Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wolf of the Day

Cleopatra attentive but a bit afraid! 
Her name is Cleopatra :-)

SUMMER DAYS: Wolf sanctuary lets visitors see animals in natural setting

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014

Instead, a howling, animal-like sound emerges from him, something he says took him about 2½ years to master. Repeated howls from the guide are, within a minute or two, matched. Howls are coming from every direction now. “To be able to be that close to wolves when they’re howling ... to me that’s remarkable,” Rineer says.

And it’s just a small part of what visitors to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, at 465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz, will experience.

The sanctuary is home to a species that has lived in North America for 7,000 years. It allows rescued wolves a safe home in a natural habitat, where multiple acres of enclosures divide the the 45 resident wolves.

Volunteers lead tours allowing people to see the animals in a setting available almost nowhere else.
As Rineer explained to his 20-person tour on a sunny Thursday morning, the wolves in movies are usually not actually wolves. Instead, they're usually dogs made up to look like wolves.

And so the sanctuary allows people to see wolves in a natural setting to understand better what the animals are like, he says.

Rineer, having worked with the wolves in the sanctuary for about seven years now, gets the animals out by rattling a bucket, a sign most of them now recognize as a chance for treats.“They don’t want to be around you,” he quips, indicating the wolves' desire for the bucket full of raw meats. “They don’t care about you.” Some of the wolves come up to the first of two fences for a snack.

Tour guides walk between the two fences, spending the 60-to-90-minute tours discussing the different areas of wolves, and what their dynamics are like. “Everyone … in the pack has a position,” Rineer says.

In feeding the animals, he explains, the pack’s alpha male will eat first. Others know not to challenge him, he says, though if someone tries, the alpha will put them in their place. Tioga, a gray wolf, has a habit of pushing buttons with his father and the pack’s alpha male, Merlin, Rineer says. But Merlin won’t hesitate to remind him of his position, as wolves live in a hierarchy, he says. The tour wanders around the facility, ending with a climb up a large hill — where good walking shoes are recommended — to visit the last few wolves.

The animals currently sport a lighter, summer coat, but Rineer says the two layers of fur are much greater in the winter. Tours are given throughout the snowy months. They allow people to see the wolves in a more visible habitat with less foliage, and overall the animals are far less lethargic in cold months, he says. Rineer also recommends getting different tour guides each time, because each guide tells of his or her own experiences along with the educational sections.

Mary Kaye McDonald, of Frederick, Maryland, says she’s been to the sanctuary twice now and wants to conquer the winter tour next. McDonald says she loves seeing the interaction between the wolves and the guides. There’s a lot of respect and love there, she says. “You don’t get to see that all the time,” McDonald says. “I love animals. I love seeing the passion of the people who work here.”
And passion is what these volunteers have, what gets them up each day.

Rineer says he has really taken to one of the wolves, Lucas, and his goal is to be able to earn his trust to touch him. “The wolves — you kind of build a relationship (with them),” he adds.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wolf myth: We will not allow wolves in Nevada

4 hours ago  • 

The myth goes like this: wolves will never live in Nevada, specifically Elko County. We simply will not allow it. We will kill any wolves that dare enter Nevada.

Russell Woolstenhulme is a Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist with the state office. He told me the gray wolf is still listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in all lower 48 states other than Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and the Great Lakes states where wolves are already delisted. However, the FWS has posted a letter of intent in the Federal Register to delist the gray wolf in all lower-48 states other than those having the Mexican gray wolf and red wolf species.

Nevada has listed the gray wolf as a big game species, but with a closed season. It is illegal to kill a wolf in Nevada. When asked if someone would be prosecuted for shooting a wolf mistaken for a coyote, Russell said someone might get away with it once but such a kill would bring on an investigation by a FWS Special Agent. It is illegal to kill a wolf attacking ones livestock, (unless the FWS delists wolves in the future).  In the meantime, someone losing livestock to a wolf could contact Wildlife Services to investigate.  They are the Federal Agency with authority to remove such wolves.

Russell said “we probably get wolves wandering in and out of Nevada.” Most likely any wolves are wandering through northeastern Elko County. NDOW has received several reports of wolf sightings but still none with verifiable photos or carcasses. Neither has there been recovered wolf scat or wolf hair clinging to a fence.

He feels it is possible, but not probable, that a wolf pack or two could establish in Elko County. We do not (yet) have the prey base to support a wolf pack. Our large elk herds are still far smaller than those supporting wolf packs in Idaho. If the gray wolf should be delisted in Nevada, he does not feel there would ever be enough wolves to hold wolf hunts.

Ken Gray is the regional game supervisor for the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Elko office. He said “I have no doubt there are wolves that have crossed into Nevada,” but there still remains no positive proof. NDOW conducts a lot of flights counting elk and has never spotted a wolf. Ken also says they have seen no evidence of wolves being killed and left.

Russell and Ken feel wolves in Nevada will likely remain young wolves wandering through. Idaho has found it difficult to control a wolf population of about 700 with hunts. They have found trapping is more reliable to reduce wolf numbers. Finding and shooting a few wandering wolves would probably be impossible. It appears to me we may always have a few wolves, regardless of the myth.


Wolf hunt over Labor Day weekend suspended by Washington wildlife managers

This undated image shows a gray wolf resting in tall grass. On Friday, Washington state suspended a planned hunt for wolves in Stevens County to protect sheep the pack has been preying on. (AP Photo/U.S. Fish & Wildlife/File)

The Associated Press By The Associated Press

On August 29, 2014, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will suspend its hunt for three more members of the Huckleberry wolf pack over the Labor Day weekend, and whether it will resume is unclear in a state where the animals are struggling to re-establish themselves.
Hunters contracted by the state for the past week have been trying to kill a total of four members of the pack in order to protect a herd of 1,800 sheep that the wolves have been preying upon. One wolf was shot and killed by a hunter in a helicopter on Aug. 22.

At least 24 sheep have been killed in eight confirmed wolf attacks on the herd in southern Stevens County since Aug. 14, the agency said.

Officials for Fish and Wildlife said they have ceased efforts to hunt or trap the wolves in order to avoid conflicts with Labor Day recreationists and grouse hunters.

It is unclear if the hunt will resume, officials said Friday. "We're going to make that assessment after the holiday weekend," said Craig Bartlett, spokesman for the agency.

The owner of the sheep herd is making arrangements to move the animals out of the area, and that would allow Fish and Wildlife to end efforts to kill the wolves, Bartlett said.

During the Labor Day weekend, the sheep will be guarded by DFW staff, the rancher, a range rider, and four guard dogs, the agency said.

Environmental groups have opposed the hunt, saying that nonlethal means of protecting the sheep have not been exhausted. Washington has an estimated 52 wolves in 13 packs, environmental groups say.

Wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington early in the last century. They started moving back into the state from Idaho and Canada in the early 2000s.

In 2012, the state contracted hunters to wipe out all seven members of the Wedge pack of wolves after they began preying on cattle.


Feds seek input on maintaining red wolf recovery

Associated Press 
August 29, 2014  

— Federal wildlife officials asked the public Friday to weigh in as the government reviews whether to continue maintaining the world's only wild population of the red wolf in eastern North Carolina.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it had awarded a contract to the Virginia-based nonprofit Wildlife Management Institute to evaluate its 27-year experiment to restore the endangered species to the wild.

About 100 red wolves currently roam the wild in eastern North Carolina, and about 200 are in captive breeding programs in several locations in the U.S. They were first released into the wilderness under the program in 1987. The red wolf had been considered extinct in the wild as of 1980, though captive breeding programs existed.

A red wolf lies in a 50 foot-by-50-foot fenced enclosure in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on June 17, 2010. JOHN D. SIMMONS 
The public is asked to offer comments online and at two public meetings before the comment period ends on Sept. 12. The 60-day evaluation will end on October 10.  "Once we receive the final evaluation, we will review it and make a decision to continue, modify, or terminate the red wolf recovery program," said Leopoldo Miranda, an assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service

Asked about what terminating the program would entail, Miranda said during a conference call that no decisions have been made. When a program to restore the wolves to the Smoky Mountains in the western part of the state ended in 1998, the agency tried to capture all of the animals and bring them back to captivity, he said.

A female red wolf trots through a fenced enclosure she shares with three other females of about the same age in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. JOHN D. SIMMONS 

Sierra Weaver, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said the public should be given longer than two weeks to comment, especially considering the announcement came at the start of a holiday weekend. She also said that the federal agency failed to put a notice of the review in the Federal Register as required. "The agency has failed to comply with the process outlined in the Endangered Species Act for this type of review and we are concerned it is not taking seriously its responsibilities to save the red wolf from extinction," she said. A spokesman for the federal agency didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Weaver's criticism Friday afternoon.

In May, the Southern Environmental Law Center helped convince a federal judge to block the hunting of coyotes near the red wolf habitat. They argued that the animals look similar and are easily confused, leading to the wolves being shot. The judge issued a ban on hunting until a trial takes place on a lawsuit by the environmental group seeking to permanently end coyote hunting in several eastern North Carolina counties. The lawsuit is pending.

Betty, a female red wolf, roams in a fenced area at the Red Wolf Coalition on Feb. 10 in Creswell. The wolf is part of a captive breeding program at the coalition. JILL KNIGHT

In all, eight of the wolves have died in 2014, including two killed by gunshot. Several of them died from car accidents or health issues. Miranda said Friday that none of the wolves have been shot to death since the ban was enacted.

The Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 public meetings will be in Columbia and Swan Quarter, respectively. The meetings are open to the public and will involve moderators interacting in discussions with the participants.


Wolves of the Day

Arctic Wolf

Arctic Wolf 

Arctic Wolf @SouthLakes

Friday, August 29, 2014

Colorful pack of wolves hitting the streets and businesses in Abingdon

This is an older post, but given all the dire wolf news of late, I want to remind everyone just how beautiful life with wolves really is. Enjoy!


Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 

ABINGDON, Va. — A colorful pack moved into town over the weekend, and is now prowling in and around shops downtown. A total of 21 wolf statues have been painted, named and installed at businesses around Abingdon as part of the third installment of the “Who’s Afraid of Virginia’s Wolves?” project. The project is sponsored by Abingdon Main Street, formerly Advance Abingdon. One of them, A.P. Carter, is a wee wolf pup, standing sentry at Mallory Fine Art. He was taken to his new home Friday morning.

The pup was painted by artist Kristi Taylor, who shows at the gallery, said gallery owner Polly Mallory. He’s named for a member of the famous Carter Family, and his design was inspired by a Carter Family song. “It’s ‘My Home Among the Hills,’” Mallory said of the inspiration for the colorful pup who features a tree landscape in bright colors. “[Taylor] said any time she does a wolf cub, she literally listens to the song.”

Each wolf is different and painted by a local artist, said Susan Howard, executive director of Abingdon Main Street. Some businesses chose their own design, while others teamed up with local artists who had already submitted ideas for the statues. Many of the wolves, which took a trip through Rolling Hills Auto to get an automotive clear coat, will be installed outside, but some will be inside local businesses.

The designs range from Appalachian Trail maps to the wicked witch from “Wizard of Oz” to Doc Holliday, a dapper young wolf who will be installed in the William King Museum.
Six resident artists at the Arts Depot collaborated to design Material Girl, a large wolf who has been painted in a crazy quilt pattern. “Quilting is such a strong facet of crafts in this area,” said Helen Morgan, who along with Joyce Samuel, Jackie Dolpp, Nancy Johnson, Nancy Garretson and Sara Reese painted the wolf. “Each of us took four or five sections ... and we created the crazy quilt.”

The name of the wolf was under debate when a visitor to the Arts Depot saw what the women were working on and suggested they call her Material Girl. “It looks beautiful,” Dolpp said when she saw the finished product.

In addition to the 21 new wolves, one wolf pup from the last pack, installed in 2012, was returned to Abingdon Main Street recently, Howard said. The “Day of the Dead” cub will be displayed somewhere safe, she said.

At the end of the summer, the wolves who were sponsored will be auctioned. Some have been purchased by local businesses. “I love this project,” said Lori Willey, past board president of Abingdon Main Street, who helped Howard take the wolves to their new homes. “It’s an art project and a community project.”


Wolf Survey Reveals Favorable Attitudes Towards Wolves

Most Wisconsinites support a wolf hunt in the state, but only a minority of people want to see the wolf population decrease from its current level.  That's according to some of the draft findings of a recent DNR survey of how people feel about wolves.
Credit Derek Bakken
The DNR mailed out surveys to almost 9,000 residents, about half of which were returned and analyzed.
DNR Carnivore Specialist Dave MacFarland says the goal was to answer critical questions about citizens’ attitudes towards wolves. 
“One, we wanted to determine what their tolerance was of wolves – were they favorable or unfavorable?  And then also, critically, we asked questions about what they would like us to, with one of the primary questions being adjustments in the population size.”
Results tended to vary according to where people lived in relation to wolves.  Within the area of the state considered to be wolf-range, 62 percent of respondents supported a state regulated hunting and trapping season.  Outside of the wolf-range area, only 51 percent of residents did.
But favoring some kind of state-managed wolf hunt didn’t necessarily go along with support of the DNR’s current wolf plan, which calls for gradually reducing the wolf population from recent winter estimates of 660…down to 350.
Outside of wolf-range, more than half of respondents said they want to see more wolves or maintain current population levels.  Within wolf range that percentage was about 45 percent, and many said they didn’t know. 
MacFarland says the DNR is working on a new wolf management plan, and the survey results do make a difference.  
“We manage the wildlife of the state for the citizens of the state, and information like this is critical.  That said it’s not the only piece of information that’ll be used.  It’ll be incorporated with all the biological information that we have.”
MacFarland says there will be more chances for public input later this year, when a draft of the new plan is put forward.


And now for a completely unbiased (NOT) report...

Pro-wolf groups pressure Gov. Inslee to curb wolf control

A total of 13 wolf packs were confirmed in the state on March 8, 2013, by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)
A total of 13 wolf packs were confirmed in the state on March 8, 2013, by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Environmental groups who've been unable to persuade Washington wildlife officials into letting wolves eat as many sheep as they like in southern Stevens County are pressuring Gov. Jay Inslee to clamp down on wolf management when it comes to lethal control efforts.   Here's the story just moved by the Associated Press:
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Environmental groups on Thursday asked Gov. Jay Inslee to push for the creation of strict rules limiting when wolves can be killed in response to livestock depredations.
Their petition sought to limit when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can kill wolves. It would also require ranchers to use nonlethal measures to protect their livestock.
Rules similar to those requested by the petition are in place in Oregon.
The groups made the request as the state was in the process this week of trying to kill four wolves in the Huckleberry Pack in an effort to protect a herd of sheep. One wolf has been killed so far.
Wolves were hunted to extinction a century ago in Washington. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by entering Washington from Idaho and British Columbia. The state is estimated to have 52 wolves in 13 packs.
“All we’re asking for are some very reasonable standards on what ranchers need to do to protect their livestock and when the state can step in and kill an endangered species,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The governor’s office has 45 days to respond to the request. The office has received the petition and will review the request, Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said.
In 2012, the state killed seven wolves in the Wedge Pack despite the fact that the rancher had taken little action to protect his stock, the environmental groups said.
They contend the situation is similar with the Huckleberry Pack.
However, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has said the owner of the sheep herd has taken numerous nonlethal steps to protect his 1,800 animals. But wolves keep killing the sheep.
Conservation groups filed a similar petition in 2013, but they withdrew it based on promises from the Fish and Wildlife to negotiate new rules governing lethal methods of wolf management. No negotiations have taken place, the environmental groups said.
The groups appealing to Inslee also include Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The words in italics are written by Rich Landers. Think he's anti-wolf? If you do, then you'd be correct.

Lin -- one of those damned environmentalists

Cook County sheriff warns of wolves attacking dogs...

... approaching people in Grand Marais

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: August 29, 2014 -
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. — Northeastern Minnesota authorities are warning residents about wolves attacking dogs and approaching people in Cook County.
Sheriff Leif Lunde said Thursday there have been several recent incidents involving wolves on the north side of Grand Marais. He's asking county residents not to let their pets run loose. He didn't provide details about the attacks or say whether injuries have been reported.
Lunde asks people who encounter an animal they believe to be dangerous to contact the Cook County Sheriff's Office.


Save the MI wolves; a reader's view

Thursday, August 28, 2014, 12:15 pm
To the editor:

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is a coalition of Michigan citizens such as Native Americans, wildlife scientists, veterinarians, hunters, farmers and everyday Michigan citizens trying to protect our very fragile wolf population — about 623 on last count.

After successfully stopping the wolf hunt and putting the vote on the 2014 ballot, Michigan politicians passed another measure, PA21, taking the power to vote away from the people.

We are currently circulating a petition in an attempt to place a referendum for PA21 on the ballot. Just today, I heard we have enough signatures. So please vote to save the wolves.

My next concern is about the wild rumors about the wolf attacks on dogs and livestock. When I lived up in the Traverse Bay area, people were having trouble with coyotes coming on their property and taking pets and livestock. A lot of those people swore that they were wolves. Well, there are no wolves in Lower Michigan. So people in the Upper Peninsula are probably making the same mistake. Wolves do all they can to avoid human contact. Coyotes are much bolder and very brave, so it’s more likely to be coyotes than wolves.

To better understand wolves and how they live, try to get this book at the library or bookstore: Its name is “Never Cry Wolf.” I don’t remember the author but it is a true story. Good reading, also.



Wolf hunting OK'd by MI state House

The Michigan House cleared the way Wednesday for an appointed panel to decide whether to allow continued hunting of the resurgent gray wolf, instead of leaving the matter up to the state's voters.
AP Wire
Aug 29, 2014
On a 65-43 vote in Lansing, the House affirmed a citizen-initiated measure that puts the Natural Resources Commission in charge of designating game species and setting hunting and fishing policy. The Senate gave its approval earlier this month. Because the governor's signature is not required, the measure will become law.

Lawmakers didn't have it take effect immediately. That means the effective date will be 90 days after the legislative session ends this fall, which rules out a wolf hunt until next year at the earliest. "This is an important step to protecting the rights to hunt, fish and trap in Michigan from radical animal rights organizations," said Dan Eichinger, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
But opponents weren't surrendering. A group called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected labeled the measure "patently unconstitutional" and vowed to challenge it in court while continuing to campaign for voter rejection of two measures on the November general election ballot that involve wolf hunting.

The legislative action was the latest in a battle that began in 2012, when the combined gray wolf population of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin was dropped from the federal endangered species list. The wolves had bounced back strongly after disappearing from most of the Great Lakes region in the last century. With federal protections removed, each state was put in charge of managing its wolves. Minnesota and Wisconsin have moved forward with hunts.

Michigan legislators enacted a 2012 bill making the wolf a game species — the first step toward allowing it to be hunted. The next year, they followed up with a law giving the Natural Resources Commission, a seven-member panel appointed by the governor, authority to make such designations.
Opponents gathered enough petition signatures to put both the measures to statewide referendums on the ballot this fall. But they weren't able to prevent the commission from permitting a hunt last year, during which 22 wolves were killed. The Department of Natural Resources in April estimated the population at 636.

Even if voters repeal both of the earlier laws, the newly approved measure will remain in effect. Supporters sought to make it referendum-proof by attaching a $1 million appropriation to battle invasive Asian carp, since spending bills are not subject to statewide votes. It also provides free hunting and fishing licenses for active military members.

Opponents contend that wrapping the three provisions into one measure violates the state Constitution. "We're going to sue and knock it out," said Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. Her group contends the state's wolves remain on tenuous footing and there are other means of dealing with animals that cause problems. Farmers can legally shoot wolves attacking their livestock.

During floor debate, lawmakers opposing the initiative said they weren't against hunting but believed the matter should be settled at the ballot box. "This vote is about validating citizens' rights to participate in government," said Rep. Pam Faris, a Democrat from Clio.

Supporters countered that people favoring wolf hunts also exercised their rights by gathering some 300,000 signatures — enough to put the initiative before the Legislature. "We're not saying get rid of all the wolves," said Rep. Ed McBroom, a Republican from Vulcan who favored the measure. "We can live with them in the U.P., but we need a management approach that includes all the options, like we have for all other types of wildlife we manage in this state."

The state Department of Natural Resources, which advises the commission, endorsed the measure and has argued in favor of tightly regulated wolf hunts.


#WDFG suspends hunt for #HuckleberryPack (Thank you @robinchriss !)

For Immediate Release, August 28, 2014

Contacts:  Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746
John Mellgren, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 525-5087
Tim Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667
With Huckleberry Wolf Pack in Crosshairs, Conservation Groups Appeal to
Gov. Inslee to Require Rules Limiting Killing of Washington's Endangered Wolves

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eight conservation groups filed an appeal with Governor Jay Inslee today to reverse the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s denial of a petition asking for enforceable rules limiting when wolves can be killed in response to livestock depredations. The petition seeks to limit when the Department of Fish and Wildlife can kill wolves and require livestock producers to use nonlethal measures to protect their stock. Rules similar to those requested by the petition are in place in Oregon and are working to encourage ranchers to enact nonlethal measures; there, the number of depredations has decreased dramatically, and the state has not killed wolves in more than three years. 

Huckleberry pack pups
Photo of Huckleberry pack pups courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photos are available for media use.
“All we’re asking for are some very reasonable standards on what ranchers need to do to protect their livestock and when the state can step in and kill an endangered species,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Many, many questions about the circumstances that led the Department to secretly move to kill wolves in the Huckleberry pack this past weekend — on top of the disastrous killing of the Wedge pack in 2012 — highlight a clear need for such rules.”

In 2012 the Department killed seven wolves in the Wedge pack despite the fact that the rancher had taken little action to protect his stock. A similar situation is now taking place in southern Stevens County with the Huckleberry pack. The pack has been involved in multiple depredations of sheep, but there are many questions about the practices of the rancher in question. In particular, the rancher is grazing 1,800 sheep in highly dissected terrain in close proximity to a known wolf rendezvous site. Reportedly, the sheep have been protected merely by four guard dogs since a sheep herder quit roughly a month ago and was not replaced. Additionally, sheep carcasses have been left in the area, serving as a potential attractant to wolves. 

Once depredations were discovered, the Department advised the Commission that the sheep were being moved, a range rider was being deployed and that agency staff were on-site to help deter further depredations, but before these actions were fully implemented, the Department secretly put a helicopter in the air to shoot wolves. To date, one wolf has been killed and the sheep still have not been moved. 

“This is exactly the type of situation where, if strict, enforceable rules were in place to implement the state’s wolf plan, the sheep owner’s lax practices and the failure of the Department to follow through would have kept the Huckleberry pack safe from the knee-jerk kill order that has been issued against them,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands.

Last Wednesday the Department issued an order authorizing agency staff and the sheep owner to kill any of the Huckleberry pack wolves in the vicinity, instead of using rubber bullets or other hazing tools. It has also come to light that the Department failed to accept offers of assistance from a Washington State University wolf researcher to help get sheep carcasses out, implement more nonlethal measures, and help monitor the situation. It also failed to accept an offer from a conservation group of special predator-deterrence lights used elsewhere in conflict situations. Instead, without notice to the public or even to the stakeholder advisory group the Department consults with to implement the state’s wolf plan, the Department launched a secret aerial gunning campaign over the weekend with the aim of killing up to four of the pack’s wolves. One young wolf, which may have been a pup from this spring’s litter, was killed from the air and after more unsuccessful airtime, the helicopter was grounded but efforts continue by the Department to trap and euthanize up to three more wolves.

Conservation groups filed a similar petition in the summer of 2013 but withdrew it based on promises from the Department to negotiate new rules governing lethal methods of wolf management. A year later, with no negotiations having taken place, the Department gave notice to the Commission it was going to introduce its own, far-less-protective lethal wolf-control rule, leading the groups to refile their petition.

“The Department’s actions have been extremely controversial and we know that Gov. Inslee’s office has received thousands of emails and phone calls just this week since the helicopter sniper took to the skies,” said Tim Coleman, executive director of the Kettle Range Conservation Group. “So we think he is fully aware of how much Washington residents care about the state’s endangered wolves and how badly it is needed for the Commission to adopt legally enforceable rules to prevent this from ever happening again.”

In 2011 the Commission formally adopted the state’s wolf plan, which was crafted in a five-year process with input from a 17-member stakeholder group, more than 65,000 written comments from the public, and a peer review by 43 scientists and wolf managers. However, Commission and Department officials have publicly stated that they view the plan as merely advisory. Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia. But wolf recovery is still in its infancy. According to the Department’s annual wolf report, Washington’s wolf population grew by only one wolf, from a population of 51 wolves to 52 wolves from the end of 2012 to the end of 2013.

The appeal to Gov. Inslee was filed by groups representing tens of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club. 

Upon receipt of the appeal, the governor’s office has 45 days to respond with a final decision.


Action Alert! Red Wolves Need YOUR Help!

ACTION ALERT! The Red Wolf Recovery Program is currently undergoing a 60-day review to be completed on 10/10/14. Public perspectives and opinion are being gathered by 3 methods: e-mail, survey and public focus group sessions. The future of the Recovery Program will hinge to a significant degree on public input. The red wolves are depending on YOU to e their voice. Click on each link for detailed information:

1. Send an (Please remember that positive comments get more attention than negative ones!)

2. Complete the SURVEY:

3. PUBLIC FOCUS GROUP SESSIONS hosted by the Wildlife Management Institute: The first will be in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10, in the Mattamuskeet High School Cafeteria located at 20392 U.S. Highway 264. The second will be held in Columbia, North Carolina, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 11, in the Columbia High School’s Auditorium at 902 East Main Street. More details to come about these sessions!

FWS Press Release with FULL DETAILS: :
 (Photo: Wolf Conservation Center)
Information from the Red Wolf Coalition's Facebook Page
Please follow these good folks and lend them a hand in the good work they're doing!! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion: Social bonds may increase yawning contagion between wolves

August 27, 2014
Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a new study. Researchers suggest that contagious yawning may be linked to human capacity for empathy, but little evidence apart from studies on primates, exists that links contagious yawning to empathy in other animals. Recently, researchers have documented domestic dogs demonstrating contagious yawning when exposed to human yawns in a scientific setting, but it is unclear whether this phenomenon is rooted in the evolutionary history of mammals, or has evolved in dogs as a result of domestication.

a. An individual (on the right) yawned during a resting period. b. A few seconds later, the subject (on the left) yawned contagiously.
Credit: Teresa Romero; CC-BY

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.
Researchers suggest that contagious yawning may be linked to human capacity for empathy, but little evidence apart from studies on primates, exists that links contagious yawning to empathy in other animals. Recently, researchers have documented domestic dogs demonstrating contagious yawning when exposed to human yawns in a scientific setting, but it is unclear whether this phenomenon is rooted in the evolutionary history of mammals, or has evolved in dogs as a result of domestication.
In this study, the authors investigated contagious yawning and its potential link to empathy in wolves. They observed and recording yawning in a single pack of 12 wolves at Tama Zoological Park, in Tokyo, Japan over five months, in relaxed situations (without visible signs of stress), and recorded the exact time of the yawn, the identity of the initial yawner, and the identity and position of subjects close to the initial yawner.

The results suggest that wolves may experience yawn contagion. The strength of the pack member's social bond with the yawning wolf positively affected the frequency of contagious yawning. Additionally, female wolves showed a faster reaction time than males when observing yawns of close associates, suggesting that females are more responsive to surrounding social stimuli. According to the authors, despite the small sample size these results may provide initial evidence that contagious yawning may relate to the wolves capacity for empathy, and suggests that basic building blocks of empathy might be present in a wider range of species than previously thought.

Teresa Romero added, "In wolves, as well as in primates and dogs, yawning is contagious between individuals, especially those that are close associates. These results suggest that contagious yawning is a common ancestral trait shared by other mammals and that such ability reveals an emotional connection between individuals."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Teresa Romero, Marie Ito, Atsuko Saito, Toshikazu Hasegawa. Social Modulation of Contagious Yawning in Wolves. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (8): e105963 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105963

PLOS. "Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion: Social bonds may increase yawning contagion between wolves." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2014. <>.

Current Events in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area

Photo Courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team

Dark Canyon Pack - Cross Foster Wolf Pup Update

Late August 2014
Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team trail cameras continue documenting five pups with the Dark Canyon pack in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. On May 15, two pups from the Coronado pack were placed into the three-pup litter of the Dark Canyon pack with the hope that the Dark Canyon pack would raise them as their own. This is the IFT's first attempt at cross fostering and was done to introduce genetically desirable pups into the litter of an experienced female and wild-proven pack. The continued documentation of five pups remaining with the Dark Canyon pack is evidence the cross fostering attempt was successful. Updates on this pack are provided in the BRWRA Monthly Project Updates.

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Coronado Pack Update

August 2014
The Coronado Pack self-released out of the McKenna Park soft mesh pen several days after being placed in the pen by Wolf Project personnel. In the photo the alpha female 1126 remains in the pen while the alpha male 1051 and several pups are outside the pen. All the members of the pack have since left the pen site and have been consistently located together in the Gila Wilderness. Wolf Project personnel have remained in the wilderness monitoring the pack closely, following the translocation. The Coronado pack is being provided a supplemental food cache to assist with their transition to the wild. For additional information regarding the status of the Coronado pack please visit Recent Wolf Locations and BRWRA Monthly Updates (located on the Wolves in the Wild webpage).


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NMCOG seeking DNA from historic Mexican Wolves

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Dear members,

We are looking for individuals who might still possess historic Mexican Wolf hides/skulls from any wolf killed in New Mexico prior to the current re-introduction period.  These wolves might have been killed or found by your grandparents/great grandparents and are perhaps still displayed in your trophy room or gathering dust in a barn somewhere.

NMCOG is attempting to gather DNA from historic Mexican Wolves in order to further scientific research to prove that Mexican Wolves and Gray Wolves are of the same lineage and therefore, should not be classified as two different species within the Endangered Species Act.

As most of you are well aware, the USFWS is currently attempting to expand the range and protections of the Mexican Wolf.  NMCOG is fighting this expansion.  An expansion of this nature will undoubtedly put NM and AZ on the path to becoming the wolf predation mess that is currently being experienced in WY, ID, and MT.  With the USFWS proposing an increase to between 300 and 1000 wolves the ungulate populations of NM simply can not sustain an additional predator pressure of that size.

Please contact the Council if you know of anywhere that we might be able to find the DNA that we are looking for.  Feel free to forward this email to anyone that you know might have historic Mexican Wolf DNA. 

Thanks for your help!

Kerrie C. Romero
Executive Director (
51 Bogan Rd Stanley, NM 87056

Wolf hunt bid sparks debate on voting procedures in Lansing

August 25, 2014
Gary Kramer / AP) 
Lansing— The state increasingly is embroiled in a debate about whether controversial issues such as wolf hunting and mandatory union dues payments should be decided by elected officials reflecting their constituents’ wishes or directly by the people at the voting booth.

Democratic politicians and some advocacy groups argue citizen voices are being silenced by Republican legislative maneuvering, approval of laws that pre-empt statewide votes and, in one case, re-enactment — with some changes — of a law voters rejected.

The controversy has swirled for more than two years around issues ranging from state-appointed emergency managers to the minimum wage. It’s likely to surface again this week when the House meets for a rare summer session. The chamber may vote to uphold Michigan’s wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula by passing a petition-initiated proposal from pro-hunting groups.

While House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, hasn’t said a vote will occur when the House assembles Wednesday, Democrats are bracing for what they describe as another GOP assault on the rights of voters to decide such issues. “The constitution guarantees the people the right to create or modify laws on their own through ballot initiatives,” said Robert McCann, press secretary to Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing. “And while, yes, the Constitution also may technically allow the Republicans to undermine them as they are, it’s hard to justify that it was the intent of the drafters of our Constitution to allow that,” McCann said.

But Lansing attorney Richard McLellan, who often is involved in such issues, said state constitutional provisions allowing citizens to petition for new laws don’t mean every proposal has to go to the ballot.

The framers, McLellan said, just “wanted people to have the right to start the (law-making) process. I get a little irritated with these Democrats who’d do exactly the same things for the same reasons” if they had the legislative majority.

Wolf hunting in focus

Wolf hunting is the latest focal point of the running dispute between the Republican legislative majority and the Democratic minority over the ethics of state constitutional initiative and referendum provisions.

Michigan’s Constitution gives registered voters the right to petition for a new law through an initiative or seek, through a referendum, a statewide vote that could affirm or reject a law passed by the Legislature.

Democrats are joined by labor unions and groups such as Planned Parenthood and Keep Michigan Wolves Protected in blasting the GOP for using those provisions to its advantage.

In one case, the Republican majority included a $1 million appropriation in a right-to-work law it hastily passed in December 2012, presumably making it immune to a referendum. The right-to-work law prohibits mandatory union dues.

Under the state constitution, laws that appropriate funds usually cannot be overturned by voters.
McCann charged that Republicans “didn’t want the people of Michigan to be able to weigh in” by voting on the right-to-work issue. “That, in and of itself, is offensive,” he said.

But McLellan argued that the GOP majority and groups circulating petitions are using constitutional tools just as they’re intended to be used. Some just aren’t happy with the outcomes, he said.
And should the House pre-empt two Nov. 4 anti-wolf-hunting ballot propositions by passing the initiative on Wednesday, McLellan predicted, hunting opponents “will be back next year with a (proposed) constitutional amendment, banning wolf hunting, that’s not subject to a referendum.”

The initiative would affirm that the Natural Resources Commission will continue deciding which animals will be hunted as game. House passage of the measure — which the Senate approved earlier this month — would make it law.

The commission already approved one wolf hunt, in which hunters killed just over half a 43-wolf quota last fall.

More important for the pro-wolf-hunt GOP legislative majority, House action also presumably would thwart two anti-wolf-hunting November ballot proposals backed by a group called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

Lobbying encouraged

That’s why leader Jill Fritz on the wolf protection group’s website urged people to lobby legislators before they act: “Michiganders who care about wildlife and their right to vote should tell their legislators to vote ‘no’ on the opposition’s initiative. “Michigan’s recent wolf hunt was based on a pack of lies. Politicians and bureaucrats cannot be trusted, but voters can.”
Lawmakers twice have approved laws to allow wolf hunts.

And Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, with financial backing from the Humane Society of the United States, twice responded by collecting enough petition signatures for referendums on those laws.

Then a group called Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management — Michigan United Conservation Clubs and other groups that favor hunting — collected enough signatures to petition for the proposed law now up for a House vote.

The constitution says lawmakers can pass such a citizen-initiated proposal into law within 40 days after the petition signatures are authenticated or let it go to a statewide vote, which would put it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Most experts agree that Keep Wolves Protected’s two proposals, calling for referendums on the first two Legislature-passed wolf hunting laws, will become moot if the House finalizes the pro-hunting measure.

Vote uncertain

Bolger’s spokesman Ari Adler said the House speaker still is deciding whether to have the House vote on the wolf hunt proposal or let it go to the ballot.

Either way, Adler said, Bolger believes the Legislature “has followed all constitutional and legal guidelines related to citizen initiatives placed before it, as did those who have spearheaded the initiatives through their constitutional right to do so.”

The Coywolf

Call of the wild
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
This article originally appeared in Business Insider.
Humans are not newcomers when it comes to messing around with nature. While we haven't created Frankenstein's monster yet, what we do messes with the natural world. One recent example is the creation of the coywolf—a hybrid of the coyote and the wolf that is also known as the Eastern coyote.
These animals have a completely new genetic make up: Their genes are about 1/4 wolf DNA and 2/3 coyote DNA, the rest is from domesticated dogs. They were created when previously separate wolf and coyote populations merged in the land north of the Great Lakes.
Here's the coyote, which traditionally maxes out at 75 pounds and has pointier features, and readily populates cities:

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

And this is what a wolf looks like. Wolves are usually bigger, weighing in at about 100 pounds, and prefer more wild habitats.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images
While the grey wolf and the coyote are each other's closest living relatives, the two animals separated evolutionarily 1 to 2 million years ago. These hybrids have only really emerged en force during the last few decades, as wolves were hunted and forced north and coyotes moved east from the Great Plains.
According to the New York Times' Moises Velazquez-Manoff: "[The coywolf] can be as much as 40 percent larger than the Western coyote, with powerful wolflike jaws; it has also inherited the wolf's more social nature, which allows for pack hunting."

Specifically, this genetic combination of the two animals seems especially well suited to its northern habitat—better suited than either parent species. The wolf genes allow the coyote to take down bigger prey, while the coyote genes let them adapt to cityscapes and other metropolitan areas.
To study the hybrids better, scientists went ahead and made some 50/50 hybrids in the lab, mating female coyotes with male grey wolves. That's not exactly like the wild coywolves, but it's similar. And gives scientists a better idea of how successful a mating between the two species would be. While two pregnancies didn't result in live offspring, one litter created six puppies.
Here's the result:

Mech, et. al. PLOS
Generally the hybridization of species gives evolution something to work with to deal with tough times. When food is low because of climate change or your habitat is being destroyed by humans, these animals can turn out to be tougher or more adaptable than their parent species (though many aren't and many turn out to be sterile).
So, how did these hybrids come to be? Well, as Velazquez-Manoff writes in the New York Times Magazine:
The emergence of the Eastern coyote, however, shows how human activity can break down the barriers that separate species. Perhaps the most obvious way in which humanity is altering the natural world is through climate change. The Arctic, where its effects are especially evident, is warming between two and four times as fast as the rest of the planet. Spring thaws now arrive weeks earlier; winter freezes come weeks later. Shrubs are invading once-barren tundra. Animals at high latitudes—where related species tend to have diverged more recently and can therefore interbreed more easily—are shifting their ranges in response to rising temperatures and melting sea ice. As they do, they may encounter cousins and hybridize.
This is what a wild coywolf looks like. This one was spotted in West Virginia.


Michigan wolf hunt opponents plan Capitol rally with House expected to vote on initiated law

Jeff Powell checks his wolf into the DNR station at Wakefield Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. The wolf was the second recorded kill in the Michigan's first wolf hunt. Powell is from Elkton. (Cory Morse |

By Jonathan Oosting
on August 26, 2014
Michigan Wolf Hunt
LANSING, MI — Michigan’s long-simmering debate over wolf hunting may come to a boil Wednesday, when the Republican-led state House is expected to enact a citizen-initiated law paving the way for future seasons. Senate approval earlier this month was punctuated by accusations of special-interest influence on both sides of the issue and anti-democratic maneuvering.

A tentative House agenda for Wednesday includes the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act,” which would reaffirm the authority of the Natural Resources Commission to name new game species and establish hunts. House Republican spokesperson Ari Adler said the agenda item does not necessarily mean there will be a vote, but opponents and proponents are both expecting action.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected, which has mounted two statewide petition drives in an attempt to prevent wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula, is scheduled to host a rally outside the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers return from summer recess. But their efforts may be trumped by the citizen-initiated bill, sent to the Legislature via a third statewide petition drive. Approval would render moot the two wolf hunt proposals already approved for the November ballot.

The Michigan Constitution gives lawmakers the ability to enact citizen-initiated legislation without the governor’s signature. They also have the option to do nothing, which would send the measure to the statewide ballot for voter consideration. “We call on House members to end this abuse of power, restore respect for the democratic process, and allow the people to determine whether wolves should be hunted and other critical wildlife management issues,” Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement announcing the rally.

Supporters, who have been calling lawmakers to urge a vote, say that science — not public opinion — should determine whether wolf hunting should continue in Michigan following last year’s inaugural season, limited to three regions of the UP. "You’re just going to keep getting out-of-state organizations coming in with big money and pushing the issue up and up until they outspend you on emotional ads to get people to vote on something," Merle Shepard, chair of the Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management, said last month. "That’s just the wrong way to manage wildlife.”

But critics say the Natural Resource Commission, whose seven members are appointed by the governor, can be influenced by political pressure and question the science used to validate the first-ever wolf hunt.

State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, speaking in support of the citizen-initiated bill on the floor, suggested that organized opposition to wolf hunting actually “is about taking away our hunting and fishing privileges” and noted the involvement of the Humane Society of the United States.

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle accused Casperson of using a "phony" quote attributed to him on several pro-hunt websites and sourced to an out-of-print "tree hound" magazine article from 1990. He refuted the suggestion that the organization is seeking a blanket ban on hunting. “We’ve repeatedly said we don’t object to Michigan’s tradition of deer hunting and we would never try to stop that,” Pacelle told MLive. "We’ve specifically said that wolves are rare, and that there’s no good reason to kill them, since nobody eats wolves.”

An estimated 214,000 registered voters signed a petition that suspended a 2012 wolf hunting law, but the Legislature turned around and passed a second version. Another 183,000 registered voters signed a petition for a referendum on the second law. Both proposals are set to appear on the November ballot, but they may not hold any weight. Some 297,000 registered voters signed a petition for the pro-hunt bill, and approval by the state House on Wednesday would make it law. Because it contains an appropriation, it would not be subject to voter referendum.

There are now an estimated 636 wolves in the UP. Twenty-two wolves were legally killed in a hunt that ran from mid-November through December in three zones of the Upper Peninsula, about half the number that the state had hoped for.

An investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt. Proponents say that wolf hunts are an effective population-control tool for limiting attacks on livestock and pets, arguments bolstered by recent news that wolves had killed five hunting dogs in the span of three days, along with a cow.

Update: Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management announced Tuesday afternoon that supporters will also be gathering at the state Capitol on Wednesday morning to urge a “yes” vote on the citizen-initiated legislation.