Jan 31

Wolves Joining Agenda for Regional Wildlife Council Meetings

Wolves Joining Agenda for Regional Wildlife Council Meetings



Utah wildlife officials plan to begin educating the public on wolf issues at five meetings in February around the state.

    None of the meetings, however, will be held in Salt Lake City.

    The nearest meeting to the capital city is set for Springville, a two-hour drive during rush-hour traffic.

    Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Hadley said there is no intent to snub Utah’s population center.

    The wolf issue, he said, was added at the last minute to the agendas of meetings already scheduled by the Utah Wildlife Board’s five Regional Advisory Councils (RACs).

    “[The meetings] weren’t called specifically to discuss wolves, but because of the public’s interest in wolves right now, we thought a discussion about wolves would be a great item to add,” said Hadley.

    As the state gets closer to developing a wolf management plan, Hadley said, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a future meeting in Salt Lake City.”

    Environmentalists say they do not care where the RACs hold their meetings. Comprised mainly of ranching and hunting interests, the RACs are a “futile process for public input,” says Allison Jones, a biologist for the Utah Wolf Forum.

    “We’ve tried to work with the RACs for years and years. It doesn’t get you anywhere,” Jones said.

    The wolf forum is urging the state to establish a more independent process for educating the public and soliciting input on wolf issues.

    Interest in wolf issues has accelerated since Nov. 30, when a wolf from Yellowstone National Park was accidentally captured near Morgan. It was the first confirmed wolf in Utah since the government exterminated the creature 70 years ago to benefit ranchers and hunters. Biologists believe wolves will continue to try to recolonize Utah.

    Following a successful wolf recovery effort in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to remove the wolf from the endangered species list, a move that will put wolf management in the hands of the states.

    To prepare for that day, the DWR believes now is the time to give the public an opportunity to learn more about “these fascinating animals,” Hadley said.

    The RAC meetings, which will feature a presentation by a DWR expert followed by a question-and-answer session, are scheduled as follows:

    * Feb. 18, John Wesley Powell Museum, Green River, 6:30 p.m.

    * Feb. 19, Beaver High School, Beaver, 7 p.m.

    * Feb. 24, Vernal City offices, Vernal, 7 p.m.

    * Feb. 25, Springville Junior High School, Springville, 6:30 p.m.

    * Feb. 26, Bridgerland Applied Technology Center, Brigham City, 6 p.m.


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Jan 31

Wildlife plan goes to Senate

Wildlife plan goes to Senate

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that threatens to sue the federal government over
wolf management is headed to the full Senate.

Senate File 97 was heavily amended Thursday before the Senate Travel,
Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee approved it 4-1.

One change would ask the attorney general to “prepare a plan of litigation” to
give Wyoming sole management authority over all species in the state except
within Yellowstone National Park.

The same amendment would ask the attorney general to look into whether the Game
and Fish Department could gain management authority over species in other
federally controlled areas in Wyoming.

The bill is aimed at wolves, which were introduced in Yellowstone in 1995 and
have since spread throughout northwest Wyoming.

In an effort to prevent that from happening again, the bill would ban the
“introduction, reintroduction, propagation or management of any wildlife
species” by anyone except the state Game and Fish Department.

As for species that have already been introduced in Wyoming — namely wolves –
the bill seeks reimbursement for costs and damage.

The legislation coincides with an effort by the Game and Fish Commission to
develop a state wolf management plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is
requiring that Wyoming, Idaho and Montana develop their own management plans
before wolves are removed from endangered species status.

Sen. John Hanes, R-Cheyenne, pointed out the contradiction: “On the one hand
we’re telling them to go ahead with the delisting. On the other hand we’re
telling them ‘We don’t like you, go away,’ ” he said.

Committee chairman and bill sponsor Delaine Roberts, R-Etna, acknowledged that
the bill is “pretty pointed” but said he hopes it will attract some attention.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the federal government could take these off
the Endangered Species List,” he said. “But instead they’re saying, ‘You come
up with a plan.’”

While the threat of a lawsuit was added to the bill, some of its most pointed
language was removed Thursday.

One section that was removed would have demanded the removal of reintroduced
species in Wyoming. Another deleted measure would have told the state’s
sheriffs that all wildlife violations would be investigated by the Game and
Fish Department and not by the federal government.

Most who testified at the meeting supported the bill.


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Jan 31

Wolf foes want state to call shots

Wolf foes want state to call shots

HELENA (AP) — The state should wrestle control of the wolf population from
federal regulators if the animal is not delisted by 2004, ranchers and
outfitters told lawmakers Thursday.

Plans before the Legislature push for management of wolves as predators, and
would call on the state to sue the federal government to pay for resources lost
to wolves.

But opponents worried one of two measures would derail the state’s wolf
management plan, a prerequisite for federal delisting of the animal, and result
in years of costly litigation against the U.S. government.

The state would be on shaky legal ground, according to Chris Tweeten, chief
counsel for Attorney General Mike McGrath.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that for wolves to be taken off the
Endangered Species List in the region, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho each must
first develop plans for managing the wolves on their own. Idaho adopted its
plan last March. Montana and Wyoming are developing theirs.

House Bill 283 directs state wildlife officials to unilaterally control the
wolf population if the federal government does not remove the animals from the
endangered species list by Jan. 1, 2004.

The measure said the same actions should be taken if a federal move to delist
wolves is challenged in court.

“This bill is not about eradicating wolves from Montana. This bill is about
turning management over to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department,” said Rep.
Daniel Fuchs, R-Billings, who is also sponsoring HB262.

Both bills were before the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee Thursday.

But HB283 drew the most focus from a large crowd gathered for the hearings.

“We are worried this bill will not promote delisting,” said Chris Smith, chief
of staff for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “It will stop it dead
in its tracks.”

Hunters contend wolves are responsible for a drop in elk populations in some
areas, while ranchers say wolves threaten their livestock and their

“We do know that wolves are going to eat these animals that we are going to be
hunting,” said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports
Association. “We are going to run out of elk in somewhere between five and 10
years. The elk are going to be gone.”

HB262 is a general directive to the wildlife agency to manage wolves, lions,
and bears primarily to protect livestock, game animals, pets, people and
recreational opportunities. Wildlife managers said such an overall message
probably would not foul delisting efforts.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said the wolf’s classification under the
Endangered Species Act may be downgraded from “endangered,” the highest level
of protection, to “threatened” as early as next month.

Among other things, that would allow ranchers to kill wolves caught attacking
their livestock.

After that, federal managers have said they would launch the delisting process.
Ed Bangs, the FWS wolf recovery specialist, has estimated delisting will come
sometime in 2004.

Opponents of HB283 said the state’s wolf management plan, currently in the
works, would take reasonable measures to control wolves — as soon as delisting
takes place.

But supporters of Fuchs’ measures said they didn’t trust the federal government
to ever delist the wolf.

“It decimates the wildlife population wherever it goes,” said Bigfork resident
Clarice Ryan. “It can destroy anything that moves.

“This animal alone has the ability to jeopardize our entire way of life.”

Outfitters said the state’s wolf population, estimated at between 200 and 600
animals, already exceeds the number the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed
to at the time of reintroduction.

“It is a fact that the situation facing our wildlife, our livestock, our
businesses, our way of life, is critical,” said Bill Hoppe, a Gardiner

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the annual head count conducted on New
Year’s Eve found nearly 700 wolves in about 41 packs roaming Montana, Idaho and


Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 30

Wolves hit North Piney elk

Wolves hit North Piney elk

by Cat Urbigkit

Mike Schaffer of LaBarge is an elk feeder on North Piney – or was an elk feeder until last Friday when wolves eliminated his job.

“It’s been an all-winter battle and I finally lost,” Schaffer said in an interview this week.

Schaffer said he began feeding in early November and at last count, was caring for 388 head of elk on the feedground.

“Everything was going good,” Schaffer said. “But the wolves started hitting us in December and it’s been problems ever since.”

Although there are at least five wolves running in two groups in the area, the recent problems on the feedground involved the pack of three, Schaffer said. In this pack, there are two grays and a black.

Schaffer said he hasn’t been finding dead elk that the wolves have killed on the feedground itself because the wolves chase them up into the trees, leaving only the blood trail out in the open.

Schaffer said the wolves will run into the elk herd, “get two or three wounded and bleeding like hell,” then ease off. Schaffer said it appears the wolves “let them bleed until they get good and weak,” before moving back in on the herd.

Schaffer said he’s found dead moose that the wolves killed but didn’t eat, with just the faces and guts ripped out.

A week ago, the wolves hit the elk, “it took … three days to get them back to the feedground and get them settled.”

Settled they were, Schaffer said, with the animals calming down and coming right up to the sled for their daily dose of hay.

But last Friday when he went to feed, Schaffer followed the wolf tracks up the snowmobile trail.

“You couldn’t im-agine the blood … up and down the feedground,” Schaffer said.

The blood trail went right to the feed row and continued up into the trees, he said.

Some of the elk came back, Schaffer said, “But the wolves hit them that night from above.

“They wreaked havoc up and down that creek bottom,” Schaffer said. “God, I just hate this,” Schaffer said, recalling what he saw and experienced.

This time the blood trail starts a full three miles from the feedground, Schaffer said.

The elk didn’t come back so Friday’s feeding was Schaffer’s last.

“The elk just left,” he said. “They just can’t take that much pressure … They’ve got to get out of there.”

The pack of three wolves using the North Piney and Bench Corral elk feedgrounds have been documented killing and chasing elk on the feedgrounds for the last two winters by the elk feeders. These wolves, because they haven’t been documented to have successfully raised pups, are not included as one of the 10 packs assisting in acheiving wolf recovery in the Yellowstone region.

“They’ve got my elk feeding job,” so Schaffer will concentrate his efforts on his other enterprises, which incidentally, also stand to be effected by the four-legged protected predators. Schaffer ranches in the LaBarge area and is also a hunting guide.

“It’s a bad deal … everybody ends up paying for it – sportsmen, ranchers, everybody,” Schaffer said.

“The Game and Fish is not to blame here,” Schaffer said. “There was nothing they could do.”

It’s a fairly common misperception that WG&F had nothing to do with the wolf reintroduction. But the state wildlife agency actually endorsed the program. An Oct. 17, 1994, letter from Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Director John Talbott to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated: “Please accept this letter as documentation of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s commitment to the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Pending approval of the proposed rule, we will proceed with development of a state wolf management plan to be submitted to the (Secretary of the Interior) for approval.”

Letters from each state wildlife agency in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana were required before government officials in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, would allow wolves to be taken from those provinces for use in the reintroduction program.


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Jan 30

Wolf classification hearing gets emotional

Wolf classification hearing gets emotional

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – Wolves aren’t welcome in Wyoming.

That was the general consensus at an emotional hearing by the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee on Wednesday. The hearing was held to take public comment on two bills about wolves proposed by the Legislature.

House Bill 229 mirrors efforts by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to come up with a wolf management plan as part of an effort to take wolves off the endangered species list.

The measure would create a dual classification for wolves – assigning trophy designation in areas around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks allowing them to be shot during a hunting season. Outside the area wolves would be classified as predators, giving residents the right to shoot them at any time.

Rep. Mike Baker, R-Thermopolis, said the bill preserves the state’s right to bring a lawsuit against the federal government over wolf-reintroduction.

Senate File 97 asserts that the state has control over its wildlife, not the federal government.

Thirty-five gray wolves from Canada were released into Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s in an effort to reintroduce them to the park. Since then wolves have spread across the state and throughout the region.

That is what ranchers, farmers and outfitters came to address at the committee hearing.

Alan Rosenbaum, a rancher from Moran, said a pack of wolves located two miles from his ranch has intimidated his family and affected his livelihood.

“I need protection for my family, myself and the property I’m entrusted to take care of,” he said.

Jim Allen, president of the Wyoming Dude Ranchers Association, said the wolves were negatively impacting his business.

“Our customers don’t come here to see wolves, they come here to see elk,” he said.

Several others complained wolves were drastically reducing the state’s elk population, in turn affecting the state’s hunting industry.

But Patricia Dowd, with the Sierra Club, told committee members science doesn’t support the claim that wolves are decimating the elk population. She said her group does not support the dual classification.

A primary complaint heard at the hearing is that HB 229 doesn’t go far enough to address the problem because it still allows some wolves in the state.

John Robinette of Dubois told committee members he still lost 30 calves last year to predators even after selling more than half his cattle. Robinette said he put up an electric fence that had stopped grizzly bears from getting to his livestock, but wolves were able to get through it.

“I blame the U.S. Congress for this,” he said. “They mandated it and they funded it.”

He said his family has lost five dogs to wolves, and that one dog was attacked while his wife was walking it from their house to their barn.

“We’ve tried to do this coexistence thing, it’s not working,” he said.

State lawmakers are facing a U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife that could put the brakes on their efforts to delist the wolves if a state management plan isn’t approved.


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Jan 30

Information on wolf death sought

Information on wolf death sought

A $5,000 reward is being offered in connection with the illegal shooting of a young female wolf in western Oconto County near Suring.

The wolf was a member of a pack — two adults and five pups fitted with radio collars — that had been relocated to the Menominee Indian reservation last August. The wolves had been killing livestock in Langlade County.

The pack had not been found to cause any new depredation to domestic animals since being moved. The adult male of the group was struck by a vehicle and killed in October.

The DNR detected 58 dead wolves last year, and at least 14 appeared to be shot. Three were found shot during the gun deer season — one each in Taylor, Lincoln and Juneau counties.

Anyone with information on illegal wolf shootings can call the 24-hour Department of Natural Resources tip line at (800) 847-8367.


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Jan 29

Wolf pack found in refuge for elk

Wolf pack found in refuge for elk

Gazette Wyoming Bureau

Maybe someone showed them a map. Or they got a tip from a friend.

Whatever the case, a pack of wolves missing from Yellow-stone National Park since mid-December was spotted Tuesday in a logical place: The National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyo.

During a flight over the area, scientists noticed the 17-member Nez Perce pack on the north end of the refuge. It was the first time the wolves had been seen for about six weeks.

“As far as we know they just showed up on the refuge today or maybe yesterday,” said Bruce Smith, refuge biologist. “If there had been a pack of 17 wolves out here, someone would have seen them.”

He said there may be some elk or bison on that end of the 25,000-acre refuge, but most of the elk are in the southern half where there’s lower elevation, less snow and more forage.

Wolf managers have been trying to track down the Nez Perce pack for weeks but have been hindered by poor weather and have made only a few aerial searches.

Some of the wolves in the pack have radio collars, the technology is only good when the general area of the wolves is known. Researchers from Idaho on other business dialed in the wolves’ radio frequencies as they flew over the Jackson area Tuesday and stumbled onto the Nez Perce pack.

No one knows how the pack got to the refuge, when they arrived or how long they’ll stay.

The wolves are in close proximity to two other packs, the Teton and the Gros Ventre.

“These guys are going to run into other wolves pretty quick. The question is will they hang around or not,” said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena. “When they run into Teton, I imagine they’ll book it back toward home.”

Wolf managers have no plans to do anything with the Nez Perce pack except to keep an eye on them.

“They’re not doing anything wrong. They’re perfectly fine on the elk refuge,” said Doug Smith, Yellowstone’s lead wolf biologist.

The Park Service and FWS are in the midst of adding new collars to wolves in the region. Smith said he’d like to dart and collar the Nez Perce pack but won’t do it on the national refuge.

If the wolves wander out of the refuge to a good spot, managers may move in to collar a few Nez Perce wolves, he said.

This isn’t the first time the Nez Perce pack has disappeared. The pack left Yellowstone in November 2001 and showed up in eastern Idaho near Afton, where it caused a stir locally for a few days before returning to the park.

It’s also not the first time a wolf pack has wandered onto the elk refuge.

In 1999, two packs showed up in January and stayed into April. They killed about 60 elk “and then they just left,” said Jim Griffin, assistant manager at the refuge. Members of the nearby Teton and Gros Ventre packs occasionally stroll onto the refuge but usually not as a pack, Griffin said.

Refuge workers had no idea that the Nez Perce pack was on the remote northern end of the refuge until they got a call from FWS Tuesday afternoon, Griffin said.

“It was kind of an unusual call,” he said. The refuge is a place where animals are protected, including wolves, he said.

“This is a place where they can be,” Griffin said.

It’s not uncommon for wolf packs to leave their home territory to wander a bit. Bangs speculated that the Nez Perce pack, which is based in the central portion of Yellowstone, may have left to look for food.

“There may not be enough food for a pack that size in the central part of the park,” Bangs said.

As wolves have culled the weak and feeble elk, the herds are populated by more healthy members, which are more difficult for the wolves to catch and kill, Bangs said.

Wolves also leave their territory to scope out the competition among other wolf packs.

Bangs said the Nez Perce pack probably passed through other pack territories and will do so again if they head back toward Yellowstone. But if the wolves find enough to eat where they are, they might stick around for a while.

“It’ll be really interesting to see how long they stay,” Bangs said.


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Jan 29

Utah bill would recognize wolf’s protected status

Utah bill would recognize wolf’s protected status


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – State Rep. Michael Styler had planned his bill as a demand for removal of all Utah wolves but he has changed it to one that recognizes the animal’s special status and requests more state control.

‘What changed my mind was a discussion with the director of (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) in Washington, D.C.,’ said Styler, a livestock owner. ‘He told us what we need to do to help them get wolves downlisted and delisted.’

Wolves have rebuilt stable populations in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and some have wandered into Utah, Oregon and Washington, where they also may establish packs eventually.

The federal government is expected to soon downgrade the wolf’s classification under the Endangered Species Act from endangered to threatened, which would allow ranchers to kill wolves attacking there livestock.

Under the transition plan, the government later would delist the wolf altogether, letting the states manage the animals.

The plan depends on Wyoming, Idaho and Montana all having formal wolf management plans that meet federal approval, and Styler believes the attitude in Wyoming is delaying the transition.

‘I think that Wyoming is holding up the downlisting because of their reticence to creating a wolf management plan that will stand up in court,’ the Delta Republican said.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission favors a dual classification for the wolf. The wolf would be classified a trophy game animal near Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and adjacent wilderness areas that could be hunted only by those issued licenses by the state. Elsewhere, the wolf would be classified as a predator that could be killed any time without restriction.

Styler dropped another bill that would have codified the way state wildlife officials could transplant in-state wolves. He said such decisions are best left to wildlife managers.

A third bill, sponsored by Rep. Darin Peterson, R-Nephi, and still being written, would add an income tax checkoff that would go toward wolf management and mitigation. It’s a test for wolf-lovers, he said.

‘I hear polls all the time that say most Utahns say ‘Sure, bring ‘em on,” Peterson said. ‘But you’re talking about very few individuals that would be taking on that (depredation) loss.’

It’s not that ranchers are embracing the wolf – the moves are tactical.

‘We’ve got to be realists in this,’ Peterson said. ‘It (a wolf presence) is not what we wanted, but we probably just have to take what we can get.’

Styler’s bill affirms the elevated status of agriculture and hunting in wildlife decisions, directs the state to look for funding to pay for wolf-killed livestock and asks for speedy removal of federal protections.

But it also acknowledges the wolf’s protected status and directs state wildlife officials to set up a management plan that would treat wolves much the same as they treat bears and cougars.

‘This is legal ammunition to the Fish and Wildlife Service to say, ‘Hey, Utah’s reasonable, they’re not going to kill all the wolves.’ We’ll take care of any wildlife that we’re given stewardship over,’ Styler said.

Both bills have garnered tentative support from the pro-wolf Utah Wolf Forum.

‘We want to make sure that the bill remains in its present form and doesn’t get corrupted by other members of the Legislature who may not be as levelheaded on this as Styler apparently is being,’ said Allison Jones of the Utah Wolf Forum.

She said Peterson’s income tax checkoff also could be a good thing, as long as it had a low minimum, like $3 or $5.

‘If it’s $20, nobody’s going to check that box,’ she said.


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Jan 29

Tidewater wolves may show global warming reaction

Tidewater wolves may show global warming reaction

By Joel Gallob
Of the News-Times

In early January, the scientific magazine "Nature" published two articles describing studies that found that plants and animals around the world have been responding to the onset of global warming in a variety of ways, from early flowering and egg hatching to pole-ward shifts of population.

Now it appears that the white wolves at the White Wolf Sanctuary near Tidewater are also responding to the incremental climate shift scientists say is being caused by man-made carbon dioxide pollution of the atmosphere.

The female wolves at the sanctuary usually go into estrus "right about Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th," sanctuary manager and owner Lois Tulleners said this week. "But they’re ahead of schedule this year."

Tulleners has six arctic wolves in her sanctuary in the Coast Range, up the Alsea River from Waldport. One of the female wolves, 4-year old Ventana, "started into heat this Sunday," said Tulleners. "Kyenne, the old female, is 8 years old. She and Journey, a 2-year old, look like they’ll be into it any day now. You can tell by the way the males are acting – sniffing at them more and more. That started going on really heavily this Sunday, too."

The males respond to the hormonal and chemical changes that occur in the females, she said. "It happens every year, of course, and this year, they’re about three weeks early," Tulleners said.

Tulleners cannot tell whether this year’s apparent early onset of estrus is tied to the reports of widespread biological changes some link to climate change worldwide. But she has no other explanation for the change in the wolves’ reproductive cycle.

One of the Nature studies stated that some animal populations have shifted their locations toward the poles, which is consistent with a general warming, as that would push animal populations towards cooler regions to stay in the temperature ranges they prefer. The other showed that some animals are migrating, hatching eggs and bearing young an average of five days earlier than they did in previous decades.

Over the past few decades, scientists say the average temperature around the planet has risen by one degree. That may not seen like a lot, yet it appears linked to the global retreat of glaciers. And the Nature studies stated that it appears to have prompted some noticeable biological shifts. Both of the studies involved reviews of thousands of different plant and animal species.

The White Wolf Sanctuary is closed when the wolves are in heat, and will reopen on March 10. Persons who want to schedule a visit to the sanctuary after that date are invited to call 528-3588.


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Jan 28

Red wolf litter may be on way

Red wolf litter may be on way

By Associated Press
January 28, 2003

CHATTANOOGA — The Chattanooga Nature Center, recently designated as a breeding facility for the endangered red wolf, may have a new litter on the way soon.

Will Waddell, coordinator of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Washington state, said the Nature Center was picked as a breeding facility after a lengthy application review. Waddell said the Nature Center’s close proximity to an urban area, and the fact that people have easy access to visit and learn about red wolves, were factors in its selection.

“Their enclosure tucked back in the woods is quite nice, and they’ve done a good job at maintaining care for other wolves who have passed through there,” he said.

A male red wolf was brought from Kentucky last week and released into a large enclosure with a female red wolf who has been at the Nature Center for 10 years, said Steve O’Neil, executive director. Her companion, another male, was considered too closely related to her for breeding and was put in a separate area to prevent competition between the males, O’Neil said.

“It is truly exciting to be part of a program that puts a once-extinct animal back into the wild,” said Debbie Lipsey, director of wildlife at the Nature Center.

In 1973, only 14 red wolves were found in the wild, according to Waddell. He said there now are more than 150 wolves in the captive population and 100 more that have been released in northeastern North Carolina and at two locations off the coasts of South Carolina and Florida.

The goal of breeding facilities such as the Nature Center is to “bring recovery to the point where there is a stable population living in the wild,” Waddell said.


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