Oct 31

CA: Landfills attracted wolves, inquest told

Landfills attracted wolves, inquest told

BRIGETTE JOBIN

The Prince Albert Daily Herald

A mine in northern Saskatchewan made vast improvements to its landfills after a wolf attacked a man on New Year’s Eve 2004.

But those improvements might be what sent hungry wolves to a different location – the location where a 22-year-old man was killed in an animal attack.

On Dec. 31, 2004, Fred Desjarlais was walking along a road when a wolf came out of the bush and jumped on his back. The man struggled with the animal, sustaining several bite marks to his body, and was saved when a busload of people came to his rescue.

Desjarlais survived the attack. Ten months later, Ontario university student Kenton Carnegie did not. At an inquest being held this week in Prince Albert, officials are testifying about wolf habituation and landfills in the north.

It is possible that when the Key Lake mine, owned by Cameco, improved its landfills by erecting an electrical fence, it cut off a food source for wolves. Saskatchewan Environment compliance manager Lyle Galloway said after the fence was put up, there were fewer sightings of bears and wolves.

Lawyer Harold Johnson, who is representing the Carnegie family, asked if it was possible that when the food supply at Key Lake mine was shut off the wolves moved over to Points North.

“I don’t know how we would establish that … It’s possible,” replied Galloway.

Throughout the inquest, officials have testified that landfills habitualize wildlife, making them more accustomed to being around people and less fearful of people.

Wildlife biologist Tim Trottier said landfills do create a problem in northern Saskatchewan.

“They attract animals like wolves and bears to a site by the food available there,” said Trottier.

At the time of Carnegie’s death, nobody owned the landfill near Points North Landing, where the 22-year-old was a co-op student working with a geophysics company when he was killed on Nov. 8, 2005. The land was Crown land and businesses in the area were using it to dump their garbage. It wasn’t regulated because there was no specific owner to force regulations on.

Warren Kelly, another Saskatchewan Environment official, said it is common in northern Saskatchewan to see these kinds of dumps but he would like to see a regional dump in the area.

“They don’t have regional landfills in the north because of the location and isolation,” he said, adding that Saskatchewan Environment is just starting to look more closely at the landfill situation in the north.

Since Carnegie’s death, a multi-purpose use permit has been issued for the landfill at Points North Landing and a fence has been put up.

“(The fence) prevents litter from blowing around and it prevents animals from coming in,” he testified Tuesday.

Kelly says that would be the only effective way to keep animals out of landfills.

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Oct 31

NM: Wolves to be trapped

Wolves to be trapped

Submitted to El Defensor Chieftain

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has asked its partners in Mexican wolf management to initiate trapping for two wolves in the Aspen Pack.

The two animals, designated AM863 and F1046, have killed one horse and five head of cattle within the Gila National Forest between January and October. Two of the depredations were on private holdings outside of the established Mexican wolf reintroduction area.

As a result of both the depredations and the wolves being outside of the established boundaries, over the weekend, the wildlife service initiated steps to trap the two animals and move them into captivity.

“It is anticipated that pack depredation behaviors will be disrupted with the capture and removal of these two members,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, the southwest regional director for the wildlife service. “By changing the pack dynamic, we anticipate the alpha female and the pups will return to feeding on wildlife. Removing wolves is always a tough call, but these decisions are made in the interest of the overall reintroduction efforts.”

For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Elizabeth Slown at 505-248-6909.

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Oct 30

CA: Lawyer raises possibility bear involved in student’s death

Lawyer raises possibility bear involved in student’s death

CBC News

The inquest in Prince Albert, Sask. into the death of Kenton Carnegie, who died in a suspected wolf attack, is also hearing the possibility that a bear may have been involved.

Carnegie, a 21-year-old engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, was killed near Points North Landing in northern Saskatchewan in November, 2005.

On the first day of the inquest Monday, a coroner’s jury heard grisly details about the discovery of Carnegie’s body.

Witnesses said there were wolves spotted in the area and they could hear wolves calling when they went to look for Carnegie, who went missing after going for a walk. One witness said it looked like wolves were nearby when Carnegie’s remains were found.

John Morrall, the lawyer representing the coroner’s office, has raised the possibility that a bear may have killed Carnegie.

An expert witness said there were bear tracks visible in one of the photographs taken in the area, although none of the witnesses said they saw a bear.

The focus of the inquest also shifted Tuesday to the role that an unregulated garbage dump may have played.

Environment department wildlife ecologist Tim Trottier told the inquest about a garbage dump near the camp, which is about 750 km northeast of Saskatoon.

Signs had been posted noting that wild animals feeding at the dump were losing their natural fear of humans, he said.

Trottier said wolves around the work camp were acting as if they had no fear, something that could make them dangerous to humans.

Meanwhile, Harold Johnson, the lawyer for the Carnegie family, said he doesn’t think the unregulated garbage dump is an important part of the puzzle.

“It’s a straw man argument,” he said. “There’s garbage dumps everywhere. Wolves don’t kill everywhere … there is a garbage dump. They are trying to draw a connection.”

For Johnson, the focus of the coroner’s inquest should be on proving that wolves killed Carnegie and that they are potentially dangerous predators that deserve our respect.

The inquest is expected to continue all week.

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Oct 29

NM: Pair of endangered wolves to be removed from wild

Pair of endangered wolves to be removed from wild

The Associated Press

SILVER CITY, N.M.  Two endangered Mexican gray wolves have been targeted for removal from the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the trapping of the wolves, both part of the Aspen Pack, because the pack has killed a horse and five cows since the beginning of the year.

One of the reasons were trying to bring them in is to disrupt the behavior of the pack, Elizabeth Slown, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, said Monday.

Slown noted the order approved late Friday is unlike ones issued for other wolves, which called for the animals to be shot if trapping efforts failed.

Some partners of the wolf reintroduction program did not agree with a lethal take order in the case of the Aspen alpha male and his yearling, she said.

Federal biologists began releasing wolves on the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range after it had been hunted to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s.

Ranchers have consistently complained about depredation of their livestock, while conservationists have criticized the programs management  specifically a policy calling for the removal or killing of any wolf linked to three livestock killings within a year.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity took issue Monday with the latest removal order, saying the Aspen pair is genetically vital to the reintroduction program.

The Aspen Pack may hold the golden genes to enable the Mexican gray wolf to survive in the face of long odds, he said. Trapping these animals will worsen inbreeding depression and may push birth rates downward in a population that is already under siege from government shooting and trapping.

All of the wolves in the wild contain DNA from one of three lineages, and that a recent study showed that wolves stemming from at least two of those lineages display enhanced fitness, Robinson said.

He said the Aspen alpha male stems from two of the lineages and his yearling daughter is one of only seven mature wolves in the wild known to have genes from all three.

Slown argued there are other wolves in the wild that are more genetically valuable.

The recovery area had 59 wolves as of January 2007, and that number has fluctuated with wolf deaths and removals and the births of pups, Slown said.

Once captured, the Aspen pair will be taken to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuges Mexican wolf facility, Slown said.

That will leave the pack with an alpha female and a few pups.

Robinson said the loss of two members may hurt the packs chances for survival.

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Oct 29

NM: Government to Capture Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves

Government to Capture Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves:
Could Reduce Wild Wolf Population’s Genetic Viability

SILVER CITY, N.M.  Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the trapping of two genetically vital endangered Mexican gray wolves from the wild in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico.

The wolves are the alpha male of the Aspen Pack and his yearling daughter, whose removal may exacerbate the genetic problem known as inbreeding depression that has recently been documented among Mexican gray wolves  just the latest blow in an ongoing battle against this beleaguered animal.

The Aspen Pack may hold the golden genes to enable the Mexican gray wolf to survive in the face of long odds, said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. Trapping these animals will worsen inbreeding depression and may push birth rates downward in a population that is already under siege from government shooting and trapping.

The Mexican wolf population just cant afford the loss of these particular two wolves, he added.

Inbreeding depression is in part caused by the fact that all the Mexican wolves in the wild trace their ancestry back to just seven animals captured in Mexico  the only known survivors of a previous Fish and Wildlife Service poisoning and trapping program aimed at exterminating the species in both the United States and Mexico. The last wild wolf was caught in 1980, and none have been confirmed in the wild since then.

But not all Mexican wolves are created equal. The seven founding animals came from three founding populations (or lineages) that were bred in captivity separately at first and later combined. All the wolves in the wild contain DNA from one of those lineages, McBride (for the name of the government trapper who caught them). But the other two lineages are much rarer.

According to a July 2007 peer-reviewed study by four scientists including two at Arizona State University, Philip W. Hedrick and Richard J. Fredrickson, and Mexican Wolf Recovery Team leader Peter Siminski, McBride-only-lineage wolves have lower birth rates and may include infertile males. In contrast, bi-lineage and especially tri-lineage wolves display enhanced fitness.

The alpha male of the Aspen Pack stems from two of the three lineages of Mexican wolves: McBride and Ghost Ranch (named for the former roadside zoo in New Mexico where they were held). In addition, his yearling daughter, who will be trapped from the wild along with him, is one of only seven mature wolves in the wild known to have genes from all three lineages, including the rarest, Aragon (named for Aragon Zoo in Mexico City).

The Aspen Pack has four young pups, the most among any pack documented this year and likely a reflection of their greater genetic diversity; they are tri-lineage also. Those pups and their mother will lose crucial members of their family, which may hurt their chances for survival.

The Aspen Pack have killed cattle in an area near the Beaverhead Ranger Station, where wolf pack after wolf pack have met their demise as a result of scavenging on dead livestock they did not kill, then beginning to prey on cattle. It is not known whether the wolves whose trapping was just authorized followed the same pattern.

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Oct 29

MT: Film to examine ranchers living with wolves

Film to examine ranchers living with wolves

By Chronicle Staff

“Wolves in Paradise,” a new documentary about Montana ranchers facing the challenge of living with wolves since wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park, will premiere statewide at 7 p.m. Thursday on Montana PBS.

Livingston-based filmmaker William Campbell tells the story of wolf reintroduction from the points of view of livestock growers, park biologists, conservationists, politicians and “a host of ranchers and range riders whose voices are rarely heard in the aftermath of the boldest wildlife restoration project in U.S. history,” according to a news release from Montana PBS.

The documentary follows the growing wolf packs as they leave Yellowstone and move into the Paradise Valley, where Martin Davis’ traditional, family ranch juggles the double threats of wolves and encroaching development.

Davis’ story is juxtaposed with that of Roger Lang, owner of the Sun Ranch in the Madison Valley. Lang has tried to accommodate both wolves and cattle on his land, “with unexpected, dramatic results,” according to the news release.

Campbell was a photojournalist with Time Magazine in Africa. He moved to Montana in 1997 and switched to video work, producing current-affairs programming for “Nightline,” “NBC News,” National Geographic and PBS. He is a contributing producer for NOW, a national, weekly PBS program.

Three days later, at 6 p.m. Sunday, Montana PBS will air the national premiere of another wolf documentary, “In the Valley of the Wolves,” by Gardiner-based producer Bob Landis.

The film will appear on the “Nature” program.

Landis spent more than three years tracking the Druid pack, and his film “is an intimate record of their lives and their great battles with rival wolf packs in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone.”

Check local listings for more information, or call Montana PBS at 994-3437.

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Oct 29

WY: Majority of comments oppose wolf plan

Majority of comments oppose wolf plan

By The Associated Press

CHEYENNE – Most of the 352 individual comments the Wyoming Game and Fish Department received on the state’s plan for managing gray wolves oppose the proposal.

The public comment period on the wolf plan expired Oct. 10. The department received comments from people in 15 states and Canada.

The plan drew negative comments from both livestock producers and conservationists. Ranchers expressed fear the plan would subject their livestock to wolf predation, while environmentalists argued the plan would lead to too many wolves being killed.

The agency posted the comments on its Web site at http://gf.state.wy.us.

“We hope that by posting all of the individual comments on our Web site, people will have the opportunity to understand the tremendous variety of opinions that exist concerning wolf management in Wyoming,” Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland said in a statement.

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are seeking to end federal oversight of wolves by each state taking over management of the animals within their borders.

Wyoming for the past several years has been the only one of the three states without a federally approved wolf management plan in place.

Wyoming’s draft plan commits the state to maintaining at least 15 breeding pairs of wolves, or about 100. That would include seven breeding pairs located primarily outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway and another eight within the two parks and parkway.

The state has about 300 wolves now, and conservation groups have assailed Wyoming’s plan because it could mean killing up to 200 wolves.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will review the public comments before it adopts a final wolf management plan at its next meeting, Nov. 15-16 in Thermopolis.

Cleveland said if the plan is approved by the state commission it will likely be accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which rejected the state’s first proposed plan in 2004.

Of the comments submitted, 307 answered two questions posed by the agency seeking their opinion on the plan and the number of breeding pairs of wolves in Wyoming.

On the plan, 248, or 80.8 percent, either strongly or moderately opposed the Wyoming wolf plan. Of the 248, 225 were strongly opposed.

Nonresidents were against the plan more so than Wyoming residents. Nearly 91 percent of nonresidents strongly or moderately opposed the plan, while 72 percent of residents had similar views.

Among Wyoming residents, those from Teton County expressed the highest degree of opposition with 96.2 percent either strongly or moderately opposed to the plan. Respondents from surrounding counties of Fremont, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Park and Sublette were much less opposed to the plan, with 59.3 percent strongly or moderately against it.

The federal government’s original criteria for a recovered population of wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana was 300 individual wolves distributed among the three states. There are now an estimated 1,545 in the three states.

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Oct 28

VT: Inquiry: Animal shot last year was wolf

Inquiry: Animal shot last year was wolf

Rutland Herald

WATERBURY, Vt. — A 92-pound canine shot in October 2006 may be the first confirmed wolf to roam Vermont’s Green Mountains in more than a century, state officials said this month.

A yearlong investigation into the genetic makeup of the large animal, initially mistaken for a coyote, found “a substantial amount of wolf ancestry,” said John Austin of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

The animal was shot Oct. 1, 2006, by a farmer in a Vermont town along the Canadian border.

Genetic tests conducted at four laboratories, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensics laboratory in Ashland, Ore., traced the ancestry of the animal to two separate and geographically distinct populations of wolves. The animal, according to conclusions, was likely bred in captivity.

The animal’s origins have significant implications for the state. If the animal was a wild wolf migrating from southern Quebec, it would signal the reappearance of an animal eradicated from the state in the 1800s.

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Oct 27

UK: Keep out … wolves about

Keep out … wolves about

Millionaire landowner confirms Highland wildlife park would ban ramblers

By Andrew Malone

THE MILLIONAIRE owner of a breathtaking Scottish wilderness has finally confirmed what opponents have long suspected: humans will not be welcome when wolves and bears are re-introduced to Sutherland under a controversial scheme to restore the ancient Caledonian landscape.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, Paul Lister, heir to the MFI furniture fortune and owner of the 23,000-acre Alladale estate, called for a “clear derogation” between the public and Scotland’s so-called “big five” – wolves, bears, boar, lynx and beaver – which he plans to release back into the wild.

Calling for people to make “sacrifices” in order for his “visionary” wildlife park to go ahead, Lister made clear that he believes people should be willing to give up the right to access the land enshrined in Scottish law.

“It would not be practical to have people walking around Alladale while wolves roam,” said Lister. “There are lots of places where people can walk in Scotland, but there will not be lots of places that they can see animals in their natural habitat.

“Are we prepared to sacrifice access to an area that makes up less than 1% of the Scottish Highlands? Are we prepared to sacrifice walking around that bit of land and trying something different, something that will actually encourage more people to come up here and create lots of jobs?

“I’m a custodian – I’m trying to encourage more people to come up here. Ultimately, the local politicians and the local people will have to decide. It won’t be me that makes the decision. But we have scarred this landscape. We have to see if we can find a way to put something back.”

Since buying Alladale estate in 2003 for £3million, Lister, the son of the MFI founder, has been working on his scheme to copy South Africa’s Shamwari game reserve, where animals killed off as a result of hundreds of years of human encroachment were successfully reintroduced.

He wants to replicate that in Scotland, charging guests up to £27,000 a week to stay at Alladale Lodge, which sleeps 16 people in sumptuous comfort. But he also says day passes will be available, for £50 per adult, with a ranger and food supplied, for those unable to afford to stay overnight.

Lister has already spent millions on his dream. On a recent tour he spoke passionately and eloquently of his desire to have up to 20,000 visitors a year at Alladale, creating hundreds of jobs and restoring the land.

But local people fear their children could be attacked by wolves escaping from the estate, despite the fact they will be fitted with computer chips to ensure they can be tracked at all times.

And it is Lister’s disclosure that he wants people to give up their right to roam that will ignite a storm of protest.

Dave Morris, director of the Ramblers Association Scotland, said: “We would have concerns about proposals to enclose substantial areas of land to create a huge fenced enclosure for wolves if this led to the loss of statutory access rights and massive landscape impacts from high fences and service roads.

“Wolves and walkers coexist in many other European countries, without the need for high fences to separate the two. If wolves are to be reintroduced into Scotland it should be on the same basis as elsewhere in Europe, with walkers and wolves free to coexist in the same mountains and forests.”

Farming leaders also reacted furiously. In a statement, the National Farmers Union said: “Farmers do not want the animals they care for being killed by wolves. Animal welfare is of crucial importance and farmers have a duty of care over their animals.

“Also, any proposal to release wolves here would sit oddly with our access legislation. We’re unlikely to attract visitors to enjoy our countryside if it contains animals that scare them.”

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Oct 26

RI: Students howl the night away with Mission:Wolf

Students howl the night away with Mission:Wolf

By: Robert Preliasco

University of Rhode Island students are used to spending their crazy college nights howling at the moon. However, last night, members of the URI community had the chance to learn from a master – an actual wolf.

Wildlife workers from Mission: Wolf brought Magpie, a gray wolf, and Abraham, a puppy who is probably a dog-wolf mix, to a sold-out demonstration in Independence Auditorium.

Handler Kent Weber began the presentation by telling the audience about the rapid decline of the wolf population in North America. He said that gray wolves once roamed the entire continent, from the East coast, to the Great Plains, to the Rocky Mountains.

Weber said that because of conflicts with humans, their numbers fell so sharply that when he was growing up, he was told that wolves would become extinct during his lifetime.

“We’re terrified of these animals,” he said, explaining the reasons why wolves are so aggressively hunted by humans. “And what do we do with things we’re afraid of? We destroy them.”

Soon it was time for the wolves to appear, and when they did, the audience’s reaction was immediate. Apparent on the faces of people young and old was the emotion that Weber said he sees in the thousands of people the wolves visit each year.

“We watch it change people. They get over the fear and gain the respect,” he said.

And there is plenty to respect about Magpie and Abraham. Like all healthy wolves, they can run 40 miles a day, jump over an 8-foot-tall fence and eat a watermelon to the rind in 60 seconds. Weber said that at the height of the wolf population at the Mission:Wolf reserve in Colorado, 52 wolves consumed 2,000 pounds of raw meat every week.

Mission: Wolf is a non-profit program that was co-founded by Weber and fellow handler Tracy Brooks 19 years ago. Their goal is to help reintroduce wolves into the wild and also provide a home for wolves that otherwise would have been in captivity.

The Ambassador Wolf Program takes Magpie – recently joined by Abraham – on a tour of the country, visiting classrooms, museums, nature preservation groups, businesses and even the U.S. Congress.

Since 1989 Weber and Brooks estimate they have given over 1 million people in 30 states the opportunity to see a wolf up close. Some lucky audience members have an opportunity to touch the wolves, getting nose to nose with one of the most rare wild creatures in America and looking into their deep, yellow eyes.

Brooks said that sometimes it is no accident which audience member the wolves choose to visit. She said they instinctively know when a person is having a difficult time in his or her life and will go to that person immediately. She said that audience members from schools or outreach programs frequently seek her out afterwards to tell her that the meeting with the wolf has changed their lives.

“Wolves inspire people,” she said, adding, “Wolves are so much like people in the way they organize their families … they care for each other.”

East Greenwich teacher Kelly Grennan said she has seen the transformative effect the wolves have in her classroom. She first contacted Mission:Wolf when she was a teacher in Jamestown, R.I. three years ago and has been involved with the program ever since, giving her students a chance to meet the wolves whenever they are in the area.

“[I like that] there’s no technology involved,” she said. “I watch my students, who are enthralled by television, their computers and their cell phones, sit and be captivated by nature.”

It was clear last night that the children in the audience were some of the most impressed.

“I thought it was amazing and [Weber] was right about the eyes. When [the wolf] looked at you directly it was amazing,” said ten-year-old Hunter Silvestri.

“A live wolf isn’t something you see every day,” he added.

The Peacedale Elementary School student said that he is interested in zoology and wants to work with animals in the future. He also said he hopes to visit the Mission:Wolf preserve during his summer vacation.

That dream is in no way far-fetched, since Weber said that anyone is invited to visit the preserve at any time. People are allowed to stay at no expense “as long as they can find us” on the remote dirt road.

Potential wolf trainers also need to be prepared to live a rustic lifestyle. Some of the audience members had previously spent time at the preserve.

Weber said that anyone who volunteers at Mission:Wolf can help care for the animals and work toward the organization’s ultimate goal of restoring them to their former environments.

“In the future, students won’t come to Mission:Wolf to build fences, you’ll come to tear them down,” he said.

Weber said that even though humans may be afraid of wolves, they have a vital role in an environment that is finely balanced. He said that the presence of wolves creates a phenomenon called a Trophic Cascade, in which predators keep animal populations in balance.

For example, elk are forced to keep moving to avoid becoming prey. Their migration aerates the grass, which encourages trees to grow and gives animals a place to live. In turn, those animals support populations of other animals by providing food. Weber said that without wolves in Yellowstone National Park, the unchecked elk population was eating all new plant life before it could grow. And without wolves to compete against for food, the coyote population exploded, resulting in coyotes weighing 60 to 70 pounds and traveling in packs – a problem that has been occurring in Rhode Island as well. Weber said these problems have been greatly reduced since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone.

All of yesterday’s proceeds went to the Mission: Wolf preserve and the Ambassador Wolf Program. The event was hosted by student volunteers from the URI Wildlife Society and by the Department of Natural Resources Science, after Grennan told them about the program.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for not only students at URI, but also for people in the community to learn about wolves,” said Peter Paton, chair of the department.

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