Jan 31

Norway: The Norwegian wolf quota filled when a female wolf is felled today

The Norwegian wolf quota filled when a female wolf is felled today

Rough translation by TWIN Observer

A Norwegian female wolf was shot this afternoon in Lýten in Hedmark, Norway, reports the norwegian radio, NRK.

With that, the quota of five wolves is filled. The wolf hunt began January 8th and altogether 130 hunters have been involved in the hunt for the five wolves. The wolf hunt has been critised strongly by Norwegian and other nordic environmental organisations along with Sweden’s environment minister Lena Sommestad, especially as one of the shot wolves, an alpha female, belonged to a pack which should have been left in peace.

******

Norska vargkvoten fylld dý en hanne fýlldes idag

En norsk varghanne skýts i eftermiddags i Lýten i Hedmark, uppger norska radion NRK. Dýrmed har kvoten pý fem vargar fyllts. Vargjakten inleddes den 8 januari och sammanlagt 130 jýgare har varit inblandade i jakten pý de fem vargarna. Vargjakten har kritiserats mycket hýrt av norska och ývriga nordiska miljýorganisationer samt av Sveriges miljýminister Lena Sommestad, sýrskilt som en av de skjutna vargarna, en alfahona, tillhýrde en flock som skulle fredas.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 31

Norway: The fourth wolf of five was shot in Hedmark

The fourth wolf of five was shot in Hedmark

Rough translation by TWIN Observer

On Saturday a fourth wolf was shot int the licensed wolf hunt in Hedmark in Norway.

Around 120 hunters have been on a licensed wolf hunt in Hedmark this past weekend. There were demonstrators in the region, but they not successful in stopping the hunt,
states Norwegian radio, NRK.

A total of five wolves may be shot in Hedmark and now the hunters have until the 15th of February to shoot the the last one.

The hunt is strongly criticised by both the Norwegian environmental organizations and by groups and politicians from outside Norway.

******

Fjýrde vargen av fem skjuten i Hedmark

I lýrdags skýts en fjýrde vargýi den licensierade vargjakten i Hedmark i Norge.

Omkring 120 jýgare har varit pý licensierad vargjakt i Hedmark den hýr helgen. Det har ocksý funnits demonstranter i omrýdet men de har inte lyckats avstyra jakten, uppger norska radion NRK.

Totalt fýr fem vargar skjutas i Hedmark och nu har jýgarna fram till den 15:e februari pý sig att skjuta den sista.

Jakten ýr starkt kritiserad av býde norska miljýorganisationer och av grupper och politiker utlomlands.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 31

ID: Wolf management has taken turn for the worst

Wolf management has taken turn for the worst

By Zach Uhlmann
Special to The Arbiter

A recent federal decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the management of our country?s wolf populations could narrow wolf numbers down in 2005. The decision gives private ranchers the authority to shoot wolves first and ask permission later. This irresponsible management concept, that Idaho ranchers finally persuaded the government to allow, will lead to unnecessary wolf killings in Montana and Idaho.

On Jan. 3, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their improved 10j rule for gray wolf management in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The 10j rule transfers all wolf management duties from the U.S.F.S. to the state Fish and Game sectors and tribal authorities on Feb. 5. The significance of this new federal decision is that Idaho and Montana can now make choices without being scolded by the federal government. Basically, what the rule says is that states and tribes that have submitted Service-approved management plans can begin organizing and administering their areas own wolf management. This allows for private ranchers to protect their animals ? whether it is cattle, sheep or dogs ?from wolves posing a threat or attacking their livestock.

Although this is great news for ranchers and state workers, it may not be great news for the wolves. The freedom 10j gives to normal citizens has the potential to be abused, and wolf carcasses will inevitably pile up deeper than is necessary. The wolves have now been erased from the Endangered Species List and are considered big game in Idaho and Montana ? which doesn?t mean much more than they are no longer federally protected. Fish and Game will treat them as a delicate population as far as their maintenance is concerned, but independent ranchers can kill them at their own discretion in moments of uncertainty. Before Jan. 3, ranchers had to summon the federal authorities and get written permission before force could be taken against a problem wolf.

Although no one knows the lay of the Idaho backcountry and the balance of its four-legged inhabitants like those who live off the land, some ranchers will make poor choices. It is illogical to kill a wolf that gets too close to a man?s fenced-off sheep pen. The wolf could just be surveying, it could be young and learning, or it may just be curious.

In 2003, the USFS reported a total of 118 sheep killed, 13 cattle killed, and six dogs killed by 368 wolves in the Central Idaho experimental pack. Each wolf kills about half an animal each year, which isn?t all that bad. The total reimbursement costs for the wolves? 2003 feeding frenzy totaled less than $140,000 in the Rocky Mountain States. This means that the monetary sum of every confirmed livestock casualty caused by wolves was very cheap, not to mention that the ranchers were reimbursed by a non-profit organization, not taxpayers. Wolf attacks on livestock and wolf encroachment on game habitat have to be addressed and partially obstructed, but the ultimate discretion to kill a problem wolf should be determined by an educated government official.

Over the past ten years, the major problem with federal wolf recovery efforts was that the states and the feds couldn?t compromise ? so the new 10j rule is a definite reflection of upward progression for state and federal cooperation. It?s hard to speculate this early whether the 10j rule will be abused by the states, but federal government had to give states and also the tribes the power eventually. This is a benefit of the new 10j, but it is overshadowed by the irresponsible ?shoot first ask later? concept that has followed.

Up to date, there are roughly 450 gray wolves in the Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Area, which covers all of Idaho except the panhandle. This may seem like an intimidating number, but when the numbers are dissected, it?s evident that the wolves barely populate the state.

There is a lot more space for these predators to roam and the numbers should keep increasing overtime until they reach higher numbers, but the new 10j rule is going to allow for some unnatural killings that could have easily been avoided. Time will tell whether or not 10j will be effective, but I can guarantee wolf killings are going to rise significantly in our backyard and in Montana over the next couple of years.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 31

CO: Common sense on wolf management

Common sense on wolf management

Public and private groups cooperate to ensure that ranchers won’t bear the
burden as the predators begin returning to their natural haunts.

A broad-based group of citizens and experts has offered common-sense
recommendations about how to manage future wild wolf populations in
Colorado, although several issues remain.

Wolves are likely to show up on our doorstep, either through natural
migration or by being deliberately reintroduced by humans. The wolves may
decide the issue for themselves, though: Packs brought to Yellowstone
National Park in the 1980s thrived and expanded their territory. Last
summer, one Yellowstone wolf was found dead near Interstate 70 in
Colorado.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) began working on a wolf management
plan even before the carcass was found in Colorado. The DOW hopes to base
its plan on science and real-life problems associated with human-wolf
conflicts.

Fortunately that’s where the report by the state’s Wolf Management Working
Group points. The group, convened by the DOW, was composed of 14
sportsmen, ranchers, scientists, biologists and local government
officials. After six months of talks, the group agreed that wolves that
migrate to Colorado naturally should be allowed to live anywhere in the
state the animals find suitable habitat. Problem wolves should be killed,
and ranchers should be compensated for the full value of livestock lost to
the predators, the report said. This balanced approach will form the basis
for Colorado’s first wolf management plan, which the DOW hopes to finalize
by May. The plan is important, because the federal government wants to
turn wolf management over to the states.

There is no documented case of a healthy wolf attacking a human in modern
North America, but wolves will kill livestock.

That’s where a program like the one run by Defenders of Wildlife, a
private conservation organization, could prove useful. Since 1987, its
effort has paid $472,000 to 373 ranchers in Wyoming and Idaho, and, under
a newer program, $40,000 in Arizona and New Mexico. The program’s policy
is to pay 100 percent of the value of a lost domestic animal if experts
confirm that a wolf was responsible. Defenders of Wildlife also pays 50
percent of an animal’s value if there’s evidence a wolf probably killed
it.

Such efforts have been so successful that a similar program is envisioned
in the draft Colorado wolf plan.

Defenders of Wildlife also works with ranchers to reduce wolf predation on
livestock in the first place. For example, ranchers are encouraged to
breed their cattle and sheep early in the spring, and then keep the
newborns under close watch. The practice avoids having newborn calves and
lambs appear in the later spring, just when wolf mothers also have had
their litters, and so reduces the likelihood that wolves will target the
young livestock.

The DOW and its working group should invite Defenders to the table as they
continue to craft the wolf management plan.

Wolves aren’t here yet, certainly not in any significant numbers. But
there will be less fear and thus less of an outcry among ranchers if they
know that when the predators do arrive, the livestock industry won’t be
expected to bear the economic burden.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 31

MT: Wolf biologists look ahead

Wolf biologists look ahead

Associated Press

BILLINGS – As he read through the e-mails at his office, one from a wolf
activist caught Ed Bangs’ attention. It arrived shortly after Bangs made
the difficult decision that wolves preying on livestock had to be killed.

“May your putrid corpse rot in hell,” the e-mail said.

He shrugged it off. It wasn’t the first message of its kind; it wouldn’t
be the last. The business of wolf management requires a thick skin, said
Bangs, the federal government’s wolf recovery coordinator for the region.
“You can’t take it personal, or you’d be a raving lunatic.”

Bangs, along with Joe Fontaine and Carter Niemeyer, have long been the
public faces for what has arguably been one of the most contentious
conservation efforts of the last century – returning the gray wolf to the
wild in the Northern Rockies.

A separate effort to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New
Mexico is still short of its goals. But in central Idaho, northwestern
Montana, and the Yellowstone National Park area, wolf recovery has been a
success.

Wildlife officials estimate that there are 825 or more wolves in Idaho,
Montana and Wyoming. Gray wolves in the region reached the recovery goal -
30 or more breeding pairs distributed among the three states for three
consecutive years – in 2002.

The federal government now is close to handing off management of the
animals in the region to state governments, and Bangs, Fontaine and
Niemeyer – for the first time in nearly two decades – are looking at life
beyond the daily stress of holding controversial jobs.

They have been the federal government’s lightning rods for criticism from
people on both sides of the issue, in the form of hateful e-mails, heated
public meetings that sometimes turned into angry confrontations, even
occasional death threats.

“It takes a toll on you, mentally at least,” said Fontaine, who has worked
with Bangs as an assistant wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in Helena.

Fontaine, a wildlife biologist who has already started hunting for his
next job, will leave with mixed emotions. The job has been a tough,
sometimes emotional one, he said, in which wolf managers were caught in
the position of trying to restore an animal that some – particularly
ranchers – viewed as a vicious predator and threat to their livelihoods.

He said he still remembers one contentious meeting several years ago in
Montana, following the deaths of 28 sheep to wolves, and being struck by
how the people had been affected by wolves.

“It’s difficult to see people impacted, what they’re going through,”
Fontaine said. “That was a real low.”

But seeing wolves killed – either illegally or at the hand of government
agents – was, at times, also difficult.

“It kind of hurt when you put a radio collar on one and had to (kill) it.
It wasn’t sentimental, but more like, ‘Darn. We lost one,’ because they
were important to recovery,” he said.

“You feel you let everybody down; it’s painful to do,” said Niemeyer, who
for a decade was often the one who literally pulled the trigger when an
order came down to kill a problem wolf. “The ranchers are counting on you
to protect their livestock, and you failed. And the wolf advocates are
counting on you to protect the wolves, and you couldn’t. Everybody’s
pointing fingers, and those are the kinds of situations that wear you
down.”

“A lot of people say, ‘How does it feel to be a wolf killer?’ ” said
Niemeyer, now the federal wolf recovery coordinator in Idaho. “I’ve spent
a lot of time exonerating wolves from blame. … But when wolves begin
attacking livestock, I can quickly understand the need to get rid of
them.”

The way Bangs sees it, wolf recovery from a biological standpoint has been
the easy part. Far more difficult are the political and social aspects,
and the pressure has at times been intense, he said.

“My job is to be in the middle of the road – to get wolves restored, but
in a way that minimizes the impact on people,” he said. “You know the old
saying, ‘If you’re in the middle of the road, you get hit from both
sides?’ ”

Even today, a decade after reintroduction in and around Yellowstone
National Park, and nearly 20 years since wolves from Canada began
migrating naturally into northwest Montana, emotions still run high. But,
Bangs said, opinions of the wolf managers has changed some.

“In the early days of reintroduction, some livestock groups just hated my
guts, and wolf lovers were carrying me on a pedestal,” Bangs said. “But
now that we lethally remove wolves, ranchers say, ‘He’s not so bad,’ and
the wolf lovers who said, ‘Eddie! Eddie!’ now say, ‘You murdering
bastard.’ But we kept our word.”

Conservationists and livestock officials give the federal wolf managers
mixed marks.

“I certainly don’t feel they catered to us. But I don’t know that the
other side felt catered to, either,” said David Gaillard, conservation
director for the group Predator Conservation Alliance. “They walked the
line pretty good.”

Jay Bodner, natural resource coordinator for the Montana Stockgrowers
Association, said there have been cases where federal officials could have
acted more quickly to deal with problem wolves. He believes the state,
when it takes over management, will be more responsive.

Officials in Montana and Idaho could take over management responsibilities
from the FWS for wolves in the states soon, and they’re expected to do so.

Litigation has stalled the final step in the recovery project for the
Northern Rockies – having the wolves taken off the list of animals
protected by the Endangered Species Act. But the agency is willing to let
the two states with approved plans assume management until delisting
occurs. Wyoming’s plan for managing the wolves has not been approved.

“It’s a good feeling to know you worked yourself out of a job,” Fontaine
said.

Niemeyer plans to work closely with Idaho state officials and decide later
this year if he wants to retire.

“By the end of summer, I will look at whether I can drink margaritas on a
beach somewhere,” he said.

Bangs said he plans to stay around long enough to deal with litigation but
doubts he will be in the same role a year from now. His one regret so far,
he said, is having not seen the wolves through to final removal from the
Endangered Species List yet.

“That’s my only great disappointment,” he said, “because we won.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 30

MT: End of the road

End of the road

By BECKY BOHRER
Associated Press writer

BILLINGS, Mont. — As he read through the e-mails at his office, one from a wolf activist caught Ed Bangs’ attention. It arrived shortly after Bangs made the difficult decision that wolves preying on livestock had to be killed.

“May your putrid corpse rot in hell,” the e-mail said.

He shrugged it off. It wasn’t the first message of its kind; it wouldn’t be the last. The business of wolf management requires a thick skin, said Bangs, the federal government’s wolf recovery coordinator for the region. “You can’t take it personal, or you’d be a raving lunatic.”

Bangs, along with Joe Fontaine and Carter Niemeyer, have long been the public faces for what has arguably been one of the most contentious conservation efforts of the last century — returning the gray wolf to the wild in the Northern Rockies.

A separate effort to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico is still short of its goals. But in central Idaho, northwestern Montana, and the Yellowstone National Park area, wolf recovery has been a biological success.

Wildlife officials estimate that there are 825 or more wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Gray wolves in the region reached the recovery goal — 30 or more breeding pairs distributed among the three states for three consecutive years — in 2002.

The federal government now is close to handing off management of the animals in the region to state governments, and Bangs, Fontaine and Niemeyer — for the first time in nearly two decades — are looking at life beyond the daily stress of holding controversial jobs.

They have been the federal government’s lightning rods for criticism from people on both sides of the issue, in the form of hateful e-mails, heated public meetings that sometimes turned into angry confrontations, even occasional death threats.

“It takes a toll on you, mentally at least,” said Fontaine, who has worked with Bangs as an assistant wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena, Mont.

A tough job

Fontaine, a wildlife biologist who has already started hunting for his next job, will leave with mixed emotions. The job has been a tough, sometimes emotional one, he said, in which wolf managers were caught in the position of trying to restore an animal that some — particularly ranchers — viewed as a vicious predator and threat to their livelihoods.

He said he still remembers one contentious meeting several years ago in Montana, following the deaths of 28 sheep to wolves, and being struck by how the people had been affected by wolves.

“It’s difficult to see people impacted, what they’re going through,” Fontaine said. “That was a real low.”

But seeing wolves killed — either illegally or at the hand of government agents — was, at times, also difficult.

“It kind of hurt when you put a radio collar on one and had to (kill) it. It wasn’t sentimental, but more like, ‘Darn. We lost one,’ because they were important to recovery,” he said.

“You feel you let everybody down; it’s painful to do,” said Niemeyer, who for a decade was often the one who literally pulled the trigger when an order came down to kill a problem wolf. “The ranchers are counting on you to protect their livestock, and you failed. And the wolf advocates are counting on you to protect the wolves, and you couldn’t. Everybody’s pointing fingers, and those are the kinds of situations that wear you down.”

“A lot of people say, ‘How does it feel to be a wolf killer?”‘ said Niemeyer, now the federal wolf recovery coordinator in Idaho. “I’ve spent a lot of time exonerating wolves from blame. … But when wolves begin attacking livestock, I can quickly understand the need to get rid of them.”

The way Bangs sees it, wolf recovery from a biological standpoint has been the easy part. Far more difficult are the political and social aspects, and the pressure has at times been intense, he said.

“My job is to be in the middle of the road — to get wolves restored, but in a way that minimizes the impact on people,” he said. “You know the old saying, ‘If you’re in the middle of the road, you get hit from both sides?’”

Even today, a decade after reintroduction in and around Yellowstone National Park, and nearly 20 years since wolves from Canada began migrating naturally into northwest Montana, emotions still run high. But, Bangs said, opinions of the wolf managers have changed some.

“In the early days of reintroduction, some livestock groups just hated my guts, and wolf lovers were carrying me on a pedestal,” Bangs said. “But now that we lethally remove wolves, ranchers say, ‘He’s not so bad,’ and the wolf lovers who said, ‘Eddie! Eddie!’ now say, ‘You murdering bastard.’ But we kept our word.”

Delayed completion

Conservationists and livestock officials give the federal wolf managers mixed marks.

“I certainly don’t feel they catered to us. But I don’t know that the other side felt catered to, either,” said David Gaillard, conservation director for the group Predator Conservation Alliance. “They walked the line pretty good.”

Jay Bodner, natural resource coordinator for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said there have been cases where federal officials could have acted more quickly to deal with problem wolves. He believes the state, when it takes over management, will be more responsive.

Officials in Montana and Idaho could take over management responsibilities for wolves in the states soon, and they’re expected to do so.

Litigation has stalled the final step in the recovery project for the Northern Rockies — having the wolves taken off the list of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. But the agency is willing to let the two states with approved plans assume management until delisting occurs. Wyoming’s plan for managing the wolves has not been approved.

“It’s a good feeling to know you worked yourself out of a job,” Fontaine said.

Niemeyer plans to work closely with Idaho state officials and decide later this year if he wants to retire.

“By the end of summer, I will look at whether I can drink margaritas on a beach somewhere,” he said.

Bangs said he plans to stay around long enough to deal with litigation but doubts he will be in the same role a year from now. His one regret so far, he said, is having not seen the wolves through to final removal from the endangered species list yet.

“That’s my only great disappointment,” he said, “because we won.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 29

Canada: Tracking the Grey Ghosts

Tracking the Grey Ghosts

P.A. Park wolf study offers new perspective on habits and lifestyle

Byron Jenkins
The StarPhoenix

The image of a wolf’s head has been a Prince Albert National Park symbol for years. However, few summer holidayers to Waskesiu ever catch a glimpse of animals so elusive they’re sometimes called “grey ghosts.”

It might therefore surprise people that one of Saskatchewan’s holiday hot spots is one of the few national parks in Canada that supports a healthy and thriving wolf population.

Canadian National Parks officials and the Saskatchewan public will now know a lot more about the park’s wolves, thanks to a study recently completed by University of Saskatchewan wildlife biologist, Erin Urton.

Urton spent two and a half years researching wolves in the park. Her just-completed master’s thesis will help people understand these intelligent, group-oriented symbols of the Canadian wilderness.

While wolf studies have been carried out in other parts of Canada and that information extrapolated to populations here, Saskatchewan’s wolves have never been the subject of a major study of this sort.

“There is nothing on population or what they eat,” says Urton. “We can make good guesses at this based on research done in Alberta and Manitoba, but any time you look into books and literature about wolves, there is always this ‘unknown’ for the province of Saskatchewan.”

Urton aimed to get as much broad-scale ecological information as she could, starting with determining the numbers of wolves that inhabited the park, where in the park they lived and what they liked to eat.

Park officials wanted to know whether the wolves interbred with wolves from outside the park. They were also keen to learn if they were inclined to dine on park herds of wild bison, or cattle from ranches outside the park boundaries.

One positive finding of Urton’s study is that the park’s wolf population is thriving, primarily because they are living in a diverse and healthy park ecosystem, surrounded by an intact forest populated by other wolf groups.

Urton’s groundbreaking DNA research into the genetic make-up of the park’s wolves was instrumental in determining their reproductive health. Her study concluded that most, if not all, of the PANP wolves roam outside of the park, allowing for the opportunity to interbreed with other wolves.

By comparison, the wolf population in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park is facing disease and decline largely because it is an “island population” cut off from interbreeding and widening its gene pool with surrounding wolf groups. In Banff National Park, wolves are threatened with extinction due to ever-increasing incursions into their habitat by the human population.

Urton describes the wolf as a barometer of wilderness health. Because wolves inhabit the top of the food chain, their existence in an area is a sign there is ample wilderness territory and plenty of healthy deer, elk, moose and beaver.

Grey wolves have been described as among North America’s least observed and least understood creatures. They live and hunt in family groupings called packs, which normally consist of about seven animals and are led by a dominant male and female pair who mate for life. Wolves mate in winter and generally they have six to eight pups.

A male grey wolf can be two metres long, stand more than a metre high at the shoulders and weigh about 40 kilograms (90 pounds). A wolf’s colouring can range from tan or grey to solid black, and some appear at a distance to be white. They are intensely social animals, so much so that some researchers believe that wolves may be an appropriate model for understanding the foundations of human behaviour.

People who have long worked with wolves invariably describe them — despite their reputation for ferocity — as intelligent with close and loving family relationships. They’ve suffered a bad rap throughout history, largely because in both Europe and North America, humans and wolves have shared the same territory and lived off the same animals.

Grey wolves once inhabited almost the entire North American continent, from the Arctic Circle to Mexico, but through 400 years of hunting, trapping and poisoning, they have been brought to the brink of extinction in the contiguous 48 states of the U.S.

They were officially eradicated even from U.S. National Parks, where officials thought they decimated populations of protected deer, elk and antelope. It is now widely accepted that wolves are crucial to a healthy balance in the food chain in the parks where they live.

Historically, they inhabited all of Saskatchewan, living off buffalo in the south. Today, Saskatchewan’s wolf population, which Urton believes numbers in the 2,000 to 3,000 range, lives exclusively in the forested north.

She says the dislike for wolves in Canada is largely limited to agricultural areas, where ranchers have serious problems with wolves taking livestock, something she’s witnessed in other parts of the country.

“We don’t have as much trouble with it in Saskatchewan because there’s still a lot of wild prey. I think the wolves here are not interested in livestock so much because there is so much of this wild prey still available.”

Urton says wolves “avoid humans and human activity.” A recent attack at Key Lake on mine worker Fred Desjarlais notwithstanding, wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare and human death by a wolf unheard of.

They are elusive, so elusive that completing her research required Urton to travel to remote corners of the park.

Wolf research in the past often involved darting, collaring, capturing and even killing wolves to study them. Park officials wanted to avoid invasive techniques, which can disturb or alter the animals’ behaviour. What Urton and her crew did was a sort of wilderness poop-scoop, collecting wolf scat and examining it.

“We gathered scat, kept it frozen and brought it to a lab in Saskatoon to analyse it. Within wolf scat are epidermal cells which are sloughed off from the animal’s intestinal lining. We can isolate DNA from those cells.”

She followed tracks into all parts of the park, but avoided disturbing them through close contact.

“In the interest of where I could collect samples, we did some tracking. There were places where we thought there may have been a den, so we only went in at certain times of the year.”

She picked up 74 separate genotypes of wolves and estimates that there are somewhere between 75 and 100 wolves, living in at least five separate groupings in PANP.

“To survive there, they eat a lot of elk, deer and smaller animals, such as beaver.

“In terms of what I found in their scat, it was mostly deer. But looking at it, in terms of biomass, they consumed more elk. Some tests made it appear as though they were selecting elk, preferring this prey to deer.”

As to their eating bison or livestock, Urton’s study showed that they did neither. “We didn’t find any bison remains. There’s a small chance that in the summertime, they would take the bison calves, but it would be very, very rare.

“A lot of these places we collected scats were right adjacent to farm lands. There is no doubt that wolves have access to livestock and there was no evidence they’d eaten any.”

Overall, she found a healthy population of wolves.

“The genetic diversity is high, if not higher than other North American populations, such as in the North West Territories (where they) are not disturbed. There was also no sign of population depression of wolves in the park.”

Other Canadian national parks are interested in the Saskatchewan findings, notes Urton.

“It is important for them to be able to look at our research, done in a similar habitat and a similar size of park. They are really interested in this data to compare it with their own.”

Urton, 27, grew up in Prince Albert and came by her interest in wolves through wilderness outings as a child. Her research work involved something she still loves; long days in the outdoors, typically from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We did a few overnight trips and multiple day trips where we’d ski in to a cabin and stay for a few nights to do some tracking in the more remote parts of the park that were difficult to access.” Other times they were able to use bikes. Park wardens were helpful, collecting wolf scat for her and reporting their observations.

Inevitably, her research brought her into close contact with a pack, but she never felt frightened or threatened by them. “Most times I would see them out on the ice and tuck myself behind a tree to observe them until they saw me, then they’d run off.

“I’ve tracked wolves all over Canada and have even run into them. In every case, they disappear right away. I don’t have any fear of them. I would be more afraid of bears while I’m out hiking than anything.”

She asserts that the lingering prejudice against them is perpetuated by old myths. “People just need to be educated about them. That’s changing, now, too. You don’t see as much of it as you used to.”

Saskatchewan is one of the few regions of the world where you can still see wolves in the wild. PANP is one of only eight national parks in Canada where the wolf is protected. The park even promotes tourist interaction through family wolf howling sessions each summer.

Keeping the wolf population healthy for future generations will probably depend on sustaining the health of the boreal forest surrounding the park, says Urton.

“In the past couple of years, you’ve seen a lot of issues concerning the health of the boreal forest, particularly in Saskatchewan. Logging has increased in the past five to 10 years. Given this increase, the park itself, in my opinion, is under increased threat of isolation. It has a high chance of turning into this tiny piece of isolated habitat.”

With a strong interest and background in biology and ecology, Urton intends to pursue her Ph.D. by researching wolves, possibly on Canada’s west coast. The secretive and often misunderstood grey ghosts continue to fascinate her.

“To me they represent wilderness. They are also really interesting animals that live in families that are similar to our families. I can relate to that. They’re fascinating animals to study. And they’re beautiful.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jan 29

CO: Officials to explain wolf plan

Officials to explain wolf plan

By Rob Gebhart

At a meeting last March, Northwest Colorado residents expressed skepticism that a wolf management group would develop a plan that treated ranchers fairly.

On Monday, the skeptics and supporters can voice their opinions about the group’s draft plan.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is hosting a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Shadow Mountain Clubhouse to present the group’s recommendations to the public and accept public comment about the plan.

“It’s really an opportunity for people to come in and hear a presentation, but get their questions answered, too,” DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said.

The wolf working group, composed of ranchers, sportsmen, local government representatives, biologists and environmentalists, created recommendations for how to manage wolves that migrate to Colorado from Yellowstone National Park, where wolves have been reintroduced.

The group did not make recommendations about whether wolves should be reintroduced in Colorado. But they may reconvene at a later date to make recommendations regarding wolf reintroduction.

In Colorado, wolf management depends on what side of the Interstate 70 corridor the wolf is on. North of I-70, Northern wolves are listed as threatened, a status that gives ranchers the right to shoot wolves if they are threatening livestock. If someone encounters a wolf threatening wildlife on public land, that person only has the right to harass the wolf. South of I-70, the Mexican wolf is listed as endangered. Wolves in the region only can be killed if they are threatening a human.

But this likely will change when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes Northern wolves’ protection under the Endangered Species Act. Fish and Wildlife has been expected to de-list the Northern wolf for some time, but the action has been delayed because Wyoming has yet to create a wolf management plan that Fish and Wildlife officials will approve. Montana and Idaho have created approved plans.

When wolves are removed from the endangered species list, the DOW will be responsible for managing them in Colorado. The management style will be based in large part on the working group’s recommendations.

The DOW will accept public comment until March 4. The Wildlife Commission will review the comments after the comment period closes, and the commission will vote on the plan in May.

Anyone who cannot attend Monday’s meeting can comment on the plan by mailing their comments to the Meridian Institute, P.O. Box 1829, Dillon, CO 80435. Comments also can be e-mailed using a comment form that can be found at http://www2.merid.org/ graywolf /commentform.php.

In the past year, the presence of one wolf in Colorado has been confirmed. A female wolf was found dead on I-70. It had migrated to Colorado from Yellowstone.

But the DOW estimates that in Northern Colorado, it’s most likely wolves will be located in portions of Moffat, Routt, Jackson and Rio Blanco counties.

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Jan 29

MT: ‘Wolfmen’ reflect on controversy

‘Wolfmen’ reflect on controversy

By BECKY BOHRER – Associated Press Writer

BILLINGS, Mont. ý As he read through the e-mails at his office, one from a wolf activist caught Ed Bangs’ attention. It arrived shortly after Bangs made the difficult decision that wolves preying on livestock had to be killed. ýýMay your putrid corpse rot in hell,’ the e-mail said.

He shrugged it off. It wasn’t the first message of its kind; it wouldn’t be the last. The business of wolf management requires a thick skin, said Bangs, the federal government’s wolf recovery coordinator for the region. ýýYou can’t take it personal, or you’d be a raving lunatic.’

Bangs, along with Joe Fontaine and Carter Niemeyer, have long been the public faces for what has arguably been one of the most contentious conservation efforts of the last century ý returning the gray wolf to the wild in the Northern Rockies.

A separate effort to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico is still short of its goals. But in central Idaho, northwestern Montana, and the Yellowstone National Park area, wolf recovery has been a success.

Wildlife officials estimate that there are 825 or more wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Gray wolves in the region reached the recovery goal ý 30 or more breeding pairs distributed among the three states for three consecutive years ý in 2002.

The federal government now is close to handing off management of the animals in the region to state governments, and Bangs, Fontaine and Niemeyer ý for the first time in nearly two decades ý are looking at life beyond the daily stress of holding very controversial jobs.

They have been the federal government’s lightning rods for criticism from people on both sides of the issue, in the form of hateful e-mails, heated public meetings that sometimes turned into angry confrontations, even occasional death threats.

ýýIt takes a toll on you, mentally at least,’ said Fontaine, who has worked with Bangs as an assistant wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena, Mont.

Fontaine, a wildlife biologist who has already started hunting for his next job, will leave with mixed emotions. The job has been a tough, sometimes emotional one, he said, in which wolf managers were caught in the position of trying to restore an animal that some ý particularly ranchers ý viewed as a vicious predator and threat to their livelihoods.

He said he still remembers one contentious meeting several years ago in Montana, following the deaths of 28 sheep to wolves, and being struck by how the people had been affected by wolves.

ýýIt’s difficult to see people impacted, what they’re going through,’ Fontaine said. ýýThat was a real low.’

But seeing wolves killed ý either illegally or at the hand of government agents ý was, at times, also difficult.

ýýIt kind of hurt when you put a radio collar on one and had to (kill) it. It wasn’t sentimental, but more like, ýDarn. We lost one,’ because they were important to recovery,’ he said.

ýýYou feel you let everybody down; it’s painful to do,’ said Niemeyer, who for a decade was often the one who literally pulled the trigger when an order came down to kill a problem wolf. ýýThe ranchers are counting on you to protect their livestock, and you failed. And the wolf advocates are counting on you to protect the wolves, and you couldn’t. Everybody’s pointing fingers, and those are the kinds of situations that wear you down.’

ýýA lot of people say, ýHow does it feel to be a wolf killer?’ ‘ said Niemeyer, now the federal wolf recovery coordinator in Idaho. ýýI’ve spent a lot of time exonerating wolves from blame. … But when wolves begin attacking livestock, I can quickly understand the need to get rid of them.’

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Jan 29

AK: F&G’s leader wrong on wolf control letter

F&G’s leader wrong on wolf control letter

By DAVE KLEIN
Acting Fish and Game Commissioner

Wayne Regelin, in his Jan. 24 Community Perspective on predator control, suggested that there were “misinterpretations” of the National Research Council report titled “Wolves, Bears and Their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management” (1997, National Academy Press) as expressed in the recently circulated letter on predator control signed by more than 100 professional wildlife biologists. As a signatory of the letter and as a member of the NRC committee that produced the 1997 report, I think it would be more accurate to say that there has been misunderstanding of what the report does include and of its concluding recommendations.

The letter does not misinterpret the findings of the report as suggested by Acting Commissioner Regelin. Rather, it specifically emphasizes those instances where the recent predator control programs approved by the Board of Game are at variance with the recommendations of the NRC report. I strongly agree with Acting Commissioner Regelin’s encouragement that members of the public draw their own conclusions about the predator control programs undertaken by the Department of Fish and Game after reading the NRC report. It is, however, naýve on both his and my parts to assume that more than a few will find the time to locate and read the 207-page report. Therefore, I have listed a few of the specific conclusions and recommendations from the NRC report that provide the primary support for the “scientists’ letter”:

* “Before any predator management efforts are undertaken, the status of the predator and prey populations should be evaluated and the carrying capacity of the prey’s environment should be evaluated.”

* “Wolves and bears should be managed using an ‘adaptive management’ approach in which management actions are planned so that it is possible to assess the outcome.”

* “Collaborative relationships among ADF&G and the land management agencies and jurisdictions should be strengthened so that habitat studies and habitat management efforts are well coordinated.”

* “Future [predator control] experiments should be based on more thorough assessment of baseline conditions and should be designed so that the causes of subsequent changes can be determined.”

* “A formal procedure should be created, with adequate resources and trained personnel, to gather relevant economic, social, and cultural data and to incorporate this information into management and decision making. The specific tools of benefit-cost analysis and applied anthropology should be used in the analyses performed on those data.”

* “A formal conflict resolution process should be developed and adopted to help avoid the kind of intractable and wasteful dispute that has characterized the recent history of wolf and bear management in Alaska.”

Acting Commissioner Regelin correctly points out that the NRC report does not recommend that an intensive research project be conducted before implementing each and every predator management program, nor does the scientists’ letter. Our letter emphasizes that for each case “the status of predator and prey populations should be evaluated and the carrying capacity of the prey’s environment should be evaluated.” This is what has long been considered important information for effective management of caribou, moose, deer, and other ungulates in Alaska.

Intensive management of predators today to increase prey populations requires far more understanding of both predators and prey and the complexity of their local habitat relationships than has been the case in the past with single species management. Clearly, the governor and Legislature need to provide Fish and Game with adequate budgetary support if they expect its biologists and managers to lay the groundwork for adaptive and more intensive management of Alaska’s wildlife resources on a sustainable basis.

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