uncertain about what he will discuss, but will likely touch on the history of the animal’s recovery in Northwest Montana; the animal’s current status in Glacier National Park; and the science behind tracking population trends. The wolf hunt is a topic that’s hard to avoid and he will likely have to talk about it at some point, he said.

Around the same time Laudon was running around responding to reported sightings, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the delisting of Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves from the federal endangered species list. On March 14, the panel of judges agreed that Congress did not violate the Constitution when it shielded the delisting from court review last year.

The ruling cited a U.S. Supreme Court case, indicating that this could be the final court decision involving the contentious issue. It also means the debate now shifts back to individual state FWP offices where the management of wolves remains a sensitive subject.

“We’re not really used to dealing with this,” Laudon says. “It’s a unique phenomenon.”

Wolves have been one of the most controversial subjects in modern wildlife management and have fractured the outdoor community. Some hunters say the predator is decimating big game herds. Ranchers fear for their livestock. Advocates say wolves deserve to roam in the wild and be protected.

Then there’s the role of biologists, like Laudon, who work in the middle of the maelstrom.

Laudon remembers almost a decade ago there were only a few noticeable traces from the anti-wolf camp, including the bumper sticker that reads, “Smoke a Pack A Day” with a wolf in the crosshairs.

“It is interesting that when I first came here in 2004, it used to be the case that there weren’t many bumper stickers like that,” Laudon says. “I think maybe you’d see one a year. It was pretty rare. Then that changed and you could drive across town and count them. That’s a big difference. I think that matched with what was going on.”

The second wolf hunt in recent history took place this year. The quota of 220 in Montana was not reached despite the FWP Commission extending the season almost two months. As a way to manage numbers, FWP hoped to reduce the state’s population to 425 animals with the hunting season, but only 165 wolves were killed, or 75 percent of the quota. FWP officials reported recently that the wolf population grew this year, and now there are an estimated 653 animals across the state.

Montana still aims to reduce the number of wolves and will examine additional ways to do so, FWP Director Joe Maurier said in a statement.

Maurier said those options could include allowing hunters to kill more than one wolf; allowing trapping; increasing the quota and extending the hunting season; or using electronic calls.

Laudon believes hunting wolves will be difficult until people learn the unique ways to track the animal. Also, there’s the question of incentive. Will a large number of hunters put forth the effort to track something that doesn’t offer meat like big game?

When it comes to discussing the effects wolves could be having on big game populations, Laudon pauses. He has the scientific findings from years of studying in the field. He describes the situation as complex, with many contributing factors. Three of the last five winters can be deemed “severe,” meaning winter kill has affected deer populations especially. Other predators, like mountain lions, also affect big game herds, Laudon says.

“Wolves are part of that, no doubt,” he says. “I think it is hard (to get a definitive answer). It’s an easy guess, but that’s all it is, is a guess. We’re in the business of trying not to guess.”
 
On 03-27-12, CJ commented....
Leave it to a WOMAN to show you big tough guys the “vicious” side of wolves: http://www.wimp.com/wolvesreunion/ You are so pathetic!
 
source 

That's no wolf, that's my Lady


That's no wolf, that's my Lady

Updated: 2012-03-27

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

Wolf or husky? The 1-meter-long captured animal, suspected of attacking seven people, is caged at a zoo in Tengzhou, Shandong province, awaiting tests. Wang Min / for China Daily

A suspected killer wolf caught by police is to be given a DNA test after a man said it was his pet dog, a husky.
The white-coated animal was caught on March 23 at Nanshahe town in Tengzhou, Shandong province, and identified by a local zoo as a 5-year-old she-wolf.

Police believe it was responsible for attacks on seven people, two of whom died.
But a local man surnamed Wang claimed it was his pet dog Lady that he had reared for two years, and who was gentle in nature.
"We have invited experts from some universities in Shandong, and they will professionally determine whether it's a wolf or a dog," Zhang Changpu, a wildlife protection officer at the Zaozhuang Forestry Bureau, said on Monday.

Xing Hao, a local zookeeper, told China Central Television: "Its cry is like that of a wolf and the corners of its eyes are tilted, not straight like that of a dog. Its tail is also straight, not sticking up like a dog, and its ears are upright. All these indicators are in line with a wolf's characteristics."
But Wang disagreed. "It's not a wolf but my dog. I recognized her at a glance from a news photo," Wang told China Daily.

"Her name is Lady and she is very gentle. I have raised her for nearly two years. At around 11 am last Friday, she ran away from home and never came back."
Wang said he now works in another city in Shandong and was only told of events by friends on Friday night.

"I recognize my Lady," he said. "I hope I can get my pet back as soon as possible."
Wang has contacted local police and the zoo, but he said had no evidence to back his claim.
"During her capture, she was hurt badly both physically and mentally. She's very scared of people," he claimed, relying on reports from family and friends who went to see the dog on Saturday.
"It's quite understandable for local departments to do this, as they want to protect local residents," Wang said.

"But Tengzhou is a small place where huskies are hardly ever seen. It's very possible that people mistook her for a wolf."
A vet from Shensheng Pet Clinic, who didn't give her name, said there was "no significant difference" between some breeds of husky and wolf, as they share a common ancestor.
"Most people don't know this and it's very likely to have been a wrong identification," she said.
Police shot a wolf dead on March 19 following the seven reported attacks, two of which were fatal, on people in Tengzhou in six days. But police have not confirmed whether the dead wolf is the one responsible.

Many wolves come down from hills to hunt for food, but a resident said there were also people who raised wolves in the area and one of these animals could have escaped.
Special teams of local police are continuing to patrol around the hills and towns.

source

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mother of the Saddleback Pack (Video)

Girl Reunites With the Wolves (Video)

By Dave on 2012/03/24
Girl Reunites With the Wolves
A girl named Anita spent a long time working on socializing the wolf pack at the Polar Zoo in Salangsdalen, Norway. This was her first meeting with the wolves after two months.



source

Wolves at center of UNM event



 Saturday, 24 Mar 2012 ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - They howled at the University of New Mexico Friday in honor of the university's mascot and the role of the Mexican gray wolf in the state.
Wolf Fest 2012 features booths from more than 25 nonprofit and campus organizations.
Beyond celebrating the wolves' role in the school and the state's heritage, some of those groups were promoting the wolf reintroduction program in southwestern New Mexico.

That program has been very controversial.
Ranchers have fought it because the wolves have attacked livestock.
Some wolves have been found shot to death.

source

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 24 Mar 2012

Expanded Idaho wolf hunt – Idaho’s 2011-12 wolf hunt ends in most of the state next week and it will have claimed at least 367 wolves (the current total) by hunting and trapping, plus dozens more that were removed by state and federal wildlife agents. In two units, the season continues through June – through denning season when packs and their pups are easy to find at their densites. Wolves will only get a short reprieve, however until the next season begins at the end of August.

At the Idaho Fish and Game Commission monthly meeting this week, there were more wolf supporters than wolf opponents. Between 30 and 40 attendees testified on behalf of wolves, yet the Commission ignored their concerns about escalating wolf killing in Idaho. They failed to address any of the concerns presented, including that:
  • using traps and snares on public land is unsafe for pets;
  • no areas are set aside for wolf-watching;
  • Idaho’s wildlife belongs to all citizens, not just hunters, trappers and fishermen, and
  • a 72-hour trap-check policy allows wolves to suffer for days.
Instead, commissioners approved even more aggressive wolf hunting and trapping plans for next year by increasing the number of wolves that individual hunters can kill in a season, allowing trapping in more areas, and extending the season later in the year (see full AP story).

Defenders’ wolf expert Suzanne Stone gave testimony about the success of the Wood River Wolf Project that was well received, but it wasn’t enough to talk the commission out of taking more aggressive action. Regardless, thanks to all our supporters who spoke out in support of wolves! We’ll need all the help we can get at every meeting to help turn the tide of anti-wolf sentiment in Idaho.
Idaho commissioner comes to DC – Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen is the liaison between the county and our Wood River Wolf Project, and his support has been instrumental in growing the project. Larry traveled to Washington in early March to help share the success of the project with the Idaho delegation and other agency stakeholders. Hearing directly from a respected Idahoan has helped strengthen our case that nonlethal tools are a valuable part of wolf management and deserve more support from the federal government. Read more about Larry’s trip in his hometown paper, the Idaho Mountain Express
 
. Wolf death under investigation in Oregon – According to state police, a dead wolf was found on private property in northeast Oregon last week. The cause of death had not been determined, but authorities planned to conduct an investigation to rule out any wrongdoing. At the end of 2011 there were an estimated 29 wolves in Oregon. Read more in the La Grande Observer

source
 
.

Image of the Day

Friday, March 23, 2012

Image of the Day

Arctic duet [Explored] by _pndt
Arctic duet [Explored], a photo by _pndt on Flickr.

Idaho officials hike bag limits for 2012 wolf hunt

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho wildlife officials have agreed to boost bag limits, expand trapping and extend hunting seasons in some areas to help further reduce wolf populations in all corners of the state.
Idaho's wolf managers estimate there are now 500 to 600 wolves roaming the state, down from the more than 1,000 when the 2011 hunting season opened in August.

Hunters and trappers have killed 364 wolves since the season opened, while dozens more have died of natural causes, been killed for preying on livestock or targeted as part of strategy to lessen impacts on specific elk herds in the state.

"Our harvest focus is to be more aggressive in areas where we anticipate more conflicts ... and providing relief on big game animals," Jon Rachael, Idaho's wolf manager, told the commission.
Idaho is one of two states with authority from the federal government to manage wolf numbers using public hunts. Federal officials require Idaho to maintain a population of at least 150 wolves and 10 breeding pairs.

After protections were lifted last year, game managers in both states drafted rules for hunting and trapping. In Idaho's first season with trapping sanctioned by the state, trappers have made a significant impact on the 2011 harvest, accounting for nearly one-third of all wolves killed during the 10-month season.

"Trapping has been a very effective tool," Rachael said.

In Montana, ranchers and some sportsmen are growing more irritated with hunting rules that have not led to population control results shown so far in Idaho. The state's hunt that ended earlier this month netted just 75 percent of the quota of 220 animals set by game managers.
Some local leaders in Montana say that's insufficient to control wolf growth and have pushed to raise the state quota or even offer bounties that pay $100 for an adult wolf carcass or $20 on a pup.
Tweaks to Idaho's wolf hunting rules approved Thursday are aimed at boosting harvest numbers next year. The changes include:

— Increasing bag limits to five wolf tags for hunters and five for trappers in five northern hunting zones.
— Extending season length on private land in a northern Idaho hunting zone and on public land in two zones in eastern Idaho.
— Expanding bag limits in two hunting zones and adding trapping to two hunting units in central Idaho.
 
Rachael said it's too soon to measure the impact of Idaho's hunting and other management tools on the goal of stabilizing wolf numbers and bringing the species' population in line with other wildlife. A more accurate picture will emerge next year after biologists can analyze the impact of two years of hunting and reproduction cycles.

source

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wolf warning issued in Tofino and Ucluelet after dogs killed


 
Residents and tourists in Tofino and Ucluelet are being warned to keep a close eye on their children and pets after two dogs were killed during the night, possibly by wolves.
Residents and tourists in Tofino and Ucluelet are being warned to keep a close eye on their children and pets after two dogs were killed during the night, possibly by wolves.

Photograph by: Supplied photo by Steve Williamson, timescolonist.com

Residents and tourists in Tofino and Ucluelet are being warned to keep a close eye on their children and pets after two dogs were killed during the night, possibly by wolves.
On Tuesday, Parks Canada and the B.C. Conservation Service warned people to keep their dogs on leashes and under supervision at all times.

On Saturday night, a chihuahua had been let out into a Tofino backyard when it was snatched by a predator. No carcass was found, said conservation officer Brittany Mueller, so the predator can't be positively identified.
The chihuahua's owner was contacted but declined to comment on the incident.
But then, early on Monday morning, a pit bull terrier died after it was mauled by a wolf. The dog was out at night unsupervised and may have been tied up in a yard, Mueller said.

There have not been wolf attacks like this in recent memory, Mueller said.
"It's that time of year when we have to be aware the predators are out, and the bears will be waking up soon," said Mueller.
"We want to educate the public on wolf safety and steps to take to avoid conflict."
A lone wolf was recently sighted at the lighthouse near Ucluelet and another near an undeveloped golf course. A wolf was also seen in a Ucluelet parking lot.

"It is not yet known whether the increase in wolf activity in nearby communities will correspond with higher than normal wolf activity inside the park reserve," said parks spokeswoman Renee Wissink in a statement.
Long-time Tofino resident Ken Gibson said the predation by wolves and cougars this year is "quite serious."

Wolves used to be spotted far from town, but today, wolves are routinely spotted in developed areas.
"They're a totally different animal than a cougar," Gibson said Tuesday.
"A cougar is a real coward, but these wolves in a pack are a different thing. They're a bunch of bullies."
Wolves used to be hunted and as a result their numbers dwindled. As their numbers increase, so does the potential for run-ins with people and pets.

Gibson said he understands people don't like to see wolves killed "but it won't be very good when some kid is [killed by a wolf]."
Decades ago, a cougar methodically hunted dogs in Tofino "and did away with every one except two," Gibson said.

Parks Canada reminds the public never to approach a wolf or cougar. If an animal approaches, back away slowly while maintaining eye contact and making noise. Wave arms to appear larger.
People are urged to carry pepper spray and an air horn to scare away wolves and cougars.
Anyone spotting a wolf or cougar is asked to call 1-877-852-3100 toll free and report the location and time of sighting.

On Aug. 29, 2011, a Ucluelet toddler was attacked by a cougar in Pacific Rim National Park. He suffered head injuries but survived.
In another incident, a female jogger running on a country road was circled for 10 minutes by a cougar before a car came and scared it away.

source
 
 

Wolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials say

Wolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials say
By John Hollenhorst
March 20th, 2012


Wolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials sayWolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials sayWolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials sayWolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials say
Wolf sightings likely dogs or coyotes, officials say
 

THISTLE JUNCTION, Wasatch County — A state biologist scrambled to a stretch of busy highway Tuesday morning after a motorist reported seeing wolves feeding on a deer.



It turned out to be the latest in a string of unconfirmed or faulty wolf reports that are now becoming a problem for state wildlife officials.





Kimberly Hersey, a biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, examined dead deer and paw prints at the scene. She concluded it was highly unlikely that wolves were involved. "It could even be some sort of domestic dog in this area," Hersey said.


"We're getting swamped with calls" about wolves, said John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the DWR. "It's not helpful," he said, adding that he doesn't want to discourage people from calling if they truly believe they have seen wolves.


The division has experts monitoring the situation and actively investigating possible wolf sightings. If such a sighting were confirmed, it would be the first wolf-pack known to be active in Utah for nearly a century.


The recent surge of purported sightings was prompted by a DWR announcement two weeks ago that there have been credible sightings in recent months near Hobble Creek Canyon.




Tracks show in the snow in Spanish Fork Canyon, Tuesday, March 20, 2012. If a sighting were confirmed, it would be the first wolf-pack known to be active in Utah for nearly a century.
Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News 
But it's clear that many people have trouble distinguishing between wolves and other "canids" including coyotes, wolf-dog hybrids and even domestic dogs. Such differences can be difficult to observe, especially when animals are seen at a distance or glimpsed only briefly by a passing motorist.


The latest "wolf" report did seem a bit too out-in-the-open for the normally elusive predator. The sighting was alongside U.S. 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon just a few dozen yards from busy Thistle Junction. The report came from a motorist who emailed KSL-TV. "I spotted wolves feeding off a dead deer on HWY 6 near the Manti turnoff," wrote Keya Long. "Maybe you can inform the proper authorities?"


When KSL contacted the DWR, officials immediately sent Hersey to the scene. She quickly observed canid paw prints in the snow near one of the dead deer. "You can tell it's some sort of dog by the toe-prints," the biologist said. But she found evidence that the deer had been partially eaten by scavengers after death, rather than being killed by predators. "I would expect that this was a road-killed animal that the canine was feeding on," Hersey said.


Wolves sometimes do take advantage of a "free lunch" Hersey said, occasionally eating an animal that's already dead. But she said such behavior, especially alongside a busy highway, is more characteristic of coyotes and dogs.


Her examination of paw prints in the snow cast more doubt on the theory that wolves were involved. "Based on my gut reaction, probably not," Hersey said. "Usually when you see a wolf, it's not just sort of big, it's really big. You'll put your hand down and the track will be as big or larger than a human hand print."


As she demonstrated her point, Hersey's hand was clearly larger than the paw prints.

She took measurements and established that the paw prints were just more than 3 inches in length and 2 to 3 inches wide. Wolf paws are generally much larger. Hersey made similar observations about the distance between paw prints; the length of stride was much shorter than would be expected for a wolf.


"And even if it were a young wolf," Hersey said, "by this time of year it would be a full size animal."

Hersey's observations were not disputed by the driver who saw the animals. "I'm kind of doubting they were wolves now," Keya Long wrote in a later email."Maybe they were 3 huge dogs."

On the other hand, DWR experts are still taking seriously a series of recent sightings a few miles away. Surveillance photos show wolf-like animals that left much larger paw prints.


"There is some sort of canid with large feet out here," Hersey said. "We just haven't gotten the strong evidence to say what exactly it is at this point."







source


Image of the Day

Wolf with contrast by Tambako the Jaguar
Wolf with contrast, a photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Feeding Habits of German Wolves Investigated

The wolf awakens unfounded fear in many. (Credit: Copyright Stefan Seidel)

No Fear of the 'Big Bad Wolf:' Feeding Habits of German Wolves Investigated

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2012) — Scientists of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Görlitz have been investigating the feeding habits of wolves in the first eight years since their appearance in Germany. The results are reassuring: The proportion of livestock on the menu lies at less than one percent. The related study was published recently in the journal Mammalian Biology.

wolves had been wiped out in Germany, now they are slowly getting back home. But not everyone is happy at the return of the wild animal. The feeding habits of Canis lupus are the subject of many legends and fables. Wolves that tear sheep apart, eat household pets and even attack people -- the return of the predators to German regions awakens fear and generates conflict amongst its inhabitants, hunters and farmers.

"The dietary habits of wolves has been the greatest point of contention with their return to Germany and it induced us to examine in closer detail the feeding habits of the wolves that migrated to Lusatia over ten years ago," explains Hermann Ansorge, head of the Zoology Department at the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Görlitz. "We took a look at what was on the menu for the wolves and how this has changed since the appearance of wolves in East Germany."

For this purpose the scientists collected over 3000 samples of wolf scat and tested them for undigested evidence of the animals' prey, such as hair, bones, hooves or teeth.

Using this information, supplemented by the findings of the remains of prey, it was possible for the Görlitz zoologists to determine the nutritional intake of the carnivores in detail. Wild ungulates accounted for over 96% of the wolves' prey, according to the investigation. The majority of these were roe deer (55.3%), followed by red deer (20.8%) and wild boar (17.7%). A small proportion of the prey was accounted for by the hare, at almost 3 percent.

"Less than one percent of the prey analysed was of livestock origins" adds Ansorge, continuing: "As long as sheep and other livestock are well protected and there is a sufficient supply of wild animals, the wolves will not risk confrontation with electric fences and guardian dogs."

The Görlitz zoologists investigated not only what the wolves are eating nowadays, but also how their feeding habits have changed over the years. Wolves are highly adaptable in terms of their dietary intake. For example, it is known from Canada that the wolf packs there feast on salmon in the autumn time.

"We were interested to find out how, why and how quickly the dietary composition of the wolf has changed in Saxony" explains Ansorge. The wolves in Lusatia came to Germany from Poland. There, the packs lived primarily on red deer, in contrast to the German wolves. During the early years of the study, the proportion of red deer eaten was considerably higher, whilst the ratio of roe deer was accordingly lower than in the subsequent five years. "We asked ourselves why the wolves changed their behaviour or whether the initial conditions had changed," the Görlitz zoologist continues.
In comparison to the Polish forests, those in Lusatia tend to be smaller and crossed by paths and fields. They offer the perfect expansive living space for roe deer and wild boar, whilst red deer tend to retreat to the more spacious wooded areas. Roe deer are therefore a simple and frequent prey from the wolves' perspective.

The shift in eating patterns therefore resulted from the change in the environmental conditions. The wolves quickly adapted -- they required less than two generations to become used to the new conditions of the landscape in East Germany.

Since the legal protection of wolves was introduced in 1990, it has taken more than ten years for the wolves in Germany to make themselves at home and bear pups on the Muskau Heath (a military training area). At the present time, nine wolf packs live in Lusatia with around 34 young. "The potential for conflict between man and wolf is very low" Ansorge sums up the results of the study. "There really is nothing standing in the way of the wolf returning."


Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, via AlphaGalileo.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:
  1. Carina Wagner, Maika Holzapfel, Gesa Kluth, Ilka Reinhardt, Hermann Ansorge. Wolf (Canis lupus) feeding habits during the first eight years of its occurrence in Germany. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2011.12.004

Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum (2012, March 19). No fear of the 'big bad wolf:' Feeding habits of German wolves investigated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ (http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/03/120319094514.htm)

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Project gives vets, wolf-dogs a second chance


Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012
LOS ANGELES - It's been three months since a California animal rescue center retrieved 29 wolf-dogs from an Alaska tourist attraction that had fought the state over owning, breeding and selling the wolf-hybrids. Chains were so deeply embedded in the necks of two of the animals that they had to be surgically removed. Many developed limps because they'd never used the pads of their feet.

Now the task of taming the wolf-dogs has been given to three U.S. military veterans who say they can relate to the stress of trying to transition to a normal life. The program is called "Warriors and Wolves."

"I get along with the wolves," said one of the three, Stanley McDonald, a 10-year Navy vet who has been foreman of the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center in Frazier Park, about 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles, for 4½ years.

McDonald said he knows what it is like to be homeless, alone and lost. "They've been in a bad situation, which I've been in most of my life. Most of them are afraid, taken away from the only thing they knew," he said.

"A great number of people are coming back from a combat environment and that's as stressful as can be. It's difficult to transition from that to civilian life," said William "Buzz" Varley, a Lockwood volunteer and retired Navy man who works for the California Department of Transportation.
The wolf-dogs are now thriving in small packs of two to six animals after joining 12 wolf-dogs already at the shelter, according to Lorin Lindner, who founded Lockwood with her husband, Navy veteran Matthew Simmons, in 2008.

Lindner said the wolf-dogs, who normally travel up to 40 miles per day, had been tethered in Alaska. Once they had room to run at Lockwood, they went lame because their muscles were not acclimated to the exercise.

"It's taken three months, but we are just now noticing them running without limps," Lindner said.
The animals are fed high-priced, high-quality kibble made of buffalo, venison and game birds, in addition to five to 10 pounds of meat each day. As part of a landfill diversion program, markets in the area give the rescue group their expired meats "so we are not killing any additional animals to feed the wolf-dogs," Lindner said.

In Alaska, they had been fed raw moosemeat to keep them looking good so tourists could get close enough to the animals to take their pictures for a $5 fee.

Before the wolf-dogs arrived, Lindner and Simmons were running the sanctuary on $10,700 a month. But with the new arrivals, that's jumped to $15,500 a month, including salaries for the three veterans. To help pay the bills, Lindner and Simmons are inviting supporters of the sanctuary to volunteer, donate or sponsor a veteran or a wolf-dog or plant a fruit tree (it helps feed birds) in honor of a loved one.

Lindner, Simmons, the vets and volunteers built enclosures for the animals on their 20-acre sanctuary. Standing 10 feet tall, the enclosures include dig guards that are buried 5 feet deep.
Because some of the animals have bad hips and arthritis, Simmons is building soft-webbed trundle beds so they can sleep off the ground. They've put out a plea to firehouses because old fire hose makes the best webbing.

Lindner's veterinarian took the sickest wolf-dog (she has another hybrid) and four of the animals have gone to other rescues.

Eight others will be placed with other sanctuaries if those centers can build the proper enclosures.
Besides the wolf-dogs, Lockwood has four rescued horses, 16 parrots, six peacocks and a duck. "We rescued 33 koi fish from a house that was in foreclosure. My husband made a 200,000-gallon pond and now we have thousands of fish," Lindner said.

Lindner and Simmons also built a parrot sanctuary at the Greater Los Angeles Veteran's Administration Healthcare System complex, where Lindner worked as clinical director of New Directions, a program serving homeless veterans with drug or alcohol problems.

McDonald, 48, is the wolf program's biggest booster. He says he has been an alcoholic since he was 18. He spent 10 years in the Navy and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. "I wasn't a mean or angry drunk," he said. "I would just take everything we had to buy alcohol."

Lindner met McDonald at New Directions, before "Warriors and Wolves." McDonald says he's learned from the animals and knew if he could help them, he could help himself. "I made a wonderful change," he said.

Since working with the animals, he's begun reconciling with his ex-wife and reconnected with a son, now 19, with whom he'd lost touch. His son didn't trust him at first, McDonald said.
"It took some work by both of us. It took a lot of forgiving," said McDonald. "I'm back with my family doing things I love to do."

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Image of the Day

Wolf profile by Tambako the Jaguar
Wolf profile, a photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 16 Mar 2012
Court upholds delisting and wolf hunting – Wolves can be legally hunted in Idaho and Montana. Maybe you already knew that, since more than 500 wolves have already been killed by hunters and trappers so far this season. But until this week there was still a legal challenge contesting the hunts as well as the constitutionality of the budget rider Congress passed stripping federal protections for wolves. A group of environmental organizations (Defenders was not a party in the lawsuit) challenged Congress’ authority to delist a single animal under the Endangered Species Act by legislative fiat. Unfortunately, the court upheld Congress’ ability to do so, setting a very damaging precedent for other species Congress might someday try to delist. Read more coverage from the Associated Press in the Oregonian
 
. Living with wolves in Wyoming – Some sad news was reported in Jackson Hole, Wyoming yesterday. A family’s pet dog was seriously injured by one of the wolves that have been spotted on the outskirts of town. While wolves are generally skittish around humans, like other wildlife they can be a danger to unattended pets. As canines, wolves often perceive domestic dogs as rivals and may try to challenge them if they feel threatened. This tragic incident is an important reminder that dogs should always be kept on-leash in wolf country or kept inside. Residents should also secure pet food, garbage, and other items with a strong scent that could attract wolves to the area.

Wyoming Game and Fish is working to raise public awareness about living with wolves and other large predators. This month and next they will be hosting public seminars to help educate people on what to do if they encounter a wolf, bear, or cougar. Click here to learn more
 
. Learning to live with wolves is the only way to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for the species once the state takes over wolf management. Early this week, Wyoming issued draft hunting regulations that would allow a total of 52 wolves to be killed in the trophy game area in the western part of the state outside of Yellowstone National Park. There are about 230 wolves living outside of the park, the majority of which are located in the trophy game area. Wolves found beyond the trophy game area could be shot on sight without a license.

More surprises from Bitterroot elk study – Wolf opponents may have one less excuse to scapegoat wolves for the decline of select elk herds. A long-term study of elk mortality in Montana’s Bitterroot valley is finding that wolves take far fewer calves and cow elk than expected. According to a story in the Billings Gazette this week, researchers discovered that only one collared cow elk was killed by a wolf last year. One was killed by a cougar, and four died of other natural causes. Of the 97 elk calves that were tagged earlier this year, a total of 38 had died. Cougars killed 13, black bears killed four, and wolves killed four. While we can’t draw specific conclusions about the impact that wolves have on elk populations, it’s becoming clearer that they are just one piece of the puzzle.

The story behind the story – What really happened with wolf delisting last year? Chris Ketcham tells the whole sordid story for The American Prospect. He chronicles the special interest politics played by anti-wolf extremists in the hunting and ranching community that ultimately led to the delisting. It’s a long read, but well worth it to get the inside scoop on how it all went down.

Gray wolf in South Dakota? – It’s true. The AP reported this week that federal officials confirmed a wolf was shot in South Dakota a month and a half ago. Before that, the last confirmed sighting was 2006 when another wolf was hit by a car. Single wolves have often shown up in the Dakotas but there are no federal plans to restore wolves to this region.

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Happy St. Patty's Day@


Isle Royale wolves may go extinct soon, scientists say


 

Published March 17, 2012

Isle Royale National Park’s gray wolves, one of the world’s most closely monitored predator populations, are at their lowest ebb in more than a half-century and could die out within a few years, scientists said Friday. By: John Flesher , Associated Press

 Only nine wolves remain in Isle Royale National Park, and some scientists say the wolves are at risk of extinction on the island. (File photo)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Isle Royale National Park’s gray wolves, one of the world’s most closely monitored predator populations, are at their lowest ebb in more than a half-century and could die out within a few years, scientists said Friday.

Only nine wolves still wander the wilderness island chain in western Lake Superior, and just one is known to be a female, raising doubts they’ll bounce back from a recent free-fall unless people lend a hand, Michigan Tech University wildlife biologists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich said in a report obtained by the Associated Press. There were 24 wolves — roughly their long-term average number — as recently as 2009.

“The wolves are at grave risk of extinction,” Vucetich said in an interview. Their crash apparently results from a run of bad luck rather than a single catastrophe. A shortage of females has cut the birth rate, while breakdown of several packs boosted inbreeding and weakened the gene pool. Other troubles include disease and starvation from a drop-off of moose, the wolves’ primary food source.

Their population is the smallest since biologists began observing their interactions with moose in 1958, beginning what became the world’s longest-running study of predators and prey in a single ecosystem, Vucetich said. Previously, the closest they came to extinction was during a parvovirus outbreak in the 1980s when their numbers plummeted from 50 to 12.

Unless the wolves rebound quickly, the National Park Service will face the thorny question of whether to intervene. Officials could bring in reinforcements from the mainland to salvage the existing population. Or they could let nature take its course and, if the wolves die, start over with a new group. They also could leave it to the wolves to repopulate the island if they can.

Agency experts have begun analyzing their options, Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green said.
“We don’t want to make a decision based on a single species without evaluating the effects on other species that have been a part of the ecosystem through time,” Green said.

Scientists believe the island’s first moose swam there from the Canadian mainland, 15 miles away, in the early 20th century and were so prolific that the island’s balsam firs, aspens and other trees were severely overbrowsed. Wolves crossed an ice bridge to the island around 1950 and eventually formed packs that helped keep moose numbers in check.

Although wolf sightings are rare, their presence is treasured by park visitors who hope to catch a glimpse on a backcountry trail or hear their eerie howls at night. “People like to know the wolves are there,” said Peterson, who joined the study team in 1970. “It could be argued that this is the wolf’s greatest refuge in the world. It’s the only place they’ve never been killed by human beings.”
Because Isle Royale is a federal wilderness area, hunting and trapping are prohibited.

Vucetich, Peterson and other scientists spend seven weeks on the island each winter, monitoring the wolves and moose by air. During their recently concluded visit, they discovered the wolf population had dropped from 16 last year to nine. The only intact pack had six members. One wolf wandered alone, while a couple — including the only known female — staked out territory and apparently mated.

The wolves’ best hope may be that the female will bear a healthy litter of pups next month and help form a new pack, Peterson said. Another positive sign: moose numbers rose from an estimated 515 last year to about 750. But a shortage remains of elderly moose that are easiest for wolves to kill.
Prospects are increasingly remote that more wolves will find their way to Isle Royale without help, Vucetich said. A male is believed to have made the crossing on an ice bridge in the late 1990s and sired offspring, temporarily reinvigorating the gene pool. But a study published last week found that Great Lakes ice cover has declined 71 percent over the past 40 years.

Vucetich and Peterson said they’d prefer to let the wolves determine their own fate — even if it means extinction. But if that happens, the park service should airlift more wolves to the island to prevent moose from running rampant and damaging the ecosystem, they said.
Otherwise, “we’d be taking a vital wilderness and turning it into an overstocked barnyard,” Peterson said.

Restoring wolves also would enable continuation of the study, which has yielded a wealth of discoveries about both species, he said. In an essay scheduled for publication next month, Peterson and Vucetich acknowledge some scientists consider it unethical for humans to manipulate wildlife populations in wilderness areas. But they contend people already have changed Isle Royale’s environment, and the primary consideration should be protecting the ecosystem, for which wolves are essential as long as long as there are moose.

David Mech, a wolf expert with the U.S. Geological Survey, advocated a hands-off policy unless the wolves die out. Even in their diminished state, they could last a decade or more and may pull a surprise comeback, he said. “This is a really unique opportunity to see what they can do,” Mech said. “If there’s any intervention, it destroys that potential.”

But if more wolves were brought in before the existing ones disappear, they could interbreed to the benefit of all, said Philip Hedrick, an Arizona State University conservation biologist. “Having the wolf eliminated for some period of time may result in secondary effects that would make it difficult to re-establish a population,” he said.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

What’s Next For Wolves After Court Decision

Reported by EarthFix on Mar 15th, 2012

wolf_pack

BOISE, Idaho — The wolf hunt in Idaho will continue through June in part of the state. That’s because Wednesday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Congress’s decision to strip federal protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana.
The federal appeals court ruled that Congress did not violate the law when it ended federal protections for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians argued that Congress bypassed the courts by delisting the gray wolf in only two states.

Jay Tutchton, the attorney representing WildEarth Guardians, says the conservation groups are now weighing their options.
“The groups that want to protect wolves are not going away. They will just have to pursue some different methods to get their arguments heard.”
Tutchton says the conservation groups could challenge the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he says they are more likely to petition the federal government to re-list the wolf under the Endangered Species Act, based on new science.

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson co-sponsored the bill last year. He praised the decision by the appeals court. Simpson says it’s critical that states have the power to decide how to deal with wolves within their borders.

“I think it’s states that can best manage the wolves and that’s why I think this decision that allows us to go forward with state management is a good decision.”
Idaho’s plan for managing wolves was approved by the federal government. It’s not as restrictive as federal protections for wolves in other states, but it still limits harm to the species. Simpson singled out a state bill this year that would have allowed hunters to use live bait to lure wolves and to hunt them from the air. The sponsor dropped the bill because of concerns that its passage could risk Idaho’s ability to manage wolves.

So far there have been 353 wolves killed in Idaho and 166 wolves killed in Montana. Idaho’s wolf hunt continues until June 30 in the northern panhandle.


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The Outrage Committed on Wolves

March 14, 2012 | Erik Loomis 

Commentary on the Christopher Ketcham story on the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act and the plans to wipe them out in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
 
There is much that is disturbing–people’s hatred of wolves, the incredible and damaging power of the ranching industry in the West, the ignorance of ecology that clearly shows a more healthy ecosystem with wolves at the top of the food chain. But this really got my goat:
“Democrats have never in the entire history of the ESA let bills like this go through,” says Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “In the past, no matter how aggressive the Republicans have been about undermining the ESA, we have been able to rely on Democrats to put up an aggressive fight, threaten to veto legislation, and wage a public campaign to defend the ESA.”
Then, almost overnight, the Democratic position changed. According to multiple sources, Salazar and Tester put together a deal to let delisting go forward in Congress. “Tester convinced the White House that his re-election campaign would be in jeopardy without the delisting,” Suckling says. “We heard this in very high-level conversations with Tester’s people and with Interior.” Salazar, according to sources, argued that he couldn’t get the wolf delisted administratively due to the lawsuits, so Congress needed to take action. (Salazar declined interview requests for this story.)
Effectively, Obama agreed to delist the wolf to save Jon Tester’s Senate seat. That’s pretty depressing. It’s quite clear that Obama does not care one whit about issues around western lands and wildlife. That’s not to say he’s an anti-environmental president; after all, he at least kind of tried to pass legislation to crack down on climate change. But he’s been very hands off with Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, letting conservative western interests set many policies. But this is the best evidence for my theory–gutting the ESA in order to save a senator is not something Democrats are supposed to do.

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