Saturday, March 26, 2016

#Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up by @Defenders of Wildlife

Wolf, © ODFW
Fighting for Wildlife in Grand Teton
On Wednesday, Defenders, Earthjustice and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates filed a legal challenge to the National Park Service’s 2014 decision to give the state of Wyoming wildlife management authority on private and state-owned inholdings inside Grand Teton National Park. The decision has already led to the killing of bison within park boundaries and exposes a host of park wildlife, including coyotes and foxes, to unregulated killing as vermin under state law. This unprecedented decision potentially exposes wildlife residing in Grand Teton—including (in the event of endangered species delisting) grizzly bears and wolves—to state-authorized hunting, baiting, and trapping. It also sets a dangerous precedent for the numerous other national parks that contain private or state-owned inholdings. The law is clear that wildlife is protected within national parks even where there are private or state lands located within a park. Defenders and our partners are asking a judge to enforce the law to protect Grand Teton and to prevent this terrible precedent from spreading to other National Parks across the country.

Coexistence in China
A new study in Biological Conservation revealed that livestock depredation losses in Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) Nature Reserve in China only accounted for 1.2% of total livestock loss – in other words, predators had a relatively small effect on livestock in the reserve. The study was unique in that it also included conflict reports and interviews with local officials and nearly 100 residents to get their views on human-predator interactions and whether they thought they were fairly compensated for their losses. Most of the people interviewed thought that their losses were due to an increase in predators in the area (lynxes, wolves and snow leopards), and researchers found the compensation process to be highly flawed. To enhance wildlife management, the researchers recommended a new coexistence approach that better addressed the complex social and economic aspects of conflicts between people and wildlife. These types of studies are important, because they help inform and improve the approach to coexistence in other parts of the world as well. Learn about our coexistence work with ranchers and wolves here.

For wolves in Yellowstone, opposites attract
A study published in Evolution has found a strong correlation for what is called negative-assortative mating among wolves in Yellowstone. Put simply, black wolves and gray wolves tend to pair up with each other, instead of wolves of the same color. This fascinating finding leads to plenty of follow up questions: is negative-assortative mating a phenomenon among all wolves, or just the wolves of Yellowstone? Why does it occur? Does it have an effect on wolf survival? Do these color cues it help wolves avoid inbreeding? We may not know the answers just yet, but what we do know that the Yellowstone wolves are an American success story 21 years after the first wolves released into the park-and they still need our help. Read here about the 20th anniversary of the Yellowstone wolf release!