Jul 29

Wolf manager changes stance on cattle operation

Wolf manager changes stance on cattle operation

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – A federal wolf manager has acknowledged making
incorrect statements about a cattle operation in the Gros Ventre drainage,
where wolves threaten young calves. Ed Bangs, wolf-recovery coordinator
for the lower 48 states, apologized to Nebraska rancher Michael Stanko.

Bangs said in June that since a number of young calves are grazing in a
known wolf area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service won’t automatically
kill wolves for preying on them.

Bangs said he had been told that Stanko’s calves were several weeks old,
when in fact they were several months old. Smaller calves are usually more
susceptible to predation.

He also said he was wrong about where the Stankos had bought their cattle.
He wrongly said they had not been on open range. Cattle that have not been
on open range are also more vulnerable.

“I offer my sincere apology for speaking on some details that I assumed
were accurate when they were not,” Bangs wrote in a July 19 letter.

Rancher Rudy Bangs, Michael’s father, said he appreciated the letter, but
still had reservations.

“The wolves are still there, and they are still predators,” he said from
Nebraska. “Obviously, things aren’t going to be hunky dory as long as
there are wolves where there is livestock.”

If wolves are confirmed to have killed livestock, Fish and Wildlife will
issue a 45-day shoot-on-sight permit for wolves attacking cattle, Bangs


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 28

Feds shoot 2 wolves near Dubois

Feds shoot 2 wolves near Dubois

Associated Press

DUBOIS, Wyo. (AP) – Federal wildlife managers recently killed two
troublesome wolves and are attempting to destroy two others that continue
to menace livestock.

The wolves belong to the Washakie Pack in the Dunoir Creek drainage just
west of Dubois.

“It’s been a chronic problem pack,” said Mike Jiminez, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service wolf coordinator for Wyoming. “We’re trying to reduce

The pack includes about a dozen adults, plus this year’s pups, he said.
Last year the pack killed at least two calves and a dog. Several calves
that turned up missing were likely targets of the pack.

So far this year, one calf has been confirmed killed by wolves.

The wolves have remained in the area for some time, feasting on livestock
in the valley where landowner Stephen Gordon is locked in a lawsuit with
the federal government over the problems the wolves create for him.

Jiminez said obtaining helicopters to shoot the wolves is difficult
because most aircraft that would be available are busy fighting fires.

Wolves are listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered
Species Act, but officials say their numbers are growing in Montana,
Idaho, Wyoming and they could soon be removed from the list.

Before that happens, the three states must satisfy the federal government
that each has a management plan designed to ensure wolves will endure in
self-sustaining numbers.

Wolves were reintroduced to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995 and
1996. The wolf populations of the tri-state region had grown to 534 by the
end of last year, with 189 in Wyoming, 261 in central Idaho and 84 in
northwest Montana.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 26

County fears illegal wolf hunting

County fears illegal wolf hunting

County officials in Akershus suspect some anti-wolf activists may have
taken matters into their own hands. Three wolves outfitted with radio
transmitters have disappeared.

The officials fear that “someone” has managed to obtain equipment enabling
them to track the wolves, Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday.
Ranchers throughout southern and eastern Norway have been up in arms for
the past few years over the gradual reappearance of wolves in the area.
They contend the wolves threaten their flocks of sheep and cattle that
roam freely during the summer grazing period.

The wolves are protected in Norway, after nearly becoming extinct, and
researchers use the transmitters to track their whereabouts and
development. Some controversial hunts have been allowed, however, after
wolves were determined to have attacked free-roaming sheep.

Now it’s feared an illegal hunt has taken place.

“These wolves disappeared at the same time that the transmitters they were
wearing stopped sending out signals,” Asle Stokkereit, a wildlife
conservation manager for Akershus county, told NRK on Friday. He fears the
animals have been shot.

He’s working with police to investigate the wolves’ disappearance but says
he doesn’t have enough evidence to file charges as yet.

The three missing wolves belonged to the so-called “Moss Flock” and
“Kongsvinger/Aarjang Flock” that have roamed in Follo and Nes and in

Two of them were the lead wolves in their packs, meaning that if they have
been shot, their assailant may actually have created a bigger problem for
himself. That’s because the loss of a pack leader may cause the pack to
fall apart, with its animals spreading out over wider areas, according to
wildlife officials.

Stokkereit told NRK he’s received tips from the public that re-enforce
fears of an illegal hunt. Norway has been sharply criticized over its
management of the wolf population, while earlier wolf hunts have sparked
international outrage.

County officials recently lost the right to authorize wolf hunts, with
approval now needed directly from the state wildlife management agency
(Direktoratet for naturforvaltning).


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 26

Wolf attacks baby mule

Wolf attacks baby mule

By Tom Jackson King, Managing Editor

A three-month-old mule offspring of a mare was badly cut up in an attack
by a wolf on a corral full of livestock on Upper Eagle Creek, near the
home of Ed and Edie Fitch, on July 14.

Edie Fitch told The Copper Era “the baby mule . . . got cut up as a result
of a wolf trying to attack her and her mother in a small pen at our house.

“Our dogs were barking violently from their houses and the other horses
were pretty rattled, so my husband walked down to the barn to check things
out. He saw a wolf chasing around the pair and yelled to get it out of
there,” she said.

“As a result of the wolf chasing them around the pen, the baby cut her
face really bad trying to escape. This is our third major encounter of
wolves at our house since they released them,” Fitch said.

The mare, Lady, sustained a slash to her right rear hindquarters while
Bonnie, the baby mule, sustained deep lacerations to her forehead, nose
and lower neck. A photograph provided by the Fitches show the wounds to
both animals.

Edie Fitch said after they reported the attack to U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service a government trapper came down from Springerville, set out traps
July 16, then collected them July 19.

The Fitches reside on Upper Eagle Creek near Honeymoon Campground, in the
Apache National Forest. The area is north of Clifton, the county seat for
Greenlee County.

USFWS Wolf Program Manager Brian Kelly told the Era he was aware of the
report and that a worker from Wildlife Services went to Eagle Creek to

“It didn’t have a collar on. We don’t know if it’s a wolf or a hybrid or a
coyote,” Kelly said. “We need to resolve if it was our animal. We want to
be helpful if there are wolves down there without a radio collar.”

Kelly said someone from Fish and Wildlife would contact the Fitches and
interview them on what they saw Sunday evening. “I’m not saying they’re
not wolves. We need to get the information to know what is the truth
here,” he said.

The reported wolf attack on the Fitch baby mule appears to be the third
attack on horses or mules in Greenlee County in the last two years.

On April 14, 2000, near Rose Peak about 22 miles north of Clifton, rancher
Dean Warren reported he was attacked by Pipestem Pack alpha female wolf
518 as he rode his horse along a mountain trail, in company with his dog,
which he relies on to herd cattle.

The alpha female led an aggressive attack on Warren and his horse, jumping
up onto the front quarters of the horse, snapping at Warren and prompting
him to shoot off .22 rifle rounds until he ran out of bullets. Warren
retreated to the cabin’s barn, where he was encircled by wolf pack members
as he called the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office for assistance. His dog
was badly bitten by the wolves.

The attack by Pipestem Pack wolves was later verified by U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Bauer.

On Sept. 25, 2001, at least one wolf from the Cienega Pack entered a
corral attached to a barn, not far from a house at Hanagan Meadow Lodge on
U.S. Highway 191, in Greenlee County and Apache National Forest, where it
attacked a seven-year old quarterhorse.

The horse, Joe, had its throat ripped open in the wolf attack.

Horse owner Joe Garrett, who with his wife Trixie ran Pioneer Stable trail
rides out of Hanagan Meadows, said when he checked the corral, “Joe, the
gelding, was standing away from us with his head down. When we checked him
out we noticed his throat had been bit. We could see fang marks on the
throat and there was saliva around the wound.”

The attack on the Garrett horse was later accepted by U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service as a “probable” wolf attack.

Kelly, when asked last fall whether the fact that presently released
Mexican gray wolves are captive-bred might make them more daring in
approaching areas where people are present, said it was possible.

“Maybe the wolf was in the corral because it was a little less fearful of
people. Maybe our wolves in this first generation are a little more bold
in being around a horse. But most of the wolves out there most of the time
are captive-born but they’re not being seen by people,” Kelly said about
the Hannagan Meadows attack.

In the Hannagan Meadow wolf attack and in wolf attacks on livestock such
as cattle, sheep and dogs, the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife
has shown up and provided compensation to livestock owners for the vet
bills or economic loss of the killed animal.

The Era was unable to determine if Defenders of Wildlife had contacted the
Fitches about their wolf attack incident.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 26

Plan to kill hybrid wolf pups draws fire

Plan to kill hybrid wolf pups draws fire

By Tom Jackson King, Managing Editor

A volatile issue in the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction plan has been the
declared plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to euthanize, or kill,
any hybrid pups among the seven wolf pups born to the Pipestem Pack. Now,
a solution may be at hand.

Thanks to the threat of a lawsuit and a change of opinion by the wolf
program manager, the pups may survive to live long lives in a Texas

Rae Evening Earth Ott, executive director of the North American Wolf
Association, told the Eastern Arizona Courier Monday she has offered to
adopt all the Pipestem pups and raise them on her 26-acre wildlife refuge
for wolves, which is located near Spring, Texas. And to keep the federal
agency from euthanizing the pups, she sent her lawyer to talk to the
agency’s new Southwest Region Director H. Dale Hall. Her attorney said
either give them to Ott’s refuge or Ott would fight the agency in court.

“It looks like the pups are going to come here,” Ott said.

“I’m offering a solution. I’ll give them a permanent home for the rest of
their lives. I told him we would take them all and he said that would be
great. He has agreed to do nothing to harm these puppies until we explored
this option. He really and truly does not want to kill them,” Ott said.

“He (Hall) likes the solution. He has to clear it with Arizona Game and
Fish, New Mexico Fish and Wildlife and with Texas Parks and Wildlife,” she

“I felt very good about the conversation I had with Director Hall. I got
the impression he was a man of compassion. I’m very pleased that he will
consider my proposal,” Ott said.

The need for action to save the lives of the hybrid pups developed after
Ott became convinced USFWS Wolf Program Manager Brian Kelly intended to
kill all the Pipestem pups once he received final genetic analysis reports
on whether the pups are hybrids or pure-bred. Kelly had said in a May 5
press release, “The coloring on one pup is not consistent with what we
expect of Mexican gray wolves.”

A photograph of the seven pups later obtained by the Courier showed one
pup with a light brown coat and solid black spots. A spotted wolf pup coat
is not normal.

Agency spokesperson Elizabeth Slown, in a May 22 article in the Courier,
had said, “We would euthanize them. We use the term euthanize the hybrids.
We consider hybrids a problem.”

Ott became convinced that quick action was needed to prevent having the
wolf pups killed “in secret” and then have their fate announced to the

“My goal is saving the lives of those puppies. There’s no reason they
should be murdered. We rescue entire packs and keep them together in
families,” she said of the 38 wolves now resident at her Texas refuge.

Kelly, reached by the Courier, said he sees a value in not killing any
hybrid pups but instead saving them for research.

“We have the legal authority to euthanize those animals (known hybrids)
and we would. With respect to the pups, I’m not so sure,” Kelly said.
“There’s potential value to them. There would be a value to raising known

Kelly said the second set of blood tests on the seven pups “are not back.
There are four geneticists working on it and one peer-reviewing it. We are
going to be rigorous with our science.”

In short, Kelly said the seven Pipestem pups were still of unknown
parentage as of July 22, but he was open to letting the pups live rather
than euthanize them as Slown earlier stated the agency would do.

Ott said she is pleased with the change of view by Kelly and USFWS. “I
want those puppies saved,” she said.

Ott’s organization NAWA maintains a web site on its work at www.nawa.org.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 26

State key to plan for delisting wolves

State key to plan for delisting wolves

Gazette Wyoming Bureau

Getting gray wolves off the endangered species list promises to be a
carefully choreographed dance by the federal government and the three
states poised to take over management.

In an unusual effort to make sure everyone is moving in step, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service is inviting representatives of Montana, Wyoming
and Idaho to help write the proposal to delist the wolves in the northern
Rocky Mountains.

“We’re asking them to pick up the species after we get out from under it,”
said Ed Bangs, FWS wolf recovery coordinator. “We think it’s only fair
that they have information and can participate.”

Although the final decision about removing the wolves’ endangered status
still rests with the FWS, Bangs said, it’s important that the three states
have a say in what a delisting proposal will look like.

In the coming days, wildlife managers in the three states are expected to
sign cooperating agreements to help write the delisting proposal.

“The Endangered Species Act cannot work unless the states and the federal
government work together. And that’s what’s happening here,” said Greg
Schildwachter, policy adviser for the Idaho governor’s Office of Species

The wolves, which were reintroduced to the region in 1995 and 1996, are
expected to reach a key recovery goal at the end of this year. Once
federal managers are convinced there are 30 breeding pairs throughout the
three states for three consecutive years, they’ll petition to have the
wolves removed from Endangered Species Act protections. Montana, Wyoming
and Idaho then will take over their management.

Bangs said FWS plans to have its delisting proposal in place next spring,
but only if all three states have their management plans finished.

Idaho has already approved its plan; Montana’s is expected to be finished
in December. Wyoming, which is just getting under way with its proposal,
is scheduled to approve a plan in March.

“Right now, we’re waiting on the state of Wyoming to get its plan done so
we can proceed,” Bangs said.

In the meantime, the FWS wants to work with representatives from each
state to develop the federal plan.

Bangs said the state managers will help draft the proposal, analyze public
comments, attend meetings, review scientific studies and make any
necessary changes.

“We expect them essentially to go all the way to the end with us,” Bangs
said. “But the final decision will be solely with the Fish and Wildlife

For their time and help, FWS will offer each state about $6,500.

Although allowing state and local governments to participate as
“cooperating agencies” is nothing new with the federal government, Bangs
said there isn’t much history of it happening when it comes to removing
animals from the endangered species list.

“It’s probably farther than anyone has gone before the delisting process,”
he said. “Usually (the states) would be just like any other member of the

Cooperation between the states and the federal government also could pay
dividends down the road. It’s widely figured that lawsuits will be filed
over delisting the wolves, but the states’ early involvement could help
smooth the process.

“It only makes sense that the states get involved early on,” Schildwachter
said, adding that the approach jibes with the Bush administration’s push
to allow more local input on federal decisions.

Wolf managers from Wyoming and Montana could not be reached for comment on

Although the specifics of the states’ involvement are still being worked
out, Bangs said the governments agree that it’s time for the wolves to
make a transition.

“We all agree that recovery is here and the best thing to do is take the
wolves off the Endangered Species Act and put them in the hands of the
states,” Bangs said.

Still, there is some dispute about how the wolves will be managed by the
states. All three are pushing to have the federal government pay for wolf
management in the years to come. There also could be friction over how
much hunting of wolves will be allowed, what territory they can occupy and
whether ranchers will get paid if livestock is killed by wolves.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 25

Wolf livestock depredations in SNRA won’t count as strikes

Wolf livestock depredations in SNRA won’t count as strikes

by Anna Means in the Challis Messenger
July 25, 2002

Sheep and cattle will continue to graze on eight allotments within the
Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) this summer, but agencies and
permittees must work together to prevent wolf depredations on livestock.
If wolves still attack domestic stock on public land within the SNRA, it
doesn’t count against the predators.

This was the decision handed down late last week by Federal District Judge
Lynn Winmill. It followed on the heels of his earlier decision that wolves
are wildlife to be protected within the SNRA despite their experimental,
non-essential status.

Shortly after his first decision, plaintiffs Western Watersheds Project
and Idaho Conservation League filed for interim relief, asking that
grazing on eight specific allotments be halted for the summer to ensure no
wolf/livestock conflicts.

No meat cleaver

Winmill agreed to a limited intervention, and even though the court had
the power to prohibit grazing, “the heavy hand of such an injunction would
employ a dull meat cleaver to do the work of a sharp scalpel.” He added
that it wasn’t clear that the mere presence of livestock causes harm to
wildlife values and the “wholesale removal of livestock at this early
stage of the litigation would be inconsistent with the Court’s past
decision holding that there is no intractable conflict between the [SNRA]
Organic Act and the Wolf Control Rules [management as experimental,

Winmill wrote that the court wasn’t the expert on what to employ to avoid
conflicts, but left it in the hands of those involved. He wrote, “The
Court is convinced that keen insight, calm analysis, and sound
judgement–coming from the parties rather than by Court order–will work a

Tactics used by permittees in the past include moving to different
pastures, electric fencing around sleeping flocks, RAG boxes and
volunteers running interference between wolves and livestock. These and
other ideas must be used, said Winmill, to prevent wolf/livestock
conflicts for the summer.

No foul, no strikes

If all that fails and wolves dine on domestic animals on public lands
within the SNRA, Winmill declared those depredations couldn’t count
against them. For the most part, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
has used a “strike” system where wolves are given a couple of chances to
modify their habits before being taken out in lethal control. This will no
longer be the case on the SNRA.

Winmill did specify that if wolves attacked livestock outside of the SNRA
and had to be transplanted or lethally removed, FWS could give chase into
SNRA lands.

He didn’t specify whether depredations on private land within the SNRA was
exempt, but when the case was heard July 11, plaintiffs said they weren’t
asking for special considerations on private land.

Winmill included the FWS in his edict even though they weren’t named in
the original lawsuit.

Winmill wrote that he was concerned about the Doctrine of Unintended
Consequences and whether his decision would make the SNRA a magnet for
wolves if they realized they got a free pass there.

He asserted that involved parties could work out solutions to avoid
depredations which would render the doctrine moot.

He said the order was only good until September 1 of this year.

No big shift

FWS Wolf Recovery Coordinator Carter Niemeyer told the Messenger this
wasn’t a huge shift from past practices in the SNRA. FWS, the Nez Perce
Tribe, Defenders of Wildlife and others worked with permittees all last
summer to prevent conflicts. He said they were successful to a certain
degree, but the bottom line was wolves that kill livestock teach it to
their pups. This was true for the Whitehawk pack that hit on sheep on
public lands last summer. Even when adults were removed, the pups came
back in the winter and preyed on cattle.

Niemeyer said ultimately, Winmill’s new decision “wouldn’t have changed a
thing for the Whitehawk pack.” The decision to take them out was based on
livestock depredations on private lands.

He said the “three strikes and you’re out” has been an incremental
approach for depredation management, but decisions are based more on
environmental and behavioral factors than the number of strikes. FWS has
authorized both non-lethal and lethal actions, depending on the

FWS attorneys are reviewing Winmill’s decision to see how or if they will
respond, since the agency wasn’t originally named in the suit. Still, the
plan is to comply with the judge’s order for the summer.


In a press release plaintiffs seem pleased with the ruling. Jon Marvel,
executive director of Western Watersheds Project, was quoted as saying,
“For the first time a federal judge has ordered a stop to the killing of

Linn Kincannon, Idaho Conservation League, was quoted to say, “Every pack
in the White Cloud Mountains, some of Idaho’s wildest country, has been
destroyed. For this summer at least that won’t happen. And hopefully we’ll
have a new pack in the SNRA before long.”

Shopping around

Niemeyer said it appears there are no denning wolves in the SNRA this year
although the Wildhorse pack has been checking it out.

Nez Perce Recovery Coordinator Curt Mack said there has been wolf activity
in the Sawtooth Valley, but to date no packs have set up permanent

B-107, a dispersing wolf from the Moyer pack, has made several appearances
in the Sawtooth Valley as well as Ketchum and Hailey areas. He checked out
Cape Horn and was once seen in Squaw Creek.

Mack said they’ve received reports of three wolves in Pole Creek early
this summer, but trackers weren’t able to find them. There were
unsubstantiated reports of lone wolves crossing the highway at Cape Horn
earlier this spring.

The Landmark pack has come close to entering the SNRA, but stays in the
headwater country of Loon and Valley watersheds.

The Wildhorse pack has been moving around the most. The pack lost its
alpha female last winter so had no pups. They abandoned their original
territory since there was no need to den and have apparently been checking
out the sites. They’ve spent time in Muldoon Creek, foothills of the
Pioneers, Wood River Valley, North Fork of the Big Lost, Warm Springs area
near Ketchum, Big Smokeys and north of Ketchum between the town and Galena

Mack said it’s hard to predict where they’ll end up.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 24

Wolves are returning to their rightful place

Wolves are returning to their rightful place

By Kurt Krueger
In The Outdoors

DRIVING JUST after darkness fell on the Sayner landscape one evening last month, my son Steve and I noticed shining eyes in the ditchline ahead.

That’s nothing unusual with the high densities of deer that exist along County Highway N, so we weren’t paying a lot of attention as we approached the spot.
But the animal that took off running for the nearby woods, illuminated by our headlights, definitely got our attention.

It wasn’t much smaller than a deer but it didn’t have the brown or reddish brown coat we expected to see. Instead, its hair was gray with a hint of black, like that of a coyote.

It lumbered with long strides as it attempted to pick up speed to elude our vehicle, and we got a very good look at it before it disappeared into the pines about a quarter-mile west of McKay’s Corner Store.

I looked at Steve, who was thinking the same thing, and asked him just how much he thought that animal weighed.

“Over a hundred pounds. It had to be a timber wolf,” he said. “Did you see how big the head was?”

The sighting was one of those fulfilling experiences that are hard to put into words. It was a rare sight, of course, but it was more than that. It was like a homecoming for a native who had been gone far too long.

There is just something truly wild about having wolves in Vilas and Oneida counties again.

And while some deer hunters and others aren’t so excited that they have returned, it’s a good feeling to know we haven’t permanently damaged the wolf’s habitat.

The event stirred in my memory last week as I opened the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) latest progress report on wolf monitoring, covering the period from October 2001 to March 2002.

Maybe it’s not so coincidental that on Page 17 of the report, biologists said the highest number of reported wolf observations came from Vilas County, where 20 of the 188 “probable” sightings occurred. I never called the DNR, so this might be number 21.

Our sighting wasn’t as rare as I first thought.

“Several reports were received from western Vilas County, west of the Escanaba Lake pack,” reports the DNR. “This is the first year the Escanaba Lake pack has been identified and the reports may indicate that the pack actually occupies a larger territory than indicated on the pack distribution map.”

The other good news in the report was that Wisconsin’s wolf population continued to grow last year, now numbering between 323 and 339 animals in 81 packs or groups. That’s at least 75 more wolves than a year ago.

The report says the Escanaba group contains three wolves based on 30 miles of track surveys that were done last winter.

Also close by is the Stella Lake pair in Oneida County, just south of Three Lakes. One of the pair, a collared yearling female, was observed three times with two other wolves in the Little Rice River area and with one wolf in the Stella Lake area.

It may seem too coincidental, but as I’ve written before in this space, my son Brian and I had two wolves running down the road in front of our truck in the spring of 2001 just east of Stella Lake.

They certainly fit the description of the DNR’s report, one very large wolf and a companion that was very small. They dashed off the road and through a tag elder swamp like it was a walk in the park.

To put this into perspective, I live in Three Lakes but spend a lot of time fishing lakes in Sayner and Boulder Junction. As someone who drives an average of 24,000 miles a year, I get more than my share of opportunity to see wildlife.

What I have not seen, for the record, are any of the wolves from the four in the Pelican Lake Pack in Oneida, from the three in Nineweb Lake Pack in Vilas, or from the two in the Giant Pine Pack just east of Three Lakes (Forest County).

There are another two wolves identified in the Alvin area of Forest and Florence counties. Because winter tracking showed they went north across the Brule River, researchers speculate they might have come from Michigan.

The not-so-good news is that 24 wolves were found dead in the state during the winter study period, including seven collared wolves that were being actively monitored.
Overall causes of mortality included nine or 10 shootings, seven vehicle collisions, four likely mange, two caused by other wolves, and one unknown.

Though mange was an issue, killing at least four wolves and causing some pack areas to be taken over by other wolves, it did not appear to reduce the rate of population growth.

So how high will the DNR let wolf numbers get?

“A population of 350 wolves in Wisconsin represents the desired management population, and once the population exceeds this level, pro-active controls and possibly a public harvest can be considered,” the report states.

Federal delisting will be necessary before more flexible controls are possible under state delisting.

None of that can happen without federal delisting, the criteria for which is a combined population of 100 wolves in Wisconsin and Michigan for five or more years.
The combined state populations have been at that level since 1994, and currently are approaching 600 wolves.

“Therefore, the federal delisting process can begin anytime and will probably begin soon after reclassification to threatened is completed,” officials wrote.

Federal reclassification to threatened began in 2000, and should be completed this summer. That means complete delisting will be at least another two or three years.

I have to wonder what in the world is taking the feds so long. If they delay the process too much longer, Wisconsin’s wolf numbers will hit 500 before there is any work done toward population control.

Wolves are Wisconsin natives and they belong here. I can see myself trying to get one to howl back at me on a moonlit summer night in the national forest. To hear that would be unforgettable.

But there are limits to what people will tolerate before they redevelop the anti-wolf attitude that once led to the extirpation of wolves here.

Keep a decent balance, and there will be few illegal wolf shootings. A goal of 350 wolves seems reasonable.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 19

Sheep rancher shoots wolf

Sheep rancher shoots wolf

A sheep rancher took matters into his own hands on Thursday and shot a
wolf that he claims attacked one of his lambs. A Greenpeace official is
questioning whether the incident was justified.

Sheriff’s office personnel took the dead wolf to the local veterinary college for testing.

Wolves are protected in Norway, but they can be shot in self-defense or
when determined to have caused widespread damage. Authorities have earlier
allowed official, but controversial, wolf hunts after heeding ranchers’
complaints that Norway’s wolf population was getting too large. Thursday’s
incident began when a rancher in Stor-Elvdal, Hedmark, says he found one
of his lambs dying from a wolf attack. Wildlife official Trond Oefstaas
told newspaper Aftenposten “there was no doubt” the lamb was killed by a
wolf, pointing to bite marks on the lamb’s neck.

He says the lamb was already dead when he arrived on the scene, noting
that the rancher killed it himself. He added that “it took some time”
before the rancher, who wouldn’t talk to the media, found the wolf, which
allegedly was on the verge of another lamb attack.

The rancher then killed the wolf, with one shot to the back of the head.

The incident is being investigated by police, but the rancher claims he
shot in self-defense.

Truls Gulowsen of Greenpeace, which is working to protect Norway’s small
wolf population, is far from at ease with happened on Thursday. “Earlier
it had to be proven that there really was ‘widespread damage’ from the
wolves, while today the damage assessment is too low,” he told newspaper

“If one wolf equates to one sheep, it means the end of wildlife here in
Norway,” Gulowsen.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 18

Judge Winmill hears arguments in SNRA grazing case

Judge Winmill hears arguments in SNRA grazing case

by Anna Means

If livestock graze on certain allotments in the Sawtooth National
Recreation Area (SNRA) and wolves attack them, will it count?

This was a major point considered by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn
Winmill when he heard arguments for and against removing livestock from
eight SNRA allotments this summer.

The hearing, held July 11 in Boise, had attorneys speaking on behalf of
the SNRA, Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and Idaho Conservation League
(ICL) and permittees Bill Brailsford and John Faulkner.

WWP and ICL filed a motion for interim relief on June 25 asking that four
permittees using eight allotments in the SNRA be restrained from grazing
this year. They claimed the specific allotments were known wolf habitat
and turning sheep or cattle out would jeopardize the wolves. They argued
this was warranted in light of Winmill’s earlier decision this summer when
he ruled wolves must be protected within the SNRA despite their status as
experimental and non-essential in other parts of the recovery area. He
further ruled that the SNRA must assess whether grazing “substantially
impaired” wolf populations in addition to updating allotment management

Last Thursday before hearing arguments, Winmill expressed his reservations
about pulling permittees off the range. He said this “Draconian” step was
inconsistent with his original decision where he said effects of grazing
on wolves must be evaluated. He said he didn’t rule that livestock had a
negative impact on wolves, but only that the matter must be studied.

Laird Lucas, attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that any depredations on
the SNRA counted as strikes against the wolves. He said the final strikes
(resulting in removal) often happen on private land within the SNRA (East
Fork), so protection must be offered on public grazing lands. He asserted
the only way to insure no depredations occurred would be to keep livestock
off those eight important allotments.

Lucas pointed out the plaintiffs weren’t asking for removal of livestock
from all allotments in the SNRA, but only where there had been
livestock/wolf conflicts in the past.

Winmill asked if a “result-oriented remedy” might not accomplish the same
thing as livestock removal, “just so wolves are not destroyed?”

Lucas responded that some of the allotments should be closed for
administrative reasons. He added that plaintiffs identified several
remedial actions permittees could take, but were told by the Forest
Service that they couldn’t impose such rules.

Federal position
Forest Service attorney Barclay Samford told the judge his agency had no
say over wolf control actions, which are made by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service.

Winmill replied, “I can solve that problem in a hurry.”

Samford further stated a large number of wolf attacks and kills on
livestock happen on private lands. Winmill asked if the plaintiffs were
arguing depredations on private land within the SNRA should also be
exempted from control decisions. Lucas said no, but he didn’t want
depredations on public lands counting against the animals.

Samford said that from the Forest Service’s perspective, there was no
problem with Winmill’s idea of having everyone work toward solutions on
livestock/wolf conflicts with the intent to do no harm to wolves.

Public sentiment
Samford said that to remove livestock from allotments this year one had to
consider the harm to plaintiffs, the public and permittees. He asserted 67
percent of depredations happened on private lands and four out of the
eight allotments targeted by plaintiffs had no history of depredations.

Samford said in weighing a decision to remove livestock one must consider
the public interest. He said the original compromise to make the
reintroduction program fly with the general public was to classify
reintroduced wolves as “experimental, non-essential.” Given that, problem
wolves could be removed and wolves in general would be supported.

Winmill interjected that the SNRA was different in that its Organic Act
required protection of wildlife.

Samford said regardless of the size of the area where livestock were
restricted, it would still increase public animosity against the wolves.
Despite the destruction of wolf packs in livestock areas, he said, the
overall wolf reintroduction program was successful and shouldn’t be
jeopardized by creating conditions within the SNRA that could turn public
sentiment against the animals.

Remedial actions
Attorney Alan Schroeder, representing permittee Bill Brailsford and the
Flying Triangle Ranch, next stepped up. He argued that Brailsford had
reduced the number of sheep he’s running on the SNRA allotments and has
agreed to terms and conditions that will reduce chances for wolf
conflicts. Brailsford increased the number of sheepherders this year and
wasn’t opposed to the presence of wolf guardians (volunteers devoted to
keeping sheep and wolves separated). The only thing he didn’t agree to was
using a portable electric fence since it was his belief it didn’t work and
only made things harder for the sheep.

Schroeder also spoke to financial hardship that would be imposed if
Brailsford had to take his sheep off allotments this year. He disputed a
declaration submitted by WWP Director Jon Marvel saying Brailsford
wouldn’t lose as much money as he claimed he would. Also, Schroeder added
that much of the private land available to Brailsford had burned in a
wildfire and hadn’t yet recovered.

Problem territory?
Tom Arkoosh, attorney for Faulkner Land and Livestock, told the judge he
was authorized to accept Winmill’s solution, but he wanted to point out
that some of the allotments in question had no history of depredations.

Lucas responded to all parties’ arguments by saying there was evidence the
old Wildhorse pack had moved into the Smokey Mountain area, thus entering
allotments named in the motion. He said this hadn’t yet been confirmed by
the Fish and Wildlife Service. He said plaintiffs had tried to work out an
agreement with the Forest Service, but had been told the SNRA can’t make
changes until a court ordered them to do so.

Unintended consequences
Lucas said he could see the merit to a “no harm, no foul” rule for the
wolves on the SNRA but worried wolves would learn to eat livestock and
then depredate outside the SNRA or else come back every year where they
were allowed to kill livestock.

Winmill agreed there was a doctrine of unintended consequences, which
could make the SNRA a magnet for wolves. He said he’d be giving that some
thought, but what must be the main issue is preventive measures. He said
he wasn’t willing to micro-manage grazing allotments by identifying those
measures but wanted the SRNA and permittees to come up with effective

Decision pending
Arkoosh asked if the court would consider having everyone work together
and agree on preventive measures.

Lucas said the main thrust of the plaintiffs’ motion was to avoid
livestock/wolf conflicts. He said if the court ordered the Forest Service
to make permittees try interventions, it might work, but the only way to
guarantee no conflicts was to forbid cattle on the range. He said
plaintiffs were only asking for this year.

Winmill said he took environmental issues seriously and understood that
his decisions affected everyone–permittees, plaintiffs and the SNRA. He
said he was sympathetic to the Forest Service’s need for a court order to
get some things moving. He told all parties they shouldn’t be discouraged
from getting together and working out an agreement, but he didn’t expect
that to happen. He said he’d take a few days to consider the situation and
issue a decision.

As of press time on Wednesday morning, Winmill hadn’t made a decision.


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