Apr 30

MT: Wolf killed following recent livestock attack

Wolf killed following recent livestock attack

BILLINGS, Mont. A rancher west of Springdale, Montana, shot and killed a gray wolf today, about two weeks after wolves fatally injured one of the rancher’s cows.

The year-old male wolf was shot under a federal shoot-on-site permit issued last week.

One of the rancher’s heifers was attacked April 17th and was put down due to its injuries.

Jon Trapp is a wolf management specialist with the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He says the rancher’s permit was for one wolf only, although federal rules allow wolves to be shot if they’re chasing or injuring livestock.

Springdale is between Big Timber and Livingston.


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Apr 30

WY: Wolf deadline looms

Wolf deadline looms

- By Richard Reeder

The deadline to submit comments about delisting the gray wolf is May 9.

The 60-day comment period expires next Wednesday and will be the last chance for residents to tell the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service their feelings about the wolf plan.

FWS has proposed delisting wolves in the Rocky Mountain region. But disputes about the State of Wyoming’s management plan have slowed the process.

FWS has rejected the state’s plan, and the state has filed a lawsuit about that rejection.

The dispute includes the boundary for classifying the wolf as a predator or trophy game animal.

The federal plan calls for a boundary along WYO 120 from the state line to Cody and Meeteetse and south in which the wolf would be classified as a trophy animal and could not be killed without a license.

The state wants that boundary placed to the west, closer to Yellowstone Park, along the Shoshone Forest boundary, classifying the wolf as a predator east of that line and giving landowners the right to shoot wolves harming livestock.

The state also wants to be able to control wolves that are preying on big game herds. State leaders are pushing for the right to control the predators’ effects on elk and deer.

We don’t understand why Fish and Wildlife won’t allow us to save the big game herds, state Rep. Colin Simpson, R-Cody, told 600 people who attended a public meeting about wolves in Cody on April 19.

We have to protect our herds before they are gone, he added. This is a critical part of the plan.

State Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, is on the negotiating team working with the FWS to bridge the gap between the two plans.

Our original plan in 2002 passed peer review, he said. Our bill in the last legislative session set our stance on the way we want to manage the wolves.

About 80 percent of the speakers at the Cody hearing favored wolf delisting, according to longtime anti-wolf activist Arlene Hanson of Wapiti.

Mitch King, regional director of Fish and Wildlife, has said they will move ahead with delisting in Montana and Idaho, but leave the wolf protected in Wyoming.

Montana and Idaho plans have been accepted and include guidelines and regulations.

FWS asked the State of Wyoming to submit a new plan for consideration by May 1.

But Gov. Dave Freudenthal has said the state could not have a plan ready by that date, and insists the new law he signed about wolf management is final.


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Apr 30

AK: Watching over the wilderness

Watching over the wilderness

By Tim Mowry
Staff Writer

Looking out the window of his plane, Mike Spindler could see two sets of tracks on the frozen lake below.

Running down the center of the lake were the ski tracks from Spindlers plane, which he had landed on the lake the week before during a reconnaissance flight.

The other set of tracks, a series of holes in the snow around the edge of the lake, were made by wolves.

They werent here when I landed last week, said Spindler, banking the two-seat Scout and circling the lake in preparation for a landing.

With no other sign of mankind in sight, the tracks of the ski plane on the lake seemed almost obnoxious, like a painting that had been scratched. The wolf tracks, on the other hand, somehow seemed to belong.

A few minutes later, Spindler landed the two-seat Scout on the lake, being careful to follow in the ski tracks from his previous landing to reduce the chances of getting stuck, even though the snow wasnt that deep. After more than 25 years of flying, it was more habit than anything else.

Climbing out of the plane, Spindler handed a passenger a pair of snowshoes and began strapping a pair on himself.

Now we can go check out those tracks, he said, before stomping across the lake.

It was just another day at the office for Spindler, manager of the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge.

Located just 150 miles north of Fairbanks, the 1.6-million acre refuge is a short flight from town. If Spindler wants to check on something, he can hop in the Scout or a Super Cub and be on the ground in two hours.

A pilot for more than 25 years, Spindler has more than 8,500 hours under his flight suit. He flies about 200 hours a year, most of it doing work in the refuge. Spindler would much rather spend the day behind the controls of a Super Cub than a desk.

The best thing I ever did was take up flying and mix it with biology, said Spindler, who owns a Cessna 170.

It also helps Spindler keep in touch with the 1.6-million acre refuge he is managing and the people who use it. Spindler tries to fly somewhere in the refuge at least once a month in the winter and once a week in the summer.

In Galena you were living right in the middle of the refuge. You could look out the window and see the refuge, he said. Here, youre so remote from the refuge and the people who use it. Thats the biggest challenge, is to keep in touch with the people who use it.

When you can be a refuge manager and a pilot it just puts you out there where you need to be, said Spindler.

On this day in late March, Spindler is rendezvousing with a pair of biologists, one from the refuge and one from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who are conducting a moose browse survey in part of the refuge. Biologists are trying to figure out why the moose population in the refuge seems to be declining and the browse survey may provide some answers.

A lot of old timers in tell us theres not as many moose here compared to what there used to be, said Spindler. People in Allakakett usually get 40 moose per year; last year they only got 13.

Allakaket is a village of about 200 that sits on the Koyukuk River just outside the western edge of the refuge. Residents in the village do much of their hunting within the refuge.

It could be that low water conditions last fall prevented hunters from getting to places they normally hunt, he said, but chances are it has something to do with predation by bears and wolves. Theres plenty of food to support more moose than currently live in the refuge, said Spindler.

Villagers used to do a lot more predator hunting but now they dont get out as much, he said. You can see the trail systems around villages shrinking. They used to go out 50 or 60 miles; now they go out 20 miles.

A lot of that has to do with the high price of gas, said Spindler.

Those guys in Allakaket trying to hunt and trap on snowmachines are paying $6 a gallon for gas, he said.

Such is life in the Bush, Spindler knows, having spent 25 years living in Kotzebue and Galena.

He started working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978 as a biologist in Kotzebue, shortly after getting his Masters in wildlife management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Spindler spent 12 years in Northwest Alaska, splitting his time between the Alaska Maritime, Arctic and Selawik National Wildlife Refuges. It was there that he met his wife, Pamela, who was volunteering at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 1990, Spindler moved to the Yukon River village of Galena to take over as head wildlife biologist and pilot at the Koyukuk/Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The last four years he was there, Spindler served as manager of the nearly 6-million acre complex.

Having spent 25 years in the Bush, Spindler feels fortunate to have worked with both the Inupiat and Athabascan cultures.

While in Galena, Spindler worked as a volunteer for public radio station KIYU and taped interviews with almost 50 Native Koyukukon elders from villages like Allakaket, Galena, Huslia, Hughes and Ruby to record an oral history about subsistence in the region. Spindler got the idea for the project after several visits with Catherine and Steven Attla in Huslia. Each time he visited the village, the Attlas would invite him in for tea and Steven Attla would tell him stories.

One day I asked him if it was OK to record our conversation, said Spindler, whose goal was to preserve the stories of how things used to be, as well as use them to track biological trends that developed over time. I sat down with him for four hours and he told me stories for four hours straight.

He produced and aired the interviews in a popular segment called Ravens Story. The project took him about 10 years. The interviews are available on the Internet (http://uaf-db.uaf.edu/Jukebox/ravenstory/htm/menu.htm).

That has to be one of the most satisfying things Ive done in my career, Spindler said.

Spindler decided to take the job in Fairbanks to provide more opportunities, both academically and socially, for his two teenage children, 16-year-old David, a junior who runs on the track and cross-country teams at Hutchison High School, and 14-year-old Sara, a swimmer and skier who is home schooled by Pamela, a school teacher by trade.

Making the move back to Fairbanks was a little disorienting after so long in the Bush.

Life is so much more scheduled here; every day you have to be somewhere at a certain time, he said. In the Bush it was more of an ebb and flow.

In Fairbanks, you cant go anywhere without driving, said Spindler, who lives in the Rosie Creek subdivision off Chena Pump Road, about 10 miles south of Fairbanks.

Even if youre semi environmentally conscious, it drives you nuts having to drive everywhere for your kids activities, he said.

In the Bush, he could walk or drive dogs just about anywhere he needed to go. In Fairbanks, Spindler has to truck his dogs a mile down the road to the Tanana River to run them.

But hes adjusting. Once he gets down the Tanana a few miles, he cant tell hes living in Alaskas second largest city, Spindler said.

Its almost as if hes back out in the Bush.

Fairbanks is a nice fit right now, said Spindler.


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Apr 26

NM: Pair of endangered wolves released into remote area of Gila

Pair of endangered wolves released into remote area of Gila

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two more endangered Mexican gray wolves have been released into a remote area of New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that the pair, a male and a female from the Durango Pack, had been transferred from the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge wolf facility to a staging area at the edge of the wilderness. They were released Tuesday.

The female is pregnant and was released prior to birthing to increase chances that the wolves will den in the area, the agency said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing the wolves on the New Mexico-Arizona border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range after the animals had been hunted near extinction in the early 1900s. At the end of 2006, there were 59 wolves throughout the reintroduction area in the two states. Of those, 46 were born in the wild.

Environmentalists have complained that program managers are undermining the recovery effort by employing aggressive policies. Ranchers complain that wolves are killing livestock and hunters say the animals are thinning elk herds.


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Apr 26

MT: Yellowstone wolf diet returns to normal

Yellowstone wolf diet returns to normal


Of The Gazette Staff

Call it a change in taste. After an early-winter preference for young elk, wolves in Yellowstone National Park have turned their attention to killing older bulls.

Doug Smith, the park’s lead wolf biologist, said the wolves’ out-of-the-ordinary emphasis on elk calves in November and December was followed by a more typical diet of large male elk last month.

“This is right in line with what they do in March,” Smith said.

The wolves’ diet late last year raised a few eyebrows. A survey by park biologists showed about 75 percent of the wolf kills were calves, 15 percent were bulls and about 10 percent were females. There was some speculation that the early mild conditions made it harder for wolves to get adult elk, so they turned to calves.

But in March, about half of the kills were bulls, roughly 25 percent were calves and 25 percent were adult females, Smith said.

The surveys are conducted every December and March to get an idea of what wolves are eating and how the overall population is faring.

Meanwhile, competition continues to be fierce among Yellowstone’s wolves. Packs, especially on the crowded Northern Range, are vying for limited space and food.

“There’s quite a bit of strife,” Smith said.

The Leopold pack, with 18 or 19 members, still dominates the Northern Range.

Smaller packs are being pushed around as they look for a slice of territory.

There are now an estimated 117 wolves in Yellowstone, compared with 136 counted earlier in the winter.

That’s down from a high of about 170 in 2004.

Canine disease, which took a toll on the wolf population in 2005, hasn’t had much of a presence in the last year or so. Mange has hit two members of Mollie’s pack but hasn’t yet spread to other packs, Smith said.

Disease, fights between packs, food scarcity and other factors will continue to limit the wolf population in Yellowstone, Smith said.

“Over time there will be fewer wolves and fewer packs in the park,” he said.


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Apr 26

Farm Groups Urge AG to Intervene in Wolf Delisting Lawsuit

Farm Groups Urge AG to Intervene in Wolf Delisting Lawsuit

Wisconsin Ag Connection – 04/26/2007

A pair of state farm organizations are asking Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to have the State of Wisconsin intervene in a lawsuit to uphold the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau and Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association say there is a need to manage the wolf population in the Midwest because farmers and landowners are becoming vulnerable as the number wolf packs grow.

Earlier this month, the Humane Society, Help Our Wolves Live and the Animal Protection Institute filed the lawsuit, demanding that the Fish and Wildlife Service be prevented from implementing its delisting plan. The groups claim the gray wolf remains endangered in Wisconsin, despite the population surpassing its original recovery goal.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ wolf management plan is intended to keep the wolf population between 300 and 500 animals. Latest estimates show that there were nearly 600 gray wolves in the state last year.

“The wolf recovery has been successful in Wisconsin,” says WFBF Government Relations Director Jeff Lyon. “It’s indisputable that the population now exceeds goals set by the Endangered Species Act. “We are asking the Attorney General to get involved to stop these lawsuits that undermine Wisconsin’s need to manage the wolf population.”

The Farm Bureau and Cattlemen are seeking the Attorney General’s involvement to prevent a federal judge from siding with the animal rights groups.


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Apr 26

You’re not just seeing more wolves, there are more wolves

You’re not just seeing more wolves, there are more wolves

Winter wolf count tops 590, lawsuit filed to return animal to endangered status

Patti Wenzel

A Deparment of Natural Resources preliminary count showing the gray wolf population rose to as many as 590 over the winter is not news to property owners and animal lovers in Northern Wisconsin.

Its a terrible reality for a Tomahawk family, which lost their 11-year-old female German shorthair to a wolf April 7.

According to DNR reports, Scott Daenicke took his four bird dogs out for training on a trail east of Otter Lake in Harrison Township. While the other dogs ran in front of Daenicke, the other dog lagged behind.

At some point, two wolves attacked the female, named Packer. Daenicke ran toward the wolves, which ran off then hovered near him and his dying dog.

Adrian Wydeven, the DNRs wolf biologist based in Park Falls, said it is highly unusual for a wolf to kill a birddog.

Last year, the DNR reported a wolf count of 502. Those increased numbers led the federal government to delist the gray wolf as an endangered species this past March.

Less than three weeks later, a landowner west of Park Falls killed a wolf that was threatening his border collie on March 28, the first legal shooting of a gray wolf in over 50 years.

Since then three other wolves have been trapped and killed in northwestern Wisconsin by U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel for threatening or killing property.

Wydeven said there will be more incidents of wolf attacks in light of the increased population numbers and that it will increase animosity toward the animals by groups such as livestock farmers and hunters.

He added he was surprised by the over-winter estimate of 590 wolves, thinking the count would have remained closer to 500. The count also does not include any pups that have been born this spring or the nine known wolves on Indian reservations.

This is the highest winter count of wolves since the animals were returned to Wisconsin in the mid-1970s. Wydeven said his department believes Wisconsin can support between 300-500 wolves.

Wydeven said there are many reasons the wolf population continues to climb, including large parcels of public land with an increased deer herd and a tolerant public which has a deep reverence for the wolf, which is featured on the states endangered species license plates.

Lawsuit to protect the wolf

In a related matter, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF) has requested that Gov. Jim Doyle, Attorney General J.B. VanHollen and DNR Secretary Scott Hassett join together to fight a lawsuit filed by the Human Society of the United States and others demanding the return of the gray wolf to the endangered species list.

On April 16, the Humane Society, Help Our Wolves Live and Animal Protection Institute, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent it from implementing its delisting of the wolf, because it essentially remains endangered in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. The lawsuit alleges that federal officials have misinterpreted environmental laws and crafted a flawed recovery plan.

Ralph Fritsch, chairperson of the WWFs wildlife committee, said the Federal Wolf Recovery Plan provides that once the 100 animal goal is reached, the gray wolf is to be removed from the endangered species list and management of the animal be returned to the State of Wisconsin like most other resident wildlife populations.

He characterized the Humane Society lawsuit as being directly contrary to the principles of sound wildlife management and is a direct attack of the sovereign natural resource management responsibilities of the state.

In addition, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation call the lawsuit by the animal rights groups as nothing more than gross ignorance of the recovery that has taken place in Wisconsin.

This lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous because we just found out how much the wolf population in Wisconsin grew over the winter beyond recovery goals, Tom Thieding, executive director of public relations for the Farm Bureau said.

This surge in the wolf population, if left with no management, something the animal rights groups want, only increases the threats to humans and livestock in northern Wisconsin, he said.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. If the suit is successful, the wolf could be back on the endangered species list, which would make it illegal to shoot and kill a wolf that is attacking or threatening to attack personal property in the designated states.


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Apr 24

WY: Luthi removes self from wolf issue

Luthi removes self from wolf issue

By Gazette News Services

SHERIDAN – Randall Luthi, a former Wyoming state House speaker who was recently appointed to the No. 2 spot at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said he will not be involved in the dispute between Wyoming and the federal agency over wolves.

Federal conflict of interest law prohibits him from working with the state of Wyoming, Luthi said Saturday at a Sheridan County Republican Party gathering.

Wyoming has lawsuits pending against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over management of wolves and the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. The federal agency is in charge of enforcing the Endangered Species Act.

Luthi, from Freedom, was appointed by President Bush to the Fish and Wildlife deputy director’s post in February.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 547 refuges across the country and controls more land than the National Park Service, Luthi noted at the GOP gathering.

During the Clinton administration, Fish and Wildlife was run from the “top down” with government officials in Washington telling states what to do with their land, Luthi said.

The Bush administration has been more open to listening to the states, he said.

Republicans should do all they can to prevent animals from being listed as endangered, because once they are, it is hard to get them delisted, he said. Listing animals as endangered is the “death nail,” he added.

And landowners should be allowed to have whatever species they want on their land, Luthi said.


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Apr 24

MI: 2 sentenced for killing wolves in Upper Peninsula

2 sentenced for killing wolves in Upper Peninsula

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (AP)  Two men have been fined and temporarily denied hunting privileges for killing wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

William Jason Morgan, 28, of Iron Mountain, pleaded guilty this month to shooting a wolf during firearms deer hunting season last fall near Felch in Dickinson County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

District Judge Michael Kusz ordered Morgan to pay $2,385 in fines, costs and restitution. Morgan lost his hunting privileges through 2010, was placed on six months probation and ordered to participate in the county’s tether program for 30 days.

Robert Wudzinski, 70, of Richmond, pleaded guilty in March to shooting a wolf wearing a radio collar last November.

A DNR wildlife biologist was tracking the collar’s signals by air when it signaled the wolf had died. Conservation officers located the carcass and investigated the shooting.

Wudzinski pleaded guilty to taking a protected animal. Judge Anders Tingstad ordered him to pay $2,150 in fines, costs and restitution. He was placed on probation for nine months and lost his hunting privileges for the rest of this year.

Although taken off the federal endangered list for the Great Lakes region this year, gray wolves remain on Michigan’s endangered list. Killing them is illegal unless they are threatening human life.

The DNR estimates 434 live in the Upper Peninsula.


On the Net:

Michigan Department of Natural Resources: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr


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Apr 22

MT: Escaped hybrid wolves still in the wild

Escaped hybrid wolves still in the wild


Tribune Outdoor Editor

Two of three wolf hybrids that escaped in November from a Wolf Creek residence remain loose on the Rocky Mountain Front and may have been spotted by game wardens earlier this month.

The hybrids were among four brought to Montana by a Florida woman who died along with her boyfriend in a Christmas Eve car wreck near Cascade.

That accident also killed one of the wolf hybrids that was riding in the vehicle. The fourth wolf hybrid was destroyed after it was captured in the Lincoln area.

Bruce Auchly, Fish, Wildlife & Parks information officer in Great Falls, said game wardens are sure that the wolf killed by a car on April 13 along Highway 200 west of Fort Shaw was not one of the hybrids. That animal was silver and didn’t match photos of the black hybrids.

Auchly said game wardens have seen two canines recently that could be wolves or wolf hybrids.

One sighting was April 2 just south of Wolf Creek. Another sighting on April 4 was just southeast of the Birdtail Road near the Cascade/Lewis and Clark county line about 12 miles from the previous sighting.

But Carolyn Sime, Montana wolf coordinator for Fish, Wildlife & Parks, says she thinks the game wardens might have seen wild wolves.

“I have no doubt that they saw large canids,” said Sime. “The uncertainty is whether they saw one of these hybrids or a wild wolf.”

A wolf hybrid is “some sort of large canid that has a mixture of domestic dog and wild wolf in its lineage,” Sime said.

She says it can be difficult to determine whether an animal is a wolf or a hybrid, especially if the animals are simply observed through field glasses.

Behavior is one of the clues, she said.

“Hybrids, from a behavioral point of view, are unpredictable,” she said. “They don’t know if they are wild wolves or domestic dogs.

“Wild wolves usually have some place to go and something they need to be doing and it has to do with other wild wolves,” she said. “They may be finding food, patrolling their territory, finding other wolves or asserting their authority within the pack.”

Hybrids, on the other hand, are loiterers, Sime says.

Hybrids are sort of amateurs at doing what wolves do professionally. Sime says wolves kill their own food while hybrids often rely on handouts or scavenging.

She said she has heard no reports of hybrid-like activity in the area and no reports of livestock depredations.

The hybrids that escaped from the Wolf Creek residence could be dead by now, Sime said.

Both animals that game wardens saw were black and both times the animals were among cattle, but no depredations were reported, Auchly said.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Cheryl Liedle said last week that her office has received no reports of wolf hybrids.

“We are not able to locate any incidents regarding any wolves or any hybrids at all,” Leidle said.

According to Auchly, game wardens found that Lorie Jean Lewallen, 48, brought the four wolf hybrids to Wolf Creek from Florida in October 2006. On Nov. 11, three of the four wolf hybrids escaped. One of the hybrids was destroyed after it was captured in the Lincoln area in late February or early March.

“People evidently were feeding it and it became aggressive,” Auchly said.

Auchly says game wardens have periodically sighted what they believe to be hybrids in the Birdtail Hills Road area between Wolf Creek and Augusta along the Rocky Mountain Front.

“It is not uncommon to hear that people said they saw a wolf down along the Mission Road,” said Quentin Kujala, head of the wildlife management bureau at FWP in Helena. The Mission Road runs west of Cascade into the Birdtail Hill area.

Montana law requires that any captive, domestic, or hybrid wolf that is more than half wolf to be permanently tattooed and registered with FWP. State law also requires that any escape, release, transfer, or other change in disposition of such animals be reported to FWP.

Auchly said none of Lewallen’s four wolf hybrids were tattooed and Sime said they had not been registered with the state.

The accident that killed Lewallen and Judd Swanson, 42, from Bozeman, occurred on Christmas Eve on the frontage road that runs parallel to Interstate 15 near Cascade.

The Montana Highway Patrol said that alcohol and speed were factors in the crash.


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