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

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 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

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

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 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

AK: Wolves kill half-dozen sled dogs in Yukon River village

Wolves kill half-dozen sled dogs in Yukon River village

MARSHALL: Three teams attacked before residents chase pack away.

By JAMES HALPIN

A pack of wolves killed about a half-dozen sled dogs from three teams in Marshall on Wednesday night before residents of the Yukon River village chased them out of town, according to village officials and Alaska State Troopers.

The wolves killed three adult dogs, including a female with pups, several villagers said. About three of the pups were also killed and several other dogs injured.

“They were running through the whole town here,” said Dewayne Cooper, the housing improvement officer for the Native Village of Marshall. “They’re not just hanging out by the dog teams. I don’t know what they’re looking for, but they’re obviously not scared.”

A group of about 15 people killed at least one of the wolves and wounded several, said Maureen Larson, who works for the Marshall Traditional Council.

The wolves — it was unclear exactly how many there were — appeared in town early in the evening Wednesday, about 6 or 7 p.m., when they were seen skulking near housing in the northeast portion of town, Larson said.

Some kids shot at them and scared them off, she said.

But around 8:30 p.m. they were back to begin their assault on three of the village’s five dog teams, said musher Clem Kameroff, whose dogs were attacked.

Kameroff said he keeps 11 dogs and seven pups and uses his team for fishing and hauling wood. Most of them were inside a fence, but two were in kennels outside the barrier because it was too crowded, he said.

“I heard the dogs barking real hard, but I thought it was just a dog that got loose,” Kameroff said.

He went outside and found the exposed dogs had been attacked. One was a 2-year-old male that was slightly injured. The other was a 10-year-old female.

“That was sort of my leader,” Kameroff said. “Now it’s all bloody and can’t move around. I might have to get rid of it. It’s too painful watching it barely move around.”

Troopers got the report of the invading wolves Thursday morning, wildlife trooper Sgt. Matt Dobson said by phone from Bethel.

“I said, ‘Go and get ‘em. It’s season,’ ” Dobson said. “We encourage people to hunt predators legally.”

Licensed hunters are allowed to take five wolves in Game Unit 18 per year, he said, and the no-limit trapping season is about to start Nov. 10. Killing the marauding wolves would be justified as being in defense of property, Dobson said.

Dobson said the area near Marshall is rife with wolves because the moose population is exploding to the point that officials are worried about overpopulation. But wolves are still generally shy and reclusive, he said, and a pack wandering into a town is “extremely unusual.”

Despite that, troopers get about four or five reports of wolves attacking domesticated animals on the outskirts of villages each year, Dobson said. They often attack in late fall or early winter when there is little snow on the ground, because deep snow makes it harder for prey such as moose to move — and easier to kill.

Dogs tied up on an 18-inch chain are simply too good to pass up, he said.

“These wolves have more than enough to eat,” he said. “It’s just an easy treat for them.”

Now, villagers are concerned that the wolves, having tasted that easy treat, might be back. A group of hunters went out on four-wheelers Thursday to track the wolves and engage in some “preventative maintenance,” Cooper said.

“I don’t think it’s over yet,” he said. “They were in downtown Marshall, they were in uptown Marshall, they were all over town.”

Marshall, with a population of about 390, is a largely subsistence village about 400 miles west of Anchorage on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

On Thursday, children were walking to school with adults and in groups in case the wolves returned, Larson said, though by early evening, there were no reports of any being seen.

“We’ve had these problems for the past three or four years, but this is the worst we’ve ever had with them coming into the village,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. We’re freaking out.”

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