Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Loose the wolves before deer problem worsens! (commentary)

A DIY deer sign on Hylan Boulevard, Richmond Valley. Unofficial, deer crossing signs have popped up in areas like Egbertville and Richmond Valley on Staten Island. (Staten Island Advance/Vincent Barone)

By Tom Wrobleski 
on September 29, 2015

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – What's it going to take? What's it going to take for the city and state to sit up and take notice of Staten Island's continuing and growing deer problem? Because with rutting season right around the corner, the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

That means more deer wandering across our roadways. Or grazing in our backyards. Or just moseying through our neighborhoods.

Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) on Monday tweeted a photo of a dead deer being removed from a side street in Pleasant Plains.

"When will we just start with some signage?" Borelli posted.

That was a barb aimed at the city Department of Transportation. The DOT has thus far refused to post deer-crossing signs in areas where borough residents have reported heavy deer traffic.

The DOT has put up some mobile signs here and there, but hasn't utilized permanent signs because the city has no established regulations for doing so. Its bureaucracy at its best: We can't put in a safety measure because we don't have a procedural protocol for doing so. Classic.

The DOT also says that based on studies, the agency doesn't think that the signs would make for safer driving because they don't have a consistent impact on motorist behavior.

These are the same people, remember, who have made traffic safety their personal crusade. At least, they always talk about how they want to keep pedestrians safe. But drivers who may wreck a car, injure themselves or injure a passenger by broadsiding a deer? They're on their own. They don't even get a sign.

Maybe the city doesn't mind the fact that we need to slow down in order to keep our eyes peeled for deer. Slower moving vehicles fit right in with the Vision Zero agenda.

It's no wonder that borough residents have taken to putting up their own deer-crossing warning signs. When government fails, the people will step in.

There is also no plan yet for controlling the deer population. There are birth control methods out there that have proved successful in places that also have exploding deer populations, like Westchester. Why aren't we talking about that here?

The idea of a deer hunt has also been broached here and there. That's how the deer population is kept under control in other parts of New York and in states all over the country. But hunting is illegal in the five boroughs, and it's hard to imagine Mayor Bill de Blasio backing a change in that law.
Some folks have taken to illegally hunting down the deer themselves, a public safety nightmare all its own.

But something has to be done, because nature isn't doing its job. Staten Island's environment includes no natural predators for deer. That's a main reason why the number of deer in the borough has exploded from just 24 to 793 since 2008, according to a Parks Department survey.

Nationwide, there were 1.22 million car accidents involving deer from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013, according to State Farm. There are about 200 fatalities a year.

On top of that, deer ticks carry Lyme disease.

An exploding deer population is a serious safety issue. Deer also pillage foliage, causing environmental problems.

Maybe we should just let loose a bunch of coyotes and let nature take its course. Wolves and bobcats are also natural deer predators. Maybe we should give them a shot.

Nobody else is coming up with any ideas.


New Mexico Game Commission Rejects Federal Releases of Endangered Mexican Wolves

Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 29, 2015
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

New Mexico Game Commission Rejects Federal Releases of
Endangered Mexican Wolves in Gila National Forest 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— In a potential setback for Mexican gray wolf recovery, the New Mexico Game Commission voted unanimously today to deny the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permission to release wolves in the Gila National Forest. The highly political decision, which comes nine months after the Service approved wolf releases into the Gila, ignores the advice of top scientists who have long called for more releases of Mexican wolves, including directly into the Gila. 

“It’s no surprise that Governor Martinez’s anti-wildlife game commission made this unfortunate decision to oppose release of more Mexican gray wolves," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This decision is a slap in the face to the majority of New Mexicans who are rooting for the Mexican wolf’s survival.”
Releases of wolves bred in captivity are necessary, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service and independent scientists, in order to diversify the gene pool among the wild wolves. According to the latest census number, 110 wolves, including just eight breeding pairs, live in the combined Gila National Forest in New Mexico and Apache National Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Fewer than 15 wolves also live in the wild in Mexico.
“The Mexican wolf’s fate is now in the hands of the Obama administration, which must decide whether to follow the law and save this beautiful, intelligent, social animal from extinction by releasing more to the wild, or capitulate to the state's misguided decision and do nothing,” said Robinson. “We hope very much that the Fish and Wildlife Service will proceed with releases into the Gila.”

The Mexican wolf recovery program is run by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Gila National Forest is public land, meaning permission from the state is not needed to move ahead with releases.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has similarly restricted the releases of wolves, and largely in response to state sentiments only four wolves have been released from captive-breeding facilities during the entire course of the Obama administration. The inbreeding among the Mexican wolf’s wild population in the United States is causing fewer pups to be born and fewer to survive to adulthood.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in 1998 in cooperation with state, tribal and other federal agencies. In 2011 the New Mexico Game Commission voted to end the state’s involvement in wolf recovery. 

In January the Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the release of wolves from captive-breeding facilities in the Gila, whereas previously wolves could only be released in a small area in Arizona that already contains several territorial packs and little room for additional releases.

The 3.3-million-acre Gila National Forest is the fourth-largest national forest in the country and includes the world’s first official wilderness area, designated in 1924, that was protected from construction of roads. The Gila supports thousands of deer and elk and other animals on which wolves prey, thereby strengthening overall the herds and preventing overgrazing. Yet more than half of the Gila has no wolves.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Frozen Wolf With No Heartbeat Gets CPR From Fearless Couple

By Sarah V Schweig

Navarre the wolf was nearly frozen to death when he was found unable to move in an icy river in Italy.


A group of kind men waded out in the frigid waters to carry the ailing wolf to shore, a video posted to YouTube earlier this year shows.


As rescuers carry the wolf's limp body up the embankment, it almost seems as though all hope for his survival is lost.


Navarre isn't breathing, and they can't find a heartbeat.

People surround the wolf, trying to resuscitate him. A man stands over Navarre, with his hands over the wolf's heart, trying to get it pumping again. A woman leans close to the wolf to see if there's any sign of breath. She even tries to breathe life back into the wolf's mouth.


Watching the footage, the attempt seems hopeless — until a miracle seems to happen: Navarre starts to breathe again.


Rescuers set to work warming Navarre, putting him under a blanket and drying his fur with a hair dryer, as they transport him to a recovery center. Navarre's back legs were paralyzed from the cold. Along with the other strides he needed to make in recovery, he would need to relearn how to walk.


His recovery was touch and go, and he had to get a series of tests and treatments. But slowly, Navarre gained strength at the Monte Adone Wildlife Center.


He even learned to walk again. At the end of the video, Navarre is shown walking on his own and happily enjoying the snow, as he works to gain enough strength to reenter the wild.


There are so many incredible stories about the relationship between human beings and animals, and the internet is a living record of them.


Sadly, a few months after his rescue, Navarre passed away. These stories surface and disappear and surface again, becoming the stuff of legends. While Navarre is no longer among the living today — he died in 2012 due to illness stemming from his injuries — the act of devotion and kindness that saved his life is captured forever in these images.


My Encounter with Three Wild Wolves by Mickey Nelson

Shared by Rachel Tilseth, the founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin
In September of 2012, I was at our cabin in Douglas County Wisconsin. My husband was in the cabin and I decided to go for a walk with our dog, a Giant Schnauzer weighing in at about 100 lbs.
 My husband keeps many trails cut on our property and so Max, my dog, and I started hiking through the trails. Max usually never left sight of me nor me of him and if I called him he always returned.
 A few minutes went by and I didn’t see him. I called and he didn’t come back. I was close to a road so I walked through the brush and looked up the road.
 There at the intersection stood Max with three wolves. None of them were growling, no teeth showing, no hair standing up. I called to Max but he didn’t come.
 They were about 100 feet from me so I started walking toward them with my walking stick, {my weapon of choice} and kept calling Max. I reached them and I just stared at the wolves and grabbed Max by the collar and began backing up with him.
 Two of the wolves were on one side of Max and the third was on the other side. As we started backing up, the two turned and went one way and the third turned and went a different way.
 I walked back to the cabin as quickly as I could. I told my husband about it and we went out in the truck to track the wolves. There were five sets of tracks. We have had that pack around for a couple of years and we are able to call them in.
 If I stand on our deck and howl, and if they are anywhere near, they start howling back and then come in closer, and usually about 30 feet from the cabin.
 I am so grateful to have seen these magnificent animals so up close and personal. I talked to Adrien Wydeven head wolf biologist in Wisconsin at the time and he said I was just lucky to have had that experience and yes, their eyes are yellow!

~Mickey Nelson

Mickey Nelson

I am very involved with everything in nature from, gardening, mushroom hunting, tracking and hiking. My husband and I built a small cabin in northern Wisconsin. We have two children and two grandsons. I also make the BEST fruitcake! ~Mickey Nelson – Wolf Howling Grandma


Congress vs the ESA (or how badly Congress wants to remove all protections)

Jamie Rappaport Clark  President & CEO, Defenders of Wildlife

Congress' Assault on Endangered Species Act Does Not Mirror Public Opinion



Since January, over 80 legislative proposals have been proposed in Congress to dramatically reduce protections for imperiled wildlife protected under the Endangered Species Act. While most are standalone bills, many are extraneous amendments attached to must-pass legislation such as the authorization bill for the Department of Defense, or the appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies, where they don't belong. If adopted, these measures would cripple the Endangered Species Act by having politicians making biological decisions best left in the hands of government scientists, undermining the conservation of imperiled wildlife for decades to come.
Many may be surprised to learn about Congress' closeted assault on imperiled wildlife. The public deserves to know because when it comes to this issue, Congressional action is directly contradicting public opinion.

A nationwide poll released this summer found an overwhelming majority of Americans, 90 percent of the registered voters polled, support the Endangered Species Act. Even in specific states where special economic interests have sensationalized species listing decisions, support for the Endangered Species Act remains extraordinarily high.

Four separate, state-specific polls surveyed registered voters in Colorado, Missouri, Montana and Indiana finding broad-based support for the Endangered Species Act extending across the political spectrum: 80 percent of Coloradans; 74 percent of Missourians; 75 percent of Montanans and 83 percent of Indianans support the ESA.

Taken alone, these are compelling numbers, but the four polls also find voters have strong opinions about who should make key decisions under the Endangered Species Act. Because a number of anti-ESA legislators currently seek to strip specific species of their Endangered Species Act protections, the polls asked residents whom they believe should determine which species should be protected under the Act. Across all four states, the strong majority of respondents believe it should be biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not members of Congress. In short, Americans want politicians to leave science to the scientists when it comes to endangered species conservation.

Polluting industries and special economic interests - and with alarming frequency, their willing allies in Congress -- always roll out dire predictions of economic doom in the face of regulations or new ESA listings. But the poll results show that support for endangered species conservation remains strong and that the public just doesn't buy the argument that we have to choose between jobs and conservation.

Here's just one example: last year the Gunnison sage-grouse was listed as a threatened species in Colorado. Industry, big oil and politicians tried to strike fear in the public, proclaiming that protecting the bird would cause economic devastation throughout the affected region. The anti-ESA interests hammered the public with their message that a choice had to be made between jobs and imperiled wildlife conservation. Even so, this recent poll found seventy-eight percent (78%) of registered voters in Colorado reject the notion that the Endangered Species Act "hurts the economy and destroys jobs," believing instead that "the law is necessary" and that "we can protect our natural heritage for future generations while growing our economy and creating jobs." Just like the Oregon Spotted Frog or the Preble's meadow jumping mouse in Colorado, the case of the Gunnison sage-grouse is turning out just the same: despite hysterical claims of economic doom and gloom leading up to the listing of a species, in fact none of that has ever happened after the listing. The Gunnison sage-grouse was ultimately listed - getting the federal protections it needs to survive - and the economy of the affected area has moved on, pretty much as it did before.

So next time you hear politicians tell you the Endangered Species Act is a huge job killer, or that we can't list specific species without dire economic consequences, pause a moment to think about who stands to benefit from any weakening of the act or species' protections. Because the answer is almost invariably polluting and other economic special interests. And sadly, too many in Congress are in the pocket of these corporate entities, doing their bidding on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

Congress must remember where the public stands on these issues and represent their constituents instead of special interests. Thankfully, Congressman Grijalva and 91 other members of Congress recently took a stand against the House majority's continued assault on our imperiled wildlife by sending a letter to the Obama administration urging it to reject any FY 2016 spending legislation that includes attacks on the Endangered Species Act.

This show of support is exactly what we need as negotiations on a final spending bill continue this fall. As Congressman Grijalva and the others that signed this letter urge, instead of destroying our wildlife heritage, our elected officials must work to protect it. Our proud tradition of protecting America's imperiled wildlife should be a congressional priority, not an item to be bargained away at the budget negotiating table, or otherwise slipped silently into must-pass legislation.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $900,000 in Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grants

September 24, 2015  


Christina Meister, 703-358-2284,

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced $900,000 in grants under the Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grant Program. Grants will be distributed to the states of Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, and to the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

The grants assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss from predation by wolves, and compensate producers for livestock losses caused by wolves. The program provides funding to states and tribes, with federal cost-share not to exceed 50 percent.

Proposals were evaluated considering the extent of depredation of livestock by wolves, program evaluation and record keeping, and commitment to reporting and coordination. Proposals were also evaluated based on the level of non-lethal, proactive techniques to reduce wolf-livestock interactions and the outreach and coordination levels. Funds will be expended equally between proactive and compensatory activities.

The Endangered Species Conservation-Wolf Livestock Loss Compensation and Prevention Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number is 15.666. Information collection associated with this program is accordance with OMB Information Collection Number: 1018-0154.
Further information regarding the Wolf Livestock Demonstration Project Grant Program can be found here:


#Wolf of the Day

Wolf eyes by Arnaud camel

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

Zaltana by Brian Cross

St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary offers public tours, family festival

Posted: Friday, September 25, 2015 
MONTGOMERY — The St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary houses about 14 wolf and wolf-dog mixes from across the country on the western edge of Montgomery.

Manager Christie Guidry said the animals are either rescued or given to the shelter from their owners.“We try to give them a nice stable, happy place to be forever because a lot of them have been bounced around a lot,” Guidry said.

Alpha Wolf , Mystery, was the first wolf to inhabit the sanctuary after suffering abuse at another wolf sanctuary which was shut down due to “substandard conditions,” and is the reason Founder Jean LeFevre opened St. Francis 13 years ago.“She (Mystery) escaped the enclosure there and was caught in a steel-leg trap on someone’s property, and shot three times and left for dead,” Guidry said.

Animal Control rescued Mystery and rushed her to a veterinarian where LeFevre found her and decided that she would open a place for the endangered animals to roam freely and live among other wolves.

Although St. Francis was founded in 2002, Guidry said many people are unaware of the sanctuary and how it operates.“So much of our community doesn’t even know we exist,” Guidry said. “That used to be intentional because we find there are still a lot of people in the world that misunderstand wolves. But we’ve found that so many people find us that love wolves and want to know more about us and we just see that there is a demand for us to have more of a public presence.

St. Francis offers public tours and opportunities to meet some of its ambassadors throughout the year. Guidry said that educating younger generations about wolves can aid in preserving the animals as time goes on.“When we have a child that comes on a tour and they’re scared of wolves and by the end they’ve pet our ambassador and are smiling and happy, that’s our future for wolves in the wild,” Guidry said. “Those kids that aren’t afraid of them anymore, realize they bring balance to nature and want to keep them as a species.”

Saturday, Oct. 24, the 10th annual Festival of the Wolves will be held at the sanctuary from 12 until 4 p.m. Face painting, a food truck, door prizes and a silent auction will be held for participants to help educate the community and allow them to get to know the wolves and St. Francis staff.

For more information on the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary, call (936) 597-9653.


Finnish artists get together to "stand up for wolves"

A group of painters hope a new exhibition will counter the wild animal’s image as a terroriser of dogs and children – not to mention of little piggies and grandmas. Proceeds from the show will go in part to the WWF.

Hannu Lukin öljymaalaus Susi! Susi! Susi!
Hannu Lukin and his fellow artists want to pay tribute to the much-maligned beasts. Image: Pekka Loukkola / Yle
A group of Finnish artists have got together to stand up for wolves, with a new exhibition in the northwest town of Oulu which they hope will counter the bad press they claim the wild animals get in the country.Local artist Erkki Halvari says that despite only having once sighted the creature, while in Canada, he’s a friend of the much-maligned forest predator.

Halvari said the widespread talk in Finland of wolves as a problem which needs to be eliminated led him to get in touch with other like-minded artists. Together they created paintings for “100 Wolf Songs”, an exhibition which opened this weekend at the town’s Galleria Art Halvare.

Taiteilija Hannu Lukinin maalaus Isa paha susi.  
"Big Bad Wolf" by Hannu Lukin Image: Pekka Loukkola / Yle

Crying wolf?

Wolf hunting has been a controversial issue in Finland for many years. In 2012 the European Court of Justice ruled that Finland had been in breach of EU law which permits the hunting of wolves only in exceptional circumstances. However the court recognised that the country had also taken significant steps to improve the protection of the wild animals in recent years, and effectively allowed current hunting practices to continue.

Meanwhile farmers’ groups have called for more powers to hunt wolves which live too close to farmed or built-up areas, accusing the animals of attacking their livestock.

Fear of the wild creatures also appears to run high in many places. Last December stories of dogs being killed by wolves led a number of residents in the Kuopio region to claim that they had become too scared to let their children or dogs roam outside. In 2012 police in the eastern town of Pieksämäki advised parents against letting their children wait for the school bus alone, over fears of a wolf on the prowl.

Taitelija Erkki Halvarin susi-aiheisia maalauksia. 
Artist Erkki Halvari says he's a friend to the forest predators, despite having only once spotted the creature in the wild. Image: Pekka Loukkola / Yle

Big bad humans

But the paintings by Halvari and his fellow artists - Hannu Lukin, Helena Junttila, Anssi Hanhela and Merja Aletta Ranttila - aim to redress the idea of wolves as something that needs to be controlled. That idea goes back even further than the animal’s image in fairytales as a big, bad terroriser of piggies and grandmas.

“Wolves are peaceful creatures and in my opinion all nature’s animals have the right to exist in peace. Wolves kill for food, not for fun as humans do,” Halvari says.

Some of the proceeds from any works sold will be donated to the charity WWF to help protect wild animals.

Halvari says he hopes the show will make people reflect on how nature controls us, not the other way round.

“In the west we imagine that we are above everything and that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want,” he muses.

”100 Wolf Songs” is on show at the Galleria Art Halvare in Oulu until November 8th.


Western Washington wolf killed by vehicle had also been shot

Don JenkinsCapital Press
A wolf struck and killed last spring on Interstate 90 in Western Washington has been previously suffered a gunshot wound.

A gray wolf struck and killed by a vehicle last spring on Interstate 90 near North Bend, Wash., had suffered an earlier gunshot wound to a rear leg, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today.
The adult female, the first confirmed wolf in decades to venture west of the Washington Cascades, was apparently hit by a truck April 27 west of Snoqualmie Pass.

Wildlife officials suspected the animal was a wolf, but held off positively identifying the species pending a forensic investigation by the USFWS laboratory in Ashland, Ore.
The carcass underwent tests to determine how the animal died and to confirm the species, according to USFWS.
The genetic analysis was completed in September, according to the agency.


Wolf killed on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park

By Daniel Katz, Bow Valley Crag & Canyon
A gray wolf was hit and killed by a vehicle on Highway 93 south in Kootenay National Park on Monday, Sept. 14. (Supplied photo)
A gray wolf was hit and killed by a vehicle on Highway 93 south in Kootenay National Park on Monday, Sept. 14. (Supplied photo)

A gray wolf was hit and killed by a vehicle on Highway 93 south in Kootenay National Park on Monday, Sept. 14.
At approximately 3 p.m. Parks Canada received a report from a member of the public that the body of a dead wolf was in a ditch 700 metres north of Vermilion Crossing on Highway 93. After assessing the body, Parks Canada staff confirmed that the adult female wolf was struck and killed by a vehicle. There is no wildlife fencing on that stretch of highway.
This is the second wolf mortality recorded in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay parks. The first occurred on July 9, 10 kilometres south of the Weeping Wall on the Icefields Parkway.

Parks Canada said no one witnessed the collision.
“Wildlife-vehicle collisions can result in serious injuries to humans and wildlife and be very traumatic for people involved in the collisions or those witnessing the collision,” said Lindsay McPherson, communications officer for Parks Canada. “We encourage people to take steps to help protect themselves and wildlife while travelling through the mountain parks. Drive to road conditions, obey all posted signs and be extra vigilant with increased traffic and changes in weather. This is especially important at dawn and dusk when animals are at their most active and low light can make them difficult to see.”
Parks said the wolf was not tagged and was not known to them, and otherwise appeared to be in good health.



Celebrating the Return of the Wolf to California

2 8/21/2015 // By Beth Pratt-Bergstrom

Meet the Shasta Pack–California’s first wolf pack in almost a century. (Photo California Fish & Wildlife)

When the wolf OR-7 crossed the state line in 2011, he became the first wolf to visit California in over 90 years. He represented hope for a future of California being able to welcome back a native species; this was truly something to celebrate. He eventually returned to Oregon to raise his family, leaving most to think that wolves taking up residence full-time in California was still years away.

Yet the photos released yesterday by California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife of five wolf pups and their parents frolicking in California’s Siskiyou County, not far from Mount Shasta, showed that the wolves had a quicker time frame in mind.

“This news is exciting for California,” said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW Director. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.”

My upcoming book, When Mountain Lions are Neighbors: Wildlife in Today’s California, features a chapter on the return of the wolf to California and recounts OR-7’s remarkable journey. Here’s a special excerpt preview to celebrate California’s first wolf pack in almost a century. Welcome home, Shasta Pack!


What does California remember of wolves?

Do the tule elk, scattered remnants of the wild herds once roaming California in the hundreds of thousands, recall the wolf packs that gave chase across the wide grasslands of the Central Valley? When the elk trot stiffly, arching their necks and holding their heads high, are they putting on a confident display for a predator long vanished? Do they still have a warning call reserved for wolves, unused for generations? Would they shiver if they heard a howl carried over the hills by the wind? Or have elk forgotten that haunting song?

Does the condor, itself nearly vanished into legend, imagine wolves loping on the hillsides as it soars overhead, its magnificent wings casting moving shadows on the land like clouds do? As it glides on the rising thermals of air scouting for carrion, does it remember the bounty wolves brought to its kind, when it could follow the hunt from above, watching the wolves conquer an elk or deer and be assured of the leftovers? Does each generation of condor pass along renewed hope of finding a wolf in their travels?

Do the coyotes, now the dominant canine in all corners of California, celebrate the banishment of its one-time nemesis—the wolf no longer being around to keep it in check has assured its recent reign. Does the coyote remember a time when it had to abandon a carcass when wolves appeared, dashing away at full speed, when the price of a meal in wolf territory could mean death?

Do the timid kit foxes, suffering from the unrestricted harassment of the coyote, long for a time when the wolves return to end the unbalanced regime? Do the wise and long-lived ravens, as they feast on a road kill brush rabbit or the half eaten remains of a hamburger bun, remember a time of plenty when they led wolves to the elk herds and were rewarded with rich scraps from their kills?

And do the willows and cottonwoods and oaks snuggled by the riverbeds or the grasses and wildflowers coloring the meadows in spring or the blackbird feasting at the elderberry tree or the red-legged frog resting in a vernal pool retain a collective memory of an almost forgotten world shaped by wolves?

Do wolves remember California?

Do they remember the bellowing of the tule elk resonating across an almost limitless playground of the San Joaquin Valley, where they could lope for miles over the rippled hills and rest in the shade of the riparian oak woodlands? Do they remember hunting under the watch of the tall redwood forests, or splashing about in the marshes near the shores of the San Francisco Bay, relishing the abundance of prey in this bountiful land, thick with herds of pronghorn, elk, and deer? Do they remember the moonlight glinting on the polished granite of Sierra Nevada peaks or having to relinquish the hard earned kill of a mule deer to a grizzly in a mountain forest? Do they remember the dense, salty smell of the ocean or the sharp, arid air of the desert?

Whether the wolves have forgotten the scent of the Golden State or the condors and coyotes and elk of California have forgotten the music of the wolf, it doesn’t matter. A landscape is regaining its memory.

The wolf has returned.


Friday, September 25, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

Gray wolf 
Gray wolf by Marie West

NG puts spotlight on B.C.’s enigmatic sea wolves

WATCH: British Columbia's unusual sea wolves have caught the attention of National Geographic, while local conservation groups hope to protect the animal. Linda Aylesworth reports.

National Geographic is throwing the spotlight on B.C.’s largely unknown sea wolf population and a local conservation group is hoping the attention will help protect this elusive animal.
Unlike their inland counterparts that hunt deer and caribou, the sea wolves comb the beaches along B.C.’s iconic Great Bear Rainforest and, by and large, feed off the ocean.

They can swim for miles between coastal islands and eat whatever the sea serves up.
They are known to prey on salmon for several months out of the year, with fish making up 25 per cent of their diet during the spawning season.
They hunt seals and sea lions, chew on barnacles, turn up at the herring spawning grounds and feast on whale carcasses. Some even specialize in digging up clams and turning over rocks to look for crabs.
They can spend their whole lives on the islands and some may never even see a deer or any other inland prey.

These wolves are now the subjects of a feature in the upcoming edition of National Geographic.
Ian McAllister with Pacific Wild has been studying these wolves for almost two decades and says they are unique on a number of levels.“We know from exhaustive DNA studies that these wolves are genetically distinct from their continental kin,” says McAllister. “They are behaviourally distinct, swimming from island to island and preying on sea animals. They are also morphologically distinct — they are smaller in size and physically different from their mainland counterparts.”

These three attributes are driving McAllister and others to encourage the B.C. government to designate these sea wolves as evolutionarily significant, hoping their new conservation status would lead to special protection measures.“Currently, they are not only unrecognized, but completely unprotected. They can be hunted and trapped even within protected areas. There is nowhere within their range on the central and north coast of British Columbia, where they are free of human [persecution.]” 

The sea wolves that reside in B.C. are believed to have once lived all along the Pacific Coast from northern California to Alaska, only to be driven out by humans. They still live in southeast Alaska, but the remote and scarcely populated Great Bear Rainforest in B.C. provides them with a much better chance of survival.

However, projects such as the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline and LNG development in the region are threatening the sea wolves’ survival, making habitat protection a priority for environmentalists like McAllister.“Oil and LNG tankers would certainly place many of these wolves at risk in an event of a catastrophic spill,” he says. 

McAllister has been lobbying the government to recognize the global uniqueness of these wolves, but he says awareness is abysmally low. “The government still considers wolves as vermin,” he says. “We have learned a lot and the society has changed in how it views wolves, but there is still a lot of work to be done to really recognize how fortunate British Columbia is to have these unique wolf populations.”

“So we are going to ramp up our public education, advocacy and research and hopefully see a day when these wolves have the kind of protection that they need.”

B.C.’s sea wolves in photos. Courtesy: Pacific Wild. 





You can watch the sea wolves in their natural habitat via Pacific Wild’s live field cams.