Mar 31

Massachusetts wolf refuge gets up close and personal

Massachusetts wolf refuge gets up close and personal

By Annie Shooman
The Associated Press

What: Wolf Hollow.
Where: Three miles from downtown Ipswich, Mass., on Mass. 133 east.
When: Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. Presentations at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Admission: $4.50, $3 children, $4 seniors.
Information: (978) 356-0216;

IPSWICH, Mass. — The wolves aimed their snouts to the sky, bared their canines and let out a territorial howl — even though there was no sign yet of a threat or an intruder.
Seconds later, two school buses pulled into the parking lot of Wolf Hollow in Ipswich, packed with 90 eighth-graders.

‘‘They knew the buses were coming before we did, and they perceived it as a threat,’’ said Joni Soffron, executive director of the nonprofit organization. ‘‘A wolf pack is a family and howling is an important communication.’’

Wolf Hollow, established in 1990 to teach people about the wolf in the wild, is a state and federally licensed education facility on one and a half acres of trees and grass 25 miles north of Boston.

It offers an unusual opportunity to view the gray wolf in something close to a natural setting — complete with the dead animals the wolves enjoy munching on. The gray wolf is an endangered species, protected by federal law.

There are nine British Columbian Timberwolves in the pack at Wolf Hollow. Tee Bee is the leader and mother to all except one, named Lyco.

Visitors are separated from the wolves by a chain-link fence. But the center also offers adult guests closer contact with the wolves through special, one-day seminars on wolf behavior.

On a recent day, Tee Bee and Geniek, another gray wolf, stretch in the morning sun as two crows and a seagull loom nearby, picking at the carcass of a deer. Ms. Soffron has an agreement with surrounding communities to bring any road kill to Wolf Hollow to help supply the wolves with their natural food.

‘Propaganda’ dispelled

The two buses of students from O’Maley Middle School in Gloucester sit on bleachers and point in awe at the lounging wolves. They recently finished an assignment to read Call of the Wild.

School groups and others are welcomed at Wolf Hollow during the week by appointment. Wolf Hollow has regular visitor hours on Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.
An hour-long presentation for the students begins with a basic question, followed by a predictable answer. Is anyone afraid of wolves? Ms. Soffron asks. All answer ‘‘yes.’’
Part of Ms. Soffron’s mission, she says, is to dispel myths and ‘‘propaganda’’ used against wolves.

‘‘Wolves do not attack people. That’s only in fables and stories,’’ she said. ‘‘Wolves are not looking for little girls in red capes.’’

To protect the livestock industry and create a lucrative hunting industry, killing wolves became a cheap solution for the government, she said. She believes the wolves were made out to be more dangerous than they are to justify their demise.

Respected ranking

At Wolf Hollow, and in their natural habitat, wolves organize themselves by rank.

To demonstrate this, Ms. Soffron stands behind the chain linked fence and yells ‘‘cheese!’’ The wolves run toward her as she throws a handful of cheese blocks into the air.

‘‘Tail position is very important. The higher the rank, the higher they hold their tail,’’ she explains to the children. ‘‘When they come to the fence to get treats, the highest ranked gets the first treats.’’

But Ms. Soffron tells the students that the highest ranking wolf in the pack, Tee Bee, will not run for the treat.

‘‘She demands I show her proper respect. I have to hand feed her the cheese.’’ Tee Bee gently bites the treat out of Ms. Soffron’s hand.


Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 28

Researcher studies wolves vs. livestock

Researcher studies wolves vs. livestock

By Bob Reha
Minnesota Public Radio
March 28, 2002

Wolves continue to thrive in Minnesota, and the process to remove them from the Endangered Species List continues. While that is good news for the species, it will present new wolf management problems. Near Thief River Falls in the northwestern corner of the state, new research showing wolves are little threat to livestock worries some farmers.

Researcher Andreas Chavez is completing a two-year study of the two wolf packs roaming the Agassiz Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Minnesota. His research focuses on the threat wolves pose to nearby livestock, and found that it is relatively low.

Andreas Chavez is a graduate student from Utah State University. He’s completing a two-year study of the two wolf packs roaming the Agassiz Wildlife Refuge.

“The importance of it was – it was one of the first studies that was able to document what was going on between wolves and livestock,” he says.

Chavez looked at the potential threat of the wolves to livestock in the area, and the perceived threat of the packs to farmers and ranchers.

“The actual threat seemed really low, given that there were only an average of two depredation incidents a year,” says Chavez. “The risk is determined by other factors, such as the availability of wild prey for the wolves.”

Chavez says wolves are reputed to kill for no reason. He says this view is based on myth and legend, instead of research and facts. Chavez says if other food is available, the chances of wolf attacks on livestock diminish. He says the Agassiz Refuge has a plentiful supply of deer.

Chavez’s findings bring little comfort to some local farmers, like Roger Kilen. He farms cattle and sheep near the north gate of the Agassiz Wildlife Refuge.

Farmer Roger Kilen believes wolves from the nearby Agassiz Wildlife Refuge are killing some of his livestock, despite a recent study which concludes the potential threat by wolves against livestock is relatively low.

It’s been a tough night for Kilen. Something has been spooking his cattle. He believes it was wolves.

“I had them on the north side of them feed bunks, in that loft there. They went through the east end and then they went through the corner,” he says.

Kilen says the wolf problem is frustrating. Government trappers have been some help, but still he has lost animals.

“We got 10 of their…timber wolves – we caught a mile south here,” Kilen says. “They come right up behind my house and they (took) 25 sheep – and took them a mile and a half south. They killed six of them that night.”

Kilen says all they found was a few patches of wool.

Ronnie Peterson’s farm is one mile south of Kilen’s. He says this has been a good winter – he hasn’t lost any cattle to the wolves.

“The other years before that – I’ve lost four in one year,” says Peterson. “I lost a cow that was giving birth. The calf was halfway out and they killed her, and they ate the calf right up to the tail head of the cow and then left.”

Peterson considers the Agassiz Refuge a good neighbor. Refuge staff are willing to help him when he has problems with the wolf pack. But he’s skeptical of the study. It only covers two years. Given how many animals he’s lost in the past, it’s hard for him to accept the idea that wolves pose little threat to livestock.

“I don’t have no use for them. They are at the top of the food chain out there,” says Peterson. “If they keep up too much, there’ll be too many here and it’ll be just them left. And they’re no good to eat.”

Still, Peterson says he can coexist with the wolves if farmers are allowed to kill problem animals.

Gary Huschle, a biologist at the Agassiz Wildlife Refuge, says the study shows future local deer management plans must make maintaining the wolf’s food supply a top priority. He says the study also shows the Agassiz wolves are resilient in the face of human attempts at control.

“In the future when we do start managing wolves, they will be able to replace the pack members that are lost through legal harvest and survive – and do quite well,” he says.
Huschle says Chavez’s study is a valuable tool for the refuge’s staff. They are preparing for the eventual lifting of federal protection for the wolf. At that time they will share management responsibilities for the wolf population with the Minnesota DNR.


Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 27

Wolves Still Need Help; Wolves Are OK in Michigan

Wolves Still Need Help

Reintroduction of the gray wolf in the Yellowstone ecosystem was a howling
success. In January 1995 14 wolves were translocated from Canada, 17 more
a year later. They formed packs, reproduced, and their offspring formed
packs. Thousands of visitors to the National Park have seen them.

The Farm Bureau and ranchers strenuously opposed the reintroduction and
the Endangered Species Act protection of the wolf. They sued. In December
1977 a federal judge ruled that the Yellowstone wolves would have to be
removed or killed.

The National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service appealed and took
a year to prepare a 550-page environmental impact statement. It elicited
more than 140,000 comments favoring the wolves. In July 2000 a unanimous
Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court. Apparently the wolves
were safe.

The Farm Bureau and its allies saw little hope in overturning that
decision, but they didn’t accept defeat. Under their intense political
pressure the Fish and Wildlife Service has retreated, proposing to lessen
the wolves’ protection by down-listing them from Endangered to Threatened.
When the wolves have 30 breeding pairs in seven western states even that
safeguard would be removed. The fate of the wolves would then be in the
hands of hostile state governments.

The down-listing hasn’t yet occurred. An Environmental Impact Statement is
to be released this summer. Wolf advocates can no longer insist the
species is endangered, as packs are still forming and spreading. Wolves
can become endangered again, however, unless Montana and other state
wildlife agencies adopt sound management plans.

Montana’s department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) goal is a statewide
total of 15 wolf packs. The Predator Conservation Alliance (PCA) says that
total should be at least doubled. Only about two-thirds of the packs breed
each year. With 30 packs, wolves could be managed like any healthy
wildlife population.

PCA urges that private citizens not be allowed to kill wolves unless there
is a clear and present danger to human life, livestock or pets such as
hunting dogs. Control measures should be selective, eliminating problem

The goal should be “a robust and well-distributed wolf population in areas
of Montana where it is biologically feasible and socially acceptable.”

Wolves Are OK in Michigan

The history of wolves in Michigan is unlike their history in the
Yellowstone ecosystem. In 1838 the legislature enacted a bounty on wolves.
By 1910 they had vanished from the Lower Peninsula. The wolf bounty was
repealed in 1960 and the wolf became legally protected in 1965.

In 1970 a few scattered wolves remained in the Upper Peninsula but no
breeding was observed. The species was near extinction. Four years later
wolves were added to the federal Endangered Species list.

Wolves migrated into the Upper Peninsula from Minnesota. Sightings were
reported in the 1980s. In 1991-92 a pair produced pups, the first known
breeding in forty years. A year later the state’s Department of Natural
Resources began developing a wolf recovery plan which was adopted in 1997.
At the time there were 112 wolves in 20 or more packs. Last year there
were 250 animals in 50 or 60 packs.

This wolf recovery has been much less contentious than in Montana, where
the wildlife department has been anti-wolf. Two years ago Michigan public
opinion was sampled. More than a majority of Upper and Lower Peninsula
citizens said they support wolf recovery. So did hunters and trappers.
Only farmers were opposed.


Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 26

Old Dogs Taught Humans New Tricks

Old Dogs Taught Humans New Tricks

Australian scientists believe the adage that you cannot teach an old dog
new tricks may be the wrong way round.

Research scientists at the Australian Museum believe it could have been
that new tricks were taught to people by dogs more than 100,000 years ago,
prompting humankind to take a leap in development leading to modern
culture and society.

The team’s principal research scientist, Paul Tacon, said: “We believe
there were several forces that led to the development of anatomically and
behaviourly modern humans, and that the close relationship between our
human ancestors and wolves was one of the key factors.”

Mr Tacon and bio-archaeology consultant Colin Pardoe published the theory
today in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Australia.

At the heart of their contention that the ancestors of man’s best friend
were instrumental in helping humans to survive and thrive is what they
call growing archaeological and genetic evidence that the partnership went
back at least 100,000 to 130,000 years – far longer than conventionally

Mr Tacon said modern man’s strong territorialism is not shared by other

However, wolves and dogs have always been ferociously territorial. This
quality may have rubbed off after generations of living together.

Rock art or stencilled outlines of hands could have been ancient man’s
means of marking his territory, in much the same way as a dog marks his
with urine.

As man’s sense of smell diminished, possibly because we began to rely on
domesticated wolves, a visual and more durable way of staking out
territory would have been a logical alternative to scent-based markings.

“Eventually this led to the development of all sorts of figurative art
around 40,000 years ago,” Mr Tacon said.

Big game hunting would have been easier with some cooperation from wolves.
By pursuing big game, man was able to survive in less friendly
environments and occupy deserts and the Arctic.

Of perhaps greatest significance is the theory that learning how to get on
with and then domesticate wolves could also have taught humans how to
develop relationships with other humans.

Primates are naturally good at infant-mother relationships but do not tend
towards a strong ability for same-sex ties.

Mr Tacon and Mr Pardoe argue that the human-canine partnership potentially
paved the way for friendly contact between humans.

“That was a tremendous survival advantage because that speeds up the
exchange of ideas between groups of people, the exchange of material
culture and of course gene flow,” Mr Tacon said.

“Through cooperation we’ve achieved incredible feats, we’ve been able to
reach the moon for instance.”

The idea that man may owe his best friend more than we acknowledge needs a
lot more study, the researchers say.

Until recently, it was thought that dogs were domesticated only 14,000
years ago. Wolf bones found near human bones dating back 400,000 years in
Britain, 300,000 years in China and 150,000 years in France were dismissed
as signs that we used to eat them.

But Mr Tacon said there were gaps in our understanding of human
development that might be answered by raising new questions.

“We’re looking at the past from a new perspective,” he said.

“If we can bring more and more perspectives to bear on our interpretation
of the past, we’ll have a closer approximation of exactly what was going


Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 26

Wolves Benefit Free-Ranging Jackson Hole Elk Herds

Wolves Benefit Free-Ranging Jackson Hole Elk Herds

by Meredith Taylor
Wyoming Outdoor Council & Dubois Wildlife Assn.

Despite undocumented claims to the contrary, recent Wyoming Game & Fish
Department data has shown that wolves actually benefit local wildlife
herds. Researchers are now monitoring the effects of two wolf packs, the
Teton and Gros Ventre, on wintering elk in Jackson Hole.

Using information taken from the agency’s 1998 and 2000 Jackson/Pinedale
Region Annual Big Game Herd Unit Reports, the analysis compares such data
as the number of wintering elk on various native ranges and feedlots,
cow/calf ratios, disease incidence, and hunter success. Higher numbers of
elk are ranging among wolf-occupied habitat north of Jackson from Spread
Creek to Buffalo Valley with increased hunter success, according to the
report. This information also supports monitoring data from Montana’s
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks being analyzed on the effects of
wolves on wintering wildlife on public land north of Yellowstone National
Park (YNP).

More Calves, Less Disease

The portion of the Jackson Hole elk herd that is out on winter range has
increased somewhat during the past 11 years from a low of 2,474 to a high
of 4,843 with a mean of 3,593. “A total of 3,805 elk were observed on
native winter range [throughout the Jackson Herd Unit] in 2000,” according
to the 2000 WYGFD Report.

Of the entire Jackson elk herd counted in 1999-2000 about 35% of the elk
counted are wintering on native range. The number of elk north of Jackson
Hole has increased from a low of 137 in 1990 to a high of 1,139 in 2000
where there have been extensive habitat improvements in the Spread Creek
area. With habitat improvements such as prescribed burns in the Spread
Creek area, nearly nine times more elk wintered there in 2000 compared to
1990, prior to many vegetation management improvements. Of particular note
is the fact that there was at least one wolf pack in this area, yet the
elk population keeps increasing. This significant increase is primarily
due to habitat improvement projects that enhances dispersal into areas of
higher quality and quantity forage. Dispersal is also increased by wolves
when they spread the elk out on their habitat.

The ratio of elk calves per 100 cows is considered by biologists to be a
good indicator of herd productivity. Calf/cow ratio data from the WYGFD
1998 and 2000 reports demonstrate that calf/cow ratios on feedlots on the
Gros Ventre and National Elk Refuge are lower (18-18.8%) than free-ranging
elk in the Gros Ventre (40-44%) and in the Buffalo Valley (50%) that do
not use feedlots. In fact, the data indicates that the further the elk are
away from the feedlots, the higher the calf/cow ratio.

Conversely, WYGFD data shows that disease is higher where calf/cow ratios
are lower among feedlot elk. It appears that brucellosis and other factors
associated with feedlots (such as decreased nutrition, stress from
increased density, etc.) may significantly reduce the elk reproductive

For example, during the past two winters, all of the elk harvested during
the late-hunt season in the Buffalo Valley tested negative for
brucellosis. This means that along with the higher calf/cow ratios, the
disease incidence is significantly reduced to negligible levels or zero
among these native winter range elk compared to their feedlot cohorts.

Higher elk harvest by hunters since wolves returned to Gros Ventre

According to the 2000 WYGFD Report: “In Hunt Areas 80-83 (the four elk
hunt areas between the NER and the 3 state feedlots in the GV) license
quotas have been decreased in recent years to address hunter concerns and
suspected predation from large predators. These hunt areas make up the
primary home ranges of two wolf packs. Since 1998 antlerless license
quotas (in these hunt areas) were reduced from 300 licenses to 150 during
the 2000 hunting season.”

However, in spite of alleged “hunter concerns” and undocumented, but
predation from large predators” the WGFD decreased antlerless licenses by
150. Yet, further in the same paragraph, the report says, “The harvest
survey indicates that a total of 973 elk were harvested (in the GVRD) in
2000 compared to 876 elk harvested in 1999.” Since 1998, 150 fewer
antlerless elk licenses were sold, but 97 more elk were killed by hunters
over the last year compared to 1999. The harvest statistics for 1998 for
the GVRD are not available, but it appears that even with wolves
established in the area, the free-ranging elk herd is flourishing and
there were MORE elk killed by human hunters.

The effect of predator/prey balance appears beneficial to elk

According to the USFWS Wolf Coordinator, there are two wolf packs living
among the Jackson Hole elk herd. There are 12 wolves in the Teton pack and
7-9 wolves in the Gros Ventre pack. The monitoring of these collared
wolves has shown that although they have been seen in the Gros Ventre
feedgrounds during the past three years, even with the two packs of
wolves, the losses were actually less than normal, since 6 elk killed is
substantially less than the 25 year average of 14 dead elk on the

Comparing Montana to Wyoming, the MT Fish Wildlife and Parks, works more
closely with the National Park Service to monitor the interactions of
wolves and wildlife.There are now six wolf packs with 70-90 wolves in
residence among the Northern Range elk herd and according to the 2001
Gardiner Late Elk Hunt Annual Report “(e)lk permit numbers have been
relatively high since 1990 in response to increasing numbers of elk
wintering north of YNP.” Hunter success averages 63% for cows and 96% for
either sex licenses in the late hunt along the migration route north of
YNP to Dome Mountain, which may be the highest success ratio for hunters
on public lands anywhere in North America. Since 1995 the wolf presence
has increased to six packs among the Northern Range elk herd and 2001 elk
numbers counted were still within the herd objective.

Interestingly, the 2001 brucellosis rate for this herd was only 2.8%, the
calf/cow ratio in 2001 was 29% (close to the historic average of 30%), the
average 2001 calf weight improved by 9.4% and bull elk antler length
exceeded the previous six-year average of 45 inches at 47.2 inches in
2001. These figures clearly point to an increase in herd health that both
conservation sportsmen and wildlife managers would be proud to see in any
big game herd.

This winter’s elk count on the Northern Range, although down slightly from
last year’s figures, is well within the 25 year average and within the
desired herd objective even given the presence of the complete array of
large predators including gray wolves, mountain lions, black and grizzly
bears. In addition, the 2001 data indicate a healthy elk herd despite the
effect of the drought conditions on the native range.


The free-ranging elk north of Jackson Hole sees the highest calf/cow ratio
and the lowest disease incidence among the highest density of wolf
sightings compared with the feedlot elk. Therefore, it may be concluded
that the free-ranging wild elk in the Buffalo Valley and Spread Creek
areas benefit from more dispersal on native range. It also appears that
with habitat improvements, more elk use native range (even with wolves
present) and avoid feedlots. The biologically sound conclusion is that
free-ranging wildlife are most healthy on native range managed at carrying
capacity with normal dispersal by a balanced large carnivore population.
—– (A special thanks to Lloyd Dorsey, WWF, for his assistance in this

Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 25

Yellowstone Wolf Update

Yellowstone Wolf Update–3/25/02

Druid 103′s group attacks Tower Pair. Mollies Pack lives off bison.

Here is the latest Yellowstone Park wolf news (with a few extras), most of
which involves the unraveling of the giant Druid Peak Pack, but some other
interesting news too.

Druid Peak Pack-
The only generalization to be made about the pack is that is seems to
splintering further, and the Druid wolves have not, to the ranger’s
knowledge, approached humans on the NE entrance road so closely since they
were recently scared with firecracker shells.

There are a number of groups of Druids, some of which will probably have
pups in late April and become new packs.

Most interesting is Druid 103F’s group of 3 wolves. Recently 103′s group
attacked the Tower Pair, 208M and an uncollared female. Both of the Tower
Pair were injured, especially 208M; but were both seen recently in
Antelope Creek, seemingly mostly healed. Folks may recall that 103F had
her own litter of 3 pups last year, and got little help from the rest of
the Druid Pack. Perhaps as a result, she weighed only 70 pounds when
radio-collared this February. Last Friday her group was located in Elk

The original Druid group of 21M and 42F has had only 4 members of late.
Yet last Friday that group was visually observed back to 12 wolves.

Druid 106F has led a group of 5 recently. Last Friday they were on
Hellroaring slopes.

Druid 252M, a yearling, was recently observed to be with the Nez Perce

Yearling Druids 219 and 224 (both males) have dispersed out of the Park,
and were located in Paradise Valley.

Molly’s Pack-
With a visual count of 10 wolves, this pack was located in its normal
territory, the Pelican Valley, a deep snow area. More than any other pack,
Molly’s pack has taken to killing bison. There are few elk in the Pelican
in the winter. Reports are that, as usual this time of year, the grizzlies
are out in the Pelican trying to claim the bison kills from the wolves.
Doug Smith is currently on skis in the area to see who is winning.

Leopold Pack-
This was the first naturally formed pack in Yellowstone after the
reintroduction, and it is still lead by wolf 2M and 7F (no 9′s daughter
born in Alberta). As usual, they were on the Blacktail Deer Plateau, but
with a few members north on Rattlesnake Butte, just south of Gardiner.

Nez Perce Pack-
Since last fall there has been some instability in the Park’s second
largest pack. Recently several members were located on the northern range,
but Friday the whole plak was sitting on the Porcupine Hills next to Nez
Perce Creek, a couple miles north of Lower Geyser Basin.

Chief Joseph Pack-
It is not known which, or if this pack has a new alpha pair, having lost
both 33F and 34M last year. Presumably it does. Chief Joe was located in
one of its favorite non-Park places — Tom Miner Basin — north of the
Park, where they denned one year.

Cougar Creek Pack-
This new pack, originated in 2001 was in the general Cougar Creek area, NE
of West Yellowstone.

Rose Creek II Pack-
This formerly mighty pack has almost been pushed out of Park by the
Druids. It has been hanging all winter in the Black Canyon of the
Yellowstone area near Crevice Creek. It has 8 or 9 members.

Yellowstone Delta Pack-
Bad weather has prevented flights to the remote SE corner of the Park.


-Outside of Yellowstone-

Sheep Mountain Pack-
This is not a Park pack, but has been as usual ranging from about Dome
Mountain, through the Daley Lake elk wintering range, north to about Chico
Hot Springs. This is 15-30 miles north of the Park’s north entrance.

The Taylor Peaks Pack-
This pack originated in 2000 just NW of Yellowstone. Then it moved west of
the Park into the Taylor Peaks (or the Madison Range) and got its name. In
2001, its alpha female left (or was expelled) and had no pups. She was
later found dead SW of Virginia City, MT. This winter the pack moved more
to the northwest, and last Tuesday they killed a blue heeler dog on Dave
Henderson’s ranch near Cameron, Montana. In an article in the Bozeman
Chronicle, Joe Fontaine expressed the view the pack was getting ready to
den in the area and might have been out eliminating what it perceives as
competition. I understand Henderson is not a typical rancher, but a
conservation-oriented rancher. Hopefully this will have a happy ending.

Teton Pack-
This Grand Teton National Park border pack still has all 12 of its
members — 3 adults and 9 almost-yearlings. On March 21, 4 of the pups
were radio collared. The pack spent the winter in the Gros Ventre drainage
about which there was much newspaper controversy of the pack eating the
elk on the state feedground. As of 2 weeks ago, however, only about 12
kills by the pack from the feedground could be identified. The pack killed
mostly non-feedground, free-ranging elk.

Gros Ventre Pack-
Most of this winter this pack did not winter in the Gros Ventre drainage,
sharing the elk with the Teton Pack. It mostly dwelt over the mountains in
the upper Green River River. One member of the pack and a presumed mate
moved to an elk feedground in a remote location further south near
Pinedale, WY.

No wolves of any kind were identified this winter in the National Elk
Refuge just north of Jackson, Wyoming. The wolves seem to prefer the river
valleys more than this wide open flat.


Yellowstone Wolf Territory Map

Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 23

Wolves Return to Hunt in German Forests

Wolves Return to Hunt in German Forests

John Hooper in Berlin
Saturday March 23, 2002
The Guardian

A pack of wolves has formed in Germany for the first time in 150 years -
the result of a heady mix of political and legal change, and the outcome
of a doomed relationship. Delegates to a conference held earlier this
month by the state authorities in Saxony were told that at least six
animals were now hunting together in forests close to the Polish border.

Gesa Kluth, a biologist who has been discreetly following the progress of
the wolves for several years, said her fellow Germans had reacted with
astonishment to the news.

“For most people, the idea that a pack of wolves is living free in such a
heavily industrialised, densely populated Western European country as
Germany … well, they just don’t get it together in their heads,” said Ms
Kluth, whose work is sponsored by the International Fund for Animal

The wolf occupies a uniquely sinister place in the German psyche. “I don’t
think there’s a single child in Germany who grows up without hearing
Little Red Riding Hood and the other Grimm tales that feature wolves. I
remember as a child that I, too, was afraid of wolves,” Ms Kluth said.

Yet growing environmental consciousness seems to have transformed public
attitudes. Ms Kluth said people living around the Muskauer heath, where
the pack has its home, were “relaxed and even proud”.

Very occasionally, individual male wolves have been entering Germany from
Poland since the second world war. But while some got as far as the
Lüneberg heath in northern Germany, most died in the formerly communist

Until 1990, when the laws of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) were
swept away at the time of reunification, its citizens were not just
allowed, but actually obliged, to kill any wolf they saw. Similar laws
existed in Poland and large numbers of wolves were shot in the period
immediately before they were revoked.

“We know that a female was shot in 1994 in the forest in Poland just over
the border from where the pack is living now,” Ms Kluth said. “My personal
belief is that the male who started it all was her mate and that he
escaped into Germany afterwards.”

When he was joined by a female is unknown. But in November 2000 they were
spotted by a forester with two young. He judged the young had been born
the previous spring. Since then, there has been a further litter of at
least two.


Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 16

Fewer Wolves, More Moose on Isle Royale

Fewer Wolves, More Moose on Isle Royale

Sat, Mar. 16, 2002

The number of wolves on Isle Royale continues to drop while moose are
rebounding, according to the 44th annual survey of the two animals on Lake
Superior’s largest island.

The annual winter survey — the longest running predator/prey research
survey in the world — revealed 17 wolves, down from 19 last year and 29
two years ago.

The mild winter has been good for moose but not so great for wolves, said
Rolf Peterson, the Michigan Technological University scientist who directs
the surveys for the National Park Service. Peterson has conducted the past
32 surveys.

With moose in better shape and able to escape, wolves are finding it
harder to get a meal. That may have contributed to stress from wolf
competition and a battle between two of the wolf packs on the island. The
Chippewa Harbor Pack appears to be pushing the East Pack aside, including
killing the East Pack’s alpha male.

“A mild winter is always tough on the wolves, and this probably
contributed to the confrontation,’ Peterson said. “The wolves had to work
hard’ to catch a moose this winter.

Adult wolves have suffered nearly 50 percent mortality over the past two
years, but the high reproduction level last spring — seven new pups –
has kept wolf numbers above the level considered critical for continued

“Last year when it went from 29 to 19 we were surprised. And we thought
the new pups last year would bring the number up this year a bit, but we
lost more adults than usual,’ said Jack Oelfke, natural resource program
manager for Isle Royale National Park. “There’s something going on
stress-wise with wolves. It’s probably related to the changing pack
structure and, as they work that out, it’s having some impact. But we’re
not really concerned with the overall numbers.’

Moose now number about 1,100 on the island, up from 900 last year and 850
in 2000. Moose appear to be rebounding well after their numbers bottomed
out at 500 after the deep snow of 1995-96.

While moose are faring well now, there could be trouble ahead. Peterson
said the continued warm weather could mean an increased tick infestation,
which often leads to reduced moose numbers the following winter.

Balsam fir on the island has declined, both from wind storms and
by moose, which could mean a lack of food for future moose.

“In the last 13 years, about three-quarters of these trees have
disappeared. Younger trees can’t grow because the moose are eating them,’
Peterson said.

The 45-mile-long, 143,000-square-acre island has a complex predator/prey
relationship. The island has become a wild laboratory for Peterson and
other scientists. The relationship is considered unique because wolves are
the only predators and moose the only major prey.

Wolves are relatively new to the island, having crossed frozen Lake
Superior ice to get there in 1949. Their numbers have ranged from a low of
11 in 1993 to a high of 50 in 1980. Moose numbers hit a high of 2,400 in
1995 and bottomed out at 500 the winter of 1995-96.

Peterson has tracked both populations to see what impact changes in one
species have on the other, all in an environment with little human
interference. The animals can’t leave the isolated island, and there are
no vehicles, poachers or hunters to affect the population.

On Isle Royale, if there was an equilibrium between the species, it would
be about 30 wolves and 1,000 moose, Peterson said. But that level is
almost never reached — one of the two species is almost always out of


Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 14

Wardens investigate illegal wolf killings

Wardens investigate illegal wolf killings

A serious problem is taking place in Wisconsin’s northern forests and wetlands.

At least 10 gray wolves – also know as timber wolves – have been illegally shot in the past 12 months, including three so far this year.

Matt Weber is the state Department of Natural Resources conservation warden for the northern half of Juneau County. He showed me today where a radio-collared alpha male wolf was shot during the nine-day gun deer season last November.

The wolf was shot in the stomach on a piece of private land bordering the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. It made it a short distance before a kill shot to the head finished it off. I tried to imagine what must haven been going through the poacher’s mind as he or she finished off the wolf.

I spotted a large gray wolf on opening day of the gun season last year not far from this location. We had a two-minute stare down from about 30-yards before going our separate ways. Could this have been the same wolf?

Brian Ezman is also a DNR conservation warden and covers the northern half of Adams County, a land made up of oak forest, a scattering of wetlands and farmland.

A grouse hunter came across the carcass of a large male wolf in the Colburn Wildlife Area Jan. 7. Today, Brian showed me where this wolf’s life was put to waste – an oak forest with several dry marshes. One of two wolves known to live in Adams County was shot in the hind leg, made it a short distance and was then finished off.

Since last March, this unnecessary loss of life was confirmed eight other times. It is anybody’s guess how many wolves were shot and not found.

The killers that shot these wolves would more than likely call themselves hunters. In some cases, the shooters more than likely thought they were shooting a coyote.

Hunters are taught in hunter safety class to know what they are aiming at before pulling the trigger. You should try telling the research crew that lost three of their eight radio-collared animals about your uncertain identification mistake.

Wisconsin’s gray wolves live a feast-or-famine way of life, generally living on the edge with a very empty stomach. The alpha male and the alpha female are the brains of the pack. When one is lost, the pack undergoes a major disruption.

I have heard every argument in the book from people who hate wolves. The one that never dies is that the DNR trapped wolves in another state and then released them here,

Nothing could be further from the truth. Wisconsin’s wolf packs came here on their own from Minnesota.

So no matter what you consider yourself – a hunter, wolf hater or an admirer of those that poach them – wolves need to be left alone. Until Wisconsin can sustain 250 wolves, the law governing their management (including euthanizing problem wolves) are controlled by the federal government.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls the shots until 250 wolves can be maintained. They do not allow the killing of problem wolves, only their relocation. Until this past fall, there were close to 250 wolves roaming our forests.

Could you use $4,000? If you have information regarding a wolf killing, that is the reward. Call (800) 847-9367 to make a report.

Think before you pull the trigger.

Outdoor columnist Mark Walters lives near Necedah.

Waupaca County Post, Outdoor Recreation, Page C16, March 14,2002

Posted in Uncategorized
Mar 11

Wolf pack is home on the military range

Wolf pack is home on the military range

Associated Press
Mar. 11, 2003 08:15 AM

FORT McCOY, Wis.- Five timber wolves have picked an unlikely and sometimes noisy place to call their home – a military firing range.

A female wolf named Sassafras and four other timber wolves have settled in the backcountry of this huge Monroe County Army base, and the pack’s home territory is right in the middle of the base’s firing range.

Tim Wilder, an endangered species biologist who works for the Army and keeps track of the wolves, said the wolves appear to be doing well, in spite of the occasional bomb blast.

The fort has thousands of acres of undeveloped land, making it an ideal refuge, and Wilder said the wolves are smart enough to avoid the areas where bombs fall.

He also said the Army has agreed to his recommendation that soldiers hold their fire if the wolves are visible.

Wisconsin has about 320 wolves statewide, far more than wildlife biologists expected when they started a wolf recovery plan in 1989.

“I think the wolves are pretty tolerant,” Wilder said. “But it’s more that people are tolerating them. If they didn’t want them here, they wouldn’t be here.”


Posted in Uncategorized