Sep 30

UK: Britain looks to US for wolf breeding plan

Britain looks to US for wolf breeding plan

Yellowstone’s successful reintroduction of packs inspired idea to release them into the Highlands

Juliette Jowit, environment Editor

The Observer Sunday September 30 2007

Ten years ago wildlife experts released 31 wolves into the wild in America’s Yellowstone National Park. From that small beginning, hundreds of grey wolves in packs now roam the vast park and beyond in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and have changed the ecology of the region.

This weekend experts in Britain will meet to discuss whether wolf reintroduction schemes could be used as a model to change this country’s landscape.

The conference comes as a scheme to create a vast, fenced Highland safari park with roaming wolves in Scotland has just got the go-ahead from planners. Support for going a step further and having wild wolves in Britain after centuries of extinction is also growing, though there is still opposition from farmers, walking groups and some conservationists.

‘It’s an extremely interesting time in Britain,’ said Neil Hutt, a director of the International Wolf Centre in the US, who has flown over to speak to the conference. ‘We [humans] have the power to destroy wolves or accept them and have them in the landscape. What are we going to do with that power?’

Wolves once roamed freely across much of Europe, but with the advent of settled farming their forest homes were cleared and they became the enemy of livestock. By the mid-1500s wolves had been hunted to extinction in England and Wales, and two centuries later there were none left in Scotland either. But as awareness of Britain’s lost ecological heritage has increased, along with concern about the explosion of wild deer and their voracious appetite for plants and trees, there has been growing support for wolves to be brought back.

Ten years ago, for the first time in centuries in Britain, the UK Wolf Conservation Society successfully bred the first European grey wolves – the original forest-dwelling indigenous sub-species. Earlier this year a report for the Royal Society backed the idea that such wolves should be let into the wild.

This weekend the Wolf Conservation Society has organised its annual conference at Ufton Court in Berkshire around the theme of wild reintroduction, an idea it supports in principle, though co-director Tsa Palmer believes Britain might be too crowded to succeed.

As well as hopes that the wolves would hunt wild deer, support comes from those interested in recreating the long-lost forested landscapes of ancient Britain, where wolves lived with bear, elk and other extinct or rare species.

In Yellowstone, the reintroduction of wolves has been linked to declines in their favoured prey of elks and coyotes. Pronghorn fawn, which are hunted by the coyote, and willow and aspen eaten by the elk have thrived, and the burgeoning vegetation has helped birds and insects prosper too. The wolves have also brought in millions of dollars a year in tourist spending.

Such changes could be felt in Britain, but only if more work is done to reintroduce other extinct species and replant trees in areas of Scotland where reintroductions are most likely, said Richard Morley, a co-director of the Wolves and Humans Foundation. ‘It would help, but we have got to acknowledge Scotland has a very degraded environment,’ he said.

The supporters of wild wolf reintroductions acknowledge there is still strong opposition, especially from farmers who are worried about livestock, and walking groups who fear the wolves could be a danger to people – although most experts agree humans should be safe.

Scottish Natural Heritage’s policy director, Professor Colin Galbraith, also warns there might not be sufficient forest habitat for wild wolves.

These were ‘legitimate concerns’ and so the only way wolves could be reintroduced was to persuade people it was safe for them and their animals, said Hutt. ‘We have to learn conflict resolution,’ she said. ‘The animals will do fine if we give them a place to live, and we can sit down and talk to each other about how best to manage them and alter to their needs.’


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Sep 30

MT: Wolf control plan criticized

Wolf control plan criticized

By Matthew Brown

BILLINGS, Mont.  An environmental group is claiming a proposal to let states kill packs of endangered wolves that prey on big game herds would result in the eradication of wolves across much of the Northern Rockies.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says nearly 600 wolves could be killed in Idaho and Wyoming through aerial gunning operations that would be allowed under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal.

But federal and state wildlife officials described the group’s claim  to be aired in nationwide television advertisements starting Monday  as misleading. They said the number of wolves targeted would likely be in the dozens, and only in areas where the animals are a factor driving down elk populations.

Wolves are here to stay, and it’s time for people to understand that, said Steve Nadeau with the Idaho Department of Game and Fish. But we can’t stand by and watch the most renowned elk population in the state of Idaho diminished because we can’t hunt wolves.

During a decade-long restoration effort that started with just 66 wolves, the region’s wolf population has expanded by 20 to 30 percent a year. There are now an estimated 1,545 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. That’s more than five times the number federal biologists contend is needed to sustain the population.

Federal officials have announced plans to strip wolves of their endangered status by early next year, exposing the animal to public hunting for the first time in decades.

But legal challenges to the delisting are considered a certainty. If the delisting gets hung up in court, federal officials said they want states to have some way to keep wolves in check. That includes the proposal to allow states to kill wolves that prey on wildlife herds.

States would be required to maintain at least 200 wolves each. Montana officials have said they do not intend to take advantage of the program.

Peggy Struhsacker, a wolf specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said she believes Wyoming and Idaho officials would kill as many wolves as possible.

It’s like dealing with them when wolves were being eradicated. The states have not progressed, she said, referring to government-sponsored wolf poisoning campaigns of the early 20th century.

Nadeau agency already has proposed killing 40 to 50 wolves in the Clearwater River drainage in northern Idaho. That’s an area where elk numbers have declined due to wolves, mountain lions, bears and poor habitat.

In Wyoming, officials are developing similar plans to address troubled elk herds east and south of Yellowstone National Park, said John Emmerich, assistant director of the state Game and Fish Department. The plans were not final, but Emmerich said they could entail killing as few as 30 wolves.

Emmerich’s agency has said it will ask the Wyoming legislature for $500,000 for wolf removal programs over the next two years.


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Sep 29

MT: Wolves kill dog west of Missoula

Wolves kill dog west of Missoula

MISSOULA (AP)  Wolves killed a 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever in the Ninemile Valley west of Missoula, within 80 yards of a ranch house.

Thats a little too close for comfort, said Bruno Friia of Lambros Real Estate, who manages the property.

Ranch foreman Bill Smith said the dog was killed around 8 a.m. Wednesday, after hed let it and a 3-year-old dog out of the house and went back to get their food.

When I came back out, the old dog was standing there barking like she does every morning. She sees a deer move or something and she goes out there and woofs at it, he said.

I set her food down and never thought nothing about it. I figured Maggie would come hoofing it back. Its feeding time. She always did.

When she didnt, Smith and his wife, Debbie, went looking for the dog. She was found dead in the yard.

Friia said it was the third dog killed by wolves on the ranch.

Liz Bradley, wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, confirmed that wolves were responsible. She set leg traps behind the ranch to try to catch a wolf to put a radio collar on it.

We dont do any lethal control in these situations where wolves kill dogs, she said. We try to do what we can to help people to prevent it happening again. But also, this is an area where wolves are protected as an endangered species.

Wolf packs in northern Montana are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act. Wolves in the southern part of the state can be shot if theyre attacking livestock or pets on private property.

Bradley said wolves dont kill dog for food.

Wolves are very territorial, just like dogs are about their yards, she said. They see other canids as competitors in their territory. Thats why they kill them. Thats why they kill coyotes as well.


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Sep 29

MT: Sun Ranch issued citation for wolf killing

Sun Ranch issued citation for wolf killing

By SCOTT McMILLION Chronicle Staff Writer

The wolf killed in July in the Madison Valley was hit and run over repeatedly with an all-terrain vehicle before it was killed, states an investigative report released Friday by state game wardens.

The incident occurred July 23 on the 26,000-acre Sun Ranch, owned by Roger Lang, a California entrepreneur who has been experimenting with ways to allow wolves and livestock to share the same landscape.

Lang said earlier this week that he has been cited by federal authorities for the incident. Wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Dominic Domenici, the regional supervisor for law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Friday that the Montana U.S. Attorney’s office has refused to allow him to release any information about the case at this time, including the specific offenses and the punishment.

Ranch employee Justin Dixon spotted the animal between 75 and 100 yards from a group of yearling heifers, according to the report by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Ryan Gosse.

Dixon started chasing the wolf and realized it had an injured leg.

He caught up to the wolf and knocked it to the ground several times with the ATV and ran it over with the ATV several times, the report states. After wearing the wolf down, he ran the ATV on top of the wolf and parked. The wolf was trapped there for two to five minutes before other ranch employees arrived and shot the wolf in the head.

While it was trapped, the wolf punctured the front tire with its teeth and damaged a mud flap.

Dixon had chased the wolf at least three quarters of a mile, perhaps farther, the report states.

Lang said Wednesday that he and the Sun Ranch have been issued federal citations for the incident. After the initial review, state FWP officials turned the investigation over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Lang said he does not plan to fight the charges.

The FWP report said Dixon and Kody Meghini, the ranch’s predator management specialist or wolf rider, said at the time they believed running the wolf down was allowable under the 10(j) rule of the Endangered Species Act, which spells out the circumstances under which ranchers can kill wolves.

Kody stated it is a pretty simple law, the report states. If wolves are in or around cattle we have the right to kill them.

However, the rule allows only certain things.

It says landowners on their own property may take a gray wolf attacking (killing, wounding or biting) or in the act of attacking (actively chasing, molesting, harassing) their livestock or herding or guarding dogs.

In this case, the wolf was at least 75 yards from the cattle and moving away from them when Dixon started chasing it, the report states.

Meghini told the wardens that if wolves are within a couple hundred yards of cattle we (ranch management) feel it is harassment, the report states.

However it also states that Kody understood the wolf was not in the cows and was not actively harassing the cows when Justin first observed the wolf.

The 10(j) rule allows landowners to opportunistically harass wolves in nonlethal ways.

Lang has tried a variety of nonlethal experiments to discourage wolves from attacking the cattle that graze on his ranch, but had backed off this year, said Steve Primm, of Keystone Conservation, a pro-wolf group.

Lang said earlier that wolves have killed a number of his cattle and he had enacted a new, proactive plan for 2007 in response to two years of aggressive behavior from the Wedge pack of wolves.

He said some wolves need to be killed, but he remains committed to having them on his property.

However, after the July incident, he said he will leave any future wolf killing to government officials. Ranch workers are being trained in the use of the 10(j) rule, he said.

Earlier in July, one of his employees killed a wolf pup under a shoot on sight permit that allowed for the killing of only adult wolves. Lang has characterized that shooting as an “honest mistake.”

Dixon told investigators he believed the wolf he trapped with the ATV had been wounded during an earlier incident. That animal was the Wedge pack’s alpha female.

I am very sorry that this event happened, on any ranch, let alone our own, Lang said in a written statement. We condemn all inhumane treatment of animals.


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Sep 28

UK: Wolf trust to host talks on the possibility of re-introducing wolves into the wild

Wolf trust to host talks on the possibility of re-introducing wolves into the wild

A SEMINAR in Ufton Nervet on Sunday (September 30) will discuss the possibility of re-introducing wolves into the wild.

The UK Wolf Conservation Trust, based in Beenham, is hosting its annual seminar at Ufton Court and has invited three wildlife experts to discuss the possibility of introducing the predators to Britain.

The group of experts will talk about how successful reintroduction can be and what is being done to return lost species to the wilds of Britain.

In January this year, a study suggested that reinstating wild wolves to the Scottish Highlands would help the local eco-system by controlling the large number of red deer.

The wolf population in Scotland was hunted to extinction in the late 1700s and the research team said that lowering deer numbers by re-introducing wolves would mean plants and birds could flourish once again.

The debate surrounding the re-establishment of wolves in the Scottish wilds has lasted for some time, with farmers saying that the predators would destroy their livestock.

The event in Ufton Nervet runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

To book, visit the web page below


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Sep 27

MT: Sun Ranch owner to keep trying to live with wolves

Sun Ranch owner to keep trying to live with wolves

By SCOTT McMILLION Chronicle Staff Writer

Roger Lang has spent 10 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to find ways for cattle and wolves to coexist.

Now he’s facing federal charges for allegedly killing two wolves illegally on his Madison Valley ranch in July, Lang said Wednesday.

The charges prompted one person who’s been tracking the incident to accuse Lang of hypocrisy.

He talks very publicly about living with wolves, said Janelle Holden, head of Keystone Conservation in Bozeman. This act was quite the opposite.

But the head of a Madison Valley ranching group said Lang was being treated unfairly.

Do I think it was fair? No, said Lane Adamson, the Madison Ranchlands Group’s project director.

Lang’s employees may have violated the letter of the law, but given the circumstances, it’s kind of like a jab in the eye for doing the right thing, Adamson said.

Cattle grazing on Lang’s ranch south of Ennis, a vast expanse of grassy hillsides and timbered mountains, have been killed in recent years by wolves in the Wedge Pack, which had established a home territory there.

Lang experimented with fencing, herders and other nonlethal measures to reduce mortalities. Some wolves were killed, too.

This year, he said, he adopted a more aggressive stance toward the pack, which numbered 13 animals, including seven pups.

That’s a lot of mouths to feed, he said of the large pack.

After five yearling heifers were killed, officials issued kill permits for two adult wolves.

However, Lang’s employees killed a pup and wounded the pack’s alpha female.

Killing the pup was an honest mistake, he said.

The wounded female couldn’t run with the pack and had been hanging around cattle for two weeks when an employee on an ATV spotted it, Lang said. He gave chase and after hitting it repeatedly, pinned it under the vehicle.

Once it was pinned down, it was trying to take (the employee’s) leg off, Lang said. He couldn’t jump off the ATV. What would happen if the wolf escaped? He did the best he could with an awkward situation.

A colleague eventually showed up and shot the animal, Lang said.

I accept ultimate responsibility for this event because I set a tone that proved to be too aggressive, he said in a written statement. I also accept responsibility for any lapses in the training of my ranch team.

Now Lang has been issued a federal citation for violating Endangered Species Act rules, which spell out and limit ranchers’ options when wolves attack livestock.

Federal officials won’t comment. They work under a policy that keeps them from talking about law enforcement cases until they are fully adjudicated.

I can’t say anything, said Ed Bangs, who runs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf-recovery program. He referred questions to Doug Goessman, an FWS lawman, who didn’t return phone calls.

Lang expressed remorse and said he has no plans to fight the charges.

I’ll accept whatever the feds determine, he said. I’m not going to fight anything.

Holden said the charges are definitely very valid. She said Lang told her in August that the employee had chased the wounded female wolf with the ATV for a mile and hit it about nine times. And the other employee should have made certain of his target before killing the pup, she said.

They’ve shown some grave irresponsibility in my book, she said.

Adamson agreed that shooting the pup was an honest mistake, but the rule is the rule, whether you agree with it or not.

In the ATV incident, the employee was using the tools he had available, Adamson said.

Lang said his employee on the ATV believed he was acting in the best interests of the herd.

If nothing else, the incident spells out how complicated it can be to raise livestock among wolves, even for somebody like Lang, a wealthy California entrepreneur who has committed himself to tolerating wolves whenever possible.

That commitment remains intact, he said.

From now on he’ll leave any wolf killing to federal authorities, even though it sometimes takes days for them to arrive after an attack on cattle. And he plans to work with wolf advocates and ranchers to review what happened this summer and try to build a better program for living with wolves, one that can be replicated on other ranches.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is working with him on that effort.

We should take this opportunity to work with everyone in the valley so we can make sure everyone knows what’s legal, appropriate and right, said GYC’s Craig Kenworthy.

After this year’s cattle deaths, federal officials killed the remaining members of the Wedge Pack. But others are likely to set up territory there sooner or later.

Lang said he will continue to use nonlethal measures to protect cattle. Possibilities could include shifting to adult cattle, using “fladry,” a system of flapping flags on fences, guard dogs and other measures.

He doesn’t expect it to be easy.

Wolves will die, cattle will die and people will make mistakes, he said. I’ve been as experimental as anybody, trying to live with wolves, and it’s been tough. But we’re going to keep trying.


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Sep 27

MT: Wolves hot after cattle depredation

Wolves hot after cattle depredation

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) – Wildlife officials say they’ve wiped out a wolf pack that preyed on cattle southwest of Butte.

Liz Bradley of the state wildlife agency says federal officials shot four wolves, recovered the carcasses of 3 and believe the fourth wolf died, also.

Cattle on private land became prey for what was known as the Fleecer Mountain Pack.

Officials say wolves killed one calf, and are suspected in the death of another. The calves died Aug. 22nd and Sept. 10th. The landowner says two other calves are missing.

Officials with the federal Wildlife Services killed 1 of the wolves Sept. 10th and the others this week, on Monday.


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Sep 27

MT: Four wolves killed after preying on livestock

Four wolves killed after preying on livestock

By The Associated Press

BUTTE – Federal trappers shot and killed all four members of a wolf pack believed to have been preying on cattle on private land near Mount Fleecer south of here.

The Fleecer pack was discovered in August after a calf was killed on a private ranch, said Liz Bradley, wolf management specialist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Federal trappers with U.S. Wildlife Services set traps and caught a female wolf the next day. That wolf was collared and found to be living with three other adult wolves that together were called the Fleecer Mountain pack.

Bradley said the wolves had congregated near newborn calves on the ranch in the absence of elk and deer in the area.

“There was a lot of potential for further problems in there because that particular landowner was calving – we had a real chronic pattern of depredation starting and wanted to stop it before it got worse,” Bradley said.

Another calf was suspected of being killed by wolves on Sept. 10. The landowner also spotted a wolf attacking a calf shortly thereafter and unsuccessfully tried to shoot it, Bradley said.
One wolf was killed by shooting it from an airplane on the ranch, prompting the rest of the pack to flee the area. However, they moved to another area where they were again in close proximity to cattle and lacked natural prey.

Federal trappers shot the three wolves from helicopters.

One of the wolves was hit but not recovered, although trappers suspect it died, Bradley said.

Montana has an estimated 394 wolves living in 71 packs scattered throughout the state, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fifty wolves have been killed this year through management actions in the state.


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Sep 27

SE: Controlled wolf hunt in Värmland

Controlled wolf hunt in Värmland

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Hunting dogs in northern Värmland have been especially vulnerable to predator attacks the past few months, according the the Natural Resources Department. Therefore the Department is giving permission for a controlled hunt for two wolves in the region.

But, the department also wants the hunters to follow several preventive measures in order to minimize predator attacks.

It is unclear how many wolves are in the region, states the Natural Resources Department.


Skyddsjakt på varg i Värmland

Jakthundar i norra Värmland har varit extra utsatta för rovdjursangrepp de senaste månaderna, enligt Naturvårdsverket. Därför ger myndigheten tillstånd för skyddsjakt på två vargar i området.

Men verket vill också att jägarna vidtar fler förebyggande åtgärder för att minska rovdjursangreppen.

Det är oklart hur många vargar som finns i området, konstaterar Naturvårdsverket.



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Sep 26

MT: Officials have killed 5 wolves in 2 days

Officials have killed 5 wolves in 2 days

By KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian

Five wolves from two separate packs were killed Monday and Tuesday in southwestern Montana for preying on cattle.

That brought to nine the number of wolves removed by federal agents in Granite County over the past two weeks.

This has been by far my busiest month for depredations all summer, said Liz Bradley, wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services shot and killed one adult female wolf and three young females out of the Sapphire Pack in upper Rock Creek on Monday. The pack, one of the largest in western Montana, was weeded down after the second confirmed calf killing on private land since July.

On Tuesday, the lone survivor of the Bearmouth pack southwest of Drummond was killed, Bradley said. Wildlife Services removed four wolves from the Bearmouth pack in mid-September, after eliminating one in August. Tuesday’s kill was a collared alpha female.

At first it was thought she had one or more companions.

That’s why we were waiting, to see if another wolf connected up with her, Bradley said. But she’s been by herself, so they finally decided to remove her.

The shootings completed the control actions in both locations.

The wolf kills pushed the number of government-mandated wolf kills in 2007 past the total for all of 2006 in Montana.

A tentative mid-year count released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said 50 wolves had been killed through last week. That compares to 53 last year.

Livestock deaths attributed to wolves are already up by nearly two-thirds, from 42 in 2006 to 69 so far in 2007. This year’s killings include 48 cattle, 19 sheep, one dog and a llama near Livingston that died last Wednesday from injuries inflicted by a lone uncollared wolf.

Bradley said the Sapphire Pack consists of an estimated 11 adults and three subadults after Monday’s killings. It’s one of the largest of the 30 packs she manages from Dillon to western Mineral County.

There are believed to be 71 packs and some 390 wolves in Montana, up from 60 and 316 at the end of last year.

Monday’s action on U.S. Forest Service land in upper Rock Creek was authorized by FWP in response to a calf kill on private land confirmed last Friday. All thee radio-collared wolves in the pack were found near or on the ranch that day.

Wildlife Services was authorized to trap on the carcass of the dead calf over the weekend and kill any wolves that returned. The four killed Monday were shot from a helicopter.

The Sapphire pack was responsible for a calf killed in the same area on July 30. One wolf was killed after that, and the landowner was issued a shoot-on-sight permit.

We’ve had some staff presence over there (since), trying to prevent further depredations, said Vivaca Crowser, information officer for FWP in Missoula.

One wolf in the Bearmouth Pack was killed in August after five calves were injured in the Harvey Ridge area southwest of Drummond.

FWP said it will continue to monitor both areas for wolves, as well as work with landowners and grazing allotment permit holders to reduce depredation risks. A news release said the agency uses an incremental approach to address confirmed livestock depredations.

Visitors to can inform FWP when they see wolves or wolf sign, and also learn about Montana’s recovered wolf population.


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