Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

An agency out of control — Need more reasons why Wildlife Services is sorely in need of reform? Then you should read Monday’s editorial from the Eugene Register-Guard in its entirety. In a nutshell:
“This low-profile arm of the U.S. Agriculture Department wastes money killing wildlife, with no demonstrable benefits for the public or the environment.”
The agency’s budget lacks transparency, its programs are expensive, and predators quickly return to areas where they were removed, perpetuating the endless cycle of pointless killing. It’s long past time for a new approach. When will the federal government finally start listening?

Wood River update – Last week our Wood River Wolf Project team leader (and former Idaho representative for Defenders) Jesse Timberlake spent time talking to sheep herders. Their job is to guard sheep as they pass through the Idaho backcountry. Since they’re living outside with the sheep full-time, from spring until fall, they know the landscape and the animals better than anyone. So Jesse wanted to get their opinion of which nonlethal deterrents worked best to keep hungry predators away from their flocks. Though portable flagging can work well in some settings, the herders prefer to use air horns and high-powered spotlights to scare off wolves that venture too close.

In addition to working closely with the herders to protect their sheep, our team continues to monitor the area for wolf activity using motion-activated cameras. Below are a few more pictures we’ve captured in recent weeks. You never know what you may find out there…

Sheep herder and his might steed
Sheep herder and his might steed
A porcupine scales a tree in the Sawtooth Mountains. Photo courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife.

The mouth carry
This wolf has found itself a tasty treat.

Identifying the call of the wild – Wolf researchers may soon have a new way to track wolves in the wild…by their howl. NBC News reports that scientists in the U.K. have developed a computer program that can identify individual wolves by the pitch and volume of their howl. Each wolf has its own unique howl that can be used to detect its presence from far away, potentially making it easier for biologists to monitor wolf activity in hard-to-reach places. Once perfected, this technique could allow wolf managers to survey wolf populations more accurately and more cheaply. Now that’s something to howl about.