Apr 29

MT: Wolf shooting remains under investigation

Wolf shooting remains under investigation

Associated Press

BOZEMAN — A landowner in southwest Montana fatally shot a gray wolf that the man said was chasing his livestock, a state wolf official said Friday. Federal authorities are investigating.

The shooting is the fourth in the state since federal rules took effect giving landowners more flexibility to protect their livestock from the predators. It is the third such fatal shooting in southwest Montana, said Carolyn Sime, wolf management coordinator for the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The wolf was shot on private property Thursday by a landowner near Wisdom, the department said.

Rules allow landowners and others in parts of Montana and Idaho to kill wolves attacking, chasing or harassing livestock. Shootings must be reported, and Sime said landowners have been “very forthright” in doing so.

Sime said she was not sure if any livestock involved in the cases had been killed or injured. She said she also wasn’t sure if the wolves had been harassed before being shot.

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Apr 28

Finland: A wolf consumes ten elk in a year on average

A wolf consumes ten elk in a year on average

Elk meat is staple food of Finnish wolves

By Tapio Mainio

Sasta, an elkhound, pulls at the remains of an elk* which had
been killed by wolves in Vieremä.

The carcass was found quite easily with the help of the dog in
a thick forest because the wolf had a Global Positioning System
(GPS) collar around its neck, which pinpointed the scene of the kill
within a distance of ten metres.

Seppo Ronkainen takes samples of the elk for researchers to examine
to determine the physical condition of the prey. He also places wolf
faeces in a plastic bag for later analysis.

The newest GPS technology has made it easier to get
increasingly accurate information about the movements and dietary
habits of wolves. This spring the researchers followed the behaviour
of four wolves moving around in Juuka and Rautavaara over a period
of 50 days.

The GPS collars used to determine the location of the wolves
once an hour. If a wolf does not move for several hours, it is
likely that the pack has killed an elk. This was confirmed by
visiting the location with a dog.

“We found seven elk that had been hunted down by four wolves. If the
same rate were to continue throughout the year, it would mean about
13 kills per wolf in a single year. March and April are nevertheless
the best months for hunting, so I would estimate that the average
catch per wolf would be about ten elk a year”, says special
researcher Ilpo Kojola of the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research
Institute.

According to the study, elk meat comprises 95% of the wolf’s
diet. The remaining five percent is from hares and other smaller
animals.

An almost equally effective follow-up is taking place in the
regions of Vieremä and Vuolijoki, where Taru and Taro, two wolves
fitted with GPS collars, are setting up a group christened by the
researchers as the Talas Pack. Taru, a female wolf who moved inland
from the Russian border, will give birth to her first cubs in the
summer.

During the research period, the wolves did not eat a single
dog. It would seem that dogs are random prey for wolves.

“However, there seem to be big differences between packs in
the tendency of wolves in East Finland to kill dogs”, Kojola says.

Last year wolves killed about 50 dogs in Finland, while they
devoured nearly 2,000 elk.

“Radio positioning suggests that wolves that live in established
territories tend to avoid summer cottages and human habitation. With
the help of GPS, we have a more comprehensive picture of the
nocturnal movements of wolves”, says researcher Salla Kaartinen.

Similar findings have come from Sweden and Norway, where
wolves’ dietary habits have been scrutinised as closely in two
areas.

“There the number of elk killed by wolves was clearly larger
than in Finland. The density of the elk population in Finland is
about half of that in the wolf habitat in Scandinavia, and somewhat
smaller than in the habitat in North America”, Kojola says.

Finland’s elk population would sustain a larger wolf population than
the present one. Last autumn there were about 150,000 elk in
Finland, and the winter population after the autumn hunting season
was about 90,000.

Finland had a wolf population of about 1,000 in the mid-19th
century. At the end of last year there were 180 – 200 wolves in
Finland. The number of pairs of wolves having cubs rose from ten in
2000 to last year’s 17. The average size of each litter was 4.3
cubs.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 28.4.2005

*The European elk referred to in this article are of the Alces alces
species, which is known in North America as the moose. It should not
be confused with the North American elk, or Cervus elaphus.

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Apr 28

MO: Wild Canid Center packed with pups

Wild Canid Center packed with pups

Danette Fertig-Thompson
Of the Suburban Journals
Tri-County Journal

The stork has been busy at the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, with one record-breaking birth and more puppies on the way.

Eighteen Mexican gray wolf puppies have been born at the center so far this month, the result of natural breeding. Three other Mexican gray wolves, the first to be impregnated using an artificial insemination technique, are due to give birth to 11 more puppies this week and next.

It’s mom Anna who set a world record April 10 by giving birth to 12 puppies  the largest litter ever for a Mexican gray wolf. Dad is Dude, the number-one genetically significant Mexican gray male in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican gray wolf program.

Of Anna and Dude’s six male and six female pups, 11 survived. A tiny female pup died several days after birth.

“With litters this large, some of the pups are going to be very small and not as vigorous,” said Susan Lindsey, executive director of the Wild Canid Center. “While we don’t like to lose any puppies, we wouldn’t expect them all to thrive.”

Four or five pups is considered a normal litter, but Anna has far surpassed that with all three of her litters. Her first was a litter of eight and her second, 10.

Tanamara, another Mexican gray female, also recently has become a mom. She and her mate, Picaron, had a litter of six puppies just days after Anna.

With Anna’s and Tanamara’s 17 surviving pups, as well as the 11 puppies expected at any time, the number of endangered Mexican gray wolves at the Wild Canid Center would be doubled.

More new arrivals are expected this spring. Rare red wolves are likely to have litters soon, and a female swift fox also is due to give birth next week.

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Apr 28

MI: DNR pleased with OK to kill problem wolves

DNR pleased with OK to kill problem wolves

Nonlethal methods to remove predators must be tried first

By David V. Graham

LANSING – The Department of Natural Resources hopes the issue of managing problem wolves is a thing of the past now that it has been granted a federal permit to kill as many as 20 wolves this year if they have been killing or harassing livestock and do not respond to nonlethal control methods.

The permit was issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which lost a federal court decision last January that impacted the state’s ability to manage the wolf population.

In that case, a federal judge in Oregon ruled that federal officials erred in reclassifying gray wolves in the Midwest and the West from endangered to threatened status. Endangered animals have more federal protection than does a threatened species under the terms of the Endangered Species Act.

DNR Director Rebecca Humphries said in a statement that the new federal permit will enable Michigan “to allow us to manage wolves in an ecological and socially responsible manner.”

There are an estimated 400 wolves in the state, nearly all of them in the Upper Peninsula. During the past 22 months before the Oregon court decision, 10 Michigan wolves were killed by state officials because of livestock predation problems that could not be resolved with other methods. During the same period, Michigan’s wolf population grew by an estimated 25 percent, officials said.

Todd Hogrefe, the DNR’s endangered species coordinator, said the federal permit is an important management tool that will help the DNR save the state’s wolf population.

“That may sound contradictory, but the small number of predation problems we have had can negatively affect public perceptions of the wolf population,” he said, referring to citizens taking the law into their own hands by illegally killing problem wolves.

Hogrefe said state officials have discovered that at least 11 wolves with radio collars were illegally killed in 2004 in the U.P.

He said state officials fear the actual number of illegal kills is higher among wolves without radio collars. An estimated 10 percent of the wolf population has working radio collars.

He said the federal permit carries at least eight major restrictions on state officials’ ability to kill problem wolves.

The law, for instance, requires nonlethal means of controlling wolf predation before trapping and killing is allowed.

Some of those methods include use of improved agricultural practices that make cattle and sheep less inviting for wolves, noise-making devices and other scare tactics.

Relocation no longer is considered an option in Michigan, he said, because there are few places left in the U.P. that don’t already have wolves. Wolves tend to kill intruders that venture into their territories, he said.

Hogrefe said relocation efforts also create the false impression that state officials are “introducing” wolves to the state when experts believe Michigan’s wolf population came here from Wisconsin, Minnesota and possibly Ontario.

He said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a request by officials from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota to reclassify wolves in the Midwest separately from wolves in the Western states.

Wolf populations in those three states are far above goal populations that were established several years ago by federal officials. Separating Midwest wolves from western populations might lead to fewer restrictions on state wolf management efforts, he said.

Hogrefe said he expects some environmental groups will object to lethal wolf management efforts, but he hopes they will support the nonlethal means of controlling predation so killing the animals will not be necessary.

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Apr 28

MI: Man fined for killing wolf in Upper Peninsula

Man fined for killing wolf in Upper Peninsula

CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. A Manistique area man has ordered to make restitution for killing a gray wolf in the Upper Peninsula last fall.

James Lakosky pleaded guilty earlier this month in district court. State wildlife officials say he shot the wolf in November while hunting from a deer blind in Iron County.The wolf was wearing a radio collar.Lakosky has to pay a fine and 15-hundred dollars in restitution. He was placed on three months probation.About 400 wolves live in the U-P. They’re protected by state and federal law.

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Apr 28

DNR to Continue Full Cattle Payments for Wolf Attacks

DNR to Continue Full Cattle Payments for Wolf Attacks

Wisconsin Ag Connection – 04/28/2005

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board approved a rule on Wednesday that removed a proposed $250 deductible and a $15,000 payment cap for livestock losses due to wolves. The idea was sparked when some of the agency’s officials wanted to come up with ways to help the department save money in its budget.

The news was gladly accepted by many producers and ranchers around the state. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation says the board’s action is consistent with the Department’s Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan. The DNR Board also approved eligibility criteria to require producers to have only one calf killed in the same grazing season to receive depredation compensation.

“We’re pleased that the DNR listened to the overwhelming public testimony, especially after a federal ruling in January prohibited the gray wolf from being delisted as an endangered species,” said Jeff Lyon, director of governmental relations with the Farm Bureau. “This helps maintain a positive relationship between livestock producers and the DNR over an emotional and financially sensitive issue that isn’t going to go away.”

Wisconsin lost some of its ability to control the gray wolves that kill or harass livestock when a federal judge in Oregon ruled that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot remove the wolf from the endangered species list because recovery is not satisfactory for delisting in many states in the three recovery districts. While the wolf has made recovery in Wisconsin, the recovery has not advanced similarly in other states.

The Farm Bureau also told the DBR Board that it was concerned about the vagueness of cooperative management agreements to make sure that livestock producers can voluntarily work with government agencies on research and management control, and also make sure that information submitted by livestock producers be confidential and not open to public records.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau was also named to the committee which will annually determine payment maximums for livestock losses.

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Apr 27

Feds propose restrictions for wolf program over ranchers’ concerns

Feds propose restrictions for wolf program over ranchers’ concerns

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed new restrictions on releasing Mexican gray wolves into the wild after hearing the concerns of ranchers and other opponents of the reintroduction program.

The agency has suggested a one-year moratorium on some releases. No captive-bred wolves without experience in the wild would be let loose, and wolves that had killed livestock wouldn’t be moved from one state or Indian reservation to another under the proposal.

“I don’t see it as a huge inhibition to our program at all,” said John Morgart, wolf program coordinator. “Yes, it puts some constraints on us that we wouldn’t ordinarily have. It also makes an important statement.”

The draft proposal, announced Friday at a meeting in Arizona, allows for the moratorium to be lifted if something happens to bring the number of breeding pairs in the wild below six, Morgart said.

The proposal is open for public comments and a final decision will made in June.

The government’s reintroduction program began in March 1998 to re-establish wild populations of the endangered wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The species had been hunted to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s. There are now about 50 wolves in the wild.

After hearing from ranchers, hunters and guides at meetings earlier this year in Glenwood and Socorro, Morgart said the agency wanted to show it listens.

The meetings were organized by Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., after ranchers and others said they couldn’t express their concerns adequately at earlier meetings held by the wolf recovery team.

The participants asked for a one-year moratorium on releases of captive-bred wolves that had never been in the wild to allow time to assess the program. They also asked the service to stop moving problem wolves between states.

Morgart said the service only was willing to go along with changes that wouldn’t hurt wolf recovery.

But Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity argues that the moratorium would hurt wolves in the wild.

“It’s a baldly political move that’s not supported by any science whatsoever,” he said. “The population as a whole is going to be affected by this policy change.”

Morgart said he doesn’t believe the moratorium would hamper the program because releases of captive-reared wolves have all but stopped already and because there is a pool of wolves with wild experience now in captivity that could be released.

Robinson said the new restrictions would mean fewer wolves let loose and potential problems in maintaining genetic diversity in the wild.

Also on Friday, Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Dale Hall decided the agency won’t wait for a new wolf recovery plan to be complete before determining whether to propose relaxing the program’s rules. The recovery planning process recently was put on hold.

Now, the service can make a decision about rule changes as early as the end of the year, when a five-year review of the program is expected to be complete.

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Apr 27

MI UP: 14th Street West resident reports gray wolf sighting

14th Street West resident reports gray wolf sighting

By JACK STOREY/The Evening News

SAULT STE. MARIE – Alerted by his inside dog, 14th Street West resident John Sawruk said he was startled to see a gray wolf prowling his wooded backyard about dusk Monday night.

While wolf sightings are not that unusual in rural areas of Chippewa County, Sawruk’s report indicates rebounding gray wolves may be edging closer to wooded urban areas as well. Sawruk said in the wooded area where his house is located, deer and rabbit sightings are common and the family occasionally spots coyotes and bear in the neighborhood.

The animal he sighted out behind his house on Monday was a first for Sawruk, however. “He was huge … stood three feet tall,” the Sault man said.

Although many claimed wolf sightings turn out to be something else entirely, Sawruk said two things convinced him the animal he saw was the real McCoy. First was the size. He said neighborhood coyotes visit every so often and the animal in his back forty was much larger. “He stood three feet high,” Sawruk said.

His second observation had to do with behavior. When the lights came on and he appeared in the window, Sawruk said, the wolf did not head for cover, like coyotes tend to do. “The wolf did not run. He prowled around for five minutes or so, then left,” he said. “He showed no fear at all.”

The local man thinks he knows what the wolf was hunting. Noting that several deer and many rabbits have been seen in the area lately, Sawruk thinks the wolf may have mistaken the family cat for a rabbit.

Whatever he was doing out there, Sawruk said when he opened the door to let the cat in, the pet’s eyes were as big as saucers and she headed straight under the bed. “The cat was scared. She’s still under there,” he said on Tuesday.

Sawruk said he called Department of Natural Resources biologist Tom Weise in Newberry to report the sighting. He also called The Evening News, he said, to alert neighbors that a wolf may be in the area. He explained that wolves are known to attack domestic animals, especially loose dogs.

“I wanted to alert the neighbors to protect their pets and small children,” he said. Verified wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare, however.

Withholding judgment on an animal he has not seen, Weise said today he asked Sawruk to preserve whatever paw prints the wolf left. The DNR biologist declined to affirm or deny that the animal Sawruk saw was a gray wolf but acknowledged the possibility.

He cautioned, however, that people at times misidentify wolves in the wild. If it was a wolf Sawruk had in his yard, his would be the closest reliable report of wolf activity that near to the Sault Ste. Marie urban area.

The closest wolf sightings or “incidents” Weise can confirm involved sightings at 14 Mile Road well to the south in December and before that, a sighting slightly farther north along Nine Mile Road.

“It’s not impossible,” Weise said, retaining some skepticism. “We have had some bear in there and it’s possible but it would have to be verified,” Weise said.

The biologist said DNR has received no other reports of wolf sightings in the 14th Street West area recently.

“I’m not saying it wasn’t (a wolf), but it has to be verified,” Weise said today.

The biologist said wolves are generally territorial and do not normally “migrate” in the way birds and waterfowl do. At the same time, he said limited study of wolf packs in Luce County indicates that during winter months, wolves will move along with their primary food source, whitetail deer.

Sawruk did confirm that deer are frequent visitors to his wooded neighborhood.

Although very near I-75 and the busy Three Mile Road, 14th Street West runs north and south through a heavily wooded section of the city that closely resembles a northern rural setting. Thick woods and undergrowth extend in a narrow band along the city street about one quarter miles east to the I-75 right of way. To the west, wooded sections run through a broad unsettled and undeveloped section of the city leading to mixed country between Sault Ste. Marie and Brimley.

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Apr 27

MI: Problem wolves targeted

Problem wolves targeted

Up to 20 wolves in state can be killed.

MARQUETTE – A permit was issued to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources last week which allows the taking of up to 20 wolves to address wolf-related livestock losses for the remainder of the year.

However, state wildlife experts must meet a range of conditions before they use lethal means to control problem wolves preying on livestock herds.

In January, a federal District Court in Oregon withdrew a 2003 federal decision that had reclassified gray wolves from endangered to threatened species status throughout most of the United States.

Due to the change, management actions pertaining to the species became more restrictive and the state lost its legal authority to use lethal means to control wolves.

But now, with the granting of the federal permit, DNR officials may kill problem wolves but only under the following conditions:

- Depredation must have occurred on domestic animals, including livestock. Lethal control may not be used when wolves kill dogs that are roaming, hunting, or training on public lands.

- Depredation at the site is likely to continue if the wolf is not removed.

- Depredation control activities must occur within one mile of the depredation site.

- Traps and snares must be checked at least every 24 hours.

- Wolves born in 2005 and captured before Aug. 1 must be released near the capture site.

- Lactating females trapped before July 1 must be released near the capture site, unless they have been involved in three or more depredation events, in which case, they may be euthanized.

- Depredation control on tribal lands must be coordinated with tribal natural resources personnel and lethal control will be carried out only if requested by the tribe.

- Prior to Aug. 1, no more than four accidental serious trap-related injuries or mortalities to wolves born in 2005 may occur. If this number is reached, all trapping shall cease until Aug. 1.

- Prior to July 1, capture of lactating females may not exceed four individuals. If this number is reached, all trapping shall cease until July 1.

Michigan Sen. Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming, recently applauded the DNR’s efforts to have the wolf reclassified, allowing the state the legal authority to use lethal measures.

“I’m extremely pleased that Director Humphries has joined with her colleagues in Wisconsin and Minnesota to address this important U.P. issue,” Prusi said. “The wolf population in the U.P. has far exceeded federal population goals for a number of years now, and federal delisting will return the authority to manage the species back to Michigan, where it belongs.”

A series of public meetings has been scheduled in the U.P., beginning Monday in Watersmeet and continuing in Houghton, Escanaba, Newberry, Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie.

Wolf meetings:

- Watersmeet: 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Watersmeet Public Schools.

- Houghton: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, at Michigan Tech University.

- Escanaba: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at Bay de Noc Community College.

- Newberry: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 12, Comfort Inn, Newberry.

- Sault Ste. Marie: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 13, Cisler Conference Center, Lake Superior State University.

- Marquette: 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 14, Northwoods Supper Club.

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Apr 27

Michigan to cull UP’s growing wolf population

Michigan to cull UP’s growing wolf population

DNR wants to avoid backlash against the animals

BY DAWSON BELL
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

The state Department of Natural Resources announced plans Tuesday to trap and kill as many as 20 of the Upper Peninsula’s burgeoning population of gray wolves this summer in an attempt to limit attacks on domestic livestock and pets.

DNR officials said their goal is to assure a healthy future for wolves in Michigan, which might otherwise be threatened by public backlash against wolves in backyards and farm fields.

Todd Hogrefe, DNR endangered species coordinator, said wolves have attacked three dogs in recent weeks, including one chained up in its yard near Pelkie, near the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

“The survival of wolves depends on public support, so we need to avoid negative public attitudes,” Hogrefe said. “We’d much rather do it ourselves than have people taking it on themselves to” to kill troublesome wolves.

Wolves mostly eat large and small wild critters, but they can be opportunists. Attacks on people by healthy animals, though, are almost unheard of.

DNR employees will use lethal methods only for wolves that have preyed on livestock or pets and are a threat to continue to do so — and then only under certain conditions. Lactating females, for instance, could only be killed after being involved in “three or more depredation events,” officials said.

The state killed 10 wolves in the UP during the last two years, but it had to seek a new permit after a federal judge ruled in February that federal officials acted too hastily in removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

One of the 10 was euthanized after it attacked and killed the 10-year-old pet of John and Sandra Smith in Ontonagon County in August.

John Smith was still fuming about the episode — and the DNR — Tuesday. Smith’s dog Chewy was chased into hiding below the couple’s mobile home and killed by a single wolf that was still gnawing on the remains hours later when it was captured.

“As far as I’m concerned, we should have open season on them,” Smith said. “Otherwise, the population is going to explode and explode.”

Smith said culling only a few wolves is “like having Jeffrey Dahmer and Jack the Ripper in your backyard, and only trying to get rid of one of ‘em.”

State officials estimate there are about 400 wolves in the UP, a 25-percent increase in the last two years. A few wolves are believed to live in northern lower Michigan, and a separate population has been on Isle Royale in western Lake Superior for more than 40 years. As recently as the early 1970s, wolves had almost disappeared from the rest of the Upper Peninsula.

Wisconsin officials also have acquired a permit for wolf eradication this summer. The practice is also allowed in Minnesota, which has long had a stable wolf population, the DNR’s Hogrefe said.

Peggy Struhsacker, wolf project leader for the National Wildlife Federation, said many organizations dedicated to the long-term survival of wolves in the wild, including hers, support the use of lethal control when “necessary to alleviate human and wolf conflict.”

The wolf population in Michigan is growing strong, she said.

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