Oct 31

Wolf Advocates Make Their Case

Wolf Advocates Make Their Case


Star-Ledger Staff

It was odd behavior, even for college kids.

Several hundred Rutgers University students, gathered inside a campus
gymnasium, pitched their heads back and let loose with full- throated,
mournful howls one evening last week.

The goal — to get four wolves in the center of the gym to howl back. The
wolves seemed unimpressed, staring at the students as if to say, “Do we
look that stupid?”

Minutes later, the wolves were off, whisked back onto an old coach to
finish off a Northeast tour before heading back to their home — a
449-acre privately owned sanctuary called Mission: Wolf, 9,000 feet up in
the mountains in Silver Cliff, Colo.

Mission: Wolf’s founder, Kent Weber, schlepped Luna, Magpie, Raven and
Rami on this five-week, 10-state tour to entertain and educate the 30,000
people who showed up at his talks for a close look at live wolves. But he
had another agenda — to drum up support for the reintroduction of wolves
to the northeastern United States.

“We have more wolves living in cages
than we do in the wild,” Weber told the Rutgers students. “And not
coincidentally, we have more deer, elk and moose than ever before.”

Weber’s traveling road show is part of a large, loosely organized
campaign to return wolves to the Northeast. Bringing wild wolves to New
Jersey is more than Weber and other pro-wolf types dare dream of –
federal land is too scarce and subdivisions too plenti ful. But the
Adirondack Mountains are a different story.

Encouraged by the successful reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone
National Park in the mid- 1990s, groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and
the National Wildlife Federation have been pressing the idea of bringing
the howls back to New York’s Adirondack State Park, which is about three
times the size of Yellowstone.

“Wolves play an essential role in ecosystems they inhabit,” said Nina
Fascione, vice president of species conservation at the Washington
D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife. “As the top predator, they help regulate
the populations of ungulates — the deer, and moose they prey on — and
smaller carni vores like coyotes.”

That’s just the obvious benefit, Fascione said. She said that in
Yellowstone, aspen and cottonwood trees staged a resurgence after wolves
returned. It seems elk, who were accustomed to lazily foraging on the
trees, now move along faster and eat in less obvious spots.

“Every species impacts several other ones in various ways,” she said.

A Northeast reintroduction could work, said Matthew Gomp per, a
University of Missouri conservation biologist who has studied carnivores
in the Adirondacks for years. There is ample protected land and a
substantial supply of prey. However, he’s not sure he’s for it.

“The main factor one would have to deal with would be to keep people and
wolves separated,” Gompper said.

That’s for the protection of wolves, not people. Though there have been
infrequent maulings in Europe, a wolf has never been known to kill a
person in North America. But humans haven’t been so kind in return.
Settlers concerned for their livestock extermi nated wolves from the East
Coast by the late 1800s. By 1973, there were just 650 wolves left in the
country, virtually all in Minnesota.

Thanks to three reintroductions — the one in Yellowstone and oth ers in
Arizona and North Carolina — and other federal measures, the American
wolf population has grown to about 3,500 and spread to nine states, said
L. David Mech, a wildlife research biologist with the U.S. Geological
Survey who has studied wolves and their prey since 1958.

However, federal support for a Northeast wolf program has been
lackluster, and a reintroduction is at least 10 years away, experts
said. It took about 25 years for advo cates to overcome ranchers’
objections to the Yellowstone reintro duction.

Leading the opposition in these parts are groups such as the Sportsmen’s
Alliance of Maine, which is determined to beat back efforts to reintroduce
the wolf to Maine’s Northern Woods.

“We don’t feel our game animals can stand another predator,” said
executive director George Smith. “The moose is a huge tourist at
traction up here.”

If the wolf came along, curbs on hunting, trapping and snowmobil ing
would surely follow, Smith said. “Our favorite activities are going to be
challenged and probably cur tailed in areas that have wolves.”

Smith seems to be succeeding. Last year, the Maine legislature passed a
law discouraging reintro duction, as New Hampshire had previously. It’s
unlikely the federal government will push the issue without local support,
activists on both sides said. And the push for a reintroduction in New
York seems hopelessly stalled, said Fascione, the Defenders of Wildlife

“There’s certainly an active grass roots movement, but there’s no
movement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Fascione said.

But Weber and company push on. He has driven more than 2.5 million miles
in his modified wolf- ready buses since he started presenting his
“ambassador wolves” to crowds in 1986, two years after he founded Mission:

They rarely fail to enchant. At Rutgers’ Cook College campus in New
Brunswick last week, the stu dents sat on the floor, leaving a large
rectangular space for the wolves. Luna, Magpie, Raven and Rami made
their way around the room, sniffing faces, licking the lucky ones,
biting no one. Like the 50 or so other wolves at Mission: Wolf, they
were raised in cages, thus unable to survive in the wild and — now that
Weber has repaired whatever psychological damage was inflicted by their
original owners — no danger to humans.

They moved fast, with that distinctive gangly gait. They stopped at the
occasional student and stared at them for a moment or two with those
entrancing yellow eyes.

“Just the way they looked at you was so cool,” said animal-science major
Catherine Riggleman, who was lucky enough to be licked on the chin. “It
was much better than seeing them in a cage.” Alas, these wolves didn’t
howl. Some tricks, it seems, are reserved for the wild.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 31

Alaska — Woman first to be charged under new wolf hybrid ad law

Alaska — Woman first to be charged under new wolf hybrid ad law

State trying to eliminate market for wolf-dog mix

By Zaz Hollander
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: October 31, 2002)

JoGenia Sexton on Wednesday became the first person in Alaska charged under a new state law that bans advertising wolf hybrids for sale.

State attorneys say Sexton broke a law that went into effect in March that is designed to phase out the controversial wolf-dog mix. Part of the law makes it illegal to advertise wolf hybrids. The charge comes with a maximum $300 fine.

In mid-August, Sexton advertised her pups in the Daily News in this ad:
“Alaska puppies for real Alaskans. Asking $600 & down. Germans Sheppard, Giant Malamute, White Timeberwolf (mom). Siberian Husky, Lupis hybrid (Dad).”

Sexton, grappling with one of the 4-month-old fur balls at her South Anchorage home Wednesday, said the dogs look like a mix of Siberian husky, malamute and German shepherd because that’s what they are.

She has sold nine of the puppies, all for less than $600, she said.

Wildlife authorities decided to prosecute Sexton because they want to get the message out that selling hybrids is illegal, said assistant attorney general Jack Schmidt, a special prosecutor for fish and wildlife cases.

“We’re trying to eliminate a market for wolf hybrids and wolves,” Schmidt said.

Wolf hybrids have been the center of controversy in Alaska and elsewhere for years. Detractors blame them for vicious attacks; supporters praise them as intelligent animals that can make good pets if bred right.

With the ban on advertising, the state can get around the fact that it’s basically impossible to prove in court that the animals are part wolf because DNA tests are inconclusive when trying to establish if an animal is part wolf.

Under the new law, people who already own the animals can keep them as long as they are spayed or neutered, implanted with a microchip and carry a current license and vaccinations.

But Sexton and supporters say that authorities went too far in her case. The dogs don’t come from wolves but from an accidental pairing of a male Siberian husky and a female German shepherd-malamute mix, they say.

In August, Sexton greeted Alaska State Trooper Doug Massie after he came to her house to investigate the ad. She told Massie she discovered the ad was illegal only after the Daily News contacted her to say they were canceling it.

She told Massie she worded the ad the way she did to “to sell the puppies faster,” according to the charging documents filed Wednesday in Anchorage District Court.
Sexton, 47, doesn’t deny making those comments.

She said she had brain surgery last April, the second surgery she’s had to treat a tumor. The surgeries have addled her short-term memory and made it hard for her to think clearly.
The day she placed the ad, she was reading from notes that friend Michael Hansen left on the table in her kitchen, she said.

The words are his, a suggestion he made based on malamute bloodlines tracing back to wolves, Hansen said.

“We were just stupid. It was a stupid, human mistake,” he said.

Whether the dogs are wolf hybrids or not is not the point, Schmidt said. The point is that Sexton broke the law by advertising to sell the animals.

He did take her health into account, he said. He listened to a tape of her conversation with Massie. It showed no sign of mental deficiencies and she sounded coherent, he said.

Whether or not Sexton was breeding wolf hybrids, she stood to make some money from this batch, he added.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 31

Rancher eyes more wolf-kill permits

Rancher eyes more wolf-kill permits

Associated Press

LIVINGSTON (AP) – Mill Creek rancher Jim Melin says the one wolf-kill permit offered by a federal agency to stop the slaughter of his sheep is inadequate, both for him and his neighbors.

As of Saturday morning, Melin said he had 15 dead sheep. He found a freshly killed buck Wednesday morning, with wolf tracks in the snow, and suspects there may be other kills.

The buck “had his rib cage torn out the way the others were on Saturday. A federal trapper told me that’s how wolves kill sheep,” Melin said.

The rancher said he contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery team and was told it was too cold to put out traps but flags and noisemakers near the sheep pastures might help.

“The flags would be a short-term fix. Eventually, they get brave and approach, but it might work if it directs them away from those pastures,” said Joe Fontaine, a federal wildlife biologist.

Melin was offered a permit to kill one wolf if he sees one on his land within the next 45 days.

“They’d only give us one permit for the eight ranches out here,” Melin said. “I told them they have to do something more for us. We don’t have time to run around chasing wolves and they could come in their helicopters and do more damage (to the wolves) in a day than we could ever do.”

Melin said he has asked for a more liberal kill permit, for himself and adjacent ranchers.

“I have been overly patient with this process. They’ve dragged their feet entirely too much,” Melin said. “Those wolves are going to go one way or the other.”

He said “while the federal bureaucrats are trying to make up their minds, I’m losing more sheep.”

Melin said a representative from the wolf recovery team visited his ranch Wednesday and told him the dead sheep still on the ground from Saturday were an attractant to the wolves.

He was also told his working ranch dogs also were an attractant.

Melin the dogs also protect his children, four under the age of 8.

Fontaine said wolves tend to need more food this time of year because the pups have gotten big enough to eat more.

“With hunting season starting they’ll have gut piles to feed on, so hopefully they won’t go after livestock,” Fontaine said.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 31

Wolf delisting jeopardized in Wyoming

Wolf delisting jeopardized in Wyoming

Gazette Wyoming Bureau

Plans to remove federal protections from gray wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are in jeopardy because of this week’s vote by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to classify some wolves as predators.

If that vote is formalized into Wyoming’s management plan for wolves, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service won’t propose removing wolves in the northern Rockies from the Endangered Species List, said Ed Bangs, federal wolf recovery coordinator in Helena.

“That means wolves would stay on the list indefinitely,” Bangs said Wednesday.

The federal government was expected to propose delisting the wolves early next year and eventually pass management along to the three states. Montana and Idaho have written plans to take over the wolves, and Wyoming is in the midst of its initial draft.

But those plans may never be enacted if Wyoming seeks predator status for some wolves and the federal government objects.

“This decision really throws a wrench into that process,” said Chris Smith, chief of staff in Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “It’s very much up in the air.”

At a meeting in Jackson on Monday, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted 4-2 in favor of “dual classification” for wolves in the state.

Wolves in national parks, refuges and certain forest wilderness areas would be designated as trophy game, subject to hunting rules; wolves in the rest of the state would be predators, which could be killed any time.

The decision came after about two hours of testimony from the public, including ranchers and outfitters urging strong measures to control the wolf population in Wyoming.

Commissioner Gary Lundvall said Wednesday that the predator status was sought to protect private landowners and big game populations. If hunters have fewer animals to hunt, the Game and Fish Department, which is funded almost entirely by hunters and anglers, would suffer a financial blow, Lundvall said.

He said the federal government hasn’t shown that it will pay to manage wolves in Wyoming once the animals are delisted. If Monday’s vote keeps the wolves under federal protection and out of the state’s control, so be it, Lundvall said.

“If they (FWS officials) don’t feel like they want the state of Wyoming to handle wolves in that boundary, then they can manage them,” Lundvall said.

Before Monday’s vote, staff at the Game and Fish Department, the head of the Fish and Wildlife Service and representatives from Montana urged the commission not to pursue dual classification.

Bangs said wolves became endangered in the first place because people killed them without any regulations. Then wolves were reintroduced in the northern Rockies in 1995 and 1996.

The FWS doesn’t oppose allowing hunting in state management plans but can’t support a predator classification that would allow the wolves to be killed anytime, anywhere and with virtually any method, he said.

“Wolves could be poisoned, hit with cars, hit over the head with rocks or whatever year-round,” Bangs said. “I’d hate to go in front of a national public and try to defend that.”

By law, the federal government has to be assured that wolf populations won’t decline significantly once management is passed to the three states. Bangs and Steve Williams, FWS director, said Wyoming’s proposal wouldn’t pass muster when it comes time to remove federal protection.

“The service has no choice,” Bangs said.

In 1997, governors of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho agreed to work cooperatively to get wolves delisted as soon as possible and bring control of the wolves into the states’ hands.

Smith, of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, said he’s worried about what Monday’s decision may mean for the future of wolf management.

“In Montana, we’re very concerned about the commission’s decision to continue to pursue a direction that the Fish and Wildlife Service said would preclude the possibility of delisting,” he said.

Wyoming could still back away from its dual classification decision. But if not, it could be a long time before any of the northern Rockies states gets to exercise any control over the wolves, Smith said.

“One possible scenario is that if Wyoming chooses to dig in its heels, it will simply be that much longer before Montana could implement any plan, and the same with Idaho,” Smith said. “We may be all dressed up but there’d be no place to go.”

But Greg Schildwachter, policy adviser for the governor’s Office of Species Conservation in Idaho, said it’s too early to predict what’s going to happen.

He said the federal government hasn’t proposed delisting yet, so it’s unclear whether predator status for some wolves would hinder the process.

“We’re nowhere near to a deal, so it’s premature to say anything is a deal breaker,” Schildwachter said.

Idaho wrestled with similar issues that Wyoming is discussing, he said. But in its final plan, Idaho left flexibility in its plan about how to classify the wolf. There’s even a possibility that a new special classification of predator would have to be sought, Schildwachter said.

He said Idaho officials discussed their work on the issue with the Wyoming commission but didn’t offer advice. Idaho officials aren’t frustrated with the commission’s decision, he said.

“There’s parts of this issue that have to be worked out internally for each state and classification is one of those issues,” he said.

Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer has been traveling this week and has not been briefed on the commission’s decision, said spokeswoman Rachel Girt.

“What he has always said is that he’s looking for a workable plan that allows Game and Fish to manage the wolves and a plan that the people of Wyoming support,” Girt said.

The vote pleased some environmentalists at Monday’s meeting in Jackson, who said it ensures that the wolves will remain on the Endangered Species Act.

But Sterling Miller, a senior biologist with the National Wildlife Federation, said his group would like to see the wolves delisted because the goals have been met. The commission’s vote on Monday could keep a delisting proposal out of reach, he said.

“I consider it stupid,” Miller said. “Wyoming has long said they want the opportunity to manage these critters. But they won’t get that opportunity as long as they keep doing stupid things like this.”

Staff members at the Game and Fish Department are expected to have a draft wolf management plan ready for public review and comment on Nov. 8.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 30

Conservation groups seek to restore gray wolf to state

Conservation groups seek to restore gray wolf to state

By Matthew Daly
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two conservation groups are calling on the federal government to restore gray wolves to Washington state, saying it’s time to “hear the call of the wild again” in Western Washington forests.

Defenders of Wildlife and the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance said today they have sent a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting that the agency restore and protect gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.

“Gray wolves have an important role to play in the ecological health and character of the Pacific Northwest, and the federal government should start getting serious about restoring the species here,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. “It’s time to hear the call of the wild again in these beautiful forests.”

The petition urges the service to establish a category known as a distinct population segment for gray wolves in Washington state.

“The wolf and the Pacific Northwest co-evolved. It is as much a thread in the fabric of our ecosystems as the salmon and the grizzly. We must seek to recover wolves wherever suitable habitat exists for the sake of the species and these ecosystems”, said Joe Scott, conservation director of the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance.

Joan Jewett, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, Ore., said today she had not seen the petition, but that the agency would review it upon receipt.

“Any sort of petition like this requires a formal review process, and that takes some time,” she said.

The gray wolf is listed as endangered in all lower 48 states except Minnesota, where it is listed as threatened. The species has been successfully reintroduced in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The Mexican wolf has been reintroduced in the southwestern United States near the Mexican border.

Two years ago, Defenders of Wildlife petitioned federal officials to restore the gray wolf to the Southern Rockies, and petitioned in April 2001 for restoration in California. Those petitions are pending.

Officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service believe the gray wolf has met the necessary three-year population targets that will allow the agency to consider a petition to change its classification from endangered to threatened as soon as next year. Such an action would remove many protections now in place.

About 260 gray wolves are believed to be living in Idaho, while Wyoming has about 218 wolves and Montana 85.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 30

C.J. Conner: Wisconsin’s Greatest Unknown Artist?

C.J. Conner: “Wisconsin’s Greatest Unknown Artist?”

by Greg Adams
October 30, 2002

“I never intended to do any nature or wildlife,” local artist C.J. Conner states. “I always thought there were too many wildlife artists out there who were really good. But then I did a couple, and they sold right away, and I thought, ‘Hey, not bad!’” She laughs. “So I went into wildlife a little bit.”

Conner, who is originally from Elgin, Ill., moved to Hayward, Wis., in 1978. A few years ago she relocated to the Chetek area where she has been continuing her work as a professional artist from her home studio. Conner has found success in the wildlife genre but admits she happened on wolf paintings by accident.

“I used to do commercial work and portraits of people’s dogs, ” Conner explains. “I did some pet food bags for Flav*O*Rite and different companies…I’m on cat litter,” she nods her head and chuckles. “Then I got so busy doing pet portraits that I was about to go kind of crazy. I figured it was time to do a limited edition print. The nearest thing to the dog was the wolf. And wolves were really getting popular back then, in 1990. I did a wolf print, and I thought, ‘That’s it. I won’t do anymore wolves.’ But then the painting was picked up to be on the Wolf Alliance poster. Then suddenly I was known for painting wolves.”

For the last 15 years, the Wolf Alliance, a program of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute of Northland College in Ashland, Wis., has produced an educational poster for Wolf Awareness Week featuring wolf images from regional artists. Conner’s first-ever wolf print was selected to be reproduced on the Wolf Alliance’s 1995 poster.

“I was kind of surprised when they told me I won,” she admits. “I didn’t really even remember entering!”

In 1999, the Wolf Alliance again chose a Conner painting to be on their first poster to be distributed nationwide. Conner was pleased to learn that this year the Wolf Alliance selected her painting, “The Pathfinders,” as the artwork for the 2002 Wolf Awareness Week poster.

“I started that painting on Sept. 10 (2001), that’s why I remember when I started,” she recalls. “The painting itself is actually six feet long and took about three months. On the poster, they could only fit about half of the painting. It’s one of the paintings we usually bring to shows to grab people’s attention, because it’s so big.”

“The original name of the painting was, ‘The Secret of the Seven Wolves,’” Conner’s partner Mel Thomas says. “There are only six wolves in it.” He smiles.

“We’d take the painting places, and you know people are into finding hidden things, so they would stand there and say, ‘Ah, I see it! I see it!’”

“The secret is, there are just some footprints heading off over the hill,” Thomas explains.

The Wolf Awareness Week posters weren’t big money makers, but they did provide a lot of exposure for Conner.

“They sent me on a signing tour, and it was really fun. We just went to the Minnesota Zoo for a signing and gave away about 700 posters in about three hours,” she says.

National recognition and a reliable income is pretty outstanding for a rural artist like Conner, who turned her love of capturing the world in acrylic and canvas into a career.

“I have no formal training in art,” Conner says. “Even in high school…our art teacher used to leave us alone and go out for a smoke,” she starts to laugh, “so we just did whatever we wanted to do. I did learn a few things from him. I’m sure I could have learned more, but I was always afraid I would be too influenced by somebody-that they’d tell me I was doing something wrong, or they’d want to channel it into a certain direction. I’ve always wanted to be by myself.”

This self-motivated approach has earned Conner covers on magazines and other publications-including the annual Indian Head Country Vacation Guide. In addition to selling her prints at arts and craft shows, she sells images to needlepoint companies which are sometimes turned into needlepoint kits. Her paintings have also made their way onto several Leanin’ Tree brand gift cards. “The cards are in convenience stores and gas stations. Every time we stop at one, we go and see if any of the cards are mine. It’s nice, because I get the royalties from those. Just when I’m thinking I need some income, a royalty check comes through.”

In addition to the cards and covers, Conner sells her work through over 100 galleries located across the United States. She also makes a lot of contacts through magazine ads and her website, www.cjconner.com.

“The wolves are just a small part of what I do,” Conner notes. “I do a whole line of pictures of the ground.” She pulls out some prints of beautiful fallen leaves. She picks up a painting in progress and lays it on her studio table. It’s a scene jam-packed with green weeds and bright wildflowers, accented with some colorful insects. She says these nature scenes appeal a little to her surreal artistic tendencies. “I’m finding that these-they’re nature pictures, but they’re completely unarranged. It almost ends up being kind of abstract in a weird way, although that’s what nature looks like. It makes its own patterm and creates its own style.”

The painting looks like a typical Wisconsin roadside scene, but it was arranged entirely by Conner’s mind’s eye, pieced together from her own interpretations of images she captured on film. Conner and Thomas walk the woods frequently to take photographs of insects, weeds, flowers and other earthy things to use as reference for Conner’s paintings.

“Oh, that’s a great one,” she sighs, revealing a picture of a saw-edged weed from the several-inch-thick pile of color snapshots she’s grabbed from her studio table. “I spend about three-quarters of my time just looking at pictures,” she explains. “I always want to be true to nature, making sure the plants are in the correct season and are placed where they would be naturally.” Conner flips through the stack to find a picture of a bright pink wildflower that she wanted to include in her current “weedscape” painting; however, she learned they only grow in isolated patches and not among a group of other plants.

There’s one noticeable blank spot in her unfinished painting. It’s shaped sort of like a jellyfish with two tentacles dangling from the body. Conner grabs a photograph of a Luna moth and holds it near the blank spot. The moth’s profile is a perfect match for the void.
Photographs are a convenient way for Conner to translate nature’s designs onto the canvas, but she sometimes lets nature speak for itself by attaching items directly to the painting.

“When I’m out in the woods, I’m always bringing stuff in. Every once in a while I’ll be carrying my purse and think, ‘Man, this purse is really heavy!’ I’ll look around it, and the whole bottom will be filled with rocks,” Conner laughs.

She points to another example, a painting of a simple ground scene filled with green clovers. An acorn top is affixed in the midst of the clover patch.

“This one is good for antsy kids at shows,” she says. “It’s got one four-leaf clover it that they have to find, so they can look for that while their mom looks at the other paintings.”

The many arts and craft shows in the area are an important outlet for Conner to sell her works. She and Mel travel to a couple of shows a month. “We’re basically an art gallery on wheels.”

At shows, Conner usually sells mostly nature and wildlife prints, but she also paints under the moniker, “Neon Angel,” and creates paintings that are, well, risqué.

“We usually leave the Neon stuff at home,” Mel says with a sly smile.

“But I do bring that one,” Conner says gesturing toward a titillating painting of a lingerie-clad angel sitting delicately on the edge of a bed. “I manage to incite at least one person at each show with it,” she leans forward and grins, “but we always sell at least one too!”

Since many of Conner’s sales come not at shows but through the mail, she has to take time away from creating to take care of orders. She points to a room just off her studio in which some shelves are stacked with frames and packing materials. “That’s my shipping department,” she says. “From now until Christmas, it wouldn’t be unusual to get seven orders a day. I pack them up and ship them out all over the United States.” Many of her mail orders are for small prints of mailbox scenes. “They call me up, tell me what name to paint on the mailbox, and I mat them, frame them and ship them out. That’s probably my main money maker right now.”

“It really gets dead after Christmas,” Conner admits. “That’s the time I like to sit and paint and get a lot done. I like to get up and paint from about 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., then I go to bed. I don’t need a lot of sleep, and I like the quiet.”

And in rural Wisconsin, there is definitely lot of quiet. Surrounded by hushed trees and silent lakes is where Conner feels most at home, and most productive. “I’d rather work behind the scenes and send things out by mail, rather than do one-man shows. I always keep a very low profile. Nobody even knows me. I kind of like it that way. It’s more fun to just stay home and do a painting, send it out, and see what happens.”


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 26

Wisconsin’s wolf count is uncertain

Wisconsin’s wolf count is uncertain

Accurate figure necessary for setting a policy

By Carol Winkelman
Special to the Green Bay Press-Gazette

Hunters and wildlife ecologists agree that wolf populations, like deer
populations, must be controlled, but they disagree as to how many wolves
there are in Wisconsin and how many wolves are too many.

The DNR wolf counts show about 323 wolves, with 309 living outside of
Indian reservations. Many hunters believe the numbers are even higher.

An accurate wolf count will be critical in determining a reasonable state
wolf policy. The state Department of Natural Resources counts wolves by
radio-tracking collared wolves, by winter wolf-tracking counts, and by
howling surveys conducted during the summer.

The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association gathers reports on wolf sightings
from hunters.

Adrian Wydeven, state Department of Natural Resources mammal ecologist and
director of the State Wolf Program, hopes the hunters and DNR staff can
work together to more accurately determine the number of wolves in

But implementing a reasonable state policy depends on a federal agency:
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wisconsin could have “delisted” wolves
- taken them off both the state endangered and threatened species lists -
years ago when the wolf population reached 250, Wydeven said.

“Once wolves are federally reclassified as threatened, the DNR or
Services can trap and euthanize, rather than relocate wolves that have
killed domestic animals in at least two separate attacks,” Wydeven said.
“When wolves are federally delisted, and are no longer considered a
threatened species, wolves can be destroyed by private landowners under
certain circumstances.

“Numerically, Wisconsin should have been delisted by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service about three years ago, but the feds still haven’t taken
the first step of reclassifying us from endangered to threatened – that
they could have done five years ago,” Wydeven said.

He expects the federal government to reclassify and delist wolves by 2004.

When the wolf population reaches 350 – what the DNR refers to as a
goal” – Wisconsin wolf management practices will change dramatically. It
is possible that the state might “harvest” wolves by issuing hunting or
trapping permits, Wydeven said.

But despite the increasing wolf population, Wydeven thinks that hunting or
harvesting wolves may not be necessary in years to come, since the wolf
population will probably level off.

“The new places the wolves are moving into (outside of the areas they
already inhabit) are such hostile environments that they won’t survive.
The only place they can survive is where they’re already living, and those
places can hold just so many wolves.”


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 26

DNR program helps increase the state’s wolf pack

DNR program helps increase the state’s wolf pack

A small group roams north of Green Bay

By Carol Winkelman
Special to the Press-Gazette


Gray wolf facts

  • Canis lupus lycaon, often called timber wolf in Wisconsin.
  • Length: 4½-5½ feet long, including a 15- to 19-inch tail.
  • Weight: 50-70 pounds.

Why Menominee County?

Wildlife experts released the Deerbrook Pack wolves in Menominee County because they wanted to free the pack in a large, wild area unoccupied by other wolf packs. Other packs might hurt the pups or interfere with them.

“The Menominee Indian Reservation is the largest block of suitable, unoccupied wolf habitat in Wisconsin,” said Adrian Wydeven, state Department of Natural Resources mammal ecologist and director of the State Wolf Program.

The Menominee forest provides the pack with prey such as beaver, raccoon and deer, and room to roam away from people and domestic animals.

Although the wolf-release site was only about seven miles from farms in Oconto and Langlade counties, few places in Northeastern Wisconsin are much farther from farms, Wydeven said.

Since their release, the wolves have moved back and forth from the reservation to Oconto County.

“There’s a healthy deer population in that area,” said Wydeven, who said that deer often congregate on the reservation during the winter and the wolves would most likely follow them.

Wydeven said that the noise created by hunters and guns in Oconto County may also drive the wolves back to Menominee County.

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Two adult wolves and five pups, dubbed “The Deerbrook Pack,” are roaming through Menominee and Oconto counties. Within the last two weeks, the adults have been located about 19 miles north of downtown Green Bay.

“They are almost close enough to hear fans cheering at Lambeau stadium,” said Adrian Wydeven, state Department of Natural Resources mammal ecologist and director of the State Wolf Program.

“They’re still at a point where they’re trying to set up a new territory. The wolves made some visits back to the Menominee reservation, but it seems that over the last two or three weeks they’ve been hanging out in an area between Suring and Gillett,” Wydeven said.

Drummed out of existence in Wisconsin by 1960, wolves started making a comeback here in the 1970s. In 1979, the state had 25 wolves. It now has more than 300.

DNR biologists moved the Deerbrook Pack from Langlade County in July, after the pack was involved in two “depredations” — attacks on domestic animals. The wolves killed a sickly cow on June 28 and a calf on July 5.

Wildlife experts trapped the wolves, fitted them with radio collars and relocated them.
The Menominee Indian Tribe welcomed the pack.

“We’re pretty excited here,” said Al Fowler, the reservation’s deputy chief warden.

“Wolves are an integral part of the ecosystem — a predator at the top of the food chain that can keep other animals in check.”

Fowler believes that the wolves will keep forests and trout steams healthy by controlling beaver populations, and the pack will curb the spread of chronic wasting disease by killing sick deer.

“The wolf is regarded by the Menominee as a brother,” Fowler said.

The wolves were released about 45 miles from downtown Green Bay, but the pack has since roamed back and forth between Oconto and Menominee counties. A wolf’s territory normally covers 70 to 100 square miles.

Donny Reiter, the Menominee manager-biologist who monitors the radio signals from the wolves’ collars, recently detected an additional male wolf that wandered in from Michigan and joined the pack, much to the surprise of DNR biologists.

It is unusual for a pack to adopt a new adult member, especially when they already have an alpha male and female forming the basis of their family structure.

Program a success

So far, the state wolf relocation program has been successful.

“Of 21 wolves that we released between 46 and 172 miles (from the depredation site), none returned to the site of depredation,” said Wydeven, who recommends that farmers near wolf territory carefully dispose of dead farm animals, since animal carcasses left in the woods or pasture can attract wolves.

The DNR relocates problem wolves rather than destroying them, because wolves are listed as endangered by the federal government, Wydeven said.

The U.S. Endangered Species Act prevents states and individuals from killing wolves. Wolves that attack humans can be legally destroyed, but in North America, healthy wild wolves have not attacked a human in more than 100 years.

But for some Wisconsin residents, especially farmers and bear hunters, wolves are not their brothers and the relocation and protection of wolves remains controversial.

The strongest opposition to the continued protection of wolves comes from bear hunters, who say their hunting dogs are more at risk from getting killed by wolves than by bears.
In Wisconsin, about 60 dogs have been killed by wolves since the mid-1980s, most of them hound dogs killed while hunting in the woods, Wydeven said.

“I would hate to see wolves and the concern for wolf conservation be a reason that bear hunting with hounds disappears,” Wydeven said. But he believes hunters should assume some of the risk for dogs attacked while hunting on public land.

Rick Posig, president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, accepts the presence of wolves in Wisconsin, but he wants the DNR to aggressively control wolves that attack domestic animals on public lands, such as state and federal forests.

“It’s not that we’re against all wolves,” he said. “We’re against the wolves that are causing depredation.”

‘Three strikes’

Posig proposes a “three strikes and you’re out” rule that permits the destruction of wolves that kill dogs or livestock three times — whether on public or private land.

“I’m not asking for the world,” said Posig, who lives near Abrams. “I just want the DNR to apply the ‘three strikes rule’ to all lands.”

The DNR proposes a similar management plan for private land and can now implement it because of a new federal permit that the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services granted the state on Aug. 23.

The new permit allows the DNR to euthanize wolves that have attacked domestic animals on private lands three times. However, on public land, the wolves are still protected by federal law.

Coexisting possible

Some bear hunters, like Dwight Freymiller, believe that wolves and humans can coexist.

“Wolves want no interactions with humans. If you give them a wide enough area, they will leave. If humans are highly visible, you won’t have a problem,” said Freymiller, who suggests that farmers monitor their cattle, hunters stay as close as possible to their dogs, and adults supervise children and pets who go outdoors.

Freymiller added that wolves can benefit hunters.

“Wolves help the bobcat population,” he said. He said wolves chase away coyotes that compete with bobcats for food, and wolf kills provide additional food for bobcats.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 26

Wyoming–Commission to review wolf classification

Commission to review wolf classification

Associated Press

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – Wyoming’s wolf management plan will be the focus of a
two-day Game and Fish Commission meeting next week.

The commission plans to revisit the state’s ongoing efforts to develop a
management plan for the gray wolf, and will hear ideas from Montana and
Idaho wildlife officials during the meeting Monday and Tuesday at
Jackson’s Antler Motel.

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

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the plan, saying it would
undermine efforts to keep the animal from becoming endangered again.

The federal government plans to hand management of the gray wolf over to
Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, but only if they have management plans in
place that adequately protect the wolf.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission hopes to have another plan ready for
approval by February.

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
Oct 26

2 red wolves settle into new Bull’s Island home

2 red wolves settle into new Bull’s Island home

Biologists are optimistic two male red wolves on Bulls Island will like the two new females who have arrived from Missouri.

“What every young wolf wants is a territory, a home and a mate,” said Sue Lindsey, the executive director of the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center.
Researchers used the federal computer matching system that keeps track of the entire red wolf population and calculates genetically which wolf would be the best cross for any lone wolf in need of a mate.

“The computer dating service is very rarely not a hit,” Lindsey said.

The older female has already moved in with her new mate, although Dawsey hasn’t seen the couple nose-to-nose.

Echo, the younger female, temporarily lives alone in an enclosure. She, too, may have met her future mate, which lives free on Bull’s.

He normally visits the wolf enclosure area every night or two, said Refuge Manager George Garris, who tracks the wolf via signals from his transmitter collar.

This is the perfect time for introductions, Lindsey said. Males become fertile in November; females are ready to breed from January into March. By then, she and Garris hope, both the new pairs on Bull’s Island will have bonded and will produce litters in the spring.

Information from: The Post And Courier


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