Sep 29

2 red wolves moved to refuge to counter coyote interbreeding

2 red wolves moved to refuge to counter coyote interbreeding

Sunday, September 29, 2002
Of The Post and Courier Staff

The two young red wolves from Bull’s Island are doing well
their move last Tuesday to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in
northeastern North Carolina.

“We will be making a decision within two months about when and
where they will be released,” said Bud Fazio, team leader of the federal
Red Wolf Recovery Program.

Fazio expects the wolves to play an important role in the
against invading coyotes, which have jeopardized the red wolf species and

“By interbreeding (with red wolves), coyotes threaten to breed
red wolves out of existence,” Fazio said.

The two 18-month-old wolves, a male and a female, most likely
will be placed in areas where coyotes have been removed or sterilized,
Fazio said. “We have several potential settings.”

Coyotes, non-natives that moved east into the refuge in the
or mid-1990s, began interbreeding with less numerous red wolves that had
been reintroduced there.

In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked a group of
scientists to assess the situation. They predicted that red wolves would
become unrecognizable as a separate species within 12 to 14 years if
interbreeding was not controlled.

The scientists made recommendations, and USFWS adopted an
Adaptive Management Plan to deal with coyotes and save endangered red

“We have made good progress. The number of coyotes in the area
has declined,” Fazio said of the 1.7 million acres designated for
experimental red wolves.

The easternmost of three zones, which includes Alligator River
near Manteo, is totally free of coyotes. Zone Two has only sterilized
coyotes, which are holding established territories until the program has
red wolves to place in their stead, Fazio explained.

Zone Three, the western area, has a lot of sterilized coyotes
more immigrants moving in.

“We have demonstrated (coyotes) are a threat that can be
managed,” he said. Some hybrids remain in the wild but have been

The plan also calls for increasing red wolves, which is where
Bull’s Island pups come in this year and in the future, Fazio expects.

Biologists will assess the health and behavior of both wolves,
and the field team will monitor the wild population to determine suitable
release sites.

Most likely each wolf will be placed in a temporary pen in a
strategic location, Fazio said. Wolves living in the area will smell the
new arrival and come to meet it. “He’ll make a lot of friends.”

They will include a potential mate, said Fazio.

Until now, pups born on Bull’s Island were moved to Alligator
River at about 9 months of age. Biologists chose the wolf’s mate and
introduced them. This year the wolves will make their own decision, a pair
bond that normally lasts a lifetime.

About 75 of the 100 red wolves living in the wild in North
Carolina wear radio-tracking collars, as do the Bull’s Island wolves.
Biologists can keep track of activity and signs of bonding from a

“At the appropriate time, we will open the door,” said Fazio.

The ideal time is fall to winter. “That’s when they begin to
flirt,” said biologist Shauna Baron, program outreach coordinator.

The Bull’s Island wolves could be ready to reproduce this
but might wait a year to have pups. Meanwhile, each would be getting to
know his new home from his mate, born in the wilds of Alligator River.

At 18 months, this year’s wolves would normally leave their
parents to find a mate and establish a territory.

This spring red wolves had nine litters of pups in the recovery
area, 40 pups in all.

One female also adopted two zoo-born pups, just 2 weeks old.

already had two pups of her own the same age but had raised a litter of
six the year before. In May a male and a female from a litter of six
whelped at North Carolina Zoological Park were placed in her wild den.

Bull’s Island in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, the
place that red wolves were ever returned to the wild, currently serves as
a breeding site where pups are born and grow up in the wild. A pair of red
wolves on an island in St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge in Florida
also will produce pups for Alligator River, Fazio expects.

To survive in the wild, red wolves must learn how to avoid
alligators, black bears, vehicles, farm equipment and other perils, Fazio
said. A wolf born and growing up in the wild is thought to have a better
chance than a zoo-born wolf. The recovery program manages a population of
147 captive wolves in 20 states, however, as a safety net for the wild

The recovery effort began after the red wolf was listed as
endangered in 1967. Decades of predator control shrank the worldwide
population to fewer than 100 animals in a small area of coastal Texas and
Louisiana. Coyotes delivered the final blow by interbreeding.

To save red wolves from extinction, Fish and Wildlife held a
roundup; blood tests proved only 17 were purebred rather than hybrids.
Those 17 began the captive breeding program that continues today.

In 1987, four pair of captive-born red wolves were released
Alligator River. The next year, a litter was born in the wild there.

Also in 1988, the pair of wolves on Bull’s Island produced two
male pups, which were moved to Alligator River. One, officially named Wolf
331M, became the alpha male of the Milltail pack and survived what is
considered an astonishing 13 years, considerably longer than his
captive-born peers.

In a recent publication, the program hailed the Bull’s Island
wolf as an old friend:

“His contribution to the wild population and his will to
will not soon be forgotten. In 12 years he sired more than 20 red wolf
pups, and his heritage now stretches through four generations. With the
arrival of this year’s puppies, his memory lives on as his new
grandchildren take their place in the wild red wolf population.”

Said Fazio, “If you look at the big picture, the red wolf
has come a long way since the ’60s, when there were 17 left in the world
and the species was almost extinct. It takes a long time, but it is time
well spent.”


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 29

Feds reject dual status for wolves

Feds reject dual status for wolves

Associated Press

GREEN RIVER, Wyo. (AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected
the state’s plan to seek dual classification for the gray wolf, saying it
would undermine efforts to keep the animal from becoming endangered again.

Going against the advice of department directors, Wyoming’s Game and Fish
Commission earlier this month voted to designate the wolf as a trophy game
animal in some forest wilderness areas and a predator in the rest of the

That classification meant the wolf could be killed anytime, any way,
anywhere, much like the coyote, jack rabbit and skunk, if its federal
protection is removed. Animals classified as trophy game are subject to
state hunting regulations, including licensing and specific hunting

Federal biologists criticized the plan, saying it could stall efforts to
remove the animal from the endangered species list.

Wyoming, Idaho and Montana must have state management plans in place and
approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prior to a delisting
petition being submitted.

Wyoming’s dual classification proposal wouldn’t meet federal delisting
standards, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams said
Thursday in a letter to the state Game and Fish Department.

“I guess we were kind of hoping he would say otherwise, but quite frankly
I’m not surprised” by the opinion, Game and Fish Acting Director Tom
Thorne said Friday.

The problem with dual classification is the state must show it has enough
legal authority to prevent the wolf from becoming endangered or threatened
again, Williams said.

The state could not regulate wolf management in areas where the animal is
classified as a predator, which would be most areas in the state, Williams

“If wolves are legally managed as trophy game animals … (the department)
could quickly revise regulations of enact emergency orders, without the
need for legislative approvals,” Williams wrote.

Game and Fish commissioners planned to revisit the issue at their next
meeting in October.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in
1995 and 1996. As of last year, 189 wolves were living in northwest
Wyoming in 10 packs, each with a breeding pair.


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 27

Most-Endangered Wolves May Be Saved By Vaccine

Most-Endangered Wolves May Be Saved By Vaccine

John Pickrell
for National Geographic News

September 27, 2002

The Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is the most endangered species in the
group of animals known as canids. The biggest threat comes from rabies and
other diseases carried by dogs in the wolves’ mountainous habitat, but
researchers now think it may be possible to develop a vaccine that could
dramatically help the species’ survival.

Based on a complex computer model, the scientists say it might be
possible to prevent the wolf’s extinction by vaccinating only 20 percent
to 40 percent of the known populations.

The elegant and long-legged animal with reddish-orange fur lives in the
alpine regions of Ethiopia, 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) or so above sea
level. It is also known as the Simien jackal or the Abyssinian wolf.

The Ethiopian wolf has become so rare that any rescue plan must be
implemented soon, researchers argue.

Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, a zoologist at the University of Oxford in
England, said only seven populations of the wolf remain, totalling less
than 500 adults. That figure “makes the species rarer than gorillas,
pandas, tigers, cheetahs, rhinos, and most other large mammals,” he noted.

Dwindling Numbers

The Ethiopian wolf has declined slowly in population since the end of the
last ice age, when the world warmed and cooler alpine habitats receded
across much of Africa.

Today, habitat destruction and hybridization with domestic dogs have
helped push the species toward extinction.

“The Ethiopian wolf is teetering on the brink,” said James Malcolm, a
biologist at the University of Redlands in California. “The species has
persisted in pockets of habitat which…are now being encroached by people
eking out a living,” he added. In some areas, the wolves are killed by
Ethiopian farmers who blame them for killing sheep and goats. Many of the
animals were also killed indiscriminately during periods of civil war in
the past two decades.

The most serious threat, however, comes from diseases such as rabies, or
canine distemper, carried by dogs from human settlements.

After a rabies outbreak in 1990, the largest known population of
Ethiopian wolves—found in the region’s Bale Mountains—decreased by
two-thirds within two weeks—from about 440 animals to less than 160.

“Fresh carcasses began to appear everywhere,” said Dada Gotelli, a
conservation geneticist at the Institute of Zoology in London.

“We were left with the lingering fear [that it] could happen again,”
said Gotelli, who believes prompt action should be taken to control
further outbreaks of infectious diseases that could wipe out the
Ethiopian wolf.

Toward a Vaccine

Since 1996, Karen Laurenson, a veterinary biologist at the University of
Edinburgh in Scotland and a colleague of Sillero-Zubiri, has been studying
the possibility of vaccinating dogs against rabies as a way of indirectly
protecting the Ethiopian wolf. Her results suggested that up to 70 percent
of all dogs in the region would have to receive the vaccine to have a
positive effect on the wolf populations.

Now, Sillero-Zubiri, Laurenson, and another co-worker, Daniel Heydon at
the University of Guelph in Ontario, are considering direct vaccination of
the wolves.

In a study reported in the October issue of Conservation Biology, the
researchers used complex computer models to test the likelihood of
extinction among wolves that would be vaccinated—if an effective vaccine
were developed—compared with non-vaccinated wolves.

The results suggested that small populations of Ethiopian wolves,
perhaps as few as 25 to 50, were not likely to become extinct in the
next 50 years if they remained rabies-free.

At current levels of rabies, however, most or all remaining populations of
the wolf are highly susceptible to extinction, the researchers concluded.
Previous research has shown that when some wolves in a population become
infected, up to 90 percent of their pack is likely to also develop the

Malcolm said the finding that only 20 percent to 40 percent of the
wolves would need to be vaccinated is encouraging.
“The bad news is that we have no way of doing it,” because a vaccine to
prevent rabies in the Ethiopian wolf has not yet been invented, he pointed

Yet Sillero-Zubiri is optimistic, arguing that effective oral vaccines
have been developed for foxes, racoons, and skunks in Europe and America.
Such a vaccine could be administered to the wolves in the wild by
delivering the dosages with bait, he said.

Acknowleding that much careful research lies ahead, he said:
“Vaccinating wolves would seem a good idea, but we need to be satisfied
that there will be no side effects.”

Gotelli agreed that the task of vaccine development is urgent. “The
small isolated nature of the remaining wolf populations, together with the
increase of human density in a country streaked by poverty…is like a time
bomb,” she said. “If science doesn’t try to prevent the explosion, the
Ethiopian wolf will be facing its last days.”


Original Publication Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 27

Local farms included in wolf-kill compensation fund

09/27/02 Local farms included in wolf-kill compensation fund

By SCOTT BRAND/The Evening News

SAULT STE. MARIE — Michigan farmers, including some right here in the
Eastern Upper Peninsula, have received a total of $13,300 in wolf-kill
compensation through the Michigan Department of Agriculture since 1999.

To date, there have been eight accepted claims with most of them involving
only one or two animals. The largest kill, as recorded by the department
of agriculture was 11 animals at one location. Two of those claims have
been paid out to Chippewa County farmers, according to Public Information
Officer Sara Linsmeier-Wurfel of the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
The other six claims have been paid out for losses in the central and
western Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Wolf Compensation Program is designed to provide financial
assistance to farmers that experience livestock depredation directly
attributed to wolves. Under the reimbursement guidelines, farmers receive
90 percent of the value of the lost livestock on claims not exceeding
$3,000. The remaining 10 percent is reimbursed by the International Wolf
Center in Ely, Minn.

In a press release announcing this plan dated August of 2000, the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources instructs those suspecting a
wolf-livestock encounter to immediately contact the agency. Affected
parties should not move the slain animals or trample on the kill site as
this can destroy or erase valuable evidence. The announcement also added
that wildlife experts would be dispatched to investigate and verify the
wolf kill.

“The claims have to be verified and certified by the DNR,” said
Linsmeier-Wurfel. “From my understanding, the system works.”

A certain segment of the farming community argues the system does not
always work, indicating there have been occasions where the DNR either did
not respond or failed to respond until long after the wolf-kill evidence
has been washed away.

“It caught us by surprise that this guy had tried to contact us,” said Ann
Wilson, a DNR spokesman after learning of an unanswered August 15 wolf
attack call coming from Stalwart.

Wilson said the department attempts to respond to all wolf-kill complaints
in a timely fashion. She characterized any perceived lack of response as a
“miscommunication” between agencies, adding it certainly was not the
department’s intention to ignore complaints or create any delays in
responding to them.

“We work very hard to make sure they are getting the fair market value for
lost animals,” said Linsmeier-Wurfel, characterizing most recipients as
satisfied with their reimbursements. “It takes 4-6 weeks before the
producer will have a check in hand.”

Linsmeier-Wurfel said farmers who have a confirmed wolf kill should
contact Dr. Mark Remick at (517) 373-1077 in Lansing or Dr. Mike Bruner of
the Escanaba Office at (906) 786-5462 to hasten the reimbursement process.

The latest estimates, coming in an April 30 press release from the DNR,
place the Upper Peninsula’s wolf population at 278 animals.


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 26

Arizona Game and Fish demands feds act on wolf worries

Arizona Game and Fish demands feds act on wolf worries

By Tom Jackson King, Managing Editor

Arizona is still a partner in the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction
program — but the Arizona Game and Fish Commission let loose a blast of
demands at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that reflect growing rural
and state frustrations.

The wolf program is a $9 million, five-year attempt to reintroduce up to
100 endangered Mexican gray wolves into their former habitat in the
federal forests of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

It is a program that has drawn intense fire from some ranching and rural
parties, but positive words from environmental and animal rights groups.

At its Sept. 14 meeting in Springerville and Eagar, in Apache County, the
AGF Commission conducted its own review of the wolf program and ended up
demanding a “restructuring” of the wolf program within 180 days, by Sept.
30, 2002, or else it might take “further action” on AGF’s participation
with USWS and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in the controversial
program. AGF demanded:

The roles of the primary cooperators must be restructured to ensure
state participation, authorities and responsibilities as reflected in
today’s discussion.

The administrative and adaptive management processes must be
restructured to ensure opportunities for, and participation by, the full
spectrum of stakeholders.

The Interagency Field Team response protocols must be restructured and
staff capacity must be enhanced to ensure immediate response capability
to, and resolution of, urgent operational issues such as depredation

Project outreach must be restructured as necessary to address the
commission, department and public concerns expressed today.

The project’s review protocols and procedures must be restructured and
improved to ensure that the five-year review is effective and efficient,
and an improvement over the three-year review.

AGF Commissioner Joe Carter of Safford said the commission’s action on
Saturday was intended to give H. Dale Hall, the new Southwest Director of
USFWS, one last opportunity to fix the program to Arizona’s liking.

“I really respect what Director Hall is trying to do, but I believe he’s
having to drag his staff along. I want to give Director Hall an
opportunity to see if he can turn this thing around,” he said.

Carter said the GAF commissioners got an earful at their Saturday
meeting from rural residents, ranchers and others with concerns about the
wolf program.

On allegations that USFWS is failing to recapture wolf hybrids spotted in
the field, Carter said, “That goes right to the heart of it. While they
(USFWS) may have rules in place, they aren’t as responsive on the ground
as they should be.”

On complaints that too large an area is closed to grazing when a wolf mom
is denning with her pups, Carter said, “I think that’s another example
where on the ground activity is not consistent with the rules. They
(ranchers) experience economic losses when they have to remove cattle.”

On the sudden killing of seven wolf pups by USFWS staff on Monday, Sept.
16, just after the GAF met, Carter said he learned of the killings only
when “I read it in your newspaper. I think that’s another example of
communications and on the ground problems. We never hear anything. One
thing is sorely lacking and that is meaningful input by the stakeholders
– that must change,” he said.

Carter said the GAF department was given the same news release the
Copper Era got, on Monday afternoon, but there was no advance word given
to the commission when it met Sept. 14. “For whatever reason, they (USFWS)
don’t have the resources on the ground to carry them (rules) out. The
action the commission took with respect to the motion was in response to
individual commissioner concerns, executive staff concerns and most
importantly, concerns from the public,” he said.

Carter said the agency might take action on the state’s participation in
the wolf program sooner than the 180-day deadline it gave USFWS for some

Sierra Club spokesperson Sandy Bahr and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
spokes-man Stephen Capra were called but could not be reached before press


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 26

Interior official says wolf delisting will happen in 2003

Interior official says wolf delisting will happen in 2003


Chronicle Staff Writer

The federal government still plans to remove protections for wolves by
next year, a Bush administration official said Wednesday, but lawsuits
over that action are inevitable.

There is a “100 percent chance” of suits aiming to retain protections
under the Endangered Species Act, according to Craig Manson, assistant
secretary of the Interior Department, a job that puts him in charge of the
National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

He said the government will be ready to delist wolves in a few months, and
it will be ready to defend that action in court.

“We’re prepared to defend that case because we think the science is on our
side,” he told the annual meeting of the Western Environmental Trade
Association, a group of extractive industry officials and politicians
gathered at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman.

“When the time is biologically right, it’s time to be relieved of the
burdens (of the ESA). We’re going to get there in 2003,” he said.

However, others maintain the government stands on fragile legal ground.
“Some of my colleagues feel (the government) is quite vulnerable,” said
Mike Phillips, head of the Turner Endangered Species Fund and a former
federal biologist who implemented wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone
National Park in 1995 and 1996.

The federal government’s initial plan calls for delisting wolves in
several Western states, from Colorado to Washington, even though most of
those states have no wolves.

It’s the wide geographic breadth of that plan that irks many

That plan would kick in after a December count, when biologists expect to
confirm the presence of at least 30 breeding pairs of wolves for a third
year in a row in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. About 700 wolves now roam
those three states.

Phillips, widely respected among wolf advocates, said he would “actively
lobby” for delisting in the three states, where wolves are “doing fine,”
but not all across the West.

Currently occupied wolf habitat comprises less than 10 percent of
historically occupied wolf habitat, Phillips said, and the ESA calls for
delisting when a species occupies a “significant” portion of the historic

“I don’t know who would consider 8 percent to 10 percent significant,” he
said. Still, there is a lot of pressure to delist wolves, which have
expanded their territory rapidly.

“We have your puppies running all over,” Rep. John Esp told Manson at the

Manson, a former district judge and general counsel for the California
Department of Fish and Game, also met with the Chronicle’s editorial
board. In both appearances, he touted Bush’s natural resource agenda.

The top priority is the president’s Healthy Forests Initiative, which
calls for thinning and logging fire-prone forests while stripping down
some environmental laws.

Manson is also eager to make progress on the backlog of maintenance
projects in national parks, a project to which Bush has committed $4.9

He wants to make a dent in the onslaught of invasive plants and animals
and he wants to make the federal government, which manages hundreds of
millions of acres in the West, more accessible to local concerns.

“We want to treat the states not as colonies but as sovereigns,” he
said. And the administration will be one that “involves people who live
and work on the land.”

The canceling of a Clinton-era ban on snowmobiling in Yellowstone
“illustrates part of our philosophy,” he said, adding that the Bush
administration wants to “manage instead of prohibit” snowmobiles.

“There will be snowmobiles in Yellowstone hereafter,” he said, but they
will be “environmentally responsible.”


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 26

What’s up with wolves in the SNRA?

What’s up with wolves in the SNRA?

by Anna Means

Wolves in the Sawtooth Valley were fairly quiet this summer, but a
recent depredation has the paperwork flying in U.S. District Court.

When we last visited the situation in the Sawtooth National Recreation
Area (SNRA), U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill had issued an injunction
against the lethal control of wolves attacking livestock within the SNRA.
The order was good until September 1. In late August he extended the order
through the end of the public grazing season (sometime in October).

Since then the federal government on behalf of the Forest Service and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has petitioned the court to remove
FWS from the injunction. Most recently, they’ve asked for clarification on
whether private lands are subject to the order since FWS confirmed a wolf
killed a calf on private land on September 8.

As of presstime Wednesday, Winmill had
not issued a decision on the government’s petition.

Brief history
Idaho Conservation League and Western Watersheds Project were plaintiffs
in an original suit asking that the SNRA be forced to recognize wolves as
a wildlife value within the SNRA and protect wolves against harmful
practices such as grazing.

Winmill’s decision said yes, wolves were wildlife and domestic livestock
were a resource use rather than a pastoral value and the SNRA must
actively evaluate the relationship between the two.

Later, plaintiffs asked that grazing on
eight allotments be stopped to avoid potential conflicts with wolves.
Winmill didn’t go that far, but instead issued an injunction prohibiting
the lethal control of wolves that snacked on livestock this summer.

In early August the federal government filed a motion asking Winmill to
reconsider and ultimately vacate his order enjoining FWS, because they
believed FWS shouldn’t be included in a suit where they weren’t originally
named and besides, they were operating under Wolf Control Rules that were
obviously separate from the SNRA’s mission. Plaintiffs objected, offering
arguments why FWS should be included in the injunction.

Please clarify
On September 8 a wolf killed a calf on private land inside the
geographic boundaries of the SNRA. Three days later, the government
filed a request for clarification of the order, specifically whether the
judge meant to include private as well as public lands in the injunction.

Plaintiffs immediately rebutted. They said it was questionable whether a
wolf killed the calf, or if it did, there was a possibility it occurred on
public land. Even if the kill was by a wolf on private land, they argued
private lands “are wholly interdependent and reliant upon federal lands in
the SNRA for livestock grazing.” So, the court’s injunction “properly
includes private lands within the SNRA.”

This last statement was in marked contrast to what attorney Laird Lucas
told the court last summer when the case was argued. At that time he said
plaintiffs were seeking protection for wolves depredating on public, not
private, lands.

Now, they are arguing Congress authorized federal regulation of private
inholdings in the SNRA to ensure that primary SNRA values are preserved
and protected and that includes protection of wolves.

Breaking the rules
On another note, plaintiffs argued that FWS violated its own procedural
rules by targeting the depredating wolf for lethal control.

They said wolf B-107 (a former member of the Moyer Basin pack) had no
history of killing livestock, so had no strikes against it. The rules say
a control action can only be initiated if there’s reason to believe
additional livestock losses would occur without intervention.

Plus, they argued, the landowner in question had not initiated any
non-lethal methods of deterring wolves from his property. They stated FWS
can only impose lethal control after other methods to resolve livestock
depredations have been exhausted.

Rebut the rebut
The federal government filed a reply saying the plaintiffs were reading a
lot into a simple motion for clarification. The feds said they weren’t
asking the court to say private lands don’t apply to the injunction so FWS
could ultimately kill wolf B-107. “The United States only asked the Court
to clarify an ambiguity in the injunctive orders without taking a view as
to what the proper interpretation should be.”

The government also said this was not the proper venue to argue Wolf
Control Rules or the Forest Service’s jurisdiction over private lands
within the SNRA.

Ultimately, the government disagreed with the plaintiffs’ assertion that
Winmill’s original order plainly included private lands. The attorneys
wrote, “If the language of the July 19th order were ‘unquestionable,’ the
United States would not have needed to ask the question.”


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 24

2 red wolf pups moving to N.C. refuge

2 red wolf pups moving to N.C. refuge

Pair will be set free today to mate, establish territory at

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Of The Post and Courier Staff

Two red wolf pups born on Bull’s Island are moving today to a
North Carolina refuge, where each will meet a mate and be set free to
establish a territory and, it’s hoped, raise a family.

The male and female, both between 17 and 18 months old, are
expected to arrive this afternoon at Alligator River National Wildlife
Refuge in North Carolina, the only mainland site where the endangered
species lives in the wild.

The pups’ parents are doing well and will remain on the island
breeding site in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, said refuge manager
George Garris. But their latest pups might have been eaten by alligators.

Although the young northbound wolves will gain more weight,
are full-grown, Garris said. “They are pretty well mature enough to defend
their territory.”

That’s vital at Alligator River these days. Coyotes, moving
have invaded the refuge and threaten the federal red wolf program, the
first attempt to reintroduce a species that had become extinct in the

Coyotes can interbreed with red wolves. However, wolves are
thought to prefer their own species and to mate for life. But when one of
a pair dies, a hardy coyote may move in.

Red wolf biologists discovered hybrids at Alligator River and
began sterilizing and removing coyotes in hopes of releasing pairs of
wolves in their stead.

“Alligator River is ready for them,” Garris said of the Bull’s
Island wolves. A number of pups born on Bull’s Island have been released
on the refuge. “They survive in the wild and do well. They have produced a
lot of young up there.”

The two wolves passed a veterinary exam and received canine
Monday on Bull’s Island.

Cape Romain staff member Herbert Manigault is due to pick up
two this morning, slip them into shipping crates and drive them to the
refuge near Manteo, N.C.

That apparently leaves their parents alone on the island, where
the rabbit and rat population cycled into a 10-year high and gave the
family plenty to eat this year.

The female usually gives birth in April. Her udders were
very low, which showed she was nursing, when Garris saw her in the spring.
Later he spotted what looked like the tracks of young pups.

Then paths got too dry and dusty to reveal tracks. “This is the
worst drought ever on Bull’s,” he said.

Fresh water has dried up in many places, and most of the island
now has only brackish water.

Garris recently counted more than 70 alligators, each more than
feet long, crowded into a ditch just 100 yards long and 20 yards wide.
“There were no little ones. They’d been eaten,” Garris said.

“The pups had nowhere to go for fresh water….They would have
go near alligators to drink.”

The first two female red wolves placed on Bull’s Island, both
born in zoos, were killed by alligators, and one also lost a pup to an
alligator, Garris said.

After nearly 10 years on the island, the resident 12-year-old
female is smart enough to have learned about alligators, Garris said,
adding that he thinks she taught her second mate, now 7 years old, about
the reptiles.

For now the adults, if not this year’s pups, are safe,
to signals from their transmitter collars.


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 23

No wolf hunts this winter

No wolf hunts this winter

State wildlife officials said Monday that no licenses will be issued for a wolf hunt this winter. The wolf population already is so decimated that no hunt can be justified, they say.

Norway’s wolves should be able to roam without fear of getting shot this winter.

Officials at the state Directorate for Wildlife Management said they are only aware of two wolf pairs that can reproduce. That means there is no basis for an authorized hunt.

The decision provides for some breathing room in a long-standing quarrel between Norwegian and Swedish wildlife officials. Both sides had cooperated in building up southern Scandinavia’s once nearly extinct wolf population, members of which often cross back and forth over the border.

While the Swedes continued to protect their wolves, Norwegian authorities started allowing hunts after ranchers complained the wolves were attacking their free-grazing sheep. The Swedes were furious and are firmly opposed to hunts.

Ugly incidents also have arisen in Norway in which ranchers are suspected of laying out poison to intentionally kill wolves.

In other cases, wolves that researchers had marked with transmitters have disappeared. Officials suspect anti-wolf activists have obtained equipment that allowed them to track down the wolves instead, and that the animals were then killed.

Wildlife officials also have proposed using the Glomma River as a boundary for separating the wolves and domestic animals. Wolves would be allowed to roam in the area east of the river, while ranchers could allow their flocks to graze west of the river.

The proposal has received mixed reviews. Wolf activists have reservations, worrying that such artificial borders can hurt other wild species and would be unmanageable.


Posted in Uncategorized
Sep 22

Study aims to keep wolves from livestock

Study aims to keep wolves from livestock

By Associated Press

MOUNT PLEASANT — A Central Michigan University professor plans an
to stop wolves from preying on livestock in the Upper Peninsula.

Thomas Gehring, a biologist, will lead a two-year study tracking wolves
and trying to keep them out of areas where they cause problems.

Next spring, Gehring and others will put radio telemetry collars on
wolves that will shock them if they enter an area covered by a tower. The
collars will work like an electric fence for pets.

“We want to be humane about it,” Gehring said. “The point of this is to
reduce lethal control. Lethal control can be used, yes, but also use other

Michigan and Wisconsin environmental officials are trying to determine
whether it is safe to downgrade the wolf from endangered to threatened.

If the animals’ status were changed, Department of Natural Resources
officials could eliminate the entire pack using lethal measures, Gehring

An estimated 350 wolves live in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.

Gehring hopes to fit four wolves with global positioning system collars
to track their movements. Eight others will be fitted with telemetry
collars — four with shocking capabilities and four without.

A graduate student and undergraduate research assistants will help with
the work. They will explore the collars’ effectiveness, checking to see
whether they deter wolves even after the collars are removed.

Strobe lights or sirens could be deterrents, the professor said, but
have not yet been tested scientifically.

“We can really apply this to any carnivore who has a conflict with
(humans) from a standpoint of their culture,” he said.


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