Aug 31

VA: Endangered wolves may now roam on proposed OLF in N.C.

Endangered wolves may now roam on proposed OLF in N.C.

By KATE WILTROUT, The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK – An environmental group already fighting the Navy’s plans for a practice landing field in northeastern North Carolina says the project would endanger threatened red wolves that have moved into the area.

Derb Carter, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), sent a letter Wednesday to two Navy officials stating that red wolves now range across all but the northern end of the 30,000 acres the Navy wants to acquire in Washington and Beaufort counties.

Building the field “would adversely affect the endangered red wolf, appreciably reduce the likelihood of recovery of the only sustaining population of this endangered species in the wild, and requires formal consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act,” Carter wrote in the letter to an assistant secretary of the Navy in Washington and the airfield project manager in Norfolk.

Capt. James Taylor, a spokesman for Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, said the Navy had not seen the study and it would be inappropriate to comment.

That site has already been the subject of a federal lawsuit by SELC because of its proximity to thousands of migratory birds that spend the winter at the nearby Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Last year, a federal judge ordered the Navy to do more environmental analysis before it could proceed. The supplemental study is still under way. Latest Videos

Carter said wolf tracking data the center received from the wildlife service in August shows eight wolves were on the site earlier this year. An additional 32 wolves roam land adjacent to the site, Carter said.

Previously extinct in the wild, the red wolf was reintroduced to Dare County, N.C., by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1987. About 100 wolves now live in the rural northeastern part of the state; many are fitted with collars that transmit radio signals allowing their movements to be tracked.

The federal data provide the first indication that wolves have spread eastward into farmland the Navy hopes to buy, Carter said.

“It’s a significant new issue that the Navy must address, and in this case, it’s an endangered species that brings legal res trictions much more stringent than migratory bird protection,” Carter said from his office in Chapel Hill.

The field would be used by Navy and Marine aviators to prepare for flying onto aircraft carriers. Development around the current practice field in Chesapeake creates too much light for realistic night carrier landing practice, the Navy maintains.

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Aug 31

Hunting: Wolf threat hits home in Marinette Co.

Hunting: Wolf threat hits home in Marinette Co.

Sturgeon Bay man’s hound killed during bear training

By Kevin Naze

Press-Gazette correspondent

Dick Baudhuin of Sturgeon Bay has been hunting black bears in the vast forests of northern Wisconsin for more than 40 years, but what he saw Saturday in Marinette County reinforced his belief that animal rights activists need to check out the wilderness.

Baudhuin, 70, was with four of his eight bluetick and redtick hounds, taking advantage of the final weekend of bear dog training before the Sept. 13 season opener.

Even though no one in his party has a Zone B kill permit this year, Baudhuin knows it’s only a matter of time before they get wind of someone who does.

“We’re always looking to get out there,” Baudhuin said. “The thrill isn’t necessarily in the kill, it’s in the hunt.”

Baudhuin’s 3-year-old bluetick hound, Dixie, was trailing a black bear early that afternoon west of Athelstane, not far from McClintock Park on Parkway Road.

When three of his other dogs returned to the truck  and Dixie’s radio-tracking collar showed no signs of movement  Baudhuin and another hunter walked in.

Baudhin found Dixie mutilated, her hide stripped off, and partly eaten.

“It wasn’t a total surprise, because I’ve seen pictures,” Baudhuin said. “As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was.”

It was a wolf kill, confirmed later by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services employee.

“It was a letdown,” Baudhuin said. “It’s an unfortunate situation that has happened to a number of friends of mine, and now it hit home.”

A Green Bay-area hunter, along to get a taste of what hound hunting for bears was like, was shocked at what he saw.

“He had no clue that this kind of thing happens,” Baudhuin said.

After reporting the loss, Baudhuin waited while another hunter went in to check out the scene. The wolves had been back, leaving little uneaten.

Dixie wore a bell, something that was believed would help deter wolf attacks.

“A lot of people would like you to think the wolves are protecting young ones, but (the pups) are born in March,” Baudhuin said. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re already in the hunting mode, and probably a player in the kill.”

Adrian Wydeven, a state Department of Natural Resources wolf expert, said wolves have killed 12 bear hounds and injured six others in Wisconsin this year.

While Baudhuin’s loss was the first confirmed wolf kill on a dog in Marinette County history, seven of the 12 bear hound deaths were caused by the same pack in western Bayfield County, near Drummond. Two years ago, a different pack in Ashland County, near Glidden, killed nine dogs.

“It’s always an upsetting situation,” Wydeven said. “It seems to vary so much year to year, and pack to pack.”

The state’s gray wolf population was estimated by wildlife biologists to be close to 500 animals before pups were born this spring, with some 115 packs and at least 12 loners.

“I think it’s good to have wolves, but now we’ve got an overpopulation, with no method of control,” Baudhuin said. “I think it’s just a matter of time before we have problems right here in Door County.”

Hunters are reimbursed at the current market value for their hounds, up to $2,500.

“I projected Dixie was a $5,000 dog,” Baudhuin said. “I say that based on a good bloodline and because from start to finish, whether bear, bobcat or coyote, she was head and shoulders above your average hound.”

Wolves are listed as a protected wild animal by the state. However, the federal government lists wolves as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in March its intent to remove wolves from the endangered list in Wisconsin and adjacent states and return all management authority to the states. Once that’s done, likely early next year, special permits from USFWS for lethal controls on wolves will not be needed.


To report attacks, or to learn more

Hunters, landowners and others who believe wolves may have killed or injured their dogs or livestock should call USDA-Wildlife Services. In central and southern Wisconsin (including Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties), call (800) 433-0688. In northern Wisconsin (including Oconto and Marinette counties), call (800) 228-1368.

More information on wolves in Wisconsin, including locations of recent bear hound killings, is available online at dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/mammals/wolf

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Aug 31

DNR: Judge’s Ruling to Keep Wolves Alive Not Helping Farmers

DNR: Judge’s Ruling to Keep Wolves Alive Not Helping Farmers

Wisconsin Ag Connection – 08/31/2006

Several weeks ago, a federal judge ruled that state wildlife officials could not legally kill problem wolves in Wisconsin. And according to the Department of Natural Resources, that decision spared the lives of at least five wolves that have preyed on livestock in northern Wisconsin since that very day.

According to the DNR’s Adrian Wydeven, who coordinates the state’s wolf management program, wolves have killed sheep and calves on four farms in Douglas and Bayfield counties since the August 9 ruling. Prior to then, wolves that caused problems for the farms would have been trapped and euthanized with a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wydeven says 18 wolves were killed in 2006 with the permit before the judge issued her ruling. Last year, 29 problem wolves were killed.

Meanwhile, the Natural Resource Board took no action this week on whether to recommend that the wolf management plan be amended to broaden the definition of problem wolves to those that also harass and scare livestock. The issue will be reviewed and likely considered in the board’s annual update of the management plan next summer.

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Aug 30

Germany: FEATURE-Wolves return to eastern Germany as people leave

FEATURE-Wolves return to eastern Germany as people leave

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN, Aug 30 (Reuters) – A century after they were wiped out by hunters and a burgeoning population, wolves have returned to parts of eastern Germany as factories close down, businesses fail and people move out.

A few dozen wolves have formed a beachhead in Germany’s Brandenburg state just west of the border with Poland and enjoy special protection from authorities delighted by the return of the shy animals so deeply entrenched in German folklore.

It’s a surprising comeback in one of the world’s leading industrial nations where 82 million people are squeezed into a country the size of the U.S. state of Montana.

The wolves, who arrived from Poland or other neighbouring countries, live in a largely vacant area of abandoned strip mines and vacated troop training grounds southeast of Berlin.

They serve as a living testament to the profound changes taking place in eastern Germany, once a centre of industry and mining, now fallen on hard times.

Other species, like the crane and the white-tailed eagle — have also flourished in the east as the human population decreases – an unintended result of German unification in 1990.

“The wolves were gone for over 100 years and first started coming back a while after the Berlin Wall fell,” said Matthias Freude, head of the Brandenburg state environmental office, who estimates there are now about 20 wolves in two packs in Germany.

“They swam across the Neise river or walked across the ice in winter,” he added. “There are hardly any people left there now. The wolves’ biggest predator is hunters. But it’s against the law to hunt them in Germany.”

SHY CREATURES

More than 1.5 million people have left eastern Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall — about one-tenth of the population of the communist state that was proud to be one of the Soviet bloc’s leading industrial nations.

While Communist East Germany wanted nothing to do with wolves because they did not see any place for them in a modern industrial country, the Brandenburg state government set up after unification welcomed their return to the forests.

“They’re following ancient migration routes back to Germany, partly because of the growing numbers in Poland, Slovakia and other parts of Eastern Europe (which) means they have to spread out and go somewhere,” said Roland Melisch, head of the species conservation section at the WWF in Germany.

Brandenburg state, which surrounds Berlin, not only made it a crime to shoot wolves but offers farmers cash compensation for any farm animals that fall prey to the wolves. It also provides subsidies to farmers to buy electric fences to keep wolves out.

Freude said that so far only one of the 14 sheep killed in the last six years and reported to authorities by farmers seeking compensation was actually attacked by a wolf. The others were killed by dogs or other animals, he said.

“We’re all thrilled that the wolves are back,” Freude said. “They belong here. The forest is a more exciting place when you know wolves are in it. They’re difficult to see because they’re very shy.”

Wolves have also been returning to other countries where they were nearly extinct, including Italy, Austria, France and Baltic states, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

After a campaign of extermination lasting centuries, Germany shot the last of its wolves near Hoyerswerda in 1904. Wolves were also wiped out in most of the rest of northwestern Europe, although small populations survived in Spain and Italy.

ANCIENT MIGRATION ROUTES

Big, bad wolves feature prominently in European fables and fairy-tales like “Little Red Riding Hood” about a girl’s encounter with a wicked wolf disguised as her grandmother. Many of these tales were recorded by Germans Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century.

“It was an undeserved rap,” said Melisch. “The fact is we can live in harmony with wolves. They’re predatory but there are ways to limit dangers to sheep or goats. Wolves have it good in Germany now and their population will surely keep growing.”

The WWF said there are in fact no documented cases in Europe of a healthy wolf living in the wild ever intentionally attacking and killing a human.

Wolves might be feared in other countries but Freude said Germans are fascinated by their return.

“The main reason they’re here is because they are by and large undisturbed in Germany,” he said. “They won’t be hunted here because so many people have left. Depopulation is certainly an important factor for their return.”

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Aug 29

AK: Alaska’s lethal wolf control program facing new challenge

Alaska’s lethal wolf control program facing new challenge

By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Alaska’s wolf-killing program to boost moose and caribou numbers is facing a new legal challenge.

Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit in Superior Court alleging that the program, in which more than 550 wolves have been killed, is based on faulty science and violates state law.

Defenders of Wildlife and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance asked the court last week to halt the program authorized in 2003 by the state Board of Game. A similar court challenge launched by the Connecticut-based group Friends of Animals was not successful in putting an end to the program.

But in that case, Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason had ruled that the Game Board had not followed its own rules in approving the programs and had not considered all alternatives besides aerial killing. The Game Board responded with new regulations that satisfied the legal shortcomings and resurrected aerial wolf control in all five areas.

Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the agency is more confident of the legality of the program since making the required changes as a result of the Friends of Animals case.

“All of our actions, no matter what they are, are subject to judicial review and we understand that, and we do the best job we can with the best information we have available to develop scientifically sound programs in whatever we do,” Bartley said. “We are confident in the science of it.”

The state maintains that predator control is a well-managed program to provide more game in areas where rural hunters say wolves and bears are killing too many moose and caribou calves, leaving them with too few to hunt and eat.

Critics say it is aimed at wiping out more than 80 percent of wolves in a large swath of Alaska – about the size of Wyoming – to benefit mostly urban hunters.

“It is largely being done for people coming out of Anchorage who want an easy time getting moose or caribou,” Caroline Kennedy, senior director of field conservation programs for Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday.

Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, said the game board lacks accurate information on caribou and moose numbers to develop a science-based plan.

“The Board of Game ignored well-established, solid science when they set up the aerial wolf killing and bear killing plans,” he said.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, predators kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, while humans kill less than 10 percent.

The aim of the program is to temporarily reduce wolf numbers but not to permanently eliminate them in any area, according to Fish and Game.

Under the program, the state issues permits so that pilots and gunners can either shoot wolves from the air, or land first and then shoot them. Numbers of wolves to be killed this winter have not been set yet. The program also allows for the killing of black bears.

“We feel they haven’t begun to meet the criteria necessary to justify the level of killing they are attempting,” said John Toppenberg, director of the Anchorage-based Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

Toppenberg said the Board of Game does not have the science to back up the program.

“Our position is that this state is best served by having an intact ecosystem with a healthy predator-prey balance. That kind of eradication has nothing to do with balance,” he said.

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Aug 29

DNR: Judge’s ruling keeps at least five wolves alive

DNR: Judge’s ruling keeps at least five wolves alive

ROBERT IMRIE

Associated Press

WAUSAU, Wis. – A federal judge’s recent ruling that barred wildlife officials from killing problem wolves in Wisconsin has saved the lives of at least five wolves preying on livestock in northern Wisconsin, the state’s coordinator of the wolf management program said Tuesday.

Since the judge’s decision Aug. 9, wolves killed sheep and calves on four farms in Douglas and Bayfield counties, said Adrian Wydeven of the Department of Natural Resources.

Until the ruling, wolves causing problems for the farms would have been trapped and euthanized with a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The permit allowed for the killing of 43 such wolves this year.

Up to 10 wolves might have been trapped and killed by now, Wydeven said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his office in Park Falls.

That practice was halted after U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C. sided with animal welfare and environmental groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, in a lawsuit that argued the killing violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

“It has made things a lot more difficult for us,” Wydeven said. “A lot of farmers are concerned and disappointed and fearful that wolf attacks are not going to be slowed down.”

Eighteen wolves were killed with the permit before the judge issued her ruling, he said.

Eric Koens, a director of the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association and a critic of the number of wolves in northern Wisconsin, did not immediately return a message left Tuesday at his Rusk County home.

Wolves were wiped out in Wisconsin in the 1950s after decades of bounty hunting. Since the animal was granted protection as an endangered species in the 1970s, wolves migrated back from Minnesota, and about 500 live mostly in northern and central Wisconsin.

Earlier this year, the DNR announced that wolves killed or injured livestock on 25 farms last year – triple the number from four years ago – diminishing public support for wolves in the state.

Last year, 29 problem wolves were killed under the special permit.

Wydeven said Tuesday that the trapping of problem wolves planned to resume with a new strategy. A $300 shock collar will be put on the wolves before they are released. When the wolf comes within about 200 yards of a triggering device in a pasture or field, a collar would shock it.

Other high tech solutions, such as motion-activated scare devices that feature gunshots, sires and strobe lights, also will be tried to deter wolves, he said.

In years past before the killing of problem wolves was allowed, the wolves were trapped and relocated in more remote areas away from farms, Wydeven said.

“There really aren’t any good places any more,” he said.

The state hopes to resume killing problem wolves once the animal is removed from the federal endangered species, a process that is under way and could be completed as early as late this year, Wydeven said.

In another development Tuesday, a committee of the Natural Resource Board took no action on whether to recommend that the wolf management plan be amended to broaden the definition of problem wolves to those that also harass and scare livestock, Wydeven said.

The issue will be reviewed and likely considered in the board’s annual update of the management plan next summer, the wolf expert said.

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Aug 28

Livestock depredation continues to hurt both ranchers and wolf recovery in the Southwest

Livestock depredation continues to hurt both ranchers and wolf recovery in the Southwest

International Wolf Center — Ely, Minnesota, 08/28/2006

Recent losses of both livestock and wolves are making many people unhappy with the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Wolf Reintroduction Program. Agency officials charged with reestablishing a sustainable Mexican wolf population are caught in the cross fire.

Already in 2006, officials have confirmed 19 cases of livestock being killed by wolves in the reintroduction area. In all of 2005, there were 22 confirmed, 7 probable and 7 possible wolf depredations on livestock. Although ranchers may receive some financial compensation for their losses, many wolf-killed livestock go unconfirmed and uncompensated.

While 2006 may or may not ultimately yield an unusually high number of livestock killed, there clearly has been an increase in the number of wolves killed for repeatedly killing livestock.

Since the first release of Mexican wolves into the wild in 1998, 7 wolves have been killed because of their depredation records. Four of those wolves were removed in 2006. Seven additional wolves died in in captivity in 2006 having been removed from the wild because they were part of the depredating packs. Biologists estimate a minimum of 35 to 50 Mexican wolves in the wild, so 11 wolves represents up to 22 to 31 percent loss to the total wild population.

The increased lethal control of depredating wolves this year may not be an indication that more wolves are depredating but that certain individual wolves are depredating more often. Wolves are removed from the wild when they are known or likely to have committed three depredation incidents within a period of 365 days. Each depredation incident may involve the loss of multiple livestock. A wolf involved in fewer than three depredation incidents in a 365-day period is considered a new wolf, and its depredation record is cleared, though managers and landowners may use nonlethal control methods such as relocation, harassment and hazing in hopes of preventing further depredation incidents and potentially avoiding lethal control.

In an effort to augment the breeding wolf population now in the wild and to maintain the genetic diversity of the current population, biologists have released 4 new wolves to the recovery area.

The management program is in a tough spot. The ability of Mexican wolf managers to control depredating wolves is essential to the success of the program. Teams of scientists, ranchers and environmentalists are searching for ways to affordably prevent and fairly compensate for depredation. Mitigating depredation may give wolves a better chance of expanding their population in the region, though the costs and challenges are great.

The Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Oversight Committee (AMOC) has developed 37 recommendations for addressing the most fundamental objections to the current wolf management program, including depredation response protocols. These recommendations grew out of the extensive five-year review of the program conducted by the AMOC and representatives of multiple agencies involved with the fieldwork to identify and implement improvements in the project. The AMOC is hosting a workshop on August 2930, 2006, to provide a forum for discussion of issues pertaining to Mexican wolf reintroduction in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of Arizona and New Mexico. The workshop is open to the public and will be held at the White Mountain Apache Tribes Hon-Dah Resort and Casino, Pinetop, Arizona.

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Aug 28

IL: Wolves Escape Niabi Zoo

Wolves Escape Niabi Zoo

by Rachel Gabrielsen

COAL VALLEY, IL – The story of the boy who cried wolf took on a whole new meaning at the Niabi Zoo Friday.

Parking lots were vacant at Niabi Zoo as the doors were closed to continue the search for two gray wolves. They escaped from a gap in their chain-link fences on Thursday.

Zoo officials checked on fences throughout the zoo to make sure an incident like this doesn’t happen again. Many zoo neighbors have property that leads right up to the zoo, but said they have complete faith in the Niabi Zoo staff.

“They’re not out roaming this area, theyr’e inside the enclosure because they have a high perameter fence all around the zoo so there is no way they can get out but there is a lot of undergrowth and stuff up there that they can probably hide in but they’ll find them,” said Jerald Smith of Coal Valley, Illinois.

Zoo officials are still searching for the second female wolf. They were able to dart both wolves with a tranquilizer, however, each wolf was able to take cover in the zoo’s wooded area near their fence. The male was sedated and taken to the animal care center.

The Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department has been assisting in the search.

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Aug 28

AK: Two groups file lawsuit to stop aerial wolf control

Two groups file lawsuit to stop aerial wolf control

Associated Press

Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit today asking the state’s Superior Court to halt aerial wolf control. Defenders of Wildlife and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance also want a stop to the state’s bear killing plans, saying they too are based on faulty science and violate state law.

The state of Alaska resumed aerial wolf control three years ago. Under the program designed to boost moose and caribou numbers in several areas of the state, more than 550 wolves have been killed. The program now is operating in five areas of Alaska.

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Aug 22

NM: Endangered wolf pup dies in the wild

Endangered wolf pup dies in the wild

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An endangered Mexican gray wolf pup that was released into the wild with its parents earlier this summer has died, according to officials with the wolf reintroduction program.

The male pup, a member of the Meridian Pack, was released in Arizona in June. Officials said it was with its parents on July 14, but evidence was found days later that it was dead.

Other members of the pack injured a dog later in July and were hazed by the program field team to keep them away from homes.

Officials reported two other depredation cases in July. A male wolf, probably from the Granite Pack, killed a calf in New Mexico and two Luna Pack yearlings were blamed for another depredation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing wolves into the wild on the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range. Many ranchers have been vocal opponents of the effort because of livestock depredation.

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