Jul 30

MN: Wolf pups returned

Wolf pups returned

BY TOM MEERSMAN
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

MINNEAPOLIS – Three orphan wolf pups are back in Minnesota to stay.

The pups arrived Friday at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn., after an attempt to reintroduce them into the wild in northeastern Wisconsin apparently was ruined by a poacher who killed their father.

“Long term, they’ll be here,” said Bob Ebsen, the center’s education coordinator. “My guess is that if they’re coming here, they’re going to be (permanently) captive.”

The pups will join an existing pack of eight wolves at the center, which currently has 38 wolves in several packs. The captive wolves are used for research and environmental education programs at the center, which also has bobcats, raccoons, bears, foxes and raptors.

The three males were the first pups in 75 years to be born on the Menominee Reservation near Green Bay, Wis., and tribal officials hoped they could grow to maturity there.

The pups’ mother died or was killed in early May about three weeks after their birth.

Biologists brought the pups to the center in Forest Lake to be nursed by a female wolf in captivity, who already was raising three of her own pups.

Once the wild-born pups were weaned, they were returned to the reservation on July 10 and placed in a holding pen near where their original pack was running wild. The hope was that their father would find and raise them.

Tracking signals from the father’s radio collar showed that he came within a half-mile of the pups on July 11, but his cut-off collar was found the next day. He apparently was killed illegally. The case is under investigation.

Attempts to trap other adult wolves in the area failed. Wolf biologists said the pups are too young and inexperienced to survive in the wild.

Peggy Callahan, executive director of the center, said she’s frustrated that a poacher ended the pups’ chances of being raised on the reservation.

Source

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Jul 30

NY: Wolf family finds freedom in Arizona after time at S. Salem center

Wolf family finds freedom in Arizona after time at S. Salem center

By SEAN GORMAN
THE JOURNAL NEWS

LEWISBORO  It didn’t take long for a South Salem wolf and her family to chew their way to freedom in the Arizona wilderness this month.

The 3-year-old female, a Mexican gray wolf once held at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, is among the latest canids to be released in the Southwest to reintroduce the endangered species back to its traditional range.

The female, her mate and their two 11-week-old pups were taken to a mesh tent in the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona. Several hours later, the family had torn its way out of the enclosure, said Barry Braden, managing director of the Wolf Conservation Center.

“It’s total validation of our mission,” Braden said this week of the July 6 release. “It restores the balance of the ecosystem that was missing when wolves were removed.”

The wolves once roamed Mexico, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, but as human settlement of the Southwest intensified, the wolf was killed off, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said. In the late 1970s, the last known five Mexican wolves in the world were captured to start a breeding program, Braden said.

Today there are about 350 Mexican wolves, with about 25 to 50 of them living in the wild, Braden said. They face the challenge of learning how to hunt, Braden said.

Another challenge is establishing territory, said Victoria Fox, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Southwest region. The reintroduction began in 1998.

“We have very successful pairs (of wolves),” said Fox, whose agency is spearheading the reintroduction effort. “Then you have some that are not so successful.”

Not everyone is pleased with putting the wolves back on the range.

Ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico have complained that the predators threaten their livestock, although environmentalists say there are a relatively small number of ranchers opposing the program.

The South Salem conservation center has 11 Mexican gray wolves. The center is also trying to help the endangered red wolf survive, and on Aug. 3 and 4 the center is hosting the annual meeting of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan.

The Wolf Conservation Center received the female Mexican wolf, known as “F838,” from the Minnesota Zoo when she was about a year old. She was paired with a male from the Wild Canid Research and Survival Center in Eureka, Mo., and together they had the two pups.

“We know they (the female and male) have very strong parenting skills,” said Kim Scott, the Missouri center’s assistant director. “They seem to be very well bonded.”

The two adults have radio collars so they can be tracked. A motion-sensing trail camera recently captured a photo of the female and one of her cubs at a feeding area. Braden noted that the pup has grown considerably since the release.

“I’d say they’re doing pretty well,” Braden said.

Source

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Jul 30

Wolves in Montana

Wolves in Montana

By JIM MANN
The Daily Inter Lake

Public plays part in improved monitoring

One was found by a bear hunter near Troy, another by herbology researchers working near the Pinkham Creek drainage south of Eureka, and yet another by average folks who live in the Marias Pass area.

In just a matter of months, three wolf packs have been discovered and included in the Northwest Montana wolf population. Theres likely more to be found, too, according to officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which has assumed management and monitoring responsibilities for the Northwest Montana wolf population from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Do the latest wolf counts represent a population growth trend or do they merely reflect better monitoring?

The answer is a mix of both, according to Kent Laudon, the state wolf management specialist for Northwest Montana.

This last year, there appears to be a big population jump from previous years, he said. Some of it is real population increases and some of it is increased vigilance in monitoring … The 10-year average shows (the Northwest Montana population) is slowly growing.

More specifically, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has a stronger network of biologists and game wardens who regularly work in the field with the public and other agencies, compared to the resources that were at play when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was monitoring wolves in Northwest Montana.

And the department has beefed up efforts to encourage public wolf sightings, most recently with the addition of an online report form for wolf sightings.

Our report frequency has gone up since we started it, Laudon said, adding that public reports have been crucial to providing an improved accounting of the regions wolf population.

Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator, has long stressed that the number of wolves and wolf packs appearing in annual reports only represents the known wolves on the landscape. And he repeatedly acknowledged that there are certainly wolves in the woods that cant be accounted for.

After a wolf was hit and killed by a car on U.S. 2 near Marias Pass in February, Laudon put out a press release in which he speculated that the wolf might be a lone disperser from a distant pack. Residents in the Marias Pass area promptly contacted him to correct that guess, reporting sightings of several wolves in the area.

Laudon said Blackfeet tribal fish and game officials ultimately provided agency verification for a bona fide Marias Pack.

More recently, a bear hunter stumbled onto some wolf pups near Troy, reporting the sighting to a friend, who relayed the information to area wildlife biologist Jerry Brown.

Brown interviewed the hunter to establish where the sighting occurred, then went to the location and photographed wolf pups in the area. Laudon later attempted to trap and fit an adult wolf with a radio collar in the same area, but instead ended up catching a black bear, a mountain lion and a bobcat. He believes a wolf was temporarily caught in the leg hold trap, which is modified with rubber to avoid serious harm to the animals. He intends to return to the area for another attempt at collaring a wolf.

This week, Laudon was working traps in the Pinkham Creek drainage, where a group of amphibian researchers recently photographed three pups and Laudon located tracks and scat to confirm the presence of a new pack.

Getting radio collars in a pack is essential for monitoring wolves, Laudon said, and even with collared wolves, following them is kind of like holding water in my hand.

Collared wolves die, or sometimes older wolves leave their packs and wander far away, and batteries eventually wear down, too. Just last year, one collared wolf was hit by a train, one was found dead in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and one simply went missing.

Batteries will soon expire in radio collars on wolves in the Kintla Pack, which ranges in the North Fork Flathead River drainage.

Being able to locate packs through regular radio telemetry flights isnt just important for keeping tabs on pack populations, its also important for heading off conflicts with livestock.

Thats the case with the new pack in the Pinkham drainage.

There are livestock concerns up there, Laudon said. There is a grazing allotment (on federal lands) there, so it would be good to get a collar in there to monitor that pack.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also has an interest in monitoring wolves and their impacts on elk and deer populations. The states wolf management plan includes provisions to curb wolf populations if those impacts are severe.

However, the states ability to do that will depend on wolves in the Northern Rockies being removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Delisting has been held up because the state of Wyoming does not have a wolf management plan thats approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana and Idaho have approved plans and populations that exceed recovery goals.

The 2005 annual wolf report had an official count of 19 packs with 126 wolves in Northwest Montana. That snapshot count has changed with new pups, mortality, immigration and dispersal of wolves. And it has changed with the discovery of the new packs.

This years monitoring data will produce entirely different counts, particularly with the help of the public reporting wolf sightings.

Sightings can be reported by calling Laudon at 751-4586 or through the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Web site at: http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html

Source

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Jul 29

MT: Montana, Idaho still push for wolf delisting

Montana, Idaho still push for wolf delisting

By MIKE STARK
Billings Gazette

BILLINGS, Mont. — Wyoming has been denied another chance to control its wolf population, but Montana and Idaho are still hoping they have a shot.

Earlier this week, the federal government rejected the state of Wyoming’s request to remove wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming from the endangered species list and pass management to those three states.

The federal government’s decision announced Monday may renew focus on a proposal by officials in Montana and Idaho last year to delist wolves in those two states while the dispute with Wyoming drags on.

“It affirms our resolve even more to continue our efforts to delist in Montana and Idaho separately,” said Carolyn Sime, head of the wolf program at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Chris Tollefson, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C., said the two states’ request was still being considered, but the agency remained intent on finding a way to delist in all three states.

“Our focus is really on trying to work with the state of Wyoming to get changes made that we can sign off on,” Tollefson said.

Even if delisting is pursued in the two states, it’s doubtful whether it could ever be enacted, said Abigail Dillen, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental organization that opposed Wyoming’s plan in recent lawsuits.

It would be unusual for federal protection on wolves to be lifted based on state boundaries rather than the more typical “distinct population segments,” which lump species together based on where they live, not state lines.

“I don’t think you can make the case that wolves in the Wyoming portion of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem are not part of the population,” Dillen said. “This is a Northern Rockies population.”

For now, she said, it looks like the three states remain tethered together as the disagreement between Wyoming and Interior continues.

Today, there are more than 1,000 wolves in the three states, far more than goals the government set for recovery. But federal officials won’t delist the wolves until all three states have acceptable management plans in place.

Montana and Idaho have plans that have been approved, and both states have been given increased authority for managing wolves.

Wyoming’s plan has been rejected by Interior, primarily because it classifies some wolves as predators subject to unregulated killing.

The issue already has been to federal court and is apt to return. The state of Wyoming plans to file a lawsuit over this week’s decision, said Lara Azar, a spokeswoman for Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Last fall, governors of Montana and Idaho sent a letter to the Department of Interior, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting consideration for delisting wolves in the two states and outlining five options about how it could be done.

Then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho has since become the secretary of the Interior. Although Kempthorne has recused himself issues dealing specifically with Idaho, officials in Montana and Idaho hope his presence might help their case.

“We will press them to consider the five alternatives,” said Jeff Allen, policy adviser in the Idaho governor’s Office of Species Conservation.

Mike Volesky, natural resources policy adviser for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, said state officials haven’t heard much from Interior on their proposal but hope that could change soon.

“We’re still hoping to work with them as quickly as possible for delisting,” Volesky said. “Nobody thinks it’s not time. Let’s get on with it.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 28

MN: Wolf pups return to refuge in Forest Lake

Wolf pups return to refuge in Forest Lake

After an attempt to reunite them with their father failed, three wolf pups return to the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake.

Tom Meersman, Star Tribune

Three orphan wolf pups are back in Minnesota to stay.

The pups arrived Friday at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake after an attempt to reintroduce them into the wild in northeastern Wisconsin was apparently ruined by a poacher.

“Long term, they’ll be here,” said Bob Ebsen, the center’s education coordinator. “My guess is that if they’re coming here, they’re going to be [permanently] captive.”

The pups will join an existing pack of eight wolves at the center, which currently houses 38 wolves in several packs. The captive wolves are used for research and environmental education programs at the center, which also houses bobcats, raccoons, bears, foxes and raptors.

The three males were the first pups in 75 years to be born on the Menominee Reservation near Green Bay, Wis., and tribal officials hoped they could grow to maturity there.

The pups’ mother died or was killed in early May about three weeks after their birth. Biologists brought the pups to the center in Forest Lake to be nursed by a female wolf in captivity who was already raising three of her own pups.

Once the wild-born pups were weaned, they were returned to the reservation on July 10 and placed in a holding pen near where their original pack was running wild. The hope was that their biological father would find and raise them.

Tracking signals from the father’s radio collar showed that he came within a half-mile of the pups on July 11, but his cut-off collar was found the next day. He apparently was killed illegally. The case is under investigation.

Attempts to trap other adult wolves in the area failed. Wolf biologists said the pups are too young and inexperienced to survive in the wild.

Peggy Callahan, executive director of the wildlife center, said she’s frustrated that a poacher ended the pups’ chances of being raised on the reservation.

Since the pups left the center, the female wolf who nursed them has been agitated and anxious, Callahan said, pacing in the enclosure and digging in the direction of the gate where the pups were removed.

The pups will be placed in an adjacent enclosure so the female and other pack members can sniff them and get reacquainted before they begin to live again in the same space.

Each of the pups weighs more than 25 pounds and is about one-third of their adult size.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 28

MT: Montana, Idaho still seek delisting of wolves

Montana, Idaho still seek delisting of wolves

Federal government wants Wyoming included in plans

By MIKE STARK
Of The Gazette Staff

Wyoming may have been denied another chance to control its wolf population, but Montana and Idaho are still hoping they have a shot.

Earlier this week, the federal government rejected the state of Wyoming’s request to remove wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming from the endangered species list and pass management to those three states.

The federal government’s decision announced Monday may renew focus on a proposal by officials in Montana and Idaho last year to delist wolves in those two states while the dispute with Wyoming drags on.

“It affirms our resolve even more to continue our efforts to delist in Montana and Idaho separately,” said Carolyn Sime, head of the wolf program at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Chris Tollefson, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C., said the two states’ request was still being considered but the agency remained intent on finding a way to delist in all three states.

“Our focus is really on trying to work with the state of Wyoming to get changes made that we can sign off on,” Tollefson said.

Even if delisting is pursued in the two states, it’s doubtful whether it could ever be enacted, said Abigail Dillen, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental organization that opposed Wyoming’s plan in recent lawsuits.

It would be unusual for federal protections on wolves to be lifted based on state boundaries rather than the more typical “distinct population segments,” which lumps species together based on where they live, not state lines.

“I don’t think you can make the case that wolves in the Wyoming portion of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem are not part of the population,” Dillen said. “This is a Northern Rockies population.”

For now, she said, it looks like the three states remain tethered together as the disagreement between Wyoming and Interior continues.

Today, there are more than 1,000 wolves in the three states, far more than goals the government set for recovery.

But federal officials won’t delist the wolves until all three states have acceptable management plans in place.

Montana and Idaho have plans that have been approved, and both states have been given increased authority for managing wolves.

Wyoming’s plan has been rejected by Interior, primarily because it classifies some wolves as predators subject to unregulated killing.

The issue already has been to federal court and is apt to return. The state of Wyoming plans to file a lawsuit over this week’s decision, said Lara Azar, a spokeswoman for Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Last fall, governors of Montana and Idaho sent a letter to the Department of Interior, which oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting consideration for delisting wolves in the two states and outlining five options about how it could be done.

Then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho has since become the secretary of the Interior. Although Kempthorne has recused himself from issues dealing specifically with Idaho, officials in Montana and Idaho hope his presence might help their case.

“We will press them to consider the five alternatives,” said Jeff Allen, policy adviser in the Idaho governor’s Office of Species Conservation.

Mike Volesky, natural resources policy adviser for Gov. Brian Schweitzer, said state officials haven’t heard much from Interior on their proposal but hope that could change soon.

“We’re still hoping to work with them as quickly as possible for delisting,” Volesky said. “Nobody thinks it’s not time. Let’s get on with it.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Jul 28

ID: What’s Fish and Game to Do? Wolf Pack Keeps Eating Their Radio Collars

What’s Fish and Game to Do? Wolf Pack Keeps Eating Their Radio Collars

By Jennifer Gelband

Wolves. They have been big and bad and hungry and cunning for as long as weve known them. Lately they have been reminding Idaho Fish and Game officials how cunning they really are by removing the radio collars the agency uses to track their movements.

In a story reported by KTVBs Kaycee Murray the timberline wolf pack near Idaho City has learned how to chew off their radio collars. And F&G officials dont know why.

F&G officials dont know why the wild wolves are gnawing on the thick leather around their neck? Um, dont wolves enjoy eating most animals that make leather? This is like those elastic candy necklaces American children wear. Its not delicious, but its something like food right there, strung around our necks. So we eat it.

I think it might be a boredom thing, Steve Nadeau of Fish and Game told the station. They look at it and wonder what that new necklace is all about and then they start chewing on it.

The collars help the state play big brother to the wolf packs by tracking their locations and their populations. There are two wolves in the Timberline pack that are still wearing their collars (finicky eaters, perhaps) and officials, who check out the wolf activity every two or three weeks, say this pack requires new collars every year. Other packs generally need their collars replaced every three or four years.

To get these undomesticated, hungry wolves to wear technical neckware collars isnt as easy as it sounds. The wolves are first trapped and then sedated before adorned with the collars.

I hope they can solve this problem soon. Before the wolves come to eat my leather iPod case.

Source

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Jul 27

AZ: Mexican gray wolf reintroduction project continues

Mexican gray wolf reintroduction project continues

By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN
Associated Press writer

TUCSON, Ariz. — After a five-year review, the program to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf in the Blue Range encompassing eastern Arizona and western New Mexico will continue, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday.

In making its determination, the agency accepted a lengthy list of recommendations, with some modifications, of an oversight committee that conducted the review.

“I think this is a huge step. I’m very pleased,” said John Morgart, Fish and Wildlife’s wolf recovery program manager.

In 1998, Fish and Wildlife began releasing wolves into the wild on the Arizona-New Mexico border to re-establish the species in part of its historic range.

Morgart said recovery team members estimate that the current population is about 35 to 50 wolves but could be around 45 to 60 after several animals were removed, shot or otherwise perished. That included six pups killed by a surrogate wolf parent.

The estimate excludes an unknown number of pups wild-born this year, said Morgart, adding that there are some seven breeding pairs in the recovery area.

Many area ranchers have been vocal opponents of the reintroduction effort because of livestock depredation. Neither the current program nor the recommendations provide for any government subsidy or reimbursement for wolf-killed livestock.

“The Blue Range recovery project in and of itself is likely not going to be sufficient for recovery,” Morgart said. “It’s a component for recovery. What full recovery eventually will look like is still on the table.”

The existing recovery area encompasses about 6,000 square miles.

The agency has designated the Mexican gray wolves as a “nonessential, experimental population,” allowing more flexibility in managing them — including removal by capture or killing if an animal has been involved in three livestock deaths.

Neither opponents nor proponents of the recovery program are happy.

“It appears that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can care less if they’re damaging our children,” said Jess Carey, owner of a gun shop in Reserve, N.M., and the wolf action investigator in Catron County.

“I personally feel like the wolves are here and they’re going to stay. I believe that, and whether we have protection or not,” people will react to protect their families, even if they have to go to jail, Carey added.

He estimated that young children in possibly 15 families in the Blue Range have been harmed psychologically after witnessing wolves attacking their pets.

Carey said Morgart told him last week that officials were addressing how to protect ranchers’ children from wolves but the head of the oversight committee gave no promises of any action.

The recommendations would authorize states and tribes to issue permits to use non-lethal means to harass wolves engaging in “nuisance behavior or livestock depredation” and lethal means if they attacked domestic dogs.

But Carey said a permit could be issued only after a first incident.

“It almost takes the wolf biting the child before you can act. And if you act before the wolf bites the child, you’re going to jail,” Carey said.

Michael Robinson of the environmental organization Center for Biological Diversity also was displeased with the recommendations.

“In several crucial respects, they’re going to increase mortality of Mexican gray wolves,” he said. “And in approving them, Fish and Wildlife is pledging not to address the causes of mortality that are causing this population to go down.”

Robinson said the biggest problem the wolf population faces is scavenging on cattle and horse carcasses, thus learning to prey on livestock and horses.

Fish and Wildlife’s northern Rockies wolf recovery program specifies that wolves drawn into an area because of dead livestock will not be trapped, but it makes no such allowance for Mexican gray wolves, according to Robinson.

The recommendations would give Arizona and New Mexico authority “to cap the population at 125 animals, which will relegate them to endangered status always,” Robinson said.

Source

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Jul 27

ID: Wolves near Idaho City learn to chew off radio collars

Wolves near Idaho City learn to chew off radio collars

IDAHO CITY — You could call them smart or just lucky, but Idaho Fish and Game is facing a unique problem and biologists don’t really know quite how to deal with it.

The timberline wolf pack near Idaho City is giving the department a headache because the predators have found a way to chew of their radio collars. Thats how the agency tracks their movement.

Its a rare site, a wolf staggering back into the woods after waking from a sedative.

The Idaho Fish and Game department just put a radio collar on the two-year-old wolf this summer to follow its progress from the air and ground to learn more about the species, and keep track of Idahos wolf population.

In order to count the number of wolves, radio collaring is the best technique that we know of, said Steve Nadeau, Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Its a technique that takes a lot of time and effort.

The wolves are trapped and sedated so that biologists can then place the heavy leather collar on the wolf.

But now the timberline wolf pack is frustrating the department, and creating more work for biologists.

The wolves have learned how to chew off their radio collars.

It is rather unique, probably one radio collar or one pack in 20 or 30 might learn to chew the radio collars. I think it might be a boredom thing. They look at it and wonder what that new necklace is all about and then they start chewing on it, said Nadeau.

Fish and Game usually replaces radio collars on wolf packs every three to four years. The timberline wolf pack needs replacements every year.

It may just be one wolf out of the pack, or a multiple number, or the young ones, we really don’t know right now. The two collars that we have in that pack are still on, but it doesn’t mean they are hanging on with a full thread, they could be dangling, we don’t know, said Nadeau.

What the department does know is that wolves are smart and playful animals.

They hope to figure out why or how the wolves learned to chew off these collars.

Idaho Fish and Game checks in with radio collared wolves across the state every two to three weeks.

Source

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Jul 26

No subsidy provided for killed livestock in wolf program

No subsidy provided for killed livestock in wolf program

(AP) – The US Fish and Wildlife Service says it will continue to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, but not everyone is pleased with the news.

Many area ranchers have been vocal opponents of the reintroduction effort because of livestock depredation.

Neither the current program nor recommendations accepted this week provide for any government subsidy or reimbursement for wolf-killed livestock.

The recommendations would authorize states and tribes to issue permits to use non-lethal means to harass wolves engaging in nuisance behavior or livestock depredation and lethal means if they attacked domestic dogs.

But Michael Robinson of the environmental organization Center for Biological Diversity argues that the recommendations are going to increase mortality of Mexican gray wolves.

Source

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