Aug 30

CH: The wolf returns to Vaud

The wolf returns to Vaud

Evidence of at least one animal has been found in the canton for the first time since the mid-19th century following the killing of two goats.

Theyre crying wolf in Vaud. Wildlife experts say the animal has returned to the canton for the first time in 150 years. The evidence is supported by a photograph and genetic testing of two goats killed at the end of July in the Anzeindaz region of the Vaud Alps. The comings and goings of wolves in Vaud have been long suspected since they are already present in the nearby cantons of Valais and Bern.

Even before the genetic testing we had a photo of a wolf obtained thanks to photographic traps installed in mid-July, said Sébastien Sachot, cantonal wildlife officer. The tests showed that the goats were victims of a wolf of Italian origin. The killing of 13 sheep in the La Vare area (also in Anzeindaz) further bolsters the evidence. Sachot does not exclude the possibility that several wolves are on the loose, although generally the wolves in Switzerland act alone rather than in packs.

Measures have been put in place to protect livestock herds. A national plan authorizes the culling of a wolf after a minimum of 25 livestock animals have been killed in an area in a month. A shepherd and two dogs will monitor a herd of 900 sheep in the affected region, Sachot said. Otherwise, herds of goats must be brought in at night, something that wasnt always the case before, he said.

Another wolf, also believed to be of Italian origin has been identified in the Chablais area of Valais, after a herd of sheep was attacked at the end of July. The last wolf native to Vaud soil was killed in 1855 at Agiez, near Orbe, according to cantonal records. The wolf was present throughout Switzerland in the 16th century but campaigns by farmers led to the decimation of the animal. The wolf has never disappeared from Italy, which explains how the animal is making a gradual return to this country. In Switzerland the wolf is now protected because it is illegal to hunt it.

Experts say that wolves are normally not a danger to humans. They will even flee from children. The only exception is if it is wounded it may become aggressive and attack, Sachot said.

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Aug 30

MT: Wolves recovery and possible hunt discussed in Missoula

Wolves recovery and possible hunt discussed in Missoula

State wildlife managers are preparing for Montana’s first wolf hunt which could happen as soon as next Fall. However there are a lot of questions to be answered before any licenses are issued.

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks updated the amazing success story of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies on Wednesday evening in Missoula as federal officials are on the verge of removing wolves from the Endangered Species List.

The state is preparing for the possible hunting and trapping of wolves in Montana for the first time in decades, but biologists like Carolyn Sime with Montana Wolf Program say many issues must be addressed including goals to keep a viable population of “breeding pairs” of wolves.

“If you have high numbers of breeding pairs, the you can in theory offer more opportunity. Higher quotas, more permits, something like that.”

But biologists say they also have to take other issues into account such as conflicts between wolves and humans as they firm up the possible hunt toward the end of the year.

- Dennis Bragg reporting from KPAX in Missoula

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Aug 29

WY: Feds reduce Carter wolf pack

Feds reduce Carter wolf pack

By Jayme Fraser

Summer and wolves can be like winter and the flu: chronic.

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took measures to decrease depredation by the Carter Mountain pack.

It’s one of those packs that’s a problem every year, said Mike Jimenez, leader of the Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project. We started having problems again, so we removed the bulk of that pack.

The Carter Mountain pack, whose range is largely on the west side of WYO 120 between Cody and Meeteetse, first started attacking cattle on Forest Service allotments in 2004.

Initially, we removed two wolves at the beginning of August, Jimenez said. We then had a depredation a week later, so we removed nine more.

That now leaves the pack with one young male and one radio-collared female, which the USFWS plans to leave for tracking purposes as long as depredations don’t continue.

In early spring and late winter they prey on elk and deer, but when those herds migrate, the wolves are trying to feed pups, so some of those packs will go after livestock, Jimenez said.

It’s case-specific, but one way we handle these problems is to incrementally remove wolves until the problem stops.

This is not the first year wolves have been removed from this pack, but seasonal prey migration and hungry wolf pups annually entices wolves to seek alternative prey.

In some areas it resolves the problem, but in others it doesn’t, Jimenez said of lethal management. It’s pretty tough to change pack behavior on large allotments. New wolves have always moved in those areas.

Jimenez says USFWS first tries non-lethal management methods.

These include working closely with producers to reduce tempting dead livestock, increasing ridership, and various harassment methods that might cause the pack to relocate.

Depending on the pack and producer, problems can be eliminated by changing the time of year cattle graze specific allotments with aggressive packs nearby.

Also, redrawing allotment boundaries in national forests can move livestock out of range for a pack, thereby decreasing the likelihood of a depredation.

Jimenez added that the type of management depends on whether or not the depredation occurs within the trophy game boundary.

With packs outside the boundary we respond more aggressively, Jimenez said.

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Aug 29

ID: Idaho shoots wolves blamed for killing livestock

Idaho shoots wolves blamed for killing livestock

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Wildlife officials have killed seven wolves that were part of the Morris Flat Pack located west of Fairfield in central Idaho because they had been preying on livestock, officials said.

Officials say they are still trying to capture and kill another member of the pack that killed a calf on or before Aug. 15.

State and federal wolf managers in July began killing the wolves incrementally hoping that the rest of the pack would move or that the attacks on livestock would end.

The first wolf was killed July 25, and two more pack members were removed Aug. 3 after livestock attacks continued, officials said.

Between Aug. 4 and 10 officials killed four more wolves from the pack on the Boise National Forest.

But officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said that a wolf killed another calf in the area sometime around Aug. 15, and that the wolf will also be killed if it is trapped.

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Aug 26

AK: $400,000 approved to educate Alaskans about wolf killing

$400,000 approved to educate Alaskans about wolf killing

APPROPRIATION: What state calls education, foes call PR against initiative.

By ALEX deMARBAN

Opponents of the state’s predator control program are blasting lawmakers and the governor for approving a $400,000 appropriation to educate Alaskans about the aerial shooting of wolves and efforts to reduce bears in some areas.

They say the capital budget money is really an attempt to influence voters, who will decide next year whether to ban aerial shooting and land-and-shoot hunting by private citizens.

“It’s outrageous,” said co-sponsor Joel Bennett of Alaskans for Wildlife. “It looks like it’s a clear effort to thwart the public will.”

State game managers don’t know how they will spend the money but it won’t be used to influence the election, said Ron Clarke, assistant director for the state’s Division of Wildlife Conservation.

“We’re a science-based agency,” he said. The state will try to share that information in a way the public can understand, he said.

Aerial predator control lets private citizens shoot wolves from the air or conduct land-and-shoot hunting of wolves in five rural areas of the state. In the last year, the state has also liberalized bear hunting in some of those same areas, including no bag limits and land-and-shoot hunting of black bears in Game Management Unit 16 across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.

The effort is intended to boost moose and caribou numbers.

More than 700 wolves have been killed since the program began almost five years ago. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates there are 7,000 to 11,000 wolves in Alaska.

Wildlife biologists say that population can sustain an annual harvest of 30 percent to 40 percent of that number. The number of wolves the state wants killed each year is a fraction of that percentage. In the most recent season that ended last spring, for example, wildlife managers wanted no more than 664 wolves killed.

The initiative, approved for the August primary election ballot, will ask voters to change the law so that only Department of Fish and Game personnel can shoot wolves or bears from the air, or land and shoot the predators. The department would need to prove that a biological emergency exists, said Bennett, a former Board of Game member. In other words, that predators have killed so many moose or caribou that the game populations might not recover.

Alaska voters approved essentially the same measure in 1996 and 2000. Both times, the Alaska Legislature allowed the Game Board to create the programs after the two-year initiatives expired.

The money for the education campaign will help promote hunting and trapping, but the effort should emphasize the predator control program, according to a project description. A “major public relations effort” is needed to educate Alaskans about the value of the program, it says.

Sen. Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, requested the measure. He could not be reached Saturday.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd would not comment about the education money when asked Friday.

He wrote a column in the pro-hunting Alaska Outdoor Council’s summer newsletter saying the wildlife division plans to educate the public about predator control largely by distributing two publications through Fish and Game offices statewide.

A booklet will explain the science behind the program and an annual report will detail its goals and successes. One success has been in the 23,000-square-mile Game Management Unit 13, between Cantwell and Glennallen, where the effort has boosted moose numbers, game managers say.

This spring, the state reported that aerial moose surveys show moose increased by 14 percent and calves by 110 percent.

The publications will emphasize that wolves and bears aren’t threatened and that the program won’t change that, Lloyd wrote. They will also note that the state won’t eliminate animals from areas where aerial hunting is allowed.

Clarke didn’t think the appropriation would be used to pay for those efforts, he said.

Department officials are still working with the Game Board to determine how the $400,000 should be spent, he said. They hope to start the campaign by this fall.

The timing of the education campaign — months before the election — makes it propaganda, said Tom Banks, Alaska-based spokesman for Defenders of Wildlife.

“If it was some small amount, maybe $40,000 or something, I could see they’d get out basic info, but $400,000 will pay for an awful lot of campaigning,” he said.

The Washington, D.C.-based group blasted the measure in a fundraising e-mail sent to members last week, saying Gov. Sarah Palin signed off on the “propaganda campaign to justify the state’s barbaric wolf slaughter from the skies.”

The group is wrong, Palin said Friday.

“My understanding is this program was funded by the Legislature to factually explain game management practices to Alaskans, and I don’t have a problem with that,” said Palin, who supports the state’s predator-control program.

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Aug 24

MT: Wolves again hit cattle in Drummond area

Wolves again hit cattle in Drummond area

Federal officials have confirmed that wolves have injured more cattle in the Drummond area.

Earlier this week biologists with the USDA confirmed that the five yearling cattle were injured by wolves on a federally approved graving area southwest of Drummond. Two appeared to have been attacked sometime in the past couple of weeks and three within the past few days. None of the animals were killed in the attacks.

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had issued a 45 day shoot permit for the removal of one wolf in the same area a few weeks ago after another wolf was destroyed for killing cattle.

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Aug 24

Alaskans will decide aerial wolf control issue

Alaskans will decide aerial wolf control issue

by Rebecca Palsha

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — One side calls it propaganda, the other calls it an educational tool.

The state has set aside $400,000 to talk about predator control and environmental groups say that’s code for showing the benefits of aerial wolf hunting.

There is no word yet on exactly where the money will be spent: TV ads or mailers.

But environmental groups say, either way, it’s still inappropriate.

Animal rights groups and the Department of Fish and Game don’t agree about predator control.

And Fish and Game wants you to hear its side of the story. Ron Clarke with the Division of Wildlife Conservation at Alaska Department of Fish and Game says predator management serves an important function.

“Predator management is one tool of many we have and it’s always controversial and high profile, but in certain areas of the state it’s one of the things we can do to get moose and caribou numbers up and provide hunting and subsistence,” said Clarke.

The $400,000 was put in the capitol budget to fund an education campaign about the issue.

But environmental groups say the real story is that Fish and Game is trying to convince the public that aerial wolf hunting is a good idea.

“So I don’t know if it will be effective, but I think it’s inappropriate to be allocating public money to propagandize its citizens,” Tom Banks with the group Defenders of Wildlife argues.

Next August, voters will get a chance to weigh in on the issue. A ballot initiative on the August elections will ask voters if same-day airborne wolf hunting should be banned.

“More than 56,000 signatures were gathered last summer to put it on a ballot again so I don’t know if it will be effective, but I think it’s inappropriate,” Banks said.

But Fish and Game says its goal is not to tell people what to think or how to vote. Rather, it says it’s trying to educate.

“The department is a science-based agency and the goal here is to provide as much information to the public as possible so the public understands what does this mean,” Clarke said.

What it means is up to Alaskans to decide.

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell approved the ballot initiative after the sponsors dropped off the more than 56,000 signatures in support of the issue.

Fish and Game had offered a $150 bounty for every wolf killed, but the State Superior Court stopped that idea before any money was paid, saying the department lacked the authority to offer any cash.

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Aug 23

WY: Are prey hard-wired to fear predators?

Are prey hard-wired to fear predators?

By BRODIE FARQUHAR
Star-Tribune correspondent

Do prey animals learn to fear predators, or have thousands of years of natural selection hard-wired them to fear the carnivores that hunt, kill and eat them?

That question is at the core of research by Wildlife Conservation Society scientist Joel Berger, who believes that large prey species such as moose, caribou and elk only fear predators theyve encountered before.

If you take away the predator, you take away the fear, said Berger, whose research is published in a recent issue of “Conservation Biology, a scientific journal. Bergers study looked at 19 areas around the world, including the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and found that prey species n and their surrounding ecosystems — are all affected by the loss or reintroduction of predators.

Berger found prey species whove lived with and without predators, testing both populations by playing recordings of Siberian tigers roaring and wolves howling. Native prey species did not show the degree of agitation, vigilance, clustering for safety or flight, seen in the same species that have experience with tigers, wolves and bears.

Yet one of Bergers colleagues, someone who has co-authored several papers with him, isnt sure he agrees with Bergers interpretation of the data.

Doug Smith, who leads the Yellowstone National Park wolf research team, emphasized that he regards Berger as a friend and solid scientist. Nor does Smith question Bergers field experiments, observations and data.

I havent done my own experiments, said Smith, but I do have concerns and questions about Joels interpretation of the data.

For example, said Smith, consider Wyoming pronghorn antelope, capable of speeds up to 65 mph. Yet the fastest land-predators the antelope have to worry about might hit 35 mph.

Biologists believe that antelope evolved in the presence of an equally-fast predator n- Ice Age cheetahs that havent been alive in North America for 10,000 years, said Smith. If antelope have retained this ability to run ridiculously fast, why wouldnt they retain the behavior to fear predators? asked Smith.

Smith closely observed the earliest interactions of wolves and elk after wolves were reintroduced into the Yellowstone ecosystem in 1995. Elk quickly adjusted to wolves within a few months, said Smith.

Berger said theres just not enough good data to figure out the thresholds between prey that are native and have never encountered a predator, and how quickly prey figure out that predators are deadly and must be avoided when predators come back into the picture.

Like Smith, Berger has been a keen observer of how wolves and grizzly bears have expanded into new territories in the Yellowstone region. Berger said the presence or absence of predators causes vast ripple effects in surrounding ecosystems.

For example, biologists in Yellowstone found that wolves changed elk feeding behavior. With more time spent moving around in fear of wolves, elk spent less time feeding on willows along stream banks. The revived growth of willows led to benefits for beavers (a new, abundant food source) and a variety of birds who nested in the willow stands.

Conversely, said Berger, where major predators were absent in the 1970s for southern Grand Teton National Park, migratory birds like warblers and hummingbirds were fewer in number because moose over-browsed vegetation used by those birds for food or shelter.

Trophic cascades can run from the top down or bottom up, depending on the presence or absence of major predators, Berger said.

He gives quite a bit of credit to prey species for their ability to figure out that predators are to be feared and avoided. Yet the mere presence and activity of a reintroduced predator in the neighborhood does not automatically mean that all the prey species understand the danger. Berger noted that when wolves started preying on Yellowstone elk, they pretty much ignored the bigger and more dangerous moose. Yet the moose mothers quickly figured things out after theyd lost a few calves to the wolves, he said.

When wolves were first reintroduced to Yellowstone, opponents of the reintroduction project predicted that the regions elk herds would be quickly eradicated. That hasnt happened, said Berger, because the prey species have adjusted their behavior to the presence of predators -n to the benefit of other species and ecological balance.

One of the questions raised by his research, and with wolves to be delisted from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, is how many wolves are needed to keep prey species on their toes (or hooves), so to speak? While Montana has placed no cap on wolf populations, Idaho and Wyoming have plans that could allow 85 percent of Northern Rockies wolves to be killed. Just as wolves have taught prey species to act more wild and have restored natural function and balance to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, will there be enough wolves five, 10 years down the road?

If we cant make it work here, where can we? Berger asked.

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Aug 23

DNR: Horse killed by wolves

DNR: Horse killed by wolves

By RALPH ANSAMI

Globe News Editor

KIMBALL, Wis. — A Department of Natural Resources wolf expert confirmed Wednesday that a horse found dead in Kimball earlier this month was killed by wolves.

Adrian Wydeven, of Park Falls, a DNR mammalian ecologist, said the death was listed as a “probable wolf kill.” Investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services conducted an examination at the scene and an autopsy on the horse was later performed, he noted.

The animal, owned by Gene Milewski of Ironwood, had been a top racing horse at one time. It was about 20 years old. Milewski raced horses at the Gogebic County Fair in Ironwood for many years.

Wydeven said the owner of the property where the horse was killed has been issued a wolf kill shooting permit and a federal trapper is working that area.

Milewski will be reimbursed by the state for the loss of the horse, Wydeven said.

It’s not unusual for wolves to attack horses, Wydeven said in a telephone interview, although he added it’s more common for the predators to go after foals or young colts.

“Some very old horses have been attacked,” he said.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Department received a report Aug. 4 that a missing horse had been found dead in a pasture on property on River Road, and it appeared that wolves or coyotes were responsible.

A pack of wolves has been spotted for several years in the area in Kimball where the horse was found dead.

Wydeven noted there are also other wolf packs on the Gogebic Range that might frequent that area.

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Aug 23

Wolves kill two bear hounds near Park Falls

Wolves kill two bear hounds near Park Falls

Press-Gazette

PARK FALLS  Wolves from a pack in the Hoffman Lake Wildlife Area northeast of Park Falls killed two bear hounds on Aug. 18.

Adrian Wydeven, mammalian ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, said this is the first depredation incident on bear-hunting dogs in this area.

Wydeven said wolves are in rendezvous sites for the summer pup-rearing season. It is unknown if the wolves were protecting the sites at the times the dogs were killed.

The two dogs were owned by a Weyauwega man. Hunters training bear hounds may want to use caution if they plan to train or hunt dogs in this area, which is northeast of Park Falls.

Wolves are listed as a protected species in Wisconsin. The Hoffman Lake Pack has about nine wolves.

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