Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reward Increased to $10,000 for Information on Illegal Killing of Endangered Red Wolf

Center for Biological Diversity
For Immediate Release, December 30, 2016

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

Reward Increased to $10,000 for Information on Illegal Killing of Endangered Red Wolf
One of Only 45 Red Wolves Remaining Found Dead on North Carolina Refuge
RALEIGH, N.C.— The Center for Biological Diversity today added $7,500 to the reward for information leading to a conviction or fine in the latest illegal killing of an endangered red wolf in North Carolina. The dead wolf was discovered Dec. 21 on the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, where red wolves are given the greatest amount of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already offered a $2,500 reward in the case.

“There are only 45 red wolves left in the wild so the deliberate killing of any individual wolf is a terrible blow to the conservation of this amazing species,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center. “This deplorable slaughter is a stark reminder of why federal regulators must quickly rejuvenate their stalled efforts to save this precious species before it disappears forever.”

Although once abundant along the entire coastal plain of the Southeast, red wolves were pushed to the brink of extinction after decades of relentless persecution. After the species was declared endangered in 1973, 17 wild red wolves were captured for captive breeding. Wolf releases began in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in the mid 1980s, but recovery efforts have repeatedly been thwarted by illegal shootings.

“We’re adding to this reward because red wolves are a critical part of America’s heritage, and we shouldn’t let a few killers deny future generations their opportunity to see these animals in the wild,” said Hartl.

The best available science demonstrates that red wolves can be recovered if these illegal killings end. A 2014 report by the Wildlife Management Institute concluded that if red wolves are going to recover, two additional populations need to be established in the wild, and additional resources need to be invested to build local support for their recovery. The Center for Biological Diversity submitted an emergency petition in May 2016 to strengthen rules protecting red wolves from illegal shootings and to identify additional reintroduction sites where red wolves can thrive.

Anyone with information about the killing should contact North Carolina Wildlife Officer Frank Simms at (252) 216-7504 or Special Agent Jason Keith at (919) 856-4520, ext. 34.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update - November 1-30, 2016

November 1-30, 2016
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project
Monthly Update - November 1-30, 2016

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project)
activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), and New Mexico.  Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at
or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at

Past updates may be viewed on either website, or interested parties may sign up
to receive this update electronically.

This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose.  The Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).

To view semi-monthly wolf telemetry flight location information please visit

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.

Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service convened the 5th Mexican wolf recovery planning workshop November 2-4 in Tucson, AZ.  Represented at the workshop were the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, the Mexican governmental agencies SEMARNAT and CONANP, the USDA Forest Service and independent scientists from the United States and Mexico.  The workshop participants continued with review of scientific information for analyzing areas of suitable habitat and input variables for the VORTEX model.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service met on November 16 to discuss coordination of Mexican wolf recovery efforts, including outreach and NEPA analysis of proposed release sites in Zone 1 of the revised Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area.

In the month of November, The Fish and Wildlife Service sent letters inviting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) to become partners in the Mexican wolf recovery program.  Both agencies have land management responsibilities within the boundaries of the revised Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area.

On November 30, the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as members of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, New Mexico State Game Commission, biologists from CONANP and the University of Queretaro, Mexico, biologists from the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and several volunteers captured a family of 11 wolves at the TESF Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility.  The wolves were collared, crated, and transported to Chihuahua, Mexico for release into the wild.
Numbering System:  Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history.  Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Definitions: A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an
established territory.  In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status. The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.


Population monitoring requires year round effort documenting births, deaths, survival, total numbers, and distribution.  Mortality occurs throughout the year and is particularly high on young pups, so while the IFT has documented reproduction this year, the IFT will not have a complete idea of how many of these young pups and adults have died until the annual population survey which is conducted in the winter.  Annual surveys are conducted in the winter because it is when the population is experiencing the least amount of natural fluctuation (i.e. in the spring the population increases dramatically with the birth of new pups and declines throughout the summer and fall as mortality is particularly high on young pups).  Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year.  This allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year that accounts for most mortality and survival of young pups.  At this time, the IFT’s best population estimate is that there was a minimum of 97 wolves in the wild as of December 31, 2015.  End of year counts for 2016 are currently ongoing and will be completed in February.  At the end of November, there were 54 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring. 

Bear Wallow Pack (collared AM1338 and AF1335)
In November, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).

Bluestem Pack (collared M1382, F1443, fp1562 and fp1563)
In November, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF.  They periodically used a diversionary food cache established by the IFT to prevent potential depredation issues in the area.  Two female pups (fp1562 and fp1563) were captured, collared and released in early November.  Some wolves from the Bluestem Pack displayed dispersal behavior during the month.  AF1042 was documented in New Mexico traveling in the vicinity of the Sheepherders Baseball Park Pack.  F1433 was documented traveling with m1447, of the Diamond Pack, in New Mexico near the Arizona border.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, AM1342, mp1474 and mp1471)
In November, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. The IFT documented rendezvous behavior by this pack during the month of November.  A minimum of two uncollared pups were documented traveling with the Elk Horn pack this month.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
In November, the Hawks Nest Pack was mostly located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. The IFT documented dispersal movements by AM1038.  
Hoodoo Pack (collared AM1290, AF1333, m1441, fp1549, and fp1550)
In November, the Hoodoo Pack remained in the north central portion of the ASNF.  The IFT documented rendezvous behavior by the Hoodoo Pack this month.  A minimum of three uncollared pups were documented traveling with the Hoodoo Pack this month.
Maverick Pack (collared AF1291)
In November, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and ASNF. 

Panther Creek Pack (collared AF1339, AM1394, mp1483, fp1484, and mp1486)
In November, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF.  The Panther Creek Pack continued to show rendezvousing behavior during the month of November.  A female pup, fp1485, was located dead in November and the incident is under investigation.

Diamond Pack (collared m1447, f1557, mp1558, mp1559 and fp1560)
In November, the Diamond Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR and the northern portion of the ASNF. 
Tsay-O-Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and AF1283)
In November, the Tsay-o-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR.
Baldy Pack (collared M1347 and f1445)
In November, the Baldy Pack was located in the eastern portion of the FAIR and northern portion of the ASNF.

Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM992 and f1444)
During November, the IFT located this pack within its traditional territory in the west central portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF). 

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, AF1278 and mp1556)
During November, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF.  

Lava Pack (collared F1405)
During November, the IFT documented F1405 (formerly of the Buckalou Pack) traveling with M1285 of the Lava Pack.  The IFT trapped and re-collared F1405 and this pack is traveling in the south eastern portion of the GNF.

Luna Pack (collared AF1487 and mp1554)
During November, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  

Mangas Pack (collared M1296 and F1439)
During November, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in north western portions of the GNF in New Mexico. 

Prieto Pack (collared M1386, m1455, f1456, M1552, f1553 and fp1565)
During November, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  There has been dispersal behavior documented for M1386, m1455, f1456 and M1552 within the GNF.  Sub-adult, f1553, continues to be documented apart from the Prieto Pack and traveling with single male wolf M1398 in the west central portion of the GNF.

San Mateo Pack (collared AF1399)
During November, the IFT documented the San Mateo Pack within their territory in the north central portion of the GNF.   

Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared AM1284)
During November, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  AM1284 was captured, re-collared and released.  The IFT has documented the survival of pups with the SBP Pack.
Willow Springs Pack (collared F1397)
During November, the IFT documented the Willow Springs Pack within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. 

Leopold Pack (collared AM1293 and mp1561)
During November, the IFT documented that AM1293 had formed a pack and had pups.  One of these male pups, mp1561, was captured, collared and released in November by the IFT.  This is the first documented wolf pack that has formed naturally within the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. 

Single collared AM1155
During November, AM1155 was documented traveling within New Mexico.

Single collared M1398
During November, M1398 was documented traveling with f1553 of the Prieto Pack in the west central portion of the GNF.


During November, a female pup, fp1485, of the Panther Creek Pack was located dead in Arizona.  The incident is under investigation.


On November 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona.  The investigation determined the calf was killed by coyotes. 

On November 7, an uncollared sub-adult male wolf, M1564, was captured and removed to captivity due to previous depredations associated with a removal order.  Genetic analysis confirmed M1564 dispersed from the Hawk’s Nest Pack.  The removal of M1564 completed the removal order, and the FWS will evaluate the potential for this wolf to contribute to recovery in the future.


On November 3, WMAT presented to a school group in Whiteriver, Arizona.
On November 14 and 15, the WMAT Mexican Wolf Program and the WMAT Rangeland Management Program met with the WMAT Tribal Cattle Associations regarding the Tribal Payment for Wolf presence application and funding for wolf/livestock mitigation measures.


There are no personnel updates for the month of November.


The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at (800) 432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Petition Filed With U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeking Updated Recovery Plan for Red Wolf

Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 8, 2016
Contacts:  Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128,
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,
Haley McKey, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247,
Petition Filed With U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeking Updated Recovery Plan for Red Wolf
With Only 45 Remaining in North Carolina, New Plan Would Save Wild Population

WASHINGTON— Seven animal protection and conservation organizations filed a petition today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking an updated recovery plan for the rapidly dwindling population of wild red wolves. The recovery plan for the red wolf has not been updated since 1990. Since that time red wolves have expanded their range in the wild, faced additional threats from increased poaching and hybridization with coyotes and seen changes in their management. With all of these changes, an updated, science-based recovery plan is needed now more than ever.

Red wolf
Red wolf photo by B. Bartel, USFWS. Photos are available for media use.
“Experts in red wolf ecology, genetics and biology have published significant scientific research since the plan was created over a quarter-century ago,” said Tara Zuardo, an AWI wildlife attorney. “An amended recovery plan based on the best available science is vital to ensure that red wolves survive in the wild.”

The petition includes information about threats to the red wolf and provides strategies to address those threats, including reducing lethal and nonlethal removal of wolves from the wild; resuming the use of the “placeholder program,” which involved releasing sterilized coyotes to hold territories until red wolves can replace them; resuming the use of the cross-pup fostering program as a way to increase the genetic diversity of the species; identification of additional reintroduction sites; and increasing outreach and education to garner support for wolves and stop poaching.

“The red wolf is teetering on the brink of extinction, but it can be saved by putting in place an aggressive recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “A new recovery plan would serve as a road map, outlining all the necessary steps to ensure that future generations have a chance to see these beautiful wolves in the wild.”

In September the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to confine red wolf recovery to just federal lands in Dare County, while also identifying new sites for wolf introductions and doubling the number of captive-breeding pairs. The agency’s controversial proposal to restrict the recovery area in North Carolina has been met with stark criticism. Last week 30 prominent experts in wolf conservation sent a letter expressing their concerns. And on Wednesday Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and eight key Democratic leaders sent a letter urging Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to revive the red wolf recovery program.

“This petition represents our proactive vision for red wolf recovery,” said Ben Prater, Southeast program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The red wolf is a part of our national wildlife heritage, just like the bald eagle or grizzly bear. We’re calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to honor that legacy and bring the red wolf back from the brink of extinction. Conservation advocates nationwide agree we have the ability and the obligation to recover this iconic species.”

Petitioners request a prompt response to their petition confirming that the Service has begun work on an updated plan for the red wolf, a timeline for completing the recovery planning process, and implementation of recovery strategies necessary for the species.

The petitioners include the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Species Coalition, South Florida Wildlands Association, WildEarth Guardians and the Wolf Conservation Center.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places:

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere — in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit For the latest news from Defenders, follow us at @DefendersNews.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Redux on wolves in Michigan

By Wayne Pacelle

December 6, 2016
One of the most disturbing and sobering examples of the misuse of political power comes out of Michigan – and it has nothing to do with the astonishingly close presidential race of 2016. It concerns the unusual, years-long obsession of a few lawmakers who want to clear a path for trophy hunters and commercial trappers to take the lives of too many of the state’s few hundred wolves.

Right now, Michigan state senator Tom Casperson – who is completing the final two years of his second term, after losing a Republican primary for a U.S. House seat that overlaps with his current district – is pushing his fourth wolf-hunting bill in the state legislature. Yes, his fourth bill.
He’s been effective in moving this series of bills, but, at the same time, painfully ineffective.

In 2014, he engineered the passage of three wolf-hunting bills, each with slightly different provisions. Each one of them has since been nullified – two by the voters and, most recently, one by a Michigan appellate court.

That’s why he’s at it again with SB 1187.

The problem is, with two voter referendums in the rearview mirror, he’s working in direct contravention of the will of the state’s voters.

In 2014, at the urging of The HSUS – which helped to qualify referendums to challenge Casperson’s bills – voters were emphatic in rejecting both wolf-hunting measures. By 10 percentage points, voters rejected Proposal 1, a measure to declare wolves a game species and to allow a trophy-hunting season. An even larger percent of voters — 64 percent in all — opposed Proposal 2, which sought to give the Natural Resources Commission the opportunity to establish a hunting season on wolves. In fact, every single county in the Lower Peninsula (and Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula) voted “no” on Proposal 2.

These were the first two public votes on the issue of wolf hunting in the nation, and, as a result, Michigan lawmakers are in the enviable position of being able to gauge with precision how their constituents feel about the election. If elections are to matter as a reflection of the public will – and they surely do – it’s clear that the people of Michigan do not support the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves.

The third Casperson measure – which, among other provisions, also provided the authority for the NRC to set a season on wolves – was struck down by the courts two weeks ago because it contained provisions entirely separate from the wolf-hunting issue. The Michigan Court of Appeals rightly found that the measure was a “Trojan Horse” that cynically and unconstitutionally misled voters by touting unrelated benefits while “surreptitiously slipping [in]… a reenacting provision to ensure that regardless of the referenda votes on PA 520 and PA 21, wolves would be on the game species list.”

Not only are wolves scarce in number, they are inedible, act as a firewall against the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, and serve as a lure for tourists to come to Isle Royale and to the Upper Peninsula. As recently underscored by a Michigan DNR/University of Notre Dame study, wolves play a significant role in the Great Lakes ecosystem by reducing unhealthy densities of white-tailed deer, which in turn protects timber stocks and agriculture crops by reducing deer overbrowse. And by controlling deer populations, wolves can also help to mitigate the risk of car-deer collisions. Thus, wolves can benefit agriculture, public safety, water quality, and ecosystem health.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources already provides the state’s ranchers with fencing, fladry (rope with flapping flags), and guard animals to protect livestock from native carnivores, and has stated that these methods are highly effective. Michigan livestock owners are also compensated for confirmed or even suspected losses to wolves. Still, cases of wolves killing livestock in Michigan are extremely rare, amounting to just 0.0005 percent of livestock deaths in 2015. This percentage is even lower than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nationwide statistics, which put wolves at the very bottom, at 0.2 percent, of the list of hazards to livestock that includes respiratory, digestive, and calving problems, weather, disease, lameness, injury, theft, and even vultures.

Scientific studies have amply demonstrated that indiscriminate killing of wolves by hunting is not only ineffective at mitigating conflicts with livestock, it could even make those few problems worse by dispersing packs and sending inexperienced juvenile wolves out on their own. On the rare occasion when wolves have been spotted in populated areas of the Upper Peninsula, it has typically been the result of humans drawing them into town by feeding deer, wolves’ preferred prey. Even in those instances, the wolves did not threaten or harm humans. And again, even though wolves in Michigan are currently protected under the federal ESA, they can still be killed in the event that they actually pose a threat to human safety. Further, recent stories of wolf sightings on private property in towns such as Marenisco have not been substantiated, nor were official reports of those incidents filed with the Michigan DNR, as is required to maintain accurate records on any wolf-human conflicts. We should not let irrational fears or irresponsible human behavior be used to justify the trophy hunting and trapping of this vital species.

Senator Casperson had two of his bills overturned by citizens and one by the courts. He ran for election to federal office and was defeated in the primary. What part of “no” does he not understand? A virtual flood of scientific studies in the past few years have made it abundantly clear: there is no justification for killing wolves simply for trophies, out of hatred, to protect livestock, or in a misguided attempt to boost prey species for hunters.

In 2014, along with the wolf referendums, Gov. Rick Snyder was on the ballot. He won a commanding win over Democrat Mark Schauer. Proposal 2 – which most closely resembles Casperson’s current bill – got close to 250,000 more “no” votes than Gov. Snyder got “yes” votes in his convincing win. That immense popular support for wolves should provide plenty of reason for the governor to send Casperson’s latest bill into the ash heap.


Hunter kills the last of the Druid wolves

Gunfire brings an end to one-time pup from the famous pack.

Wolves from the Druid Pack in Yellowstone National Park pursue a bull elk in this undated file photo from the National Park Service.

Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 
When the wolf known as 778M was in his heyday atop the Blacktail Pack, competing canines that ventured into his territory in Yellowstone’s Northern Range weren’t likely to be greeted with submission. The unusually large alpha male was fiercely defensive and protective.
“He would fight at the drop of the hat, and he was willing to run right into battle,” Yellowstone Wolf Project Biological Technician Rick McIntyre said.
“In defense of his family and his territory,” McIntyre said, “he was very aggressive.”
The size, aggression and smarts led 778M to a long, productive life, in wolf terms. At 9 1/2 years old, 778M was among the oldest known male wolves since the large carnivore species was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park 21 years ago. Before being shot and killed by a Montana hunter last month, the big alpha was also the last living member of the Druid Peak Pack, which grew to an almost unheard of 37 animals, was witnessed by 100,000 visitors and helped make wolf-watching into big business.
Wolf 778M’s time in the world famous wolf pack, which ran the show in the Lamar Valley around the turn of the century, was fleeting. Born into the Druid Peak Pack in April 2007 as the grandson of one of the original Albertan transplants, “Big Brown” took off by fall 2008. He split off alongside four brothers, less than two years before the Druid Peak Pack was wiped out by mange.
Pairing up with four females from the former Agate Creek Pack, 778M and his band of brothers formed the Blacktail Deer Plateau Pack. Big Brown’s leadership role in the pack was a natural one, McIntyre said.
“He had that classic confidence and quiet self-assurance that pretty much all alpha males have,” he said.
Over the next several years the Blacktail Pack thrived, growing into a large and successful pack that topped out at 15 animals and held down territory in the western Northern Range.
Yellowstone Wolf Project Leader Doug Smith’s first interaction with 778M was in 2011, when he sedated, captured and collared the alpha male. At 118 pounds, he had plenty of heft.
At the time 778M was paired up with alpha female 693F, and though they never produced a litter together they made a “great couple,” Smith said.
“He had a tight pair bond with 693,” he said.
The alpha female was found dead outside Yellowstone National Park in late 2013. Afterward, 778M headed outside the safety of the park as well, joining up with the Slip ’n Slide Pack.
“Where he moved first was 2, 3 miles over the park line, just outside in the Gallatin National Forest,” Smith said. “Four or five months ago he really took off and went way north, and I didn’t hear about him anymore. The next thing I heard is he got shot.
“He went from being one of our main wolves to being a peripheral wolf to being a wolf we didn’t keep track of at all,” he said.
In some ways 778M’s demeanor and resilience was reminiscent of his grandfather, 21M, the longtime Druid alpha that McIntyre described as the “all-time greatest heavyweight champion.”
“When things came along that had the end result of members of his pack being killed, like rival wolves, time after time after time 778M survived that,” McIntyre said.
Gardiner, Montana, wildlife photographer Deby Dixon looked back on the wolf she knew as Big Brown as a survivor.
“His whole pack died of mange,” Dixon said, “and he lived in Jardine for two hunting seasons prior to getting killed this year. He was fairly habituated, too — people didn’t bother him — so it’s amazing that he stayed alive for so long.”
Genetic testing of Yellowstone wolves in the years ahead will tell the tale of how well 778M spread his genes.
“Certainly there is a sadness in the death of 778 after living a long and difficult life,” McIntyre said. “But now that he’s gone, we still have descendants of the Druid wolves.”
On a aerial telemetry flight Tuesday morning, a Yellowstone biologist spotted the Druid-descended Lamar Canyon Pack sleeping within a few hundred yards of the original Druid den site.
“That’s happening right now,” McIntyre told the News&Guide, “as you and I are talking.”


California Wolf Plan Sets Road Map for Conserving Small Population

Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 7, 2016
Contacts:  Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613,
Kimiko Martinez, Natural Resources Defense Council, (310) 434-2344,
Kimberly Baker, Environmental Protection Information Center, (707) 822-7711,

California Wolf Plan Sets Road Map for Conserving Small Population
Two Breeding Pairs for Two Straight Years Could Trigger Reduced Protections 

SAN FRANCISCO— The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has released its final plan to guide conservation and management of a small population of gray wolves well into the future. One of the strengths of the plan, which was released late Tuesday, is its emphasis on nonlethal methods to deter conflicts with livestock. But it would also seek to reduce wolves’ federal protection status from “endangered” to “threatened” when the population reaches a threshold of only two breeding pairs for two consecutive years — far fewer than what independent scientists say is needed for a secure population.

Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. This photo is available for media use.
In response to public comments on the proposed wolf plan, the agency stepped back from plans to initiate delisting of wolves once their population reached only 50 to 75 wolves. The agency also included in the final plan additional, current, best available scientific literature on key issues such as the vital ecological role of wolves.

But conservation groups say the final plan should have included specific protections to shield wolves from clearly identifiable threats such as being mistaken for coyotes during coyote-killing contests. And the plan failed to identify key wolf habitat conservation priorities like connectivity corridors crucial to building healthy, sustainable populations — a feature that would benefit not only wolves but other California wildlife as well. The plan also proposes to initiate aggressive management actions, which could include killing wolves, for ungulate population declines “presumed to be influenced by wolf predation” without a scientific assessment to determine if wolves, in fact, are the cause.

“Because California is only in the early stages of wolf recovery, we need to give these animals a chance to become established in sustainable numbers rather than prematurely rushing to end protections that are vital to their survival,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But we support the plan's initial emphasis on restoring wolves to the Golden State and reliance on nonlethal methods to reduce loss of livestock.”

This month marks the five-year anniversary of the arrival in California of wolf OR-7, the first known wild wolf in the state in 87 years. His arrival launched the development of a state wolf plan with input from a stakeholder group representing conservation, ranching and sports-hunting interests. OR-7 eventually returned to Oregon, where he found a mate and has since sired three sets of pups. In August 2015 state wildlife officials confirmed the establishment of California’s first wolf family in nearly a century: the Shasta pack in Northern California’s Siskiyou County. And just last month, a pair of wolves was confirmed in western Lassen County. DNA-testing of scat collected from the pair shows that the male is a young adult from one of OR-7’s litters, while the female is of unknown origin.

“The ongoing arrival of wolves in California is cause for celebration and makes the state wolf plan’s provisions all the more important,” stated Kimberly Baker, public land advocate for the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). “Wolf recovery will bring the essence of wild back to California and reiterates the need for landscape connectivity.”

The plan proposes a phased management approach, in which establishment of four wolf packs for two consecutive years will trigger consideration of more aggressive management of conflicts. After establishment of eight wolf packs for two consecutive years, management actions will become even less protective of wolves. Conservation groups say the reduced protections come too quickly under the plan, and call for an ongoing emphasis on time-proven, research-based nonlethal measures to minimize conflicts with livestock.

“It’s exciting that nonlethal methods of reducing wolf-livestock conflicts are such a foundational element of this plan, because we know they work,” said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney in NRDC’s Land and Wildlife Program. “We want to give these magnificent animals every possible chance to survive and thrive here in California. So we look forward to working with the Department to ensure that happens.”

The agency received significant public input last year when it released a draft plan for public comment. Changes requested included the need to acknowledge the best available current science on managing conflicts, social tolerance, the importance of protecting wolves from illegal killings, and wolves’ critical ecological role. During the comment period, 19 conservation organizations submitted a joint comment letter on behalf of 2.9 million California residents highlighting 27 key issues of concern in the draft plan. The vast majority of Californians wants wolves protected and also fully supports the joint efforts of the state, conservation groups, ranchers and hunters to implement nonlethal conflict-prevention measures.

 The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) advocates for protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests, using an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment.
Sierra Club California promotes the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of California's environment, and enables chapters and grassroots activists to speak as one voice to promote California conservation.