Friday, October 31, 2014

Wolves of the Day

Another wolf portrait 
Wolf portrait by Tambako The Jaguar 
Sweet wolf
Sweet wolf by Tambako The Jaguar

Wolf Kill Total, Climbing At Rapid Rate, Is Now At 116; Quotas Have Been Exceeded In Some DNR Hunting Zones

Four wolf hunting zones are now closed in Wisconsin. Photo: Jethro Taylor (CC-BY-SA).
Thursday, October 30, 2014
By Chuck Quirmbach

The Department of Natural Resources said that hunters and trappers have killed 116 grey wolves during this year’s hunting season.

Ninety-seven wolves were killed in the first seven days of the hunt, and at least 22 more wolves have died since. Four of the six wolf hunting zones are now closed.

The wolf kill happened so fast that in two zones, the quota was exceeded by a total of 18 animals.
DNR wildlife biologist Dave MacFarland brought the matter up with the Natural Resources Board on Wednesday. “We obviously take this issue very seriously and we’re exploring ways to prevent this issue in the future,” said MacFarland.

MacFarland said the state is looking at ways to slow the pace of the hunt. Melissa Tedrowe of the Humane Society of the United States said the DNR should close the remaining zones early to keep the wolf kill to 150, and give hunters far fewer than 24 hours to report a kill. “It makes sense that in the 24 hours it takes to report a wolf, a lot more damage can be done — a lot more wolves can be killed,” said Tedrowe.

Tedrowe said she’s also concerned that hunters have only slowed down on killing wolves this week, to save some for hunters who want to use dogs to chase wolves starting Dec. 1.


Michigan wolf hunting: Everything you need to know about Proposal 1 and 2 on the 2014 ballot

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 October 31, 2014
THE PROPOSALS: Michigan Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 are both referendums on two separate laws. The first law designated wolves as a game species and authorized hunting seasons. The second law gave those same powers to the Natural Resources Commission, which approved the state’s first ever hunt last year. 

YES OR NO? Casting two "no" votes would repeal both wolf hunting laws, which were suspended after a group called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected launched two separate petition drives and collected enough signatures to put the referendums on the ballot. Two "yes" votes would reinstate both laws and immediately make wolf hunting legal again. 

A NEWER LAW: A separate group called Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management used a petition drive for citizen-initiated legislation that the Republican-led Legislature approved in August. The newer law, which affirms the authority of the NRC to establish wolf hunting seasons, is set to take effect in March or April.

WILL YOUR VOTE MATTER? Depends who you ask. Wolf hunt opponents say they plan to challenge the newer law in court and argue the ballot proposals remain an important step in stopping future hunts. Wolf hunt supporters say the proposals won’t have any practical affect and will function as little more than an exit poll. At the very least, you can voice your support or displeasure. 

ASIAN CARP IMMUNITY: The newest wolf hunt law contains a $1 million appropriation to fight Asian Carp, which makes it immune to voter referendum under the current interpretation of the Michigan Constitution. Two other petition drives would have extended the power of referendums to bills with appropriations, but both efforts fell short. 

THE MONEY: Keep Michigan Wolves protected has raised more than $2 million in the past two years and is running television commercials ahead of the election. The group is largely funded by the Humane Society of the United States. Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management raised around $810,000 for its petition drive, mostly from hunting groups, but isn’t spending much to fight the ballot proposals. 

THE NUMBERS: There are about 636 grey wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, up from just six in the 1970s. Hunting advocates argue the population warrants stronger management to reduce conflicts with livestock and comfort levels around humans. Opponents argue that hunting could halt recovery of a species only a few years removed from endangered status and say reported conflicts are overblown but can be managed without a hunt. 

JUSTIFICATION: An investigation found government half-truths, falsehoods and livestock numbers skewed by a single farmer distorted some arguments for the inaugural hunt. The farmer in question ended up shutting down his main farm after he was charged with animal cruelty, but attacks have continued on other farms, and supporters say a hunt is still justified. 

PUBLIC INPUT: Beyond wolf hunting, ballot proposal backers say the fight is about voting rights. When a petition drive was used to challenge the first wolf hunt law, the state Legislature passed a second one. When that one was suspended too, hunting advocates used the petition process themselves and lawmakers approved a third law despite pending ballot proposals. Supporters argue the NRC — not the public — should decide whether wolf hunting should continue.


WODCW FAQ Sheet on #Wolf Hound Hunting

By Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin(WODCW) A Grassroots Organization.

1. Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”

2. Hound hunters traditionally train their dogs to focus on specific prey by releasing their dogs to surround, attack and terrorize a prey animal (e.g. a bear cub or fox) for hours on end (up to 16 hours/day) enclosed in a small, open barrel or “roll cage.” At this point it remains disturbingly unclear as to how hound hunters will train their dogs to pursue wolves instead of other animals—will it be by capturing wolves and allowing their dogs to attack them in barrels and pens? How isn’t this worse than illegal dog fighting?

3. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, charged with overseeing the wolf hunt, has no rules in place that require hound handlers to report dogs injured or killed in the pursuit of wolves during a hunt. In fact, there is no monitoring or certification program whatsoever in place for the use of dogs in the wolf hunt; thus the state has little ability to hold hound hunters accountable for training or hunting violations or to prevent deadly and inhumane wolf-dog confrontations (e.g., hunters allowing dogs to overtake and kill rifle-shot wolves). These circumstances explain why Wisconsin stands alone: using dogs to hunt wolves is no better than state-sponsored dog fighting.

4. Hound handlers are equipped with high tech radio telemetry devices that allow them to track GPS-collared hunting dogs from long distances. They are often not able to catch up to hounds that have a wolf at bay to prevent deadly fights between dogs and wolves. As proof of this, to date, Wisconsin has paid nearly $500,000 to “reimburse” hound-hunters for hunting dogs injured or killed by wolves. See link dog depredations WDNR

5. According to DNR regulations, hound handlers are only allowed to use up to six dogs at a time to trail wolves. But handlers often replace tired dogs with fresh ones and younger dogs. It is common for a handler to be unable to retrieve the tired dogs, and end up with up well over 6 dogs chasing one wolf, potentially twice or even three times as many. There is no monitoring system in place to ensure that only 6 dogs pursue wolves.

*These may not be reproduced or edited without permission from wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin.

For how to get involved:




More stories:


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Feds Investigating Death Of Teanaway Wolf

Word this afternoon that federal agents are investigating the death of a collared wolf in Central Washington’s Teanaway Pack territory

WDFW reports that it assisted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in recovering the carcass of a female on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

“The cause of death is under investigation by the USFWS,” the agency’s Nate Pamplin said.
A USFWS spokesman had no further information.


Earlier this fall, he reported that the Teanaway Pack was one of eight in Washington with active radio collars.

The wolves run northeast of Cle Elum, in that part of Washington where they’re still federally listed under the Endangered Species Act. The latest WDFW Wildlife Program report, for the week of Oct. 20-26 and out this morning, noted:
Wolf locations were monitored this week. Data indicates that the wolves have ventured north into or adjacent to Wilderness Areas, similar to the pattern from last year.  However, no data has been seen for the past three days.
Sheep are still located near Cle Elum Ridge, the RAG box is in place, and fladry has been located between potential wolf access areas to the sheep grazing and bedding areas.”
A recent article in a local paper made it seem as if everything was easy-sneezy between the sheep flock and the pack this season, but a lot of work has been going into keeping the pups and herd separated, according to previous program updates.

Two other members of the pack have been collared in the past. One wandered north into Canada and was shot in a pig sty in 2012; the other, a pup, was killed by a predator, most likely a cougar, in 2013.
It’s also possible that the collared wolf came from elsewhere and subsequently died of yet-to-be-determined causes in the Teanaway range.

Or if it was the lactating wolf WDFW collared in 2011, it could have died of old age — five is the average lifespan of one in the Northern Rockies — but one wolf advocacy group was suspicious because of the proximity to deer and elk seasons.

Collar data is a key component in efforts that have minimized livestock losses in the Teanaway and Stevens County.

In another investigation elsewhere in Washington, DNA results still have yet to come back on an animal shot on the Palouse in mid-October, according to Pamplin.


Is Grand Teton Hunt Right in 21st Century?

Tom Mangelsen savors the quiet fall. The renowned Jackson Hole wildlife photographer, who has traveled to every continent in search of remarkable animal imagery, considers the autumn mating ritual of North American elk to be among the greatest spectacles of nature.Nowhere else is the scene more dramatic, Mangelsen says, than in his own backyard of Grand Teton National Park. He interacts with thousands of park visitors annually, and, he says, most are under the false impression that wapiti are protected.

Indeed, for most of the year, Grand Teton rangers, like their counterparts in Yellowstone, aggressively warn tourists to refrain from doing anything that might cause duress to animals or disrupt wildlife behavior.

Violate the regulations by getting too close or feeding the wild inhabitants and one can be punished with a hefty fine. Do something truly egregious, such as harming or harassing a creature, and a visitor could be banished from the park.

However, it's all part of a strange illusion -- a web of extraordinary contradictions -- that shape wildlife management in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Last Saturday night a few hours before dark, Mangelsen and a group of wildlife watchers were positioned along the Grand Teton highway between the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River and Willow Flats rimming the southeastern flanks of Jackson Lake.

(Above: Elk crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park at first light. Photo by Thomas D. Mangelsen, with permission of the photographer.)

Few spots rival it in the Lower 48 for the diversity of fauna readily seen. The corridor is an anchor to Jackson Hole's growing multi-million dollar, non-consumptive ecotourism economy.

Three groups of elk, in succession, passed blithely across the Snake, sending camera motor drives aflutter. The hooved bands headed eastward over the asphalt highway and then disappeared out of sight.

That's when Mangelsen heard the reverb of rifle fire on the first evening of Grand Teton's annual "elk reduction program," also known as the park hunt.

His heart sank. "Once the hunters arrive in the park and the bullets start flying, it's time to put the cameras away because the elk get justifiably skittish. Their behavior changes," Mangelsen says. "They know they're running for their lives."

While the park elk hunt was codified in Grand Teton's 1950 enabling federal legislation that created the current park boundaries, many see it as an anachronism grossly out of step with shifting societal values in the modern world.

Elk vigorously safeguarded against human impacts inside the boundaries of an iconic nature preserve on one day are suddenly subjected to intrusive stalking and killing by hunters the next.

Besides their anger over animals being hunted in a national park, local photographers Tim Mayo and Kent Nelson say the hunt drives hikers and other recreationists out of Grand Teton in October, represents a public safety hazard, results in resource damage from sportsmen behaving stupidly and creates grave dangers for species like grizzly bears that are attracted to the carcasses.

These contradictions prompted Mayo and Nelson, under the banner of their group, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, to file a lawsuit this week seeking to get the hunt halted. In most national parks, hunting is prohibited.

The legal action may not succeed but it raises important questions that state and federal officials have refused to meet head on, preferring to hide behind the excuse that the hunt is an old West tradition -- even when it flies in the face of logic.

Mayo and Nelson say it's absurd that millions of tax dollars are spent to artificially feed thousands of elk on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole -- based on the rationale that it's necessary to prop up herd numbers. Meanwhile, just across the adjacent invisible park boundary, Grand Teton officials carry out an "elk reduction," claiming there are too many. Which is it?

The Elk Refuge feeding program has made it a notorious reservoir for spreading the bovine disease, brucellosis, in elk and a potential hotspot for much-feared chronic wasting disease, the Mad Cow equivalent that strikes members of the deer family. Local hunting guides and outfitters fiercely defend the park hunt and an expensive wildlife feeding program at the Elk Refuge and 22 other state-run facilities because they earn their livings selling hunts of public elk.

Further complicating the picture is the admission that Grand Teton's elk hunt will likely result in hunter-caused grizzly bear deaths inside the park. The state of Wyoming also allows gray wolves to be killed within close proximity to Grand Teton even though lobos are a natural tool to keep elk numbers in check and help stop the spread of wildlife diseases because they prey upon sick animals.

Viewing wolves as competitors, most local hunting guides and outfitters have never accepted the restoration of wolves in the state.

Grand Teton's senior biologist Steve Cain has said that until the Elk Refuge stops feeding elk, Grand Teton's elk hunt will go on.

The Elk Refuge is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Teton by the National Park Service. Both are sister agencies within the US Interior Department.

While Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has spoken often about being committed to ecosystem health and sound wildlife management, the arguments advanced by Mayo and Nelson expose hypocrisy, critics of the hunt say.

Addressing it takes courage, but many wonder: Does Secretary Jewell have it in her?

Todd Wilkinson has been writing about the environment for nearly 30 years and is author of the critically-acclaimed book, Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet just released in paperback. Thomas D. Mangelsen also has a new book of photographs out titled The Last Great Wild Places that features essays by Wilkinson and noted chimpanzee researcher and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.


Gray Wolf Spotted in Grand Canyon National Park for First Time in Over 70 Years

For Immediate Release, October 30, 2014

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

Contact:  Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 313-7017
Kim Crumbo, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, (928) 606-5850
Drew Kerr, WildEarth Guardians, (312) 375-6104 

Wandering Wolf Would Lose Protections Under Federal Plan
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.— For the first time since the 1940s, a gray wolf is roaming the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The wolf, which is wearing an inactive radio collar, is likely a gray wolf that dispersed from the northern Rocky Mountains. The intrepid wolf is currently fully protected under the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits killing, wounding or harassing the animal and provides other protections. However, those protections could be stripped under the Obama administration’s proposed plan to remove wolves from the list of protected species.

“I'm absolutely thrilled that a wolf managed to travel so far to reclaim the Grand Canyon as a home for wolves,” said Michael Robinson, a wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This wolf's journey starkly highlights the fact that wolf recovery is still in its infancy and that these important and magnificent animals continue to need Endangered Species Act protections.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service repeatedly sought to remove endangered species protections for wolves. The latest proposal, which the agency scheduled to be finalized late this year, would eliminate protections for the Grand Canyon wolf and likely erase any chance it will be joined by a potential mate from the north.

“In the early 1900s over 30 wolves on the North Kaibab, including Grand Canyon National Park, were killed by government hunters,” said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “The possibility that a determined wolf could make it to the Canyon region is cause for celebration, and we must insist that every effort be taken to protect this brave wanderer.”

“Wolves like this one at the Grand Canyon and OR-7 demonstrate that, when protected, wolves will naturally recolonize their native habitats, restoring balance to wounded landscapes,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “Without Endangered Species Act protections, however, wolves will likely be relegated to a few National Parks in a tiny portion of their historic range.”


Wolves have returned to less than 10 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states. Scientists identified the Grand Canyon ecosystem as one of three in the Southwest, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area where Mexican gray wolves now roam and the southern Rocky Mountains, capable of supporting a robust and ecologically viable wolf population. Such populations, linked to each other through wolves’ famous propensity to wander, would help avoid extinction and ensure the species’ recovery.

In other regions, including the Pacific Northwest, wolves that dispersed from their natal packs have successfully found new homes and established new populations. Wolves face intense hostility and persecution in many areas, which would likely increase without legal protections.

The biological phenomenon called a trophic cascade describes benefits that flow through an ecosystem because of an apex carnivore’s return. Wolves cause deer and elk herds to move more naturally, preventing overgrazing of streamside habitats. This permits the reestablishment of shade trees and bushes, like native aspen, cottonwood and willow, providing improved habitat for fish, beavers and songbirds. Even other large carnivores, like grizzly bears, benefit from the wolves’ return.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Grand Canyon Wildlands Council works to protect and restore wild nature in the Grand Canyon Ecoregion
WildEarth Guardians is a non-profit organization working to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guest Blogger Britt Ricci: Wisconsin Wolf Hounding

Photograph is of Guest blogger Britt Ricci

Message From Britt:

Greetings, my name is Britt Ricci. I am a Northern Wisconsin native and graduate of geography and environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The subject of predator-human relationships has always been of great interest to me, and involved a significant amount of research during my final year studying in Madison.

Since wolf management responsibilities were turned over to the state of Wisconsin in 2011, an aggressive, multifaceted misinformation campaign has been raging. Our wolves are now facing persecution, supported by false claims and blatant lies of those who want to eradicate wolves as if they were vermin.

I wrote this piece during the first-ever wolf hounding season in 2013 because the mainstream media has done a very poor job in covering the reckless “wolf management” policies that have taken precedence here in Wisconsin. It truly is up to social media and new media to get the story out.
Wisconsin Wolf Hounding By Britt Ricci


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

According to a survey conducted by the Humane Society, “85 percent of Wisconsin support a ban on using packs of dogs to chase down and hunt wolves.” However, despite overwhelming public outcry, starting December 2, 2013 it became legal for hunters as young as 10 years old to use packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin is the only state to authorize the practice, arguably the most controversial and most opposed aspect of the state’s wolf hunting regulations.

Wisconsin wolf hunt territory is divided into six “harvest” zones, each with its own limit. Each zone remains open until the limit is reached or until the season’s end in February, whichever comes first. Three weeks into the 2013 wolf “harvest” season, quotas for all but one zone had already been filled and closed for the year. Zone 3 however, (see map below) was the only zone left open, and had so far reported very few kills. Conservationists suspected that hunting groups in the region had made a concerted effort to hold off until December, when they could legally, for the first time in history, unleash their packs of hunting hounds on Wisconsin wolves.


With this aggressive hunting method, animal behavior experts warn that violent clashes are inevitable. Encounters between wolves and dogs are ferocious and frequently result in the death and dismemberment. Only in the state of Wisconsin are wolf hounders permitted to release dogs fitted with radio collars, giving them free-reign into the forest to run down packs of wolves. When these killer packs meet up with wolves, there will be death and maiming on both sides. Hounders are also allowed to arm dogs with spike collars consisting of nails and shards of steel, intended to lacerate the mouths of wolves as they try to defend themselves and their family members. With canid on canid conflict, it becomes a blood sport — no more than an organized dog fight, which is illegal in the United States. Dr. Joe Bodewes, a veterinarian based out of Minocqua, Wisconsin described the damage to bear hunting dogs in a recent letter to the Wisconsin State Journal:

Broken and crushed legs, sliced-open abdomens and punctured lungs. Dogs lying mangled and dying on the surgery table — all in the pursuit of “sport”.

To minimize depredations, the DNR maintains a website and sends out email alerts regarding areas where wolves, which are highly territorial animals, have killed dogs. However, some hunters with dogs are still not avoiding these areas. For example, the site lists a dozen attacks since 2009 by the Flag River wolf pack within a small area in Bayfield County. But despite the warnings, four dogs were killed there in the year 2013.

Furthermore, bear hunters who choose to put their dogs at extreme risk of horrific injury and even death can be compensated with Wisconsin tax payer dollars. A dog killed by a wolf can earn its owner up to $5,000 in depredation payments, even though hunters knowingly put these dogs in harm’s way. According to the Wisconsin DNR, in the year 2013, 23 bear hunting dogs were killed by wolves and an estimated $140,000 was paid to the owners as compensation. No other state compensates owners for hunting dogs killed by wolves. Many speculate that Wisconsin’s compensation program creates “an incentive for abuse” — that is, some hunters consider their dogs expendable, and are willing to put them in harm’s way, especially if the state will compensate them for any loss.

State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, opposes the use of these funds to compensate the owners of hunting dogs: “I don’t feel that the money the DNR gets should pick up the tab for what is discretionary by hunters.”

Since the wolf depredation program began in 1985, the Wisconsin DNR has paid out $1.6 million in compensation for attacks on livestock and other animals. Nearly a third of this sum has gone to the owners of hunting dogs.

Unfortunately, only a handful of small, politically entrenched and powerful advocacy groups have had everything to do with influencing wolf management policies in Wisconsin. These prominently include the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, the Safari Club International and United Sportsmen of Wisconsin. Collectively, these groups spent nearly $400,000 since 2004 lobbying state officials for their support of the wolf hunt. The wolf hunt bill’s lead Assembly sponsor, former state Rep. Scott Suder (R) even attempted to snare the United Sportsmen a $500,000 state grant, which was denied due to legal concerns raised about the group’s eligibility and honesty.

Last year, a majority of the Conservation Congress voted to prohibit the use of dogs in wolf hunting altogether. The passing of Senator Fred Risser’s Senate Bill #93 would accomplish this goal. However, the bill is still languishing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. In a move to obstruct the democratic process, the case remains stalled at the desk of the committee chairman, preventing the bill to enter the floor for a fair vote. It appears that hunting factions have convinced Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Committee that illegal dog fighting is considered acceptable in Wisconsin.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, a wolf advocacy group out of northern Wisconsin, has been working with Senator Fred Risser to have dogs removed from the wolf hunt. Right now, the group is focused on exposing the cruelty of this practice in hopes to educate Wisconsinites on this archaic method of killing. “We want Wisconsinites to know what will happen when packs of dogs are unleashed on wolves,” said Rachel Tilseth, founder of WODCW. “There has never been a more important time for the people of Wisconsin to show they are not going to give in to a small group of people that want to torture animals for fun under the guise of “sport.”

The brutality, abuse and torture of wolves and dogs should not be acceptable to the people of Wisconsin. Wolf hunting with dogs is nothing more than state sanctioned animal fighting likely to result in vicious and deadly encounters between these animals. Was the intention to spend decades of money to restore our endangered wolf population only to allow a small percentage of barbaric hunters and trappers take them back to the brink of extinction?

(Photo credit: Jim Brandenburg Photography)

Britt Ricci is a lifestyle blogger, landscape photographer and environmental activist. To read more from her awareness column, please visit >>


Wolves of the Day

The Comfort of Wolves by Tygrik

Gray wolf population rising in Western Great Lakes District despite statewide hunting seasons

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: October 21, 2014
VIRGINA, Minn. — The gray wolf population has increased slightly in the Western Great Lakes District — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan — even as two of the three states have begun allowing wolf hunts.

A recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows the wolf population throughout the three states has grown from 3,678 to 3,719 in the past year. This is good news for continued wolf recovery efforts in the Upper Midwest, L. David Mech, founder and vice chairman of the International Wolf Center told the Mesabi Daily News ( ). The data indicates state wolf-management policies are working well, he said.

Gray wolves are expanding their range outside of the states in which they were initially found, according to officials at the Ely-based Wolf Center. At least one wolf made it from Minnesota to eastern North Dakota, and a Wisconsin wolf was found dead in Illinois, they said.

The wolf populations in all three states are in good shape, based on criteria used to determine if they are in trouble. The Department of Natural Resources estimates a population of 2,423 wolves in Minnesota as of last winter.

Minnesota wolf hunts run from Nov. 8-23 and Nov. 29-Jan. 31, 2015. The DNR is allowing the killing of 250 wolves, 30 more than last year.


Nearly 40,000 oppose Idaho wolf-hunting contest

Tue, Oct 28, 2014
By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON Idaho (Reuters) – A controversial hunting contest in Idaho that rewards killing the most wolves and other animals on public lands has generated nearly 40,000 comments by those opposed to an event that requires a federal permit, U.S. land managers said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is expected next week to issue a decision on the special recreation permit requested by a group called Idaho for Wildlife to hold the competition on millions of acres of public rangelands in east central Idaho each January for five years.

The so-called predator derby would see as many as 500 hunters targeting wolves, coyotes, jackrabbits, starlings, skunks, weasels and raccoons for cash and prizes.

The contest is opposed by animal-rights activists as a “gratuitous wildlife massacre”, but it is endorsed by some sportsmen and ranchers who say predators like wolves and coyotes are harming cattle and game animals like elk.

“If the BLM’s final determination is to grant the permit, we’re going to see more of this kind of gratuitous wildlife massacre all across the West,” said Camilla Fox, head of Project Coyote, which opposes unregulated killing of predators.

The event comes as animal-rights activists mark an increase in predator contests in Western states like Oregon, New Mexico and California, where wildlife managers in December will vote on a proposal to ban such competitions.

Organizers of the contest planned near the ranching community of Salmon are the first to apply for a special government permit to use public lands.

Opponents fear approval will set a precedent that will open the way for similar events in parts of the American West where the bulk of land is managed by the federal government.

The BLM is assessing the contest’s impact on such things as roads, grazing allotments and habitat for imperiled animals.

Steve Alder, executive director of Idaho for Wildlife, which bills itself as fighting “all radical anti-hunting and anti-gun environmentalists”, said critics have no understanding of the threats presented by wolves and coyotes to livestock and big-game animals.

Linda Price, manager of the BLM field office in Salmon, said Tuesday that the agency received nearly 40,000 letters, the vast majority electronic, in opposition to the contest during a public comment period that closed last week. Sixteen letters expressed support.

The event in Idaho last year saw contestants kill no wolves and 23 coyotes.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Ryan Woo)


A day in the life of the Wood River Wolf Project by #Defenders of Wildlife

Gray Wolf, © Joan Poor

Home On The Range

A day in the life of the Wood River Wolf Project, where wolves and livestock share the landscape

We asked our lead field manager working on the Wood River Wolf Project – the nation’s largest wolf and sheep coexistence project — to talk to us about his work there this summer. Here are a few words from Fernando Najera, a Ph.D. scientist and wildlife veterinarian from Spain, about his experience:
Working for the Wood River Wolf Project is not only about working for wolves in Blaine County but working for sheep bands and the producers that own them as well. What makes this project unique is that the community here firmly believes in coexistence — everybody who works, has worked, or is working on the project currently, believes in the effectiveness of non-lethal methods to coexist with wolves.

Gray wolf, © Tracy Brooks/USFWS
Every morning since I started working for the Wood River Wolf Project I’ve woken up thinking that maybe today will be the day that I´ll see wolves in the wild. But during the time that I spend in the field sometimes I think: “Maybe there is no need for me to see them (although I´d love to). Maybe there is no need for me to hear them (although I´d love to).

But there is a real need for me to know that they are out there, sharing the mountains with us and making all these places magical and special. No two days are the same here in Blaine County. But let me give you an idea of what the average day looks like for those of us on the ground in the area with the most sheep and wolves present together in the state of Idaho.

First thing in the morning, I normally make a trip to visit herders in the area to gather all the information I need about where their sheep bands are, and if they’ve seen signs of wolves or other predators. I particularly remember one day that I went to visit Roberto, a passionate herder who works for one of the main livestock producers in Blaine County. Roberto manages many of the company’s sheep on one of Blaine County’s public grazing allotments where sheep and wolves co-exist. When I saw him from far away I knew that something good had happened during his stay at Corral Creek, because of the huge smile on his face. When I approached him, he said: “Lo vi Fernando, lo vi!!” which means “I saw it, I saw it!” You probably already know what he saw: a wolf.

A gray wolf was spotted in one of the areas where his band of sheep was grazing. He was happy to see a wolf, and to see how magnificent this species is in the wild. He was happy to see for himself that if a sheep band is under the watch of a well-trained and attentive herder and his guard dogs, it is unlikely that the sheep will be attacked by a pack of wolves – they won’t waste their energy trying to get those well-guarded sheep. Roberto, like me, has been trained by the Wood River Wolf Project in how to use non-lethal methods to deter wolves from his sheep band. The project also provided him with nonlethal tools including high beam flashlights, sound alarms, and more that he uses in the field in case he hears or sees wolves next to his sheep and lambs. He says he’s confident he won´t have problems with wolves in the future thanks to Wood River’s training and tools.

Gray wolf in Denali, © Didier Lindsey
I have so much respect for the herders who care for and love their animals. Without caring herders between the sheep and the wolves the project would not be the same. On that day, Roberto’s report was a welcome one. But sometimes, some of the local sheep herders do report problems – it’s one of the risks of moving livestock through the wild areas in the Sawtooth National Forest. On the rare instances when I´m informed by a herder that a predator has taken a sheep, it’s my job to carry out an investigation to determine if predators truly were in the area when the depredation took place, and if so, what type of predator it was. I get this information from a variety of tools, including remote wildlife cameras, scats or tracks found in the area, and by asking questions of local herders, hikers, or others who might have been nearby. I can also get information from the carcass itself which can give a lot of clues about what type of predator may have been responsible.

When doing such investigation, I try to leave my love for wolves aside, and be objective. Our work is based in science, and it’s important that we don’t let anything else bias us while researching a depredation. It’s only by finding out the truth – not just what we might want to be true – that we can really offer helpful information to the stakeholders in the project.

2014 has been a great year for the project. Though wolves are often used as a scapegoat when livestock are killed, we’ve seen plenty of proof that this is rarely the case, and that nonlethal tools and methods can really work to avoid those conflicts. While we did see some depredations, most were caused by black bears and other common predators, including a domestic dog. Not only were very few sheep lost, but we were also successful in keeping wolves out of trouble in the project area – not a single wolf was killed this year because of livestock depredations and that makes seven years in a row that no wolf has been killed in this region as a result of conflicts with livestock.

I want to believe that with the proper information, people will quit blaming wolves for most livestock losses and stop demonizing them in the media and among agriculture groups. And I hope that those people will see that lethal control is more expensive, less effective at protecting livestock, and works against nature instead of with it as we do with nonlethal deterrents.

That day will come soon and I´m happy to know that Ive been working to create this change.
Wolves make the landscape where they live unique, and Idahoans are very lucky to share their land with this remarkable and ecologically valuable species.

Fernando Nájera

The Wood River Wolf Project was initiated in 2008 to demonstrate the use of nonlethal deterrents to prevent livestock and predator losses in our project area. Defenders of Wildlife has played a key role in establishing, funding, and managing this groundbreaking project. This month, Wood River closed its 7th season. Since the inception of the project, fewer than 30 sheep have been lost, and no wolves have ever been killed in the project area due to conflicts with livestock.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wolf of th Day

Nice fluffy arctic wolf 
Nice fluffy arctic wolf by Tambako The Jaguar 

Alberta approves killing six wolves in national park after ‘cows ripped open from one end to the other’

Otiena Ellwand, Postmedia News |
A pack of wolves that roam Elk Island National Park and Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area has grown in the past few years, raising concerns for farmers after several cattle were killed this summer.
    A pack of wolves roaming Elk Island National Park and a neighbouring provincial recreation area has grown in the past few years, and concerned farmers believe the wolves killed several grazing cattle this summer.

    Dan Brown, president of the Blackfoot Grazing Association, said 29 calves, yearlings and cows have either been killed or have gone missing from pasture in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Grazing,

    Wildlife and Provincial Recreation Area, about 50 kilometres east of Edmonton, since the end of May. He believes wolves are largely to blame. “We’ve had cows that have been absolutely ripped open from one end to the other and the majority of that was done when they were still alive,” he said.
    What happens when the greater Edmonton public hears that we’re killing wolves in a provincial park because of livestock grazing?
    In an attempt to manage the wolf pack and minimize the impact on livestock, the Alberta government has approved the culling of six wolves by the grazing association inside the provincial recreation area. So far, three have been killed. “This is a very complex and difficult situation,” said Paul Frame, a carnivore specialist with Alberta Environment. “What happens when the greater Edmonton public hears that we’re killing wolves in a provincial park because of livestock grazing? “We have no idea what killing six wolves is going to do.”

    Brown doesn’t think six is enough to make a difference.

    “If something isn’t done in the off-season, there will be next to nobody willing to put cattle back in there next summer, including myself.”

    According to the Alberta Parks website, some provincial parks and recreation areas allow grazing for “conservation, vegetation management and range management purposes.” The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot area is a multi-use park that boasts mountain biking, snowshoeing and dog sledding trails, as well as livestock grazing, trapping and seasonal hunting. Cattle have been grazing in the area since the 1920s.

    The grazing association’s 23 members have 1,800 head of cattle on the provincial pasture from May to October. On average, the association has six livestock deaths per season from natural causes. This year, they decided to pull the cattle out a month early, an economic loss of about $200,000, Brown said.

    “We put these cattle out there to gain weight during the summer. If the wolves are chasing them around — which we saw on numerous occasions — they were all standing in the corner just soaking wet from sweating and panting. They’re just exhausted,” Brown said.

    It’s unclear how many wolves actually live in the area because they are difficult to count accurately. A couple of wolves have been roaming the area for about three or four years, but the pack has grown because of the amount of native prey in protected parks.

    Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development says it has received reports of 12 to 15 wolves in the pack, while the grazing association believes there are more than 25.

    Frame said a single pack, or wolf family, would not be that large on its own, and there’s not enough space to sustain more than one pack.

    Alberta Environment has established a working group with stakeholders, including the grazing association and parks, to deal with the issue. It also provides compensation to those farmers who lose livestock to predation.

    “We have to work together to try to reach a solution to keep this problem at an acceptable level for the grazing association,” Frame said.

    But the grazing association also has to accept that wolves are part of the landscape now and will remain, he said.


    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Bears, wolves find voice in the wild

    If politicians preying upon your attentions this season fail to inspire, you might seek common cause with the beasts -- the four-legged variety rather than those running for office.
    Ballot initiatives aimed at protecting bears and wolves from hounding, trapping and other inhumane hunting practices are up for a vote in two states — Maine and Michigan.

    Oh, be still thy twitching trigger finger. This isn’t an anti-hunting column; it’s a pro-humanity column. Ours. And the referendums, driven by the Humane Society of the United States, are aimed only at minimizing animal suffering and restoring a measure of decency and fair play in our dealings with creatures.

    First the bears. Maine is the only state that still allows bear baiting, hounding and trapping. More than half of the 32 states with legal bear hunting allow hounding, a dozen allow baiting, and only Maine allows trapping for sport.

    For clarification, hounding refers to the use of dogs that have been trained to chase bears relentlessly and then to corner or fight the poor beast. The bears have no choice but to turn to face a murderous pack or, exhausted, escape up a tree.

    That’s when the hunter, who, thanks to electronic tracking equipment, has been able to follow at a leisurely pace and safe distance, points his rifle and shoots the bear from a tree limb. Frances Macomber, the cowardly hunter of Hemingway’s short, unhappy story, looks like a Maasai warrior by comparison.

    Baiting means that a hunting guide strews rotting food in the woods and places a 55-gallon drum filled with jelly doughnuts, pizza, grease, fish guts and rotting beaver carcasses in a target spot. The “hunter,” who likely has paid a fee to the “guide” for a “guaranteed kill,” is provided a comfy seat to wait for the bear. Bam!

    It’s ironic — or something — that the same state fish and wildlife agency folks who post signs warning tourists not to feed the bears will allow other tourists to feed them for about $2,000-$4,000 a pop. New signage might read: Kill what you feed.

    The problem with baiting, beyond the obvious, is that it perpetuates an unhealthy cycle that only creates more problems -- growing the bear population and making the bruins too comfortable around human areas — that hunters then use to justify more baiting and shooting. Avid hunter and writer Ted Williams, who wrote about bear baiting for Audubon magazine in 2005, calls it “garbaging for bears.”

    Other states, such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington, meanwhile, have managed to maintain mostly stable bear populations without these inhumane practices. Plus, bear-hunting licenses in these states for fair-chase hunts have doubled or tripled.

    A fair hunt may be more dangerous and require greater courage than shooting Winnie in a tree, but isn’t that at least part of the point? It should be noted that the Maasai warrior, who carries a shield and a spear to hunt a lion, does sometimes lose.

    In Michigan, wolves are the designated prey.

    The Humane Society is campaigning there to stop the reopening of a wolf hunt, which has been deemed necessary largely because of human-wolf stories that were found to be false. In one true case, a farmer who lost several cattle to wolves had left several rotting cattle carcasses lying around. Talk about a baited field. Was he expecting squirrels?

    Otherwise, the stories are mostly myths — wolves staring at humans through windows, stalking little girls in red capes, that sort of thing.

    Although wolves have been removed from the endangered species list in Michigan, they number fewer than 650. Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle fears that wolves will suffer the inhumane hunting practices -- hounds and traps -- seen in other states that are part of what he describes as “anti-wolf hysteria sweeping the Midwest.”

    Rather than leaving power in the hands of legislators and commissioners, Pacelle is urging voters to speak up through ballot initiatives. “We need to make a statement that the public — and not just trophy hunters — has a right to have a say in the protection of wildlife.”

    The referendum, by circumventing heavily lobbied legislators, sought to resonate with people who are disgusted with politics or who abhor cruelty to animals as sport. And, yes, often for food, but that’s a subject for another day. In the meantime, we can safely say that nobody eats wolf. And nobody eats bear — twice.


    Wyoming's Congressional Delegation Will Go To Congress To Get Wolves Delisted

    Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation is drafting legislation that would remove wolves from the endangered species list in the state.

    Montana and Idaho had their wolves de-listed via federal legislation and U-S Senator Mike Enzi says the delegation is gathering support for its own bill.  The proposed legislation would put Wyoming’s wolf management plan into law. That plan allows wolves to be shot on site in most of the state.
    While a federal judge recently restored federal protections for the Wyoming wolves, Enzi says she admitted that the state plan was working.     
    “The judge who made the ruling even said yes there are more wolves since Wyoming managed it, there are more mating pairs since Wyoming managed it, and there are less conflicts with wild game, and with humans and cattle.  If the system’s working, you let it work.”

    Enzi says that Senators from other states who are also interested in de-listing wolves say they will support the legislation.  Enzi predicts that there will be others who will support the bill.

    Plus I think Fish and Wildlife will join us because they don’t have any money to manage the wolves in Wyoming, since it was given to Wyoming.  So it’ll be a money problem plus just pure logic.”
    Enzi says Wyoming’s management plan was working and it’s time to take the issue out of the courts.


    Dancing with the wolves (in China)

    Chinese businessman Yang Changsheng feeds his wolves at a park in a remote valley in Turfan, in China
    Chinese businessman Yang Changsheng feeds his wolves at a park in a remote valley in Turfan, in China

    A businessman in China's wild west has the wild creatures literally eating out of his hand

    Facing down a pack of snarling wolves - the symbol of the Uighur minority in China's violence-wracked far west - businessman Yang Changsheng offered a sausage in friendship.

    "I have a deep feeling for wolves. They will attack other people, but not me," says Yang, who breeds the animals high in the snow-capped Tianshan mountains, in the vast border region of Xinjiang.

    The area usually hits the headlines for violent clashes involving Uighurs which have killed hundreds in the past year, and which the government blames on organised separatist groups.

    But Yang's breeding park seems a world away from the troubles, in a remote valley where shepherds on horseback trot alongside burbling mountain streams.

    "It started as a hobby but now the more wolves I breed the more I want to breed," says Yang, 63, after poking slabs of raw lamb through the bars of his animals' cages.

    His parents, from poverty-stricken Henan more than 1,600 kilometres to the east, migrated to Xinjiang in the 1950s, among the millions of China's ethnic Han majority who were resettled in minority border regions.

    The process transformed the demographics of Xinjiang, where Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim group with cultural ties to neighbouring central Asia, made up more than 80 per cent of its people in the 1940s and now account for less than half.

    The population has quadrupled in the last six decades, threatening the grey wolves which have roamed its grasslands for millennia but increasingly fell victim to hunting as settlement spread.

    Unlike the Han, Uighurs traditionally revere the animals, whose skin and bones are still considered to bring good luck.

    "For thousands of years, Turkic people have respected the wolf and taken it as a symbol," says Ahmatbarat, a taxi driver in Xinjiang's ethnically-mixed capital Urumqi.

    "It is the totemic animal of the Uighurs. That has made the wolf a sensitive symbol in the region, where some Uighurs dream of having their own country and Beijing blames foreign-influenced Islamist separatists for spiralling violence.

    But rights groups say that the turmoil is fuelled by heavy-handed local police, government restrictions on Islam and Uighur culture, and economic exploitation.

    Yang owns more than 100 wolves, but his plans have stoked controversy.

    The businessman, who has an unassuming demeanour but keeps an eagle as a pet, made a considerable fortune in logistics before turning his attention to wolves, collecting specimens from neighbouring Mongolia and Russia.

    He plans to breed more than 1,000 wolves and release them into the wild to become the star attraction of an ambitious tourist park, where a guesthouse resembling a medieval castle is under construction.

    "I want to tell the government: give me this land, and I will release wolves on it, and people will see what it is like for wolves to run free," says Yang.

    The project is loss-making, said the 63-year-old, who bears a faint scar on one cheek from a close encounter of the lupine kind, adding his motives were purely conservationist.

    But Yuan Guoying, head of the Xinjiang Ecological Study Society, was sceptical, accusing him of exploiting the animals.

    "Wolf bodies and wolf teeth are expensive, their claws and feet are sold as gifts," he says, asking: "The project must be about making money, or why would he invest so much?"

    Wolf numbers have bounced back since the late 1980s when China - which tightly controls gun ownership - placed tight limits on hunting in nature reserves.

    Instead the animals have become an increasing menace, blamed by state media for an average of 5,000 cattle deaths a year, and in August a pack of wolves crept into a village in the dead of night, attacking six locals.

    A villager was quoted as saying that he had tried to hit one of the animals in the head with a bucket before it savaged him.

    Yang blames the locals.

    "Wolves have a strong sense of revenge," he said. "If they attack people it's usually because they have been targeted."


    Difference in quantity discrimination in dogs and wolves (Research Paper)

    Original Research ARTICLE

    Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01299
    Friederike Range1, 2*, Julia Jenikejew2, 3, Isabelle Schröder2 and Zsófia Virányi1, 2
    • 1Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Vienna, Austria
    • 2Wolf Science Center, Austria
    • 3Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Münster, Germany
    Certain aspects of social life, such as engaging in intergroup conflicts, as well as challenges posed by the physical environment, may facilitate the evolution of quantity discrimination. In lack of excessive comparative data, one can only hypothesize about its evolutionary origins, but human-raised wolves performed well when they had to choose the larger of two sets of 1 to 4 food items that had been sequentially placed into two opaque cans. Since in such paradigms, the animals never see the entire content of either can, their decisions are thought to rely on mental representation of the two quantities rather than on some perceptual factors such as the overall volume or surface area of the two amounts.

    By equaling the time that it takes to enter each quantity into the cans or the number of items entered, one can further rule out the possibility that animals simply choose based on the amount of time needed to present the two quantities. While the wolves performed well even in such a control condition, dogs failed to choose the larger one of two invisible quantities in another study using a similar paradigm. Because this disparity could be explained by procedural differences, in the current study, we set out to test dogs that were raised and kept identically as the previously tested wolves using the same set-up and procedure. Our results confirm the former finding that dogs, in comparison to wolves, have inferior skills to represent quantities mentally. This seems to be in line with a Frank's (1980) hypothesis suggesting that domestication altered the information processing of dogs.

    However, as discussed, also alternative explanations may exist.

    Keywords: numerical competence, Domestication, Wolf, domestic dogs, Mental Representation
    Citation: Range F, Jenikejew J, Schröder I and Virányi Z (2014). Difference in quantity discrimination in dogs and wolves. Front. Psychol. 5:1299. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01299
    Received: 18 Jun 2014; Accepted: 26 Oct 2014.

    Edited by:
    Christian Agrillo, University of Padova, Italy

    Reviewed by:
    Watanabe Shigeru, Keio University, Japan
    Cinzia Chiandetti, University of Trieste, Italy
    Claudia Uller, Kingston University, United Kingdom   
    Click on the link below to access paper:

    Wolf of the Day

    Wolf 3 
    Wolf 3 by Dan Newcomb Photography 

    A Letter from WI PDM Scientists to WDNR in response to WDNR's failure to #relist wolves

    (Let's hope this works. Thank you, Rachel!)

    15 October 2014

    Mr. C. M. Wooley
    Acting Regional Director
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    5600 American Boulevard West, Suite 990
    Bloomington, MN 55437-1458

    Dear Mr. Wooley,

    Thank you for your kind reply dated 7th October 2014 in response to our letter of concern
    dated 15th August 2014 (attached here in its latest version dated 10th October with new
    signatures and clarification of key points). Your letter addressed several aspects of post delisting
    monitoring (PDM) in the Western Great Lakes (WGL) wolf population, which we would like to

    On behalf of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), you offered,

    “…the Service no longer serves as a regulating entity to protect the wolf… [the
    Service does] not at this time have a role in regulating management of gray
    wolves in any of the states of the WGL… “

    However the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 (as amended) reads,
    “MONITORING.—(1) The Secretary shall implement a system in cooperation
    with the States to monitor effectively for not less than five years the status of
    all species which have recovered to the point at which the measures provided
    pursuant to this Act are no longer necessary ...” (emphasis added, 16 USC 1531

    and the PDM rules published in the Federal Register require the USFWS to exert
    regulatory authority as follows:
    "PDM generally focuses on evaluating (1) demographic characteristics of the
    species, (2) threats to the species, and (3) implementation of legal and/or
    management commitments that have been identified as important in reducing
    threats to the species or maintaining threats at sufficiently low levels. We are to
    make prompt use of the emergency listing authorities under section 4(b)(7) of
    the Act to prevent a significant risk to the well-being of any recovered species.
    Section 4(g) of the [Endangered Species] Act explicitly requires cooperation with
    the States in development and implementation of PDM programs, but we
    remain responsible for compliance with section 4(g) and, therefore, must remain
    actively engaged in all phases of PDM." (emphasis added and passages
    highlighted on p. 90–91 in the 2006 Congressional Federal Register, 50 CFR
    71(58): 15266-15305)

    Therefore we ask respectfully that you correct the deficiencies in monitoring and exert
    your regulatory authority. The remainder of this letter addresses the case for prompt
    emergency relisting as articulated above.

    On behalf of the USFWS, you wrote,
    “Although these declines [in Wisconsin’s wolf population] are the result of
    significant changes in wolf management since delisting in 2012, wolf numbers
    remain well above levels that we cited as potential causes for concern in our
    PDM plan."

    We are pleased you agree that significant management changes have occurred as
    described in our 15 August letter.

    Significant management changes are cause for concern by PDM rules:

    "Other Factors Indicating a Potential Cause for Concern” included "A significant adverse
    change in wolf, wolf prey, or wolf habitat management practices or protection across a
    substantial portion of the occupied wolf range in the WGL...” (highlighted on p. 14,
    in FinalWGLDPSPDMPlan)

    We explained why the changes were adverse in our 15 August letter and their
    significance. We add to this concern with new information below. We also explain why
    the USFWS will not be able to detect declines in the Wisconsin wolf population without
    implementing effective monitoring and adequate regulatory mechanisms.

    Adequate regulatory mechanisms would have ensured that the problems identified by
    our team and other independent actors were detected by the USFWS or its appointed
    experts. The leader of that team has communicated with us and with your office to
    acknowledge our concerns and to acknowledge that the USFWS had not been made
    aware of the problems until we pointed them out. Independent scientific review is
    needed to fully account for the significant changes in wolf management and the flaws in
    monitoring data and interpretation that we identified in the state report.

    New information described below adds to our prior concerns over the significant
    problems with monitoring in the PDM period and suggest significant risks for the well being of the Wisconsin wolf population.

    In addition to all the reasons noted in our 15 August 2014 letter (new unregulated hunting method, new harvest, and under-reported poaching) we now add additional new concerns about the State of Wisconsin’s wolf management:

    • Data on successful reproduction of Wisconsin wolf packs have not been
    presented publicly or presented to the independent scientific community for
    review. These data were provided in the past, hence interannual comparisons
    require them. These data are essential to proper estimates of population status,
    because substantial population declines can occur at moderate levels of mortality
    if reproduction is severely impaired. 
    • Wisconsin did not submit all wolf carcasses for necropsy as required, “The wolf
    management plans for Minnesota and Wisconsin commit the respective DNRs to
    conduct necropsies on dead wolves” (50 CFR 15266–15305 and also in USFWS
    [2008]). Without these data we cannot assess if poaching has risen with initiation
    of harvest or deregulation of hound training in Wisconsin.

    In sum, mortality data are not reported using the best available science and these data
    remain unclear >60 days after our first letter of concern and over two years after
    delisting. To this we add that no data on breeding have been reported and causes of
    death of wolves are not being carefully documented via necropsy. We see numerous
    problems with implementation of the ESA and PDM rules therefore.

    In the face of mutually acknowledged significant changes in management and no contest
    of our concerns identified on 15th August, existing regulatory mechanisms are  inadequate to detect substantial change in the Wisconsin wolf population. Therefore we
    urge emergency relisting pending independent scientific review.

    We ask respectfully that you exert your regulatory authority to enact emergency relisting
    during independent scientific review of the significant changes in management and
    evaluate the raw data from monitoring, as requested in our 15th August letter.

    We are particularly concerned with statutory mandates for the use of best available
    science, interannual comparability in post-delisting monitoring (PDM), and adequacy of
    existing regulatory mechanisms.

    Our recommendations cannot be adequately addressed by revision of existing or future
    state reports alone. Adequate regulation implies adequate monitoring. The methods and
    the data should be subject to thorough review by scientists with demonstrated, relevant
    expertise and without financial or political conflicts of interest. The USFWS procedures
    currently do not meet these criteria. In the absence of expedited changes to PDM
    policies and practices in response to our concerns, we strongly recommend emergency
    relisting and an independent, scientific peer review similar to that conducted by NCEAS
    (2014). We recommend emergency relisting so that independent review can be thorough
    and comprehensive prior to additional inadequately regulated harvests.

    The USFWS itself echoed our recommendations when it wrote, “We are to make
    prompt use of the emergency listing authorities under section 4(b)(7)” of the ESA.

    We consider this letter and the prior efforts detailed below to be good faith efforts to work
    with the agency. I would like to re-emphasize that the intent of our involvement in the
    Wisconsin PDM process is to the use of science in agency decisions and compliance
    with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). We hope our work will be received in
    this spirit.

    In conclusion,

    1. The USFWS does have the regulatory authority to correct the situation and
    enforce adequate, existing regulatory mechanisms by the States.
    2. Significant, adverse management changes have occurred in the WGL.
    3. The ESA mandates effective monitoring using the best available science.
    4. The appointed team’s oversight was not adequate so independent scientific
    review is needed in a manner similar to that we described.
    5. USFWS rules suggest prompt emergency relisting when serious concerns have
    been raised.
    6. We doubt the USFWS could detect a substantial decline in the WGL wolves for
    all the reasons articulated in this letter and our prior letter.


    Adrian Treves, PhD
    University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Bradley Bergstrom, PhD
    Conservation Committee Chair for the
    American Society of Mammalogists and
    Professor of Biology, Valdosta State
    University, GA

    Paul Paquet, PhD
    Professor Biology/Geography,
    University of Victoria

    David Parsons, MS
    Carnivore Conservation Biologist, The
    Rewilding Institute

    Michael Soulé, PhD
    University of California Santa Cruz
    Project Coyote Science Advisory Board

    Jonathan Way, PhD
    Founder, Eastern Coyote/Coywolf
    Research, Research Scientist, Marsh
    Institute, Clark University

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Wolves of the Day

    Two wolf pups togetherTwo Arctic wolf pups together by Tambako The Jaguar

    Yawning arctic wolf pupYawning Arctic wolf pup by Tambako The Jaguar 

    Why bring wolves back to the UK?

    How would reintroducing wolves and lynx back to Britain work, and what’s the point?

    The Observer,
    European grey wolf
    Call of the wild: the grey wolf could help regulate deer numbers. Photograph: Alamy
    Looking for a bit of ecological excitement? Rewilding ticks many boxes. Its premise is that habitats such as the uplands of the UK are anything but wild – they’ve been scarred and deforested. So we are haemorrhaging species and failing to stem ecosystem collapse.

    According to rewilding organisations, such as Rewilding Europe, to rescue this land we need to make ecosystems whole again, even if this means looking to the Pleistocene epoch (2.6m to 11,700 years ago) for inspiration. And here’s the thrilling part: if we want to return arable land to wild and reforest the uplands, we need to introduce the apex predators, such as lynx and wolves, that went with it.

    If this all sounds a bit Game of Thrones, take Scotland as an example – deer have reached carrying capacity in many areas (the maximum population size that can be supported by the environment) and the intense browsing of trees prevents them from growing. Rewilding would reintroduce an apex predator to regulate the deer. In time the forest would regrow and the natural ecosystem be restored.

    In some areas rewilding is up and running. In 1995 Yellowstone Park reintroduced the wolves 70 years after they had disappeared. A herd of bison (Europe’s largest mammals at 1,400lb per beast) has been established in the Romanian Carpathians in a project led by WWF Romania.

    It might be biologically desirable, but rewilding lacks enthusiasm from farmers worrying about land used to grow food being turned over to beasts that may kill livestock. While ramblers don’t want tracts of land fenced off. The rewilders would like us to chill out, pointing out that while California has a cougar population of 4,000-6,000, interaction with humans is rare – and that many wolves run up and down Italy without incident.

    In his book Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life, George Monbiot makes a brilliant case for a muscular form of rewilding that mixes activism, land restoration and community development. His vision is different from the biggest rewilding projects running in the UK. The Alladale Wilderness reserve, running a feasibility study on wolves, and the Knepp estate in Sussex, where a monoculture of wheat fields is being returned to the wild, are both privately owned, while Monbiot’s vision gives rewilding power to the people. My fear is that we’re too tame to embrace it.


    A Message from the Wolf Conservation Center