May 31

MN: Wisconsin wolf pups part of canine carnival

Wisconsin wolf pups part of canine carnival

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

When a female wolf in Wisconsin turned up dead last month, it didnt look good for the wolfs four pups.

But now, thanks to the staff at the Wildlife Science Center and an accepting captive female wolf, three of the pups from Wisconsin have a fighting chance of surviving.

By mid to late June, the three pups will be strong enough to rejoin their father on Menominee Indian Reservation near Green Bay.

Thats encouraging news for reservations officials, said Peggy Callahan, director of the WSC five miles west of Forest Lake. The litter of wolf pups born in early April marked the first time in 75 years that wolf pups have been born on the reservation.

It is such science stories that will be shared at the WSC on Saturday when the 11th annual Canine Carnival takes place at the center, 5463 West Broadway Ave. from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event is an annual fund-raiser for the wolf center.

Callahan last Friday put the pups through a series of vaccinations that will help carry them to adulthood. So far, the experiment has worked although one of the four reservation pups died shortly after arriving.

We have succeeded in the first step of our experiment  our female has accepted the wild-born pups along with her pups, Callahan said.

The three surviving wild-born pups are doing fine and now eating deer meat, she said.

On display

When the public visits the science center on Saturday, there is a good chance the pups will be on display. Its just one of the many offerings the canine carnival will bring.

The canine carnival is billed as a tribute to canines both wild and domestic. This event celebrates the important roles dogs play as pets and working within the community.

Visitors will see demonstrations showcasing the skills of working dogs by local canine groups and learn about the centers wolves through staff presentations.

They will include K-9 police officers and their human handlers, Minnesota Search & Rescue Dog Association and herding dogs, 4-H youth dog club, the Minnesota Animal Control Association, sled dog demonstrations, RPAWS Animal Rescue, the Adopt-a-Husky program, Doggie Dos Mobile Pet Grooming Service, the Afghan Club, and gemini rott and pit bull rescue organizations.

Many presenters and vendors will be on hand. Other animals and birds of prey that are regular residents at the science center will also be on display.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children ages 4 to 17. Food and refreshments will be sold.

For more information, go to www.wildlifesciencecenter.org and follow the link to the canine carnival, or call 651-464-3993.

The carnivals main sponsors are Kodiak Coffee in Forest Lake and Deutschland Meats.

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Posted in Uncategorized
May 31

Willard’s wolves rescued after owner dies

Willard’s wolves rescued after owner dies

By Todd Beckmann
Sentinel News Editor

DANBURYFor 20 years, Jamie Willard raised and cared for hybrid wolves on her property in Swiss Township, near Danbury.

All that changed last week when Burnett County Sheriff Investigator Julie Turner got a call from dispatch on Monday informing her of Willards death. With no relatives willing to take control of the wolves, they became an issue for the county and Turner knew something needed to be done.

This woman cared greatly for these animals, but for health reasons she could not care for them the last couple months, Turner explained.

Hybrid wolves?

Sheriff Dean Roland said the State of Wisconsin has no regulations as far as exotic animals, hybrids or anything of that nature.

She was not violating any law by having these wolves on her property, as long as they were not a nuisance to her neighbors, he said.

But when the owner of the animals died, the county needed to step in.

Ann Heinrich has been very instrumental in this situation, the sheriff said.

Heinrich is a member of the Humane Society of Burnett County.

I used to get a lot of complaints about it, but there was nothing that could be done, Heinrich said. She did the best she could and she really loved her animals.

But, looking around the property, Heinrich equated Willard with a hoarder.

A hoarder loves their animals but doesnt see the condition their animals are in, Heinrich explained. How else could someone do this to animals and still say they love them, she asked.

Roland agreed.

This is just unbelievable, Roland said as he pointed out one of several piles of trash, discarded furniture, and deer carcasses festering with maggots which dotted the back of Willards yard.

You cant put into words what that pile smells like, the sheriff continued.

Turner said this case doesnt even compare to the Michael Mardell case, where the sheriffs department seized several dozen animals, some of which were dead.

In the Willard case, all the wolves were alive.

Anns been trying to find places to take the animals so the county didnt get stuck with the bill, Roland explained. This is a tremendous savings to the county.

Roland said if the county had taken responsibility for the wolves they would have had all sort of bills to pay, from veterinarians to storage fees.

It was Heinrich who contacted the Animal Humane Society.

We have nothing in Burnett County to help in a situation like this, she said.

Keith Streff, the director of investigations for the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, Minnesota, said Heinrich and his organization have a long history together.

When she discovered this was an issue, knowing what services we can offer, and the personnel, equipment and experience we have, she called us for help, Streff explained.

Heinrich was able to get Streff in touch with Turner.

We coordinated an effort to make some sort of intervention here, he explained. Even though these animals are destined for euthanasia, if we take them and stage them, they have one final option available to go to some type of permanent sanctuary, Streff continued.

Of course it comes down to money.

If we cant generate the funding to ship them to permanent sanctuary, then we wont have any choice but to put them to sleep, he said.

He said his agency would absorb the cost if that were to happen.

The time frame for generating the funding is short. The funds to transport the wolves to sanctuary, estimated between $3,000 and $5,000, needed to be found in 72 hours.

If we cant get the support of the community to provide those costs, our veterinary staff will not have any option other than to euthanize them, Streff said.

This is an agency assist under the umbrella of the Burnett County Sheriffs Department, Streff explained, and they are signing these animals over to us.

We are just providing the technical assistance, equipment and personnel to carry out this intervention, he continued.

Some of that technical assistance comes from Gary Tank, owner of Tanks Capture and Quarantine Service.

Streff said Tank is his exotic contractor for any animal which is untraditional to a humane society.

Anything I feel uncomfortable handling, I recruit Gary, he said. Hes an awesome resource to have. Tank donated his services to the humane society for this cause.

Luckily they volunteered their time otherwise it could have cost the county a lot of money, Turner said of all who assisted in Thursdays rescue. As it stands, the county is looking at a $370 bill from the veterinarian.

From our standpoint, this is a humane rescue, Roland said. This is one of the nicest, most humane documented things Ive ever seen, he said of Thursdays rescue. Im glad Im here to see it.

Tank collared 20 of the 21 hybrid wolves Willard kept on her property. Once captured and caged, Tank and Cody Vacek loaded the wolves for transport to Minnesota.

Theyll go to the humane society for staging and medical care, Tank said.

After the staging area, if money is available, theyll be taken out West, probably Colorado.

They are going to go to a wildlife compound where they can live like they should, Heinrich said.

She had a friend who wanted to step in and care for the animals, but legally he cant, Turner explained as the wolves were being loaded for transport.

The friend, Kevin Green, was on site Thursday angrily observing the rescue operations.

She wanted me to have everything, Green said of Willard.

Both Roland and Turner said Green had his chances.

Roland said Green was given the opportunity Thursday to get a court order in order to get the county to stop rounding up the animals. He didnt, Roland said simply.

Green said there wasnt any written document outlining those claims, but insisted that didnt matter.

There were plenty of people who knew, people Jamie had told, he said.

He said these wolves were his future source of income. Green said an officer told him to go to probate court last Tuesday to file for custody of the animals, something Green said he did not have the time to do.

Im talking to a lawyer about filing a lawsuit especially if any of these animals die, Green said, indicating his plans. They could have been left here and I could have cared for them just like I promised.

Turner said as far as the county is concerned, Thursday effectively closed the case on Willard and her wolves.

(Editors note: According to Heinrich, once the animals arrived at Golden Valley they were given complete physicals. They were found to be malnourished, dehydrated, parasitized, suffering from neurological problems, muscle atrophy and generally in very poor condition. Within hours Golden Valley shelter had received over $8,000 in donations to help with the transport of the animals to a sanctuary in Colorado.)

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Posted in Uncategorized
May 30

ID: Tribe works to re-introduce wolves

Tribe works to re-introduce wolves

By Nathan Isaacs, Herald staff writer

WINCHESTER, Idaho — Motomo sniffs, licks, then leans against the hand pressed against the chainlink fence that separates the 14-year-old wolf pack leader from visitors.

After a few back scratches, he loses interest and walks away. Three others follow him.

Motomo, which is a Blackfoot tribal name for “He who goes first,” is one of four captive wolves at the Wolf Education and Research Center.

The nonprofit agency leases about 300 acres of forested land from the Nez Perce tribe at Winchester, about 30 minutes southeast of Lewiston. The center is independent of the tribe. The tribe, however, has been working since 1995 to re-introduce and monitor wolves in Idaho, which has an estimated population of 500 wild wolves.

The Sawtooth Pack: Wolves of the Nez Perce, as Motomo’s pack is called, came from the efforts of a team of filmmakers and naturalists who worked together in the early 1990s to establish, observe and film a captive pack in a wild setting.

Shortly after their birth, the wolves were introduced to humans with the intention of letting them become familiar with the smell, feel and sound of humans, said Jeremy Heft, a wildlife biologist who has spent eight years caring for the pack.

The downside to the project is the pack members never can be released into the wild because their familiarity with humans would put them in harm’s way. The research center was created to care for the 11-member pack throughout their lives.

Tourists can visit the center with hopes of seeing the pack. The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers guided tours at 7 a.m. and at 7 p.m., when the wolves are most active.

Fees are between $2 and $10, depending on age and whether the tour is guided, but no promises are made that the wolves will be seen every time. For more information, visit www.wolfcenter.org.

The wolves — Motomo; Piyip, a 10-year-old male; and 10-year-old females Ayet and Motoki — live inside a 20-acre compound surrounded by a 10-foot inner fence and an 8-foot outer fence.

The wolves eat an occasional wild turkey that wanders inside the compound, but mostly they eat roadkill — elk, whitetail deer and chicken. They are fed about once every five days, Heft said, but each wolf can put away as much as 30 pounds at a feeding.

The pack organized itself in a pecking order with an alpha male, Motomo, and an alpha female, Ayet. The females weigh about 70 pounds and the males about 115 pounds, Stewart said. The females have been sterilized to prevent them from having pups.

The pack — and opportunities to see them — eventually will die off. The wolves already have lived longer then they may have in the wild. Randy Stewart, education coordinator for the center, said the group is considering options, such as taking in and caring for other wolves, for when the last wolf dies.

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May 29

MT: Mysterious sheep killer puts wolf debate back in the crosshairs

Mysterious sheep killer puts wolf debate back in the crosshairs

By GWEN FLORIO

Tribune Capitol Bureau

On the morning before Easter, Jordan-area rancher Mike McKeever walked the quarter-mile from his house down to the sheep pens to check on his pregnant ewes.

One was dead, but untouched. Beyond it was a second carcass, and that’s when McKeever knew he had a problem.

“She was hollowed out … it must have munched through her ribs and went down through her body cavity. It pulled out her intestines and her lambs and ate them all,” said McKeever.

He is among a handful of ranchers in Garfield, McCone and Dawson counties who have lost about 100 sheep since the beginning of the year, most recently in mid-May, to a ravenous creature that dispatches 170-pound sheep with ease and ferocity.

And that creature is?

“A wolf,” said McKeever.

“A wolf or wolf hybrid,” said Carolyn Sime, the statewide wolf coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

“A dog or a hybrid,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, the Boise-based Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

The disagreement encompasses a century of passionate feelings about wolves in the West. Reviled by ranchers as a profit-devouring predator, wolves were hunted nearly to the point of extinction and were designated an endangered species in 1973. In the mid-1990s, despite vocal opposition from ranchers, 31 wolves from Canada were re-settled in central Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park. More than 800 wolves now roam the Northern Rockies.

But the forests of Yellowstone, thick with elk and deer, are more than 400 miles from the barren, windswept plains of eastern Montana. Stone said that’s what makes it so unlikely that the sheep-slaughterer is a wolf.

“It’s something perhaps more feral than wild …. It’s very common for feral dogs to kill livestock,” she said.

The distinction is important: Defenders of Wildlife will reimburse ranchers for proven wolf kills of livestock.

But the killer’s presence so far from Yellowstone doesn’t rule out a wolf, Sime said.

Indeed, Sime pointed out that “wolves are fabulous travelers.” In 2004, a radio-collared wolf from Yellowstone was struck and killed on a Colorado interstate west of Denver, about 420 miles from its home. Sime said that in the most general sense, a wolf hybrid is a cross between a wolf and a dog.

State law defines a wolf as any canis lupus, including any canine hybrid that is 50 percent or more wolf, Sime said.

The tracks of whatever killed the sheep are too large for a coyote, and “a smidge on the small side” for a wolf, she said. One thing that makes her lean toward the possibility that it’s a wolf is the number of sheep killed.

“When wolves kill sheep, it’s usually multiple animals per incident,” Sime said. “…If you have three wolves on a band of sheep, you can have 50 dead. If coyotes come in, it might be a handful.”

Kay Rene Whiteside said the mystery animal killed 21 of her sheep in January and injured another 40.

“They just had a big bite out of the back of them …. The sheep are very traumatized and very hard to work with now. They’re just wild in that the littlest thing will set them off,” she said.

McKeever believes it’s a wolf because it preys on adult sheep. Coyotes usually take lambs, and only one or two at a time, he said.

Both he and Whiteside estimate their losses  including dead sheep and a stress-induced 30 percent drop in the rate of twin lambs  at about $20,000 apiece.

But neither qualifies for the Defenders of Wildlife reimbursement because no one knows what the killer is yet.

“I don’t think that the people who want wolves running loose understand the impact to us,” Whiteside said. “How would they feel if we went in and said, ‘OK, this year you’re going to do with $22,000 less in your budget?’”

The state issued 45-day shoot-to-kill permits to affected ranchers, but most of those have expired.

If it turns out to be a wolf, the money will be cold comfort, McKeever said.

That’s because where one wolf turns up, others probably will follow.

“We’ve never had to worry about wolves before,” he said. “We do now.”

Source

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May 28

ID: The wild West: Where wolves, humans meet

The wild West: Where wolves, humans meet

By Keith Ridler

The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho – Thousands of vacationers in the West will likely see a wolf in the wild for the first time this summer, often from the road but sometimes while camping or hiking.

The federal government and state agencies that manage wolves have concise rules on what is legal in these encounters, and experts who study wolf behavior offer advice on how to handle what is likely to be an unforgettable experience.

‘Wolves don’t turn and run away immediately like we’re used to with other animals,’ said Carolyn Sime, gray wolf program coordinator with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. ‘The other thing that kind of makes it unnerving is the intensity of their eyes. It’s partly the color, and partly the intensity of the way they’re looking at you.’

Wolves nearly always blink first, experts say, but yelling will drive off a wolf as will pepper spray.

About 1,000 wolves in 140 packs live in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, steadily increasing since being reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.

‘Even though they’re fairly rare in nature, wolves are relatively visible compared to a lot of animals,’ said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ‘There are never many of them because these are big, large carnivores. But they seem abundant because they travel the same areas people do.’

Bangs said one study found that more than 100,000 people see a wolf in Yellowstone National Park each year. For comparison, few people ever see one of the 31,000 cougars that inhabit the western U.S.

Male wolves average about 100 pounds and females slightly less. They often travel on roads, trails, creek bottoms and ridge tops. When resting, wolves like the same types of areas that draw humans.

‘Because meadows are attractive to campers, you’re likely to run into wolf activity,’ said Steve Nadeau, statewide large carnivore coordinator with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. ‘Particularly if the meadow has game nearby – elk and deer.’

Wolf experts say that centuries of mythology taints present day wolf-human meetings, and that wolves tend to avoid humans.

‘If you’re walking on a dark trail at midnight and you turn a corner and come across a pack of 20 wolves, enjoy them,’ said Bangs. ‘Because they’ll be gone in a few seconds.’

But wolves might not vanish so quickly if a hiker has a dog along. Northern Rockies gray wolves have killed at least 83 dogs since 1987, and last year killed 30 of their own number in territorial disputes.

Meeting wolves can have legal ramifications. Under the Endangered Species Act, wolves in Minnesota are listed as threatened, while wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Idaho, and northwest Montana are endangered.

Wolf populations that resulted from reintroductions are listed as ‘experimental, nonessential.’ They include wolves south of Interstate 90 in Idaho, Montana outside the northwest corner, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.

‘Our regulations allow anyone at any time to scare a wolf away,’ said Bangs. ‘Just run at it and yell at it and it will run off. That’s legal to do. Just don’t hurt it.’

Pepper spray – often carried by hikers in grizzly bear country – can be used on wolves.

It’s legal to kill a wolf in self-defense.

‘Expect an investigation because that is almost nonexistent,’ said Bangs. ‘The physical evidence better back up your story.’

The penalty for illegally killing a listed wolf can range up to $100,000 and a year in jail. Bangs said that about 10 percent of Northern Rockies wolf deaths are the result of illegal kills.

Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies met the criteria for delisting in 2002. The Fish and Wildlife Service has approved plans by Idaho and Montana to manage wolves, but federal officials rejected Wyoming’s plan, saying it would eliminate wolves outside Yellowstone National Park. That has stopped delisting so far.

If delisted, wolves would be treated as big game animals, possibly with hunting seasons, something Bangs said other federal and state wolf managers favor.

‘Of all the things you have to worry about in life, wolves are probably on the bottom of the list,’ said Bangs. “People who don’t know any better are nervous about wolves, but most people are like, ‘Wow, was that cool or what.’ ”

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May 27

WY: Governor defends wolf stance

Governor defends wolf stance

By BRODIE FARQUHAR
Star-Tribune correspondent

RIVERTON — In full-throated defense of Wyomings wolf management plan, Gov. Dave Freudenthal declared Thursday that wolf plans adopted by Idaho and Montana arent worth a bucket of warm spit.

The Democratic governor spoke here before Wyoming Farm Bureau members, a handful of state legislators and county commissioners at the start of a two-day wolf seminar: Wolves, Wyomings Reality. The seminar features panel discussions by landowners, outfitters, academics, state and federal biologists, lawyers and legislators. There was no representation from conservation groups that support wolves.

Freudenthal noted that the state is headed into the election season, featuring a lot of dancing around controversial issues. Part of my argument is with the Casper Star-Tribune, he said, adding that the editorial board of the states largest newspaper has said that Wyoming should drop its predator status for wolves — a similar stance to that recently taken by Ray Hunkins, Republican candidate for governor.

Hunkins is scheduled to speak before the same group at 1 p.m. today.

Wyoming is in a standoff over wolves with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which rejected the states management plan, largely because it would allow wolves to be shot on sight as predators outside Yellowstone National Park and adjacent lands. The federal agency has refused to downgrade Wyoming wolves from Endangered Species Act protection until Wyoming submits a plan that is acceptable to the Department of the Interior, which has already approved wolf management plans from Idaho and Montana.

The governor said Wyoming has already lost the national debate over whether wolves should even be called predators.

I knew we were in trouble when I stepped inside a Cracker Barrel store, the governor said. There, on display and on sale, was a variety of cute, stuffed animals — including wolves, suitable to put in a babys crib.

Weve lost the larger psychological battle, Freudenthal said, adding that basic, scientific facts are no longer relevant to people on the West and East coasts.

And the governor said he sees little reason to sit down and talk more with federal officials. He said he has done that, and hes tired of lectures about why Wyoming needs to change its wolf management plan.

All we hear is dissertations from them as to why we need to change. Ive been through a multitude of those meetings, including one where Interior Secretary Gale Norton was in his office, he said.

Freudenthal said he didnt know if that will change if Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne becomes Interior secretary.

I wont hang my hat on that thin reed, Freudenthal said.

Ultimately, and probably in federal court, the governor said, he wants a hearing on the scientific merits of the state’s position.

He said the state already has scientific approval for the plan, as 10 of 11 scientists selected by the Fish and Wildlife Service gave the Cowboy State a thumbs up on its wolf management plan. The governor said that scientific stamp of approval has been overridden by politics.

He noted that Paul Hoffman, the former Cody Country Chamber of Commerce executive who’s now an Interior Department official, told Wyoming legislators that they could have a large “take” on wolves through hunting, but only within the context of calling them trophy game animals and issuing hunting licenses.

That just doesnt make sense, Freudenthal said, because trophy animals are managed so there is a continual supply of the animals, and that isnt what he or the Legislature wants with wolves.

He said that any hope of keeping wolf populations down, so as to minimize conflicts with livestock, are illusory. Wyoming needs additional tools and tactics, such as aerial gunning, to control wolves, he said.

Under a trophy animal approach, Wyoming couldnt use aerial gunning, he said.

Freudenthal said the Interior position is political, not scientific.

He said hed like the same flexibility in managing wolves as Wyoming has with managing air pollution under the federal Clear Air Act.

I dont like being in conflict with feds, but I dont want to be governor when we just roll over,” he said.

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May 27

WY: Hunkins wants ‘unconditional surrender’

Hunkins wants ‘unconditional surrender’

By BRODIE FARQUHAR
Star-Tribune correspondent

RIVERTON — Ray Hunkins, the Republican challenger to Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal, threw red meat to a Farm Bureau crowd on Friday, declaring he would seek unconditional surrender from the U.S. Interior Department when it comes to wolf management in Wyoming.

In April, Hunkins suggested that state officials pursue an out-of-court resolution to Wyoming’s dispute with the federal government over wolves — even if it meant dropping the state’s classification of the animals as predators that could be shot on sight outside national parks and adjacent lands.

Hunkins said the word negotiate has taken on “an ugly meaning” in connection with this issue, noting that Freudenthal had called Hunkins’ position capitulation to the federal wolf position.

Let me tell you what I meant by negotiation.’ In 1945, Douglas MacArthur met on the deck of the USS Missouri with representatives of the Empire of Japan to accept their unconditional surrender, ending World War II. That was preceded by negotiations between General MacArthurs staff and the imperial general staff concerning the terms of surrender.

My friends, this is exactly the sort of negotiation I have in mind. It is not synonymous with capitulate.

Hunkins, a Wheatland lawyer and rancher, said his courtroom reputation was not based on capitulation or surrender.

Hunkins spoke here on the final day of a wolf seminar involving landowners, outfitters, state and federal biologists, lawyers and legislators. At the seminar the day before, Freudenthal vigorously defended the state’s wolf management plan, which has been rejected by the federal government largely because it provides no protection for wolves in most of the state.

In Hunkins’ remarks on Friday, Freudenthal’s probable GOP challenger in November accused the former Wyoming U.S. attorney of helping bring wolves to Wyoming. In his capacity as a federal lawyer, Freudenthal was involved in defending against a court challenge to the federal wolf reintroduction program, arguing well enough that the agency won that case, Hunkins said.

Hunkins said Freudenthal had a chance to recuse himself from arguing in favor of wolf reintroduction in the West, but did not do so.

That was his choice, Hunkins said.

In contrast, Hunkins praised the current U.S. attorney in Wyoming, Matthew Mead, who had opposed wolf reintroduction and filed a motion to recuse his office and himself from any involvement with the current wolf litigation.

That motion was granted by the trial judge, and our U.S. attorney for Wyoming in 2006 is not involved in wolf litigation, Hunkins said. He praised Mead for following his convictions, saying Freudenthal could have done the same and did not.

He (Freudenthal) had his chance. He did not lead. I will, Hunkins said.

Although Freudenthal has declared himself as “anti-wolf and anti-fed,” Hunkins said, the bell cannot be unrung.”

“The ranchers, sportsmen and outfitters in this state should beware of someone who worked to implement (former Interior Secretary) Bruce Babbitts policy and before that against the election of Ronald Reagan, and who finds it politically convenient to now be against the feds and the wolves, Hunkins said. My friends, beware of wolves in sheeps clothing.

Freudenthal’s spokeswoman, Lara Azar, declined Friday to respond to Hunkins’ assertions.

“(The governor’s) track record on wolves — and the state’s track record — of the past few years is very clear,” Azar wrote in an e-mail. “He fully supports the Legislature’s actions in developing the state’s wolf management statutes and will continue to do so.”

Hunkins told the wolf seminar crowd that a Democrat could be elected president in 2008, and that such an administration would be no friend of Wyoming.

If we dont have a solution by January 2009, and a Democrat administration is inaugurated in Washington, I fear for the welfare of our ranchers, sportsmen and outfitters, of our big game herds and our livestock, Hunkins said.

The Interior Department has refused to downgrade Wyoming wolves from Endangered Species Act protection until the state submits a wolf management plan that is acceptable to the federal agency. The department has already approved wolf plans from Montana and Idaho.

Declaring that the federal wolf program is out of control, Hunkins said a new environmental impact statement is needed to show the impact of wolves on livestock and wildlife.

Hunkins said the Wyoming Legislature has enacted a responsible wolf management plan.

I want to be clear as the Wind River on this, Hunkins said. I support that plan, and I support dual classification. But I dont care what we call the wolves, what label we attach to them, as long as we reduce their numbers and their territory.

Hunkins urged Wyoming to elect a Republican governor and send him to work with the Bush administration and the states congressional delegation to get wolves delisted.

It will take political will and political courage — and most of all good faith — to come to a solution,” Hunkins said. “My friends, I am prepared to supply all three.”

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May 27

ID: Wolf encounters: What do you do?

Wolf encounters: What do you do?

BY KEITH RIDLER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOISE, Idaho — Thousands of vacationers in the West will likely see a wolf in the wild for the first time this summer, often from the road but sometimes while camping or hiking.

The federal government and state agencies that manage wolves have concise rules on what is legal in these encounters, and experts who study wolf behavior offer advice on how to handle what is likely to be an unforgettable experience.

“Wolves don’t turn and run away immediately like we’re used to with other animals,” said Carolyn Sime, gray wolf program coordinator with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. “The other thing that kind of makes it unnerving is the intensity of their eyes. It’s partly the color, and partly the intensity of the way they’re looking at you.”

Wolves nearly always blink first, experts say, but yelling will drive off a wolf as will pepper spray.

Increasing numbers

About 1,000 wolves in 140 packs live in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Their numbers have been steadily increasing since they were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.

“Even though they’re fairly rare in nature, wolves are relatively visible compared to a lot of animals,” said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There are never many of them because these are big, large carnivores. But they seem abundant because they travel the same areas people do.”

Bangs said one study found that more than 100,000 people see a wolf in Yellowstone National Park each year. For comparison, few people ever see one of the 31,000 cougars that inhabit the Western United States.

Gray wolves also have been reintroduced along the Arizona-New Mexico border, beginning in 1998, but that population had fewer than 50 individuals at the end of 2005.

About 3,000 gray wolves inhabit northern Minnesota, and another 500 in Michigan and 500 in Wisconsin.

Male wolves average about 100 pounds and females slightly less. They often travel on roads, trails, creek bottoms and ridge tops. When resting, wolves like the same types of areas that draw humans.

“Because meadows are attractive to campers, you’re likely to run into wolf activity,” said Steve Nadeau, statewide large carnivore coordinator with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “Particularly if the meadow has game nearby — elk and deer.”

Wolf experts say that centuries of mythology taint present day wolf-human meetings, and that wolves tend to avoid humans.

“If you’re walking on a dark trail at midnight and you turn a corner and come across a pack of 20 wolves, enjoy them,” said Bangs. “Because they’ll be gone in a few seconds.”

Dogs

But wolves might not vanish so quickly if a hiker has a dog along. Northern Rockies gray wolves have killed at least 83 dogs since 1987, and last year, they killed 30 of their own number in territorial disputes.

“Wolves consider dogs as strange wolves,” said Bangs. “A dog may think that a wolf barking or howling is a dog that wants to play. Trust me, that is not the case.”

Other instances where wolves might act aggressively is near a den or a kill site.

“If you come into an area where you see a kill, particularly if it’s kind of fresh, back out of there and go someplace else,” said Sime.

Wolf listings

Meeting wolves can have legal ramifications. Under the Endangered Species Act, wolves in Minnesota are listed as threatened, while wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Idaho, and northwest Montana are endangered.

Wolf populations that resulted from reintroductions are listed as “experimental, nonessential.” They include wolves south of Interstate 90 in Idaho, Montana outside the northwest corner, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.

Scaring wolves off

“Our regulations allow anyone at anytime to scare a wolf away,” said Bangs. “Just run at it and yell at it and it will run off. That’s legal to do. Just don’t hurt it.”

Pepper spray — often carried by hikers in grizzly bear country — can be used on wolves.

It’s legal to kill a wolf in self- defense.

“Expect an investigation because that is almost nonexistent,” said Bangs. “The physical evidence better back up your story.”

The penalty for illegally killing a listed wolf can range up to $100,000 and a year in jail. Bangs said that about 10 percent of Northern Rockies wolf deaths are the result of illegal kills.

Delisting

Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies met the criteria for delisting in 2002. The Fish and Wildlife Service has approved plans by Idaho and Montana to manage wolves, but federal officials rejected Wyoming’s plan saying it would eliminate wolves outside Yellowstone National Park. That has stopped delisting so far.

If delisted, wolves would be treated as big game animals, possibly with hunting seasons, something Bangs said and other federal and state wolf managers favor.

Hunting would not be allowed in Yellowstone National Park, where most wolf sightings occur. But sightings are becoming more common elsewhere.

“Of all the things you have to worry about in life, wolves are probably on the bottom of the list,” said Bangs. “People who don’t know any better are nervous about wolves, but most people are like, ‘Wow, was that cool or what.’ ”

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May 26

WY: Governor defends wolf stance

Governor defends wolf stance

By BRODIE FARQUHAR
Star-Tribune correspondent

RIVERTON — In full-throated defense of Wyomings wolf management plan, Gov. Dave Freudenthal declared Thursday that wolf plans adopted by Idaho and Montana arent worth a bucket of warm spit.

The Democratic governor spoke here before Wyoming Farm Bureau members, a handful of state legislators and county commissioners at the start of a two-day wolf seminar: Wolves, Wyomings Reality. The seminar features panel discussions by landowners, outfitters, academics, state and federal biologists, lawyers and legislators. There was no representation from conservation groups that support wolves.

Freudenthal noted that the state is headed into the election season, featuring a lot of dancing around controversial issues. Part of my argument is with the Casper Star-Tribune, he said, adding that the editorial board of the states largest newspaper has said that Wyoming should drop its predator status for wolves — a similar stance to that recently taken by Ray Hunkins, Republican candidate for governor.

Hunkins is scheduled to speak before the same group at 1 p.m. today.

Wyoming is in a standoff over wolves with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which rejected the states management plan, largely because it would allow wolves to be shot on sight as predators outside Yellowstone National Park and adjacent lands. The federal agency has refused to downgrade Wyoming wolves from Endangered Species Act protection until Wyoming submits a plan that is acceptable to the Department of the Interior, which has already approved wolf management plans from Idaho and Montana.

The governor said Wyoming has already lost the national debate over whether wolves should even be called predators.

I knew we were in trouble when I stepped inside a Cracker Barrel store, the governor said. There, on display and on sale, was a variety of cute, stuffed animals — including wolves, suitable to put in a babys crib.

Weve lost the larger psychological battle, Freudenthal said, adding that basic, scientific facts are no longer relevant to people on the West and East coasts.

And the governor said he sees little reason to sit down and talk more with federal officials. He said he has done that, and hes tired of lectures about why Wyoming needs to change its wolf management plan.

All we hear is dissertations from them as to why we need to change. Ive been through a multitude of those meetings, including one where Interior Secretary Gale Norton was in his office, he said.

Freudenthal said he didnt know if that will change if Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne becomes Interior secretary.

I wont hang my hat on that thin reed, Freudenthal said.

Ultimately, and probably in federal court, the governor said, he wants a hearing on the scientific merits of the state’s position.

He said the state already has scientific approval for the plan, as 10 of 11 scientists selected by the Fish and Wildlife Service gave the Cowboy State a thumbs up on its wolf management plan. The governor said that scientific stamp of approval has been overridden by politics.

He noted that Paul Hoffman, the former Cody Country Chamber of Commerce executive who’s now an Interior Department official, told Wyoming legislators that they could have a large “take” on wolves through hunting, but only within the context of calling them trophy game animals and issuing hunting licenses.

That just doesnt make sense, Freudenthal said, because trophy animals are managed so there is a continual supply of the animals, and that isnt what he or the Legislature wants with wolves.

He said that any hope of keeping wolf populations down, so as to minimize conflicts with livestock, are illusory. Wyoming needs additional tools and tactics, such as aerial gunning, to control wolves, he said.

Under a trophy animal approach, Wyoming couldnt use aerial gunning, he said.

Freudenthal said the Interior position is political, not scientific.

He said hed like the same flexibility in managing wolves as Wyoming has with managing air pollution under the federal Clear Air Act.

I dont like being in conflict with feds, but I dont want to be governor when we just roll over,” he said.

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May 25

AZ: 9 captured members of wolf pack are dead

9 captured members of wolf pack are dead

By Arthur H. Rotstein

the Associated Press

Nine members of a wolf pack captured after cattle depredations on the White Mountain Apache Reservation have died, including six pups killed by a surrogate parent wolf, authorities said Wednesday.

The alpha male, the father of the six pups and three yearlings, was shot and killed Wednesday, after a long effort to try to capture it. It was killed by a member of the wildlife team overseeing the Mexican gray wolf recovery program.

That means that at most, only two yearlings and one pup believed to be about 4 weeks old are still alive, said Victoria Fox, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque.

The alpha female was captured Sunday and taken to an Alpine, Ariz., field office for the recovery program. She appeared healthy but was found dead Monday before a veterinary exam, the agency said.

One trapped male yearling also died. A second male yearling was trapped and taken to a facility in New Mexico. The status of the third yearling, whose gender is unknown, is uncertain, as is the pup’s, Fox said.

Six of the pups were captured Friday and taken to a wildlife refuge in Socorro County, N.M., where they were placed with a surrogate pair of wolves that had a two-pup litter, in hopes that the pair would care for the captured animals.

Fox said the male killed the six in an instinctive effort to protect his own two pups.

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