Jul 31

MI: State appoints wolf coordinator

State appoints wolf coordinator

By JOHN PEPIN and SCOTT SWANSON, Journal Staff Writers

MARQUETTE – A local resident and Michigan Department of Natural Resources
veteran has been appointed the state’s new wolf coordinator.

Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife technician and lifelong Upper Peninsula
resident, was selected for the position after a lengthy search. He will
continue to work out of the Marquette DNR office. In his new job he will
oversee wolf education and outreach efforts, population monitoring,
depredation investigations and communication with other agencies and
groups working with wolves.

Roell received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northern Michigan
University and a master’s in wildlife management from the University of
Northern Colorado.

“Obviously, it’s a job I was hoping to get,” Roell said. “I’m excited to
take the challenge.”

The appointment of Roell to the position comes as the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service proposes to remove the gray wolf from the federal
endangered species list, a move Roell said he believes is warranted.

“It’s not going to change the protection level,” he said.

The proposal, when finalized, allows the DNR full management authority for
Michigan’s wolves. Last winter’s survey documented at least 360 wolves
living throughout the Upper Peninsula. In the future, limited trapping and
hunting of wolves may be allowed, but Roell said it’s currently all
speculation.

“Michigan recognizes the importance of the federal proposal to delist the
gray wolf,” said DNR Wildlife Chief William Moritz. “The Michigan DNR has
enjoyed a successful wolf recovery and management partnership with the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to date, and we will be an active
participant in the coming months as this process continues.”

The USFWS is accepting comments on the proposed delisting until
mid-November. The agency will conduct public hearings in Michigan on the
proposed delisting.

For more information on the delisting proposal, visit the Web site

http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf

Source

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Jul 31

Gray wolf killed in Idaho

Gray wolf killed in Idaho

Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Federal wildlife officials killed one gray wolf Friday and may take up to two more animals from the Hazard Lake pack in the backcountry north of McCall, authorities said.

The male adult was trapped and killed Friday, a week after authorities exterminated the largest wolf pack in Idaho a few miles to the west.

The Hazard Lake pack, which had seven wolves but now has six, is believed to be responsible for the killing of several domestic sheep and leaving dozens of others injured or missing.

A guard dog was also injured and another is missing from the attack Thursday morning, said Jeff Foss, field supervisor for the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office. The animals belonged to the same rancher who lost more than 100 sheep during previous weeks to the Cook pack. All nine wolves of that pack were also killed.

The agency may kill two more members of the Hazard pack, five of which wear radio collars. Government trackers have already placed traps in the area, Foss said. However, if the pack’s top female wolf is caught, she will be released to take care of any offspring.

Thirty-five Canadian wolves were released in the central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and 1996 as part of the program to reintroduce wolves in the Northern Rockies. The population has grown to an estimated 400, a large enough number to justify removing them from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

To do that, however, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming must all develop federally acceptable state wolf management plans. While the Idaho and Montana plans have been approved, the government has rejected the Wyoming plan and that state has gone to federal court to override the administrative ruling.

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Jul 31

Wyo sues Interior over wolf documents

Wyo sues Interior over wolf documents

By TOM MORTON

Wolves continue to multiply, and trees continue to die for more paper in yet the newest legal salvo between Wyoming and the federal government over the reintroduction of Canis lupus.

The Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service in November rejected the state’s wolf management plan, and now Wyoming demands the release of at least 69 undisclosed records or groups of records to explain the decision, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday by Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank.

“If the court forces (the Fish and Wildlife Service) to produce the documents, it shows the fallacy of their rejecting the plan put forward by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission,” he said.

It’s not that the state hasn’t tried to get the documents.

On April 22, the state sued the Department of Interior to force it to immediately approve the state’s wolf management plan and move forward toward delisting the gray wolf in the West.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Office corresponded with the department for four months since January to request the withheld documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to the complaint.

Crank knows the documents exist based on a Department of Interior list of correspondence among state and federal officials, he said Friday. The state already has much of that information.

But Crank doesn’t know what the undisclosed documents state, and he’s been increasingly frustrated about getting them, he said.

On May 20, the Department of Interior FOIA Appeals Officer Julia Laws wrote that the department would deny the state’s request to release the documents, according to an exhibit in the lawsuit.

“The Department hopes, however, that you will defer action until a substantive decision has been reached on your appeal,” Laws wrote.

By Tuesday, the state had deferred long enough.

“We appealed their decision,” Crank said Friday. “They never acted on our appeal.”

Crank signed off on the lawsuit on Wednesday and filed it in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson.

The FOIA lawsuit is the latest round in the decade-long conflict over wolf reintroduction.

In 1995, the Department of Interior reintroduced the gray wolf into Yellowstone National Park under the Endangered Species Act, and the wolves multiplied past expectations in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission crafted a plan calling for the wolves to remain protected in the national parks and adjacent wilderness areas, but would be treated as predatory animals throughout the rest of the state.

Ten of 11 Department of Interior wolf biologists concluded that the plan — along with Idaho’s and Montana’s plans — would protect the wolf, according to the lawsuit.

The Endangered Species Act, Crank said, requires that decisions about delisting endangered species must be “based solely on the best commercial and scientific data available.”

But the department and the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the plan on Nov. 4, 2003, for other reasons.

Crank cited a Jan. 15 statement from Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, who spoke to the Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources about the decision.

“From a strictly science perspective, yes, the plans were deemed adequate,” Crank said, recounting Hoffman’s comments. “It’s the legal consideration that prompts us to say no at this time. Our legal analysis was based on litigation risk management principles.”

Crank has no idea what “litigation risk management principles” means, he said.

Nor does he understand the term “pre-decisional,” a term used for 60 agency documents withheld by the Department of Interior, he said.

These documents were prepared from Sept. 5, 2002, 13 months before the Game and Fish Commission submitted its plan to the department, through Jan. 23, 2004, three months after the department rejected the plan, according to the lawsuit.

The department also stated that it was withholding nine agency records based on “attorney-client privilege,” according to the lawsuit.

Both of these arguments violate the FOIA, and Wyoming wants the court to order the Department of Interior to turn over all the records requested by Wyoming, according to the lawsuit.

Source

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Jul 30

Questions and answers about Michigan wolves

Questions and answers about Michigan wolves

(AP) – Questions and answers about wolves in Michigan:

Q. How many are there, and where?

A. Latest census found about 360, scattered across the Upper Peninsula.
Largest numbers were in southern U.P., closer to Wisconsin.

Q. Weren’t wolves extinct in Michigan not long ago?

A. They’re still gone from the Lower Peninsula, and had virtually
disappeared from the Upper Peninsula by the 1960s. They have rebounded
sharply in the U.P. since the presence of a pack was confirmed in 1989.

Q. Why the comeback?

A. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 made it illegal to kill wolves. As
their numbers increased, they migrated to Michigan from Minnesota and
Wisconsin.

Q. Will the wolf cause a whitetail deer shortage for hunters?

A. Biologists say they won’t kill nearly enough to significantly reduce
deer numbers. Wolves also eat beaver, snowshoe hare and other small
mammals.

Q. Will land use be regulated to protect wolf habitat?

A. Michigan’s wolf recovery plan seeks no closures of roads or large land
tracts. It does suggest protecting dens and isolated areas where adults
take pups after weaning. If wolf habitat becomes badly fragmented by
development, travel corridors could be designated.

Source

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Jul 30

Michigan looks for ways to avoid wolf-human conflicts

Michigan looks for ways to avoid wolf-human conflicts

Eric Wallis insists wolves were responsible for the disappearance of more than 80 lambs from his farm in the eastern Upper Peninsula several years ago, although he can’t prove it.

“I have seen wolves on my property numerous times,” Wallis said. “They’re out there.”

He hasn’t lost any lambs the past two years, since acquiring Great Pyrenees dogs to patrol the premises, and is hosting researchers who are testing nonlethal means of keeping wolves away. Still, he chafes at being legally barred from taking shots at them.

“I’ve got nothing against wolves if they’d just stay out of my sheep,” said Wallis, of Rudyard in Chippewa County.

As federal and state officials prepare to ease protections that helped the gray wolf rebound from the brink of extinction, Upper Peninsula residents such as Wallis will help determine whether the animal can peacefully coexist with people.

Interior Secretary Gail Norton this month proposed removing the wolf from the endangered species list for the eastern United States — including the Great Lakes region. That would leave state officials in charge of wolf management within their boundaries.

Norton plans to issue a final rule late this year or early next year, but a court challenge could delay its implementation.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is getting ready. The agency Friday announced the appointment of Brian Roell, a former DNR wildlife technician, as state wolf coordinator.

The DNR is updating a management plan first adopted in 1997 that envisions a thriving, but controlled, wolf population.

“There are some people in the U.P. who don’t want to see any wolves, and others want to have as many as the habitat can bear,” said Pat Lederle, research supervisor in the wildlife division. “We have to somehow strike a balance that makes sure the wolf remains viable and the issues that people bring up are dealt with.”

The DNR announced in May the number of wolves in the Upper Peninsula had reached about 360 and exceeded 200 for the fifth consecutive year, indicating a sustainable population. None are known to live in the Lower Peninsula.

Enough food and habitat may exist for 400 to 800 wolves, Lederle said. But if the numbers continue rising, the DNR will confront the touchy issue of “social carrying capacity” — how many animals people will tolerate, and how to keep the population within acceptable limits.

The DNR is teaming with Michigan State University on a study of that and related issues, and will consult with a variety of interest groups.

Environmentalists oppose artificial ceilings on the wolf population and say killing them should be a last resort.

“We should focus on reducing the conflicts with humans instead of pulling numbers out of the sky,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan director of the Sierra Club. “Arbitrary limits are dangerous. They assume we know more about these animals than we do.”

Others say wolves will suffer in the long run if their numbers aren’t limited.

“I’m afraid the wolf’s biggest danger will come from people who purport to love the wolf the most .. and want to save every one,” said Jim Hammill, a retired DNR wildlife biologist. “Deer hunters will take them out if we don’t demonstrate that we can control them.”

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs wants wolves designated a game animal subject to regulated hunting and trapping, said Jason Dinsmore, resource policy specialist.

“We don’t want them hunted to extinction any more than anybody else does,” Dinsmore said. “Predators have a role to play in nature. But you don’t want to get to the point where people are … seeing them as pests and (randomly) shooting them.”

Farmers such as Wallis want authority to kill wolves attacking their livestock. The DNR won’t promise that, but says it will remove wolves that repeatedly prey on farm animals. Last year, it exterminated a pack that was targeting cattle in the eastern U.P.

The state compensates farmers for livestock lost to wolves, but critics say the DNR’s burden of proof is unfair.

Wallis has received no money because most of his lambs simply disappeared. He found a couple of mangled carcasses, but a DNR investigator said it was unclear whether the attacker was a wolf or a coyote. “It’s very frustrating,” he said.

The bar is set high for a good reason, Lederle said. “Many animals prey on livestock — bears, coyotes, large dogs. Simply seeing a wolf in your pasture one week and finding a dead calf the next week doesn’t constitute proof. It’s not an easy determination at all.”

Defenders of Wildlife, based in Washington, D.C., is helping fund studies of nonlethal controls such as shock collars to keep wolves away from livestock, said Nina Fascione, vice president for field conservation.

Researchers on Wallis’ farm are testing the effectiveness of a method called “fladry.” A length of cord is stretched around the perimeter of the property, with flags attached every 18 inches.

Hunters in eastern Europe discovered centuries ago that wolves don’t like to cross fladry lines, but simply run alongside them — perhaps because the flags seem alive as they flap in the breeze, said Tom Gehring of Central Michigan University, who is coordinating the study.

Fladry lines have been placed on three U.P. farms. Three neighboring farms without fladry are being observed as controls, said Gehring, an assistant professor of wildlife biology.

“So far we have three or four wolf visits on the control farms and no visits on the farms next door that have fladry protection,” Gehring said.

Although promising, it will never be foolproof, he added.

“No one tool like fladry will work alone all the time,” he said. “The key to managing this problem is to integrate lots of controls.”

Source

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Jul 29

Wolf population could spread to Nebraska

Wolf population could spread to Nebraska

CHADRON, Neb. (AP) – The wolf population in Wyoming is spreading east,
John Hobbs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service said.

That means younger male wolves looking for territory could wander into
Nebraska in a few years, Hobbs said.

A similar pattern occurred with mountain lions, he said. They were not
seen in Nebraska for nearly a century, but a growing population in the
Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota forced younger males to move out.

Source

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Jul 29

ID: Feds Investigating Confirmed Wolf Attack Near McCall

Feds Investigating Confirmed Wolf Attack Near McCall

By Jon Hanianý and Melinda O’Malley

North of McCall, ID -

Idaho Two News has learned that federal authorities are investigating aýwolfýattack in an area near McCall that has been a hotbed of recent wolf attacks.

Federal wildlife officials spent Wednesday evening near McCall and confirmed this second attack in less than a month.ý A USDA Wildlife Services official Todd Grim tells Idaho 2 News there were 2 or 3 different sets of tracks found in the area where the sheep were attacked.ý 21 of the sheep were severely wounded, 14 more are missing, one guard dog was wounded and another is missing.

Grim said he would be surprised if they were required to take out the entire pack due to this attack, but the US Fish & Wildlife Service will decide what course of action to take.

Last week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorized the killing of a pack of nine wolves just north of McCall after authorities linked them to the slaughter of more than 100 sheep. Those wolves were tracked by radio collar and shot by U.S. Department of Agriculture employees who were hunting them from a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.

The wolves have re-established themselves in Idaho.ýSince 1995 when the U.S. Government freed 35 Canadian wolves and re-introduced them to Idaho, their numbers have grown to 356 known wolves.

Federal officials say the growing number of wolves is leading to larger losses of sheep and cattle. Federal authorities say more packs could be taken out according to Mark Collinge of the USDA Wildlife Service Program. “Things don’t progress to this step until a lot of the non-lethal things have been tried which in this case (last week) ýmany non lethal things were tried and the wolves persisted in killing in spite of those efforts.”

Federal officialsýtold Idaho Two Newsýlast week that they were considering destroying two more wolf packs in that area that have been killing livestock despite non-lethal efforts to deter them.

Source

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Jul 27

AZ: 5 more wolves will be released into the wild

5 more wolves will be released into the wild

The Mexican gray wolves, a male, a female and their three ups, are in an acclimation pen.

The Associated Press

ALPINE – Five Mexican gray wolves were placed in an acclimation pen south
of this eastern Arizona town in preparation for the animals’ eventual
release into the wild. The pack, consisting of a male, a female and their
three pups, will stay in the nylon mesh pen for up to two weeks. If the
wolves haven’t freed themselves by then, they will be released.

The area was selected because it has a good amount of prey, a permanent
water supply and is isolated, said Paul Overy, wolf project field team
leader for the Arizona Department of Game & Fish.

Officials will provide food, such as elk or deer killed on the highway,
for a short time after the release.

The five wolves are part of a government program launched in 1998 to
re-establish wild wolf populations in Arizona and New Mexico. Overy said
there are about 50 wolves living in the wild in the two states.

Terry B. Johnson, the department’s endangered species chief, said the
latest releases were necessary to help offset wolf deaths last year.

Source

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Jul 26

OR: State wolf management plan updated online

State wolf management plan updated online

From Bend.com news sources

SALEM – People with an interest in the development of a wolf management plan for Oregon may now read all the materials produced for a committee that has met monthly since last year.

The materials are posted on a newly updated Web site at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/main.html.

The Wolf Advisory Committee expects to complete its work in August and present a draft Oregon Wolf Management Plan to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at the Commission’s Sept. 9, 2004, meeting in Salem.

The presentation is scheduled to take place from noon until 5 p.m. The Commission will vote Oct. 15 to initiate a public review process on the draft plan. Final adoption of the plan is expected in January 2005.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission appointed the 14-member Wolf Advisory Committee in 2003 to help study all the issues surrounding wolves in Oregon and to recommend management actions that will be used once a permanent population establishes itself. The Commission decided to proactively develop a wolf management plan so the state is prepared for the expected arrival of wolves. This decision came after hearing from many wolf experts and the results of 15 town hall meetings held in late 2002 and early 2003.

Members of the public may watch the proceedings of the Wolf Advisory Committee. The last meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19-20 in the Salem area. Fifteen minutes will be available at the end of second day for oral public comment. Members of the public also may submit written comments. Forms will be provided at the meeting. Written comments also may be submitted to ODFW.Comments@state.or.us.

No wolves are confirmed to be in Oregon at this time. However, numerous unconfirmed sightings have been documented. Biologists expect wolves to enter Oregon from the expanding population in Idaho and eventually establish a permanent population in this state. Anyone who thinks they have seen a wolf should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bend at (541) 312-6429.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife carries out the policies of the Commission.

Source

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Jul 26

PA: Area Man Charged for Keeping Wolves

Area Man Charged for Keeping Wolves

By BOB SLEIGH, Gazette Outdoors Writer

On July 7, southern Indiana County Wildlife Conservation Officer Jack Lucas was on his way to Harrisburg …
… and northern Indiana County WCO Pat Snickles was expecting a pretty normal day.

A call from dispatch sending him to southern Indiana County because of Lucas’s absence changed everything.

“I was given an incident that there was a wolf running loose in Armstrong Township near Dark Hollow Road,” Snickles said. “The neighbors were highly concerned, some of them were extremely emotionally upset.”

Upon arrival he found a female arctic wolf running loose and another male timber-arctic mix wolf in a chainlink fence enclosure approximately 30 by 70 feet.

The wolves belonged to Ronald Downey of Dark Hollow Road; he had raised them from pups that he brought home in April 2001.

After assessing the fenced enclosure and speaking with neighbors, Snickles decided to remove the animals from the property.

Comments from neighbors, who asked to not be identified, ranged from mild irritation to outright fear for their own safety.

“I was concerned for the whole situation, so I thought the best thing to do was get these things in a secure professional facility,” Snickles said. “All I wanted to do at that time was effect a safe solution to a potentially dangerous situation.”

But there was one problem.

Since WCOs don’t normally deal with wolves, Snickles had no immediate way to transport them.

With a little help from the Indiana County Humane Society, he was able to transport and house the wolves temporarily.

Snickles employed the tranquilizer dart gun he regularly uses for bears to immobilize the wolves for transport in two large cages supplied by the humane society.

In the three years that Downey kept the wolves, there had never been any reported incidents until early June of this year. It was while investigating the incident that county wildlife officers first became aware that there were wolves in Indiana County.

“I got the original call from the state police,” said Lucas. “About a month ago one of the wolves had bitten a neighbor girl. We had no information about them until after the bite.”

In June, Lucas discovered that Downey did not have a permit to posses the wolves and that the enclosure did not meet game commission regulations for exotic species. At that time, Lucas allowed Downey the opportunity to secure a permit and bring the enclosure into compliance with regulations by Aug. 1.

“He (Downey) inquired about getting the proper permits, which we obliged to some extent in letting him upgrade his cages to the minimum requirements,” said Lucas.

The main requirement absent from the enclosure was a perimeter fence that should encircle the enclosure, preventing the wolves from escaping should they make it out of the interior fence and prohibiting people from reaching into the animal area.

One stipulation recently added to the exotic animal permit process requires the applicant to have a minimum of two years verified experience working with exotic species. Downey does not have verifiable work experience with exotic animals.

According to Lucas, a veterinarian had examined the wolves for rabies in relation to the bite incident and found no indication of the disease. With his admittedly limited knowledge of wolves, Lucas said the animals appeared normal.

As a result of the two incidents involving Downey’s wolves, WCO Lucas filed six summary citations under the Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code on June 7 and 11 and July 7.

All of the charges, which were filed at Magistrate Susanne Steffee’s office in Homer City, have been consolidated into one case and include importing the wolves into the state without a permit, failure to exercise due care in safeguarding the public from exotic wildlife and unlawfully engaging in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of attack by exotic wildlife.

“He had brought them in and didn’t have any of the required permits at all,” said Lucas. “We have to look at it two ways, for the safety of the public and the safety of the animals also.”

With time ticking for the wolves’ stay at the animal shelter, Lucas readied his only available choice of enclosures to haul them in – a bear trap.

“The humane society could only house them for a couple days, so I relocated them to a facility in the north central part of the state that is already permitted and already has wolves,” he said. “It is a private facility and has been permitted for more than 30 years.”

Having been raised from pups by humans, the wolves are destined to spend the rest of their lives within an enclosure being cared for by humans.

Source

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