May 31

3 Articles: Mexican Wolf Killed by Wildlife Services

Feds Kill First Wolf Since Reintroduction

By Jeff Jones Journal Staff Writer

   A Mexican gray wolf known as Alpha Female 592 this week became the first of the endangered species shot and killed by the federal government since wolf reintroduction efforts in the Southwest started five years ago.

   The 4-year-old wolf — which had been captured in 2001 after notching up five calf killings — was re-released deep into the Gila Wilderness of southwestern New Mexico last month but made its way to the Rafter Spear Ranch near Winston in Catron County.

   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Victoria Fox said Thursday the wolf wounded a calf there and eluded attempts to capture it — a fate that had befallen AF592′s mate on May 21.

   The female wolf was shot dead Tuesday evening on the Catron County ranch by a member of the state and federal team that is handling the wolf reintroduction program.

   Rafter Spear Ranch owner Laura Schneberger said Thursday the wolf and its mate killed a total three calves and wounded two others. She added it was a “very bad idea” to re-release a wolf that had proven itself a cow-killer.

   “I’m very glad they dealt with it,” Schneberger said, “but I’d just as soon she put her foot in a trap and was back in captivity. It just is a tragic thing. Everybody just feels bad.”

   Michael Robinson, spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity, said Thursday the killing of AF592 was the result of a series of missteps by the federal government.

   “They should not have killed her,” Robinson said. “It’s a terrible precedent.”

   Although several of the endangered Mexican gray wolves have been illegally shot, hit by vehicles and have died of natural causes since the first batch of 11 wolves was released into eastern Arizona in 1998, Fox confirmed that AF592 was the first Mexican gray to be shot by the government since the effort began.

   She said the killing was a low point in the program but was necessary.

   The Fish and Wildlife service estimates there are now at least 34 wolves in southwestern New Mexico and eastern Arizona, where they were thought to have been once hunted to extinction. The agency hopes wolves that denned this spring have added more to the current total.

   The wolf killed this week was pregnant at the time of its release on April 18, but its litter was believed to have been lost sometime before it was shot, Fox said.

   The shooting and capture leaves New Mexico with two packs totalling an estimated six wolves.

   “Her lack of fear of humans and the continued interest in cattle is why this decision was made — to exercise the lethal control action,” Fox said. “(We) all feel some responsibility. We also have a responsibility to the rancher, and we have a responsibility to ensure these wolves are out there being good, wild wolves.”

   Robinson said the wolf, which had initially been released three years ago in Arizona, was recaptured later that same year for committing only one transgression: crossing an invisible line designating the boundary of the wolf-recovery area.

   “Wolves roam vast distances — that’s part of their nature,” he said. “The rule that requires them to be removed doesn’t take into account (that) they need to roam those vast distances.”

   Environmentalists have said wild wolves are learning bad habits because ranchers are allowed to leave livestock carcasses on public land, and Robinson’s group has threatened to sue the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management over the issue.

   “She got a taste for beef — and she began killing cattle,” Robinson said of the wolf shot this week.

   Schneberger estimated the two wolves traveled 35-40 miles to get to her ranch.

   After the attacks on the cows began, a Fish and Wildlife Service worker began sleeping outside with the Rafter Spear Ranch herd, Schneberger said.

   “He spent the nights out in the middle of our herd of cows,” she said. “They got one right out from underneath his nose.”

   Schneberger said the female left the ranch for a few days after her mate was trapped but promptly returned.

   “There was a real problem brewing with this animal,” she said.

   Fox said the fate of the trapped alpha male, known as AM648, has yet to be decided.

Source

U.S. deliberately kills endangered wolf

By Thomas Stauffer
ARIZONA DAILY STAR

For the first time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has deliberately killed an endangered Mexican gray wolf, a species the agency reintroduced to eastern Arizona in 1998.

The female adult was shot and killed Tuesday in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico, said Victoria Fox, a spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife in Albuquerque.

The wolf that was deliberately shot and her mate, captured in a leg-hold trap May 21, had been preying on livestock, Fox said. The female had attacked three head of cattle, killing one calf and injuring two others, since the male’s capture, she said.

“This wolf had been given tremendous consideration in order to see her be successful in the wild before the decision to take lethal-control action was made,” Fox said. “That was a decision that was very carefully made.”

Fox also reported the death of another female adult wolf found Sunday near the Arizona town of Vernon in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. The wolf will be taken to the service’s forensics laboratory in Oregon to determine the cause of death.

The agency’s deliberate killing of the New Mexico wolf and the declining numbers of the endangered animals reflect a systematic mismanagement of the recovery program, said Michael Robinson, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity in Piños Altos, N.M.

Wolves will continue to suffer due to policies demanded by the livestock industry and supported by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, he said. “The service needs to immediately change their policies and follow the recommendations made by scientists in a report they themselves commissioned,” Robinson said.

The report recommended several changes in the reintroduction program, including steps to remove cattle and horse carcasses on national forest land to keep wolves from scavenging on them and becoming habituated to them, Robinson said.

Fox said the action to kill the wolf is consistent with the service’s other gray wolf reintroduction programs.

“This was based on the wolf’s continued behavior, a lack of fear of humans and her cattle depredation, basically conduct unbecoming a wild wolf,” she said.

Source

Wildlife officials kill Mexican gray wolf

Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic

For the first time, a federal agency has shot and killed a Mexican gray wolf, even while it is trying to bring the wolves back from the brink of extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that it killed a female wolf in southern New Mexico on Tuesday. The wolf had been attacking cattle, and eluded efforts to trap it, wildlife officials said.

The killing was lamented by the Center for Biological Diversity, which blamed the shooting on the agency’s willingness to placate ranchers.

In a news release, center biologist Michael Robinson said the shooting reflects “systematic mismanagement of the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service said its policy is to remove wolves that prey on cattle. The wolf, called 592 and a member of the “Sycamore Pack,” had been moved several times to separate her from cattle areas, the agency said. But she continued to hunt livestock.

The wolf’s death leaves 19 wolves in eastern Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S. government in 1998 started reintroducing the Mexican gray wolf as part of its plan to boost the animal’s ranks under the Endangered Species Act.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 31

Anti-Wolf Coalition continues campaign with TF meeting: Group plans lawsuit to rid state of wolves

Anti-Wolf Coalition continues campaign with TF meeting

By Jennifer Sandmann
Times-News writer

TWIN FALLS — The Central Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition isn’t giving up.

Determined to rid central Idaho of wolves, coalition members will meet today in Twin Falls to plan legal strategies and raise money for their cause.

“I’m a hunter, a camper and I like the outdoors, and it is becoming a safety issue,” said Jack Oyler, of Filer, a member of the Anti-Wolf Coalition Steering Committee.

Fifteen gray wolves were released in central Idaho in 1995 and by 2002 the state’s wolf population had reached nearly 264, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported.

Since then, there have been no documented cases of a wolf attacking a human in Idaho, said Curt Mack, the gray wolf project leader for the Nez Perce Tribe.

In 2001, Tim Sundles of Salmon announced he killed a wolf in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness because it was threatening him and his wife. That report is the closest any has come to a human attack.

Livestock kills continue to be a hot point of contention for ranchers. Last year, confirmed wolf kills of Idaho livestock totaled nine calves and 15 sheep, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. There were another seven cases of probable wolf kills involving calves. Four dogs were killed. Twenty-eight wolves were killed in control actions and another three were killed by humans.

Rep. Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, chairman of the House Resources and Conservation Committee, said attempts to remove wolves so far have failed in the courts.

“The best solution we have at the present time is the state to get management of them,” he said.

A viable wolf management plan is a must before the federal government will turn over wolf management to state wildlife agencies. The Idaho plan adopted in April leads off with the declaration that federal removal is the state’s official position. But barring physical removal, lawmakers decided that de-listing the wolves from federal protection would give the state the control it needs to keep the wolf population in check.

Idaho officials hope that the federal government will turn over management by the end of the year, Stevenson said.

If anyone has a better idea, Stevenson said he is willing to hear it. But wolf removal is a long-shot.

“I’m not going to hang a lot of hope on that happening,” he said.

The Anti-Wolf Coalition has sold about 240 tickets for a dinner and auction fund-raiser at the Turf Club tonight, Oyler said. The featured speaker is Helen Franklin of Law Finders in North Bend, Ore. She has been researching legal strategies for the coalition.

The coalition’s steering committee will meet with Franklin in the afternoon to discuss strategy.

In 2002 there were 19 wolf packs in the state. The Idaho plan calls for maintaining at least 10 wolf packs in the state.

Last year all 10 members of the Whitehawk Mountain pack in the Stanley Basin were killed in control measures after livestock kills. This year a new pack has been reported in the Sawtooth Valley.

The federal government spent $1.4 million last year on wolf recovery efforts in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

Source


Group plans lawsuit to rid state of wolves

By Chad Baldwin
Times-News writer

TWIN FALLS — Wolves have been in central Idaho for about eight years and now number in the hundreds, but people opposed to the animals’ presence here still think it might be possible to have them removed.

The Central Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, along with other wolf opponents, is preparing to file a lawsuit seeking a declaration that the federal government’s wolf recovery program is illegal, said Jack Oyler of Filer, a member of the coalition’s steering committee.

And there are plenty of legal openings that invite such a challenge, said Helen Franklin of Law Finders in North Bend, Ore., who spoke to a large gathering of wolf opponents Friday night in Twin Falls.

“We’re looking at one of the biggest class-action lawsuits in the Western states,” Franklin said in an interview before the anti-wolf coalition event at the Turf Club. “This was an extreme move by the (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service — introduction of a non-native species that threatens to rid an entire ecosystem of wildlife. Was this the intent of the Endangered Species Act?”

Specifically, Franklin said, the government’s transplant of wolves from Canada into central Idaho and Wyoming in 1995 is vulnerable to a legal challenge because:

* Canadian wolves aren’t native to this region of Idaho, yet they were introduced within the range of a native wolf species, a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

* A single environmental impact statement was done for the three states involved in the project, when three separate studies should have been done.

* The document failed to adequately assess the economic impact of wolves on small businesses and local governments.

* The government has not followed up on its commitment to review and reassess the wolf recovery program, nor has it taken steps to reduce impacts on local economies.

“They (federal government) have really overstepped it,” Franklin said. “This is the single biggest issue the West has been faced with to date regarding the Endangered Species Act, with the biggest social and economic effects.”

Previous lawsuits challenging the wolf recovery program have been unsuccessful, but Franklin said the final legal chapter has yet to be written on the issue. The anti-wolf coalition, working with organizations in other states, is looking at three law firms in three different states to take the case to court. And though the future plaintiffs haven’t decided where to file their lawsuit, it could happen as early as this summer, she said.

The estimated cost of litigation is $30,000, Franklin and Oyler said. That’s why the coalition held the fund-raising event in Twin Falls Friday night, for which the group said it sold 240 tickets. A similar gathering attracted 353 people in Orofino.

Removal of wolves from the ecosystem is the group’s primary objective. Oyler said taking the animal off the Endangered Species List — which would allow for state management of wolves — isn’t likely anytime soon. And even state management would have to follow the terms of the federal government, he said.

In Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, federal protection of wolves has allowed them to overpopulate, Oyler said. While the Fish and Wildlife Service pegged Idaho’s wolf population at nearly 264 in 2002, he said officials don’t really know how many wolves there are now. He thinks there are at least 400.

Oyler said there have been reports of wolves in the South Hills and just above Fairfield, Bliss and Picabo.

“The problem is that when wolves take over an ecosystem, they kill all the prey in the ecosystem, and then they kill the predators,” Oyler said. “Then they eat each other.”

An adult wolf, he said, consumes 24 to 25 elk each year and “kills that many more for sport.” The result has been a drop in elk numbers in much of the state, hurting hunters and outfitters. For example, the number of cow permits issued for Unit 28 near Salmon has gone from 550 in 1998 to zero this fall, he said.

“This has had a tremendous economic impact on the state, the public, outfitters and guides, meat in the freezer, and (the Idaho Department of) Fish and Game,” Oyler said.

State and federal wildlife officials, however, say wolves aren’t necessarily to blame for any drops in elk numbers. And Lynn Kincannon of the Idaho Conservation League said she’s not worried about wolves wiping out big game populations, though she would like to see Fish and Game study the issue.

“As I understand it, elk and deer numbers are cyclical, and some of that is bound to be happening anyway,” Kincannon said. “Some people feared we would be overrun by wolves, but natural systems work very well to control the number of animals.”

As for removing wolves from Idaho, Kincannon said it’s a bad idea.

“For one thing, it would be incredibly expensive,” she said. “In tough budgetary times, is that what we want to spend our money on?”

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Showing their support

Here’s how some people who attended Friday night’s anti-wolf fund-raiser at the Turf Club in Twin Falls responded to the question, “Why are you here?”

“There is no easy solution — wolves are beautiful animals but hard to coexist with. They have a right to be here, but they make it hard for livestock and hunting.”
– Mark Butler, Twin Falls

“I don’t feel wolves should be in Idaho. They are destroying the elk and deer population and taking economy away from the state. Who wants to go hunting with no elk and deer?”
– Larry Norton, Hansen

“Wolves kill too many game. They’re pack hunters. Wolves kill for the sport of it — that ain’t right.”
– Don Davis, Filer

“These wolves aren’t supposed to be here. They’re killing elk and deer herds. These are bigger wolves than the old wolves, and they’re unbalancing things.”
– Phil Mitchell, Kimberly

“We need to deal with the wolf reintroduction, and I want to learn more about what’s happening. … We now know wolves can be reintroduced, so we could do it any time we wanted.”
– Mel Quale, Twin Falls

“I understand the devastation wolves are causing the native wildlife. We had some of the best herds in Idaho. Now, elk herds are devastated due to wolf reintroduction. … The state gets about $1.2 billion from hunting and fishing. But we’re losing money. Why spend $2,000 to $4,000 on an elk hunting trip if there are no elk? Our way of life in Idaho is being threatened. Rural Idaho has lost timber and mining, and hunting and fishing are the main sources of revenue.”
– Marshall Sage, Meridian

“I don’t care for wolves because of the depredation of elk and deer.”
– Alan Aston, Twin Falls

– Quotes compiled by Times-News writer Brandon Fiala.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 30

Eco Echo – Siding with wolves

Eco Echo – Siding with wolves

Matt Willis

TRYING to defend the interests of Bulgaria’s estimated 2100 wolves at a time when hunters are being encouraged to kill them, and there is no legislation to protect them, is a frustrating occupation for Balkani Wildlife Society board member Alexander Dutsov and his colleagues.

Their wolf study and conservation project has been running for over two years with the intention of decreasing the impact of humans on wolves, but progress has been slow for several reasons. Firstly their lack of success trapping wolves has meant that they have been unable to fit radio collars and so cannot accurately follow the animals’ movements. Secondly, they are up against the unfortunate fact that most Bulgarians do not consider poaching to be a crime, and, thirdly, that wolves have been attacking livestock, giving the public cause to consider them a nuisance.

The population of Roe and Red deer in Bulgaria has dropped dramatically in the past 12 years, down to around 50 000 from an estimated 250 000 in 1991. Official reports acknowledge that illegal hunting and over hunting is a factor, but put the brunt of the blame on wolves and feral dogs. “It’s hard to explain to people that wolves will never overuse their natural food resources,” said Dutsov with some exasperation. “The main problem is poaching, which has reached a very high level. Legal hunters are restricted as to what, and how much, they can kill, but there are many people out there who have guns and hunt without permits.”

Until Balkani can prove otherwise, wolves will be blamed for the decreasing ungulate population, and the question of poaching will be sidestepped by local officials that are either ignorant of the law, unequipped to deal with illegal hunters, or actively involved with the increasingly popular pastime.

For the past several months Dutsov and his colleagues have been working with a new program, analysing wolf excrement to statistically determine the percentage of prey species consumed by the animals in a certain area. The process is time consuming and difficult as they often have just bone fragments and hair with which to identify prey species, and he emphasised the need for them to track wolves using radio collars to collect accurate data regarding their movements and behaviour. So far the wolves have outwitted the 15 trap lines that Balkani have set in the past eighteen months, because, Dutsov speculated, they are well aware of the dangers presented by humans and steer clear of any sign of them.

“Researchers in North America have had much greater success trapping wolves because the animals live far from human habitation,” he said, “but the situation is very different here because the wolves have been co-existing with humans for centuries – they teach their young how to avoid us.”

There is no law protecting wolves at the moment because, although Bulgaria is a signatory of the Berne Convention for protection of wild fauna and habitats, the convention has a clause stating that in countries with a high population of certain animals, such as wolves in Bulgaria, the authorities can have a different approach.

However, Dutsov believes that the hunting methods of poison, leg snares, nets, and bright light to blind the animals, which are outlawed by the convention, are still very much in use and are advertised in Bulgarian hunting magazines.

“Wolves can be hunted all year round, and the National Hunting Board even increased the bounty for a wolf from 25 to 100 leva last month,” said Dutsov. “I don’t believe we’ll be able to fully protect wolves in the near future, but we hope to collect enough scientific data to prove that they are not such a great threat to other wild animals and livestock, so at least they’ll be protected during their mating season for example.”

He agreed that attacks on livestock have not helped their case as they cause the shepherds to petition the Forestry Association and the Hunting Board to organise wolf hunts. The shepherds’ flocks are often poorly protected and have decreased from the thousands of 20 years ago to just a few hundred per village, which means that every animal lost is felt much more than before.

What is needed, as with many environmental issues, is education, and Balkani have already begun to tackle this subject. Two years ago they introduced their first education project for large carnivores to 44 schools in West Bulgarian mountainous regions. Text books were prepared for both older and younger children with information, games and puzzles – in all over 6000 children received the books. They also organised a competition for the best wild habitat model constructed from natural material and are now about to begin a tour of the schools to judge the results.

“When you ask the children a few questions, you can see that they’re changing their minds about the animals,” Dutsov observed. “That’s really the only optimistic thing at the moment – that pupils are changing their minds.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 30

U.S. deliberately kills endangered wolf

U.S. deliberately kills endangered wolf

By Thomas Stauffer
ARIZONA DAILY STAR

For the first time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has deliberately killed an endangered Mexican gray wolf, a species the agency reintroduced to eastern Arizona in 1998.

The female adult was shot and killed Tuesday in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico, said Victoria Fox, a spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife in Albuquerque.

The wolf that was deliberately shot and her mate, captured in a leg-hold trap May 21, had been preying on livestock, Fox said. The female had attacked three head of cattle, killing one calf and injuring two others, since the male’s capture, she said.

“This wolf had been given tremendous consideration in order to see her be successful in the wild before the decision to take lethal-control action was made,” Fox said. “That was a decision that was very carefully made.”

Fox also reported the death of another female adult wolf found Sunday near the Arizona town of Vernon in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. The wolf will be taken to the service’s forensics laboratory in Oregon to determine the cause of death.

The agency’s deliberate killing of the New Mexico wolf and the declining numbers of the endangered animals reflect a systematic mismanagement of the recovery program, said Michael Robinson, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity in Piños Altos, N.M.

Wolves will continue to suffer due to policies demanded by the livestock industry and supported by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, he said. “The service needs to immediately change their policies and follow the recommendations made by scientists in a report they themselves commissioned,” Robinson said.

The report recommended several changes in the reintroduction program, including steps to remove cattle and horse carcasses on national forest land to keep wolves from scavenging on them and becoming habituated to them, Robinson said.

Fox said the action to kill the wolf is consistent with the service’s other gray wolf reintroduction programs.

“This was based on the wolf’s continued behavior, a lack of fear of humans and her cattle depredation, basically conduct unbecoming a wild wolf,” she said.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 30

DNR wolf count tallies 321 in U.P.

Biologists spent 2,000 hours on survey


DNR wolf count tallies 321 in U.P.

MARQUETTE —
Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today announced results of
the most recent wolf survey, which indicates at least 321 wolves now roam the
Upper Peninsula.

Wolves dispersing from Canada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were occasionally present
in the U.P. during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Reestablishment of wolves appears
to have begun in 1989 when three animals established a territory in the Western
U.P. Since 1989, the wolf population has increased every year, except 1997 when
a small population decline was noted.

Last winter, biologists spent more than 2,000 hours conducting the survey, which
used tracking, aerial observations of packs with radio-collared wolves, and
other evidence to determine the number of animals. The DNR regularly monitors
about 40 wolves that have been fitted with radio collars to determine their
movements and survival.

DNR wildlife biologist Dean Beyer said wolves were found in all U.P. counties
except Keweenaw.

“We have found wolves in Keweenaw County in the past,” Beyer said.
“However, we were not able to document the presence of an established
pack this winter.”

Although the wolf population grew nearly 15 percent from 278 animals last year,
the rate of growth was much higher in the late 1990s.

“A recent change in the federal classification of wolves improves Michigan’s
ability to manage the animals,” said Pat Lederle, DNR Endangered Species
Program coordinator. “In early April, the federal government reclassified
wolves from ‘endangered’ status to ‘threatened’ status
under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.”

Federal reclassification provides flexibility in managing the growing wolf population
in Michigan and Wisconsin by allowing wildlife managers to euthanize wolves
that have caused problems, especially to the livestock industry.

“Although it is doubtful such actions would be common, the DNR will use
lethal control if it becomes absolutely necessary,” Lederle said. “The
majority of our residents have welcomed the increasing wolf population, yet
we must remain sensitive to human and not allow the animal’s natural activity
to cause ill feelings with people, especially in the agricultural community.”

The DNR has established a new procedure intended to shorten the time required
to respond to wolf or coyote depredation complaints. Those experiencing wolf
depredation are directed to call the DNR Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800,
instead of the local DNR office. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, and
the dispatcher will contact local DNR Law Enforcement or Wildlife Division employees
to respond quickly to complaints.

The DNR, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Defenders
of Wildlife, and the International Wolf Center in Minnesota, established a Michigan
Wolf Compensation Program, which reimburses farmers for any livestock killed
by a wolf

The DNR encourages citizens to report any wolf sightings. People who see a wolf,
find a wolf track, or other evidence of a wolf can contact any DNR office to
obtain a wolf observation report form.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 29

Four wolves shot in Northwestern Wisconsin

Four wolves shot in Northwestern Wisconsin

DNR:The problem wolves were permitted to be killed because of the change in status from endangered to threatened.

BY ROBERT IMRIE
ASSOCIATED PRESS

For the first time in decades, timber wolves are being shot in Wisconsin to prevent them from killing more livestock and other domestic animals.

Four wolves have been trapped and killed within the past two weeks in Northwestern Wisconsin, Adrian Wydeven, wolf expert for the state Department of Natural Resources, said Wednesday.

The killing is permitted because the wolf has been downgraded from an endangered species to a threatened species. It was downgraded federally April 1, and the state changed it in October 1999.

“With a healthy wolf population, we feel it is just best to eliminate wolves that have become habitual killers of livestock populations,” Wydeven said.

Until this spring, problem wolves were trapped and relocated within the state, he said. Last year, 17 were relocated.

The four wolves killed so far were captured on two farms in Burnett and Barron counties, Wydeven said. They were then shot in the head, he said.

Wolves have killed at least five calves and four sheep this spring, Wydeven said.

At a monthly meeting of the state Natural Resources Board in Stevens Point on Wednesday, Board Chairman Trig Solberg complained that wolf numbers are getting out of hand, making the animal almost a nuisance, and he questioned the accuracy of the state’s count of wolves.

Another board member, James Tiefenthaler, asked the DNR to prepare a report on what it would take to have the wolf listed as a fur-bearing species, paving the way for it to be hunted and trapped in Wisconsin.

The board took no action on wolf-related issues.

The timber wolf is a native species that was wiped out in Wisconsin by the late 1950s after decades of bounty hunt- ing. Since the animal was granted protection as an endangered species in the mid-1970s, wolves migrated into the state from Minnesota. Their numbers have been growing ever since.

Wydeven said counts indicated there were 335 wolves across the state late last winter — just shy of the goal of 350 — in 94 packs.

It’s probably the most wolves in the state since the 1800s, he said.

The population has been growing by an average of about 20 percent per year since 1985, he said.

Through Wednesday, Wydeven had received 32 complaints alleging that wolves had killed or injured domestic animals or livestock this year.

Before the state could allow the trapping or hunting of wolves, the animal would have to be removed from the threatened species list by both state and federal agencies, Wydeven said.

That is planned, but the earliest both approvals could be given is late 2004 or early 2005, Wydeven said.

The state then determines how to manage the animals, he said.

Also Wednesday, the Natural Resources Board voted to allow limited commercial fishing of whitefish and chubs in two designated areas of Lake Michigan near Manitowoc and Sheboygan from June 28 through Labor Day, said Dave Weitz, a DNR spokesman.

The change allows each license holder to fish with three fish trap nets. It gives commercial fisherman “an opportunity to make a little bit more money,” Weitz said.

Such fishing has been restricted in the past in those areas because of conflicts with rod-and-reel anglers, Weitz said.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 29

Board takes steps to allow landowners to kill wolves

Board takes steps to allow landowners to kill wolves


By LEE BERGQUIST
lbergquist@journalsentinel.com

Stevens Point – Calling them a nuisance in the north, akin to “rats in the city,” the chairman of the Natural Resources Board on Wednesday said he wants Wisconsin to start taking steps to let landowners and others kill problem wolves.

With no objections from other members of the board, Trygve A. Solberg of Minoqua asked the state Department of Natural Resources to report back to the board next month about ways to let people kill wolves that prey on livestock and other animals.

Solberg’s comments came after federal officials on April 1 removed the wolf from its list of endangered species in Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and North and South Dakota, and downgraded its protective status to “threatened.”

The new classification allows government agencies – the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture – to kill problem wolves, but citizens do not have the authority to kill wolves on their own.

Solberg thinks it’s time for Wisconsin to begin the process of having the gray wolf removed from the state’s and the federal government’s list of threatened species, so landowners and others could kill problem wolves on their own.

Echoing sentiments of leaders of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a group that advises the DNR, Solberg also said he believes that wolf numbers are underreported in Wisconsin.

“I have nothing against wolves,” he said. “But I think we already have too many of them. There aren’t supposed to be any wolves in my area, but I have pictures of them.”

The DNR reported Wednesday that the late winter wolf count in Wisconsin outside Indian reservations was between 335 and 354 – up from 327 at the same time last year. Adrian Wydeven, the DNR’s wolf biologist, said he was comfortable with the estimate.

Wydeven said the state has begun the process of taking the wolf off Wisconsin’s threatened species list. That will take about a year, and he said the federal process could take even longer.

Once nearly extirpated in Wisconsin, wolves have made a comeback. People are more accepting of wolves than 50 years ago, and, Wydeven said, a booming deer population means they have plenty to eat.

The change in protected status this spring has allowed DNR wardens to trap and kill four wolves that have destroyed livestock on four farms in Barron and Burnett counties.

Wisconsin has to find a way to deal with problem wolves, said Pam Troxell of the Timber Wolf Alliance at Northland College in Ashland.

“But let’s take this new reclassification and give it some time,” Troxell said. “Let’s not jump the gun.”

Troxell said that Solberg’s comments “were steeped in emotion” that reflect undue fear of the animals.

“We have to figure out a way to live with wolves,” she said.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
May 29

Relationship between wolves, lions studied

Relationship between wolves, lions studied

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – Researchers are trying to gauge how the reintroduction of wolves to northwest Wyoming and central Idaho has affected mountain lions.

The issue came up during scientific presentations at the seventh Mountain Lion Workshop, which drew cougar researchers from as far away as British Columbia, Florida and Mexico.

Multiple studies have been launched to see how mountain lions are responding to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995 and 1996.

Some researchers have documented wolves usurping lion kills and, in some cases, killing cougars and their kittens. Researchers in Idaho cited competition with wolves as contributing to a drop in the mountain lion population.

Howard Quigley, a senior scientist with Beringia South, a science and education organization based in Kelly, said reintroducing wolves has meant a radical change for lions.

‘Cougars have been without wolves in this valley for decades,’ he said.

Many researchers believe lions changed their behavior in the absence of wolves and must now readjust. In Yellowstone, cougar researcher Toni Ruth has been seeing more wolf tracks in core cougar habitat.

But she said it is too soon to say if wolves are affecting the distribution and density of lion populations.

Ruth, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, has documented some dramatic encounters between wolves and lions in northern Yellowstone. In the winter of 1999, she said, wolves killed four kittens that were following their mother through deep snow.

The kittens were vulnerable prey. Four is a large litter and the kittens were all underweight. Moreover, it was difficult to try to flee through the snow, she said.

Last month, a wolf pack killed an adult female lion, orphaning her two kittens, which starved three weeks later, she said.

Ruth is investigating whether lions will have to expend more energy killing prey as wolves usurp lion kills.

The data so far suggests lions kill prey slightly more often than wolves. But more research is needed to determine whether lion kill rates are increasing compared to before wolves reintroduction.

Despite a rapidly increasing wolf population, researchers have yet to demonstrate a statistically significant increase in lion-wolf encounters.

‘What we might see, but we haven’t seen yet, is an increase in encounter rate,’ she said. ‘Cougars are pretty good at trying to avoid those kinds of interactions.’

Ruth has documented cougars moving to rocky cliff outcrops when wolves are in the area. In addition, cougars have tended to bed down close to kills and be vigilant in keeping scavengers away.

A hard winter could lead to more wolf-lion encounters.

Researchers reported that wolves and lions favor the same prey, primarily elk and deer, but researchers like Ruth are investigating whether lions will shift to other prey such as bighorn sheep and antelope if they have to compete with wolves.

University of Idaho researchers James and Holly Akenson have been studying cougars in Idaho’s Big Creek drainage. Wolves showed up in the drainage in 1998.

In 2000, a wildfire swept through the study area, scorching most of an elk winter range. As a result, wolves left the study area and followed elk to another winter range.

But lions remained in the burned area and exploited other prey such as starving ungulates. They killed three moose that were in poor condition, Holly Akenson said.

Even so, the researchers documented a sharp decline in the lion population, from 10 adults at the beginning of the fire to just six after the wildfire. Three cougars were confirmed to have died in the fire.

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May 29

FWS clarifies Wyoming wolf legislation

FWS clarifies Wyoming wolf legislation

The process of removing the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species has become better defined with recent correspondence received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to a release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The complexity of House Bill 229 prompted the WG&F to formally ask the USFWS if Wyoming will need to manage for 15 wolf packs – whether inside or outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks – or if the required 15 packs must include seven packs outside the parks, the release said.

In their response, FWS Regional Director Ralph Morgenweck wrote, “We have repeatedly stated, and continue to believe, that only protecting wolves from unregulated human-caused mortality in this small area (national parks and contiguous wilderness areas) will not provide adequate assurances that the wolf population in the Greater Yellowstone area will not decline to the point where it becomes threatened again.”

He continued by noting that maintaining at least seven packs of wolves outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks “would be adequate to ensure the viability of wolf populations in Wyoming in the foreseeable future.”

There are currently eight wolf packs outside the national parks in Wyoming.

With the FWS reply, WG&F Deputy Director Bill Wichers says the WG&F Commission remains on schedule to address the Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan at their July 28-29 meeting in Sheridan. “Game and Fish really appreciates the quick attention given to our inquiry,” he said.

If the commission approves the plan, the document will be forwarded to the FWS for review. If accepted by the federal government, the FWS will initiate the delisting process, perhaps yet this year, and wolves could be removed from federal protection as early as 2004.

“The federal clarification of the number of packs needed will help us finalize the wolf plan in a form that will allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate the delisting process,” Wichers said. “It was the legislature’s intent to provide the framework to have the wolf delisted and Governor Freudenthal and the Game and Fish Commission are very supportive of that goal.”

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May 29

Wolf has testicle trouble

Wolf has testicle trouble

Av: Hanne Dankertsen 29. mai 12:07

The leading male in a flock of wolves in Romerike, Norway,
is missing one of his testicles. To make it worse, his other testicle is deformed. As a result, no wolf cubs will be born this year.

«We noticed that one testicle was missing as we marked the animals earlier this season. Now we think this shortcoming is the reason why the female wolf is not pregnant», project leader of the Scandinavian wolf project, Hans Christian Pedersen, told the local newspaper.

It is the first time since 1997 that no wolves have been born in the area. The Norwegian scientists are not certain what the consequences will be.

«It is definitely not normal for a wolf to only have one testicle. We do not have any experience with this and we are not completely sure what will happen. Maybe the female will leave the male, maybe a new male will enter the picture or maybe the couple will live here together for years without breeding, it is hard to tell», Pedersen said.

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