Feb 28

MT: Feds move to delist wolves

Feds move to delist wolves

By CHRIS PETERSON / Hungry Horse News

Claiming the critter has far exceeded its recovery goals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it is removing the Northern Rocky Mountain population of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.

“The wolf population in the Northern Rockies has far exceeded its recovery goal and continues to expand its size and range. States, tribes, conservation groups, federal agencies and citizens of both regions can be proud of their roles in this remarkable conservation success story,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett said.

There are currently more than 1,500 wolves and at least 100 breeding pairs in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claims.

For some, that’s way too many. For others, it’s not nearly enough.

The move to delist the gray wolf will draw litigation from several environmental groups.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, decades before passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, exterminated wolves from the West,” Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said. “The Bush Administration, acting on behalf of the livestock industry, is attempting to thwart recovery and bring wolves back to the brink of extinction.”

Wrong, says Jake Cummins of the Montana Farm Bureau. Cummins said years ago, when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995, he predicted that environmental groups would sue when it came time to de-list the population.

“Exactly what we predicted has occurred,” he said.

He noted the recovery goal was 300 wolves and 10 breeding pairs; now there are 1,500 wolves and environmental groups are suing.

“We think it’s about time” wolves were delisted, he said.

Cummins claimed that the environmental groups wouldn’t be happy “until there’s wolves from one end of the state to another ”

He claimed wolves represent a threat to the farming way of life.

“They’ll take your pets, your children, your livestock,” he said. While no wolf attacks on humans have occurred, he claimed it could happen.

“A little human looks like a lunchbox” to a wolf, he claimed.

But Robinson claimed the government was trying to whitewash the wolf recovery. He noted that 85 percent of the area that wolves inhabit actually has no wolves, and that delisting could reopen the doors to government hunting and trapping of wolves once again.

There are rules that would allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to exterminate wolf populations where they are determined to pose a threat to deer and elk populations.

Environmental groups are also challenging that rule in court.

Cummins said Farm Bureau didn’t oppose wolves outright, but it did want to see some “common sense” discussion.

Robinson claimed that delisting wolves now was “biologically flawed,” because the population is in three distinct areas that really don’t interact — the Yellowstone population, the Central Idaho population and the Northwest Montana population.

In between those areas, there are few, if any, wolves.

In Northwest Montana, the wolf population is estimated at roughly 150 to 200 animals. The Northwest Montana population was not introduced — it migrated here from Canada and established itself.

The environmental groups can’t sue immediately. By law, they have to file an intent to sue first, which gives the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 60 days to potentially change its actions, Robinson noted.

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Posted in Uncategorized
Feb 27

CA: One with the Wolves

One with the Wolves

By Bill Stuart

Chris Darimont goes north to the Great Bear Rainforest

No question, wolves have gotten a bad rap through literature and folklore over the years, but in truth they are an essential part of many northern ecosystems. Thanks to the work of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and scientists like UVic graduate Dr. Chris Darimont, wolves and other creatures of the Great Bear Rainforest are being brought to more widespread public attention. This week, Darimont will be part of a panel of speakers discussing both the Great Bear Rainforest and the animals that dwell there.

Monday: What is the Rainforest Wolf Project?

Chris Darimont: It’s conservation/science fusion at its finest. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation, university scientists, countless volunteers and local first nations have teamed up to learn all we can about wolves, their prey and their ancient rainforest habitat. We have found that wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest are like none other, swimming among islands in a rainforest archipelago, hunting salmon and other marine prey and giving us rare insight into a predator-prey system undisturbed by humanity.

Monday: What’s it like up there?

CD: Entering the Great Bear Rainforest is like stepping back in time. I feel so honoured to be able to explore trails made by wolves, bears and other large mammals that have sadly disappeared from much of the world. These trails meander through 1,000-year-old cedar trees that, if they could, would tell amazing stories. I also get to bear witness—pun intended—to the planet’s last stronghold of spawning salmon, which feed not only large beasts but also the entire forest.

Monday: What was the most valuable lesson taught by your mentor, Lone Wolf?

CD: In addition to his contributions as a respected colleague and a dear friend, “Lone Wolf”—a.k.a. Chester Starr of the Heiltsuk Nation—also mentored me in the art of observation. As a scientist, I was trained to observe nature within a valuable, but relatively narrow, framework. What Lone Wolf and his people have taught me is to open my eyes to a broader reality—and what I find particularly amazing is the concordance between what we have learned through the scientific process and what indigenous people have learned by living with wildlife for millennia. In many respects, western science is really just starting to emerge with information that first nations have known for a very long time.

Monday: Can wolves teach things to us?

CD: Absolutely. Talk about family values! I refer to wolf groups not as packs, but as families. They are typically composed of a mother, father and siblings of multiple ages. They practice division of labour, show deep loyalty, protect one another, grieve enormously at the loss of family members and provide communal caring of young. Where wolves still exist today, they can also teach us humans the value of safeguarding the remaining wild places on this great Earth. Sadly, many places will never again hear the howl of a wolf.

Monday: What did you gain at UVic that you still carry with you today?

CD: A unique combination of academic support, healthy coastal lifestyle and an environmentally conscious community. My former supervisor and precious academic resource, Tom Reimchen, taught me the value of “process-oriented” science; more specifically, how important it was to examine the process of marine-terrestrial interactions, which wolf-deer-salmon systems demonstrate. And my experience in UVic’s world-class environmental studies department taught me the value of nesting any science within a broader, real-world context.

Great Bear Rainforest Odyssey takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at UVic’s David Lam Auditorium. Admission is by donation. Full details at 386-7245.

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Feb 27

MT: Groups Challenge Govt Over Gray Wolves

Groups Challenge Govt Over Gray Wolves

By MATTHEW BROWN

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A coalition of environmental and animal rights groups notified the Department of Interior on Wednesday that they plan to sue to stop the removal of gray wolves in the northern Rockies from the endangered species list.

Eleven organizations said they plan to sue over the wolves’ removal in federal court in 60 days — the required first step for litigation under the Endangered Species Act.

Representatives of the groups say the estimated 1,500 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are too few to ensure the species’ survival — particularly given the states’ plans to sponsor wolf hunts beginning this fall.

The government announced last week the predators had recovered from near-extermination last century. Management of wolves will now fall under state authority unless that decision is blocked in court.

State officials have pledged to keep wolves on the landscape. But they also would allow hunters and wildlife agents to kill hundreds of wolves, in part to reduce conflicts with livestock and big game.

“A lot of the killing may not be taking place just from hunters,” said Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that plans to sue. “It’s going to be very systematic killing, with aerial killing and the trapping of wolves to put radio collars on them and then, after they return to their pack, killing the entire pack.”

Sharon Rose, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a branch of Interior, said the challenge was expected.

The government lost an earlier federal court case over wolves in the northern Rockies, when it attempted in 2000 to reclassify them as threatened — a step down from endangered. Rose said her agency is confident its latest decision “will withstand scrutiny.”

“Everybody took extra care to make sure that what we were doing was the right thing to do and that the population was actually ready to be de-listed,” she said. “We believe the states will do a good job.”

A spokesman for Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso criticized the environmental groups for “interfering” in the management of the region’s natural resources. Barrasso is one of many state leaders who had prodded the federal government to cede control over wolves.

“Most of these special interest groups wouldn’t know a gray wolf if it walked up and bit them,” Barrasso spokesman Greg Keeley said.

The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and The Humane Society of the United States also were among those that filed Wednesday’s legal notice. They acted within hours of the government publishing its formal notice that the wolves will lose federal protection in 30 days.

The groups’ attorney, Doug Honnold with Earthjustice, said he would ask for an emergency court injunction if the states move to kill wolves before the lawsuit is filed.

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Feb 27

WY: Satan’s Dog

Satan’s Dog

By Ben Cannon

Jackson Hole, Wyo.-George Brown has managed the Hoodoo ranch, a cow-calf operation near Cody, Wyo., for 40 years. His grandfather arrived in northwestern Wyoming in 1900. By that time, much of the American West’s gray wolf population had been decimated through private and federal bounties. By the mid-20th century the species had been all but wiped out in the lower 48 states. Brown, now 77, has a perspective on wolves that may seem a bit out of touch with a society that has largely celebrated the speedy return of a sizable gray wolf population to the northern ranges of the American Rockies.

By Brown’s estimation, the only good wolf is a dead one.
“That’s a pretty fair way to describe how I feel,” he said.
Brown is a member of an aging ranching population where financial and social influences have taken a heavy toll. The reintroduction of the gray wolf in the mid ’90s was perceived by some as the return of a nearly forgotten threat to the ranching livelihood.
It should be noted that Brown’s views may not reflect the views of the majority of people living in Wyoming, Idaho or Montana – states that will widen the doors on the killing of grey wolves once the animals are removed from the federal endangered species list. The move to completely de-list the animal and turn its management over from the federal government to the states, barring an injunction by the courts, is expected to happen one month from today.

Brown does, however, represent a vestige of the strong political voice the ranching culture continues to have in a state where the ranching industry – long a powerful cultural influence in Wyoming – is diminishing.
Only a few generations ago, ranchers – the ancestors of many of today’s old-line Wyoming families– working alongside state and federal wildlife managers, poisoned, shot and denned wolves by the tens of thousands.

In his 1978 book, “Of Wolves and Men,” author and ecologist Barry Lopez wrote that 80,730 wolves were killed for bounty between 1883 and 1918. By the time the last of the Yellowstone population was killed in the late 1930s, there was a sense of achievement that celebrated the near eradication of the wolf as a feat of man taming the Wild West.
In the late 1980s, the same wildlife agencies that at one time sought to kill all gray wolves were given the charge to revive the animals from a not entirely tenuous place (they remained throughout the Canadian Rockies and Alaska) on the Endangered Species List.

Since gray wolves were first reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in the mid-’90s, their populations have soared to 1,500 in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. A few animals have even made it into Utah and Oregon, though in very small numbers. Neither of those states has a management plan that prescribes regulated hunting, nor do they allow the indiscriminate wolf killing permissible under a “predatory” animal status.
That is what the Wyoming management plan calls for, with the northwest corner of the state – part of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – set aside as a game management area that will eventually allow limited hunting. The majority of Wyoming land – 88 percent – will not be managed by state wildlife agencies, leaving the wolves that cross those invisible lines vulnerable to human predation.

Local and national advocacy groups have decried the de-listing, maintaining that the gray wolf has not been brought back sufficiently to justify its removal from the endangered list. They also say that interconnectivity among wolf packs in the three states will be severed and that the animals, over a period of time, will suffer from a lack of genetic diversity and inbreeding.

Jackson Hole, meanwhile, a national jewel of wildlife and conservationism, is situated at the dividing line between the two management zones. The boundary line dividing the trophy management area, where wolves may be hunted as early as next fall, and where they can be killed as indiscriminately as coyotes and jackrabbits, runs just south of Jackson, near the South Park residential area.

“That’s unacceptable,” said Franz Camenzind, director of Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. Camenzind, trained as a canid biologist, takes particular issue with dual management zones. He allows that while some hunting might be appropriate, low government mandates of 100 wolves in each state coupled with an unmanaged predatory status could potentially do significant harm to Wyoming’s wolf population.
“Wolves that show up south of Teton Pass or happen to pass [south of] South Park Butte could be shot at anytime,” he said. “I don’t think the community’s going to stand for that dual classification.”

The Conservation Alliance, along with nine other regional and national organizations, are filing suit against the Feds, maintaining that the wolf population is not far enough into recovery to lose federal protection. The suit will ask that the state management plans be reassessed. Though a court injunction could delay hunting, it would not protect wolves from the predatory status that in much of Wyoming will leave them open to poisoning, shooting or even intentional slaughter by vehicle.

State and federal wildlife officials have said the habitat outside of the managed hunting area is not suitable for wolves. A pack is reportedly hunting in the Daniel area, which is just outside of the protected trophy game zone.

Idaho and Montana had their respective state plans approved in 2004. Only last year Wyoming submitted a plan that the Feds were willing approve. Wyoming had earlier pushed for predator status for wolves outside of national parks. The federal government countered that the animal needed more management and protection throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

In a sense, Idaho and Montana state wildlife agencies have managed (though without hunting, under Endangered Species Act protection) their respective wolf populations, with some federal oversight.
Meanwhile, the Wyoming State Legislature and Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s administration worked to put together a plan that Wyoming could get behind, while making only limited concessions to the federal government.

Why the hold-up in an agreeable plan between Wyoming and federal government?
“Part of that is the whole state-fed thing in Wyoming,” said Ed Bangs, the wolf recovery coordinator for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bangs came south from Alaska in the late 1980s to help spearhead the gray wolf reintroduction, based on a 1987 environmental plan. He personally oversaw the first wolves relocated to Yellowstone from Canada and Glacier National Park, in far northern Montana.
Bangs was in Washington, D.C. debriefing lawmakers on the gray wolf de-listing when he was interviewed for this story.

“The whole thing about wolves is that wolves and wolf management have nothing to do with reality, it’s all about how they’re seen,” he said.
Bangs called the different state plans somewhat appropriate for each state’s philosophy not only toward wildlife management but, perhaps, the perception of bureaucratic interference from afar.

Many, particularly those in ranching, have had some degree of antipathy toward wolves since the first plans to reintroduce them to the region.
“They feel like they’ve had it crammed down their throats,” Bangs said.
Beginning in the late ’90s, Jackson Hole resident Mason Tibbs roped for one of the largest cattle associations in Wyoming. Looking after roughly 3,000 head of cattle in the Upper Green River Valley north of Pinedale, which falls within the trophy hunting area, Tibbs sometimes saw as many as 70 calves go unaccounted for, likely due to wolf predation, he suspects. Federal programs have paid fair compensation for cattle loss, but the burden of proof – and wolves often devour most of the proof – has fallen on cattle managers.

“We don’t want to kill all the wolves but we ought to be able to kill the ones that are killing our cattle,” said Tibbs, who also said he thinks the presence of a limited number of wolves in the area is “cool.”
But what of the popular bumper stickers that read: “Wolves: Smoke a Pack Today,” or “Save a herd, kill a wolf”?

“When you get into other parts of the state you don’t have the importation of people you have [in Jackson Hole],” Tibbs said. “When people that don’t live in this area tell you how to live, that goes against a man’s grain out here.”
Even Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who currently is championing clean fossil fuel technologies for coal-rich Wyoming, had strong words for those that would interfere with gray wolf de-listing from the endangered species list.

In a press release put out when the de-listing announcement was made last week, the senator said, “The special interest groups advocating keeping the animal on the list wouldn’t know a gray wolf if it blew their house down.”
Those rather standoffish words may convey a deep-rooted Western sense of frustration towards Washington’s rule from afar, or – even worse – California-based tree huggers. Sen. Barrasso, one would expect, assumed he was safely addressing his constituency. But that rhetoric also offended people like Franz Camenzind at the Conservation Alliance.

“I’ve probably been around as many wolves as any non-agency person,” Camenzind responded, somewhat dismayed upon hearing Sen. Barrasso’s statement. He then recounted a handful of experiences with the animals at close range; even in the last week Camenzind observed wolves from among the some of valley’s three known packs.
But Camenzind also recognized the origins of such outsider-wary emotions. “[Wolves] can be a stand-in for the frustrations people in the West feel about the federal government,” he said.

Through a spokesperson, Barrasso’s camp later backed away from the comment, saying it meant to “differentiate” between informed, helpful input and exterior “special interest” groups.
Louisa Wilcox is a Livingston, Montana-based senior wildlife advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a worldwide conservation group that boasts 1.2 million members and a whole cadre of scientists and attorneys. NRDC is also involved in the lawsuit against de-listing.

Wilcox and her team poured through thousands of public comments submitted about the Wyoming wolf management plan.
“The dirty little secret is that overwhelmingly the public strongly opposed de-listing,” Wilcox said. “Seventy percent of Wyoming residents opposed this plan.”
When asked if wolves in the West are stand-ins for other, deep-rooted feelings, she replied yes.

“They symbolize very strong and different things to different people,” she said. “To some they are a symbol of America’s lost wilderness. To others they’re Satan’s Dog – a lustful, vengeful killer. There is a war of symbols and wolves.”

Bangs, who has as much wolf management experience as anyone in the United States and maybe the world, sees the handover of control to state managers as one of the major accomplishments in wildlife reintroduction. Or, at least, it might be – once humans accept both wolves and wolf management and state officials have time to demonstrate sound plans with healthy mechanisms.
That might take time.

“It’s not a success until everybody stops treating them so special,” Bangs said. “Wolves aren’t that good and they’re not that bad. The minute we keep them off the pedestal this process will be much more successful.”

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Posted in Uncategorized
Feb 26

MT: Officials brush aside worry over wolf kills

Officials brush aside worry over wolf kills

By The Associated Press

LANDER – State wildlife officials dismiss warnings by critics of Wyoming’s wolf management plan of the imminent slaughter of up to two-thirds of the state’s wolves after the animal loses protection under the federal Endangered Species Act next month.

A core part of Wyoming’s wolf management plan is dual classification of wolves in Wyoming – as a protected trophy species in the state’s northwestern corner and as a predator species in the rest of the state.

In the areas where wolves are classified as predators, they can be shot on sight and without limits, provided that kills are reported within 10 days.

Critics say that plan will lead to mass wolf killing. But Bill Rudd, Cheyenne assistant division chief of the state Game and Fish Department, doubts that will happen.

Rudd said the department will manage the trophy wolf population conservatively at first. He said the goal is to keep wolves from being listed as an endangered species again.

“We have to retain the numbers so they are not relisted,” he said. “There’ll be a learning curve as we go forward. Ideally, we’d like to be able to have hunters participate in the removal and take of excess wolves on an annual basis.”

He said people concerned about too many wolves being killed should look at what has happened with other delisted species in the state, including bald eagles, grizzly bears and black-footed ferrets.

“We’ve got an excellent track record, and they’re going to see the same thing with wolves,” Rudd predicted.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it will remove wolves from federal protection at the end of this month. States will then take over management of wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

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Feb 26

Gray Wolves Will be Hunted Again

Gray Wolves Will be Hunted Again

By Justin Ewers

It may not be the most welcome news for elk and deer and other woodland creatures, but the gray wolves of the northern Rocky Mountains are back. After being driven to near extinction in the continental United States more than 50 years ago, the Bush administration announced last week that wolves will be removed from the endangered species list in March. To many, this is a proud moment in preservation: After being reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s, the wolves thrived, growing from a population of only 66 to about 1,500 today. Those who want to keep the wolves protected, though, insist that defeat is being snatched from the jaws of victory: Now that the wolves’ recovery has been declared complete, the three states they live in—Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho—will allow them to be hunted again starting this fall. U.S. News spoke with Ed Bangs, the gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who has overseen the wolves’ remarkable resurgence, about why they are being delisted, how they will respond to hunting—and whether their successful recovery might be applicable to other endangered species.

How did wolves become endangered in the first place?
We deliberately got rid of them. At the turn of the last century, our society had no value for wildlife. We got rid of all the deer, the elk, the bison, the moose, all the large predators. One of the first tasks given by Congress in the 1910s to my agency, which used to be called the U.S. Biological Survey, was to kill the last wolves in the western United States. My agency is the one that actually completed the wolf extermination.

Why were they intentionally wiped out?

Wolf management has nothing to do with reality; it’s all about the symbolism of the wolves. And at that time, wolves were viewed as the spawn of Satan. People just didn’t want them around. A lot of people were subsistence homesteaders, and you can imagine if you had 10 sheep, and wolves came along at night and killed them all, what a huge blow that would be to you. The last pups were killed in 1924.

So what changed?
When a few wolves were spotted moving into the United States from Canada in the 1980s, people began pushing to bring wolves back to Yellowstone.

The West changed. At one time, Montana and Wyoming was pretty much just ranches—that was it. Now, you think about Earth Day and environmental awareness, the Endangered Species Act [which was passed in 1966]—the attitude of people changed. And the people that came here, came here for public lands, they came for wildlife, they came for clean air and water, and as a consequence wolves weren’t viewed only as a negative.

Tens of thousands of wolves live just north of the border in Canada. Why was it necessary to have them here in the United States, too?

There are three reasons to have wolves around: One of them is symbolism. You’re interviewing me about wolves, not red-backed voles. People find wolves fascinating, and having wolves in the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, was a huge symbolic thing. The second reason is personal experience. The first time I ever heard a wolf howl, I was 15 years old in Alaska. I can still remember it. If you love the out of doors and wildlands, seeing or hearing wolves is really a positive. There’s a poem that goes something like, “What whittled the antelope so swift but the wolf’s tooth.” If you love elk and deer or any of these animals, you’re looking at the handiwork of wolves over tens of thousands of years. Every part of Yellowstone is affected by the relationships between these animals. Elk that are being hunted by wolves behave like wild animals. Elk that aren’t hunted by large predators act like livestock. They stand around and overgraze. With wolves there, the system is wilder.

So wolves are actually good for the ecosystem?

They have a dramatic impact on wildlife diversity and ecosystem function. Ecologically, if you’re the kind of animal—and there’s tons of these—that lives on dead stuff, wolves provide elk carcasses scattered throughout the landscape on a year-round basis. So if you’re a bald eagle, golden eagle, wolverine, coyote, bear, chickadee, raven, scrub-jay—that’s a whole web of life supported by these large top predators. Wolves change all these other animals’ behavior.

So why allow them to be hunted again?
You have to realize regulated hunting is a conservation tool. This is not the 1880s of, like, “Yahoo! Load up the truck and poison everything!” We could never even think about having wolves unless the states hadn’t already restored the deer, the elk, and the other competitors, like mountain lions and black bears. I think the states have certainly earned our trust.

How do you know that 1,500 wolves is a viable population—that wolves “will always be there?”

In 2002, I surveyed 80 scientists around the world and asked them what they thought about this. What we came up with was that if you have a population that never went below 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs—which is a successfully reproducing wolf pack—per state, for three successive years, that would be a viable recovered population.

Some environmental groups are trying to stop the delisting in court, saying more wolves are needed to be viable.

The question is what’s the purpose of the Endangered Species Act. The vast majority of people we polled and the research we’ve done indicated that the act worked, they’re never going to become threatened or endangered again.

Is there any threat of wolves hurting people?

There have been some attacks of wolves on people in Europe, much more than here. But of all the animals in the woods, wolves are probably the least likely to attack you. Every other large predator in the world sometimes kills people, but wolves very rarely do. In North America, it’s almost always habituated wolves. If you treat a wild wolf like a dog and feed it sandwiches or whatever, it starts acting like a large dog. Every year large dogs put 300,000 people in the emergency room for dog bites.

How much hunting of the wolves will be allowed?

Let’s use Idaho as an example. We’re talking about managing a population there, midwinter, of around 500 wolves. Let’s say you’ve had a 20 percent increase per year. That’s an extra 100 wolves per year. If you didn’t take out 100, you’d have 600 next year. So they’ll have a hunting season that’ll take about 100 wolves. They would harvest those wolves in the fall through fair chase hunting, one per person under regulation, you have to tag it and go check in the biological specimens and all that stuff—just like they do deer, elk, and anything else. And then the next year, you’d still have 500 wolves that would produce pups.

What would have to happen for the feds to get involved again?

If states fail to maintain their numbers for three consecutive years, we’d look at relisting the wolf population. If they ever got below 100 wolves per state, we’d relist.

Have any lessons been learned from the wolves’ recovery that can be applied to other endangered species?

I think wolves are easier than most. They’re just such resilient animals, they were never extinct in the wild, so we didn’t have to do the captive stock and all that. They disappeared because of one reason: intensive human persecution. Once you remedy that, they’re kind of OK. Wolves are pretty easy compared to any other animal. I wish they were all this easy.

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Posted in Uncategorized
Feb 26

ID: Idaho ag hails wolf delisting

Idaho ag hails wolf delisting

Patricia R. McCoy
Capital Press

The removal of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act is behing hailed by Idaho agricultural interests.

“Wolves have been a major, major fundraiser for the environmentalists over the years. They hate to let it go. They want to keep the issue alive,” said Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. “Idaho met the 10 breeding pair standard many, many years ago, and so did our neighboring states. Technically, this delisting could have come three or four years ago.”

Livestock producers recognize the wolf is back and here to stay, Boyd said.

“It’s time for us to start managing it on the state level,” he said. “Those wolves are about half tame right now. They’re not afraid of people. if we start hunting them, they’ll become a lot more elusive and wily.”

Boyd is lobbying for state legislation, Senate Bill 1374, which would officially recognize wolves as predators so producers who lose livestock or domestic animals to them can receive depredation compensation for such losses, he said.

S1374 passed the Idaho Senate by 31-0 with four absent or excused on Feb. 15. It is currently before the House Resources and Conservation Committee, where it will receive another hearing before either being sent to the House floor or held in committee.

Predator list

“Idaho code includes an official list of predators. The only animal on that list right now that will attack livestock is the coyote. This bill simply adds the wolf, and amends state law to coincide with the delisting rules,” said Boyd.

“It means ranchers or herders who catch a wolf attacking livestock can shoot it without worrying about obtaining a permit. As is required by federal law, any animal taken in that way must be reported to the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, but they don’t need to call him in advance,” Boyd said.

If a wolf is not actually attacking livestock or domestic animals, producers may take non-lethal steps to protect their herds, such as trying to haze a pack with a history of depredation away from an area where animals are about to be turned out, he said. Producers must obtain an advance permit to kill wolves not actually killing or attacking their sheep or cattle.

The Idaho Farm Bureau is glad to see wolves come off the ESA list, without any doubt, said Wally Butler, spokesman for the bureau.

“We have every confidence in the state management plan and the ability of state officials to appropriately protect the species,” Butler said. “We adamantly opposed wolves when they were reintroduced to Idaho, but we recognize they’re here now. They have to be managed appropriately.”

Wolves have definitely affected the livestock business beyond what’s been officially documented, he said.

Losses up

“Every public lands rancher expects to lose a few sheep or cattle every year, but the numbers have risen significantly. All of that loss comes off the profit end,” said Butler. “Margins are pretty slim in the agricultural business anyway, so it’s hard on the producers.

“I just finished reading a statement by some opponents to delisting that Idaho could kill 300 wolves this year,” he said. “That’s insane. The minute we start shooting at them, the dumb ones will disappear and the smart ones will get smarter. Yes, we could potentially reduce the wolf population by that number over a period of years, but there will be no mass slaughter.

“We agreed when wolves were brought in to a target number of wolves,” Butler said. “The state and federal government have lived up to that. Now we have three or four times that number. Delisting should be a no-brainer.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement that wolves will now be delisted is great, said Josh Tewalt, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association.

“We realize this decision brings litigation with it. We’ll be far more excited when FWS prevails in court and wolves are truly finally off the list,” Tewalt said.

The announcement that wolves will be delisted came with a lot of fanfare, but it must be kept in perspective, he said. Anticipated litigation will likely delay actual delisting by several years.

“We’ve shown we can do a pretty good job in Idaho of growing them. We’re more than ready for the opportunity to show we can do a good job of managing them,” he said. “They need to be managed for what they are, predators. Wolves will continue to thrive in Idaho. Our mantra at ICA over the last several years has been, ‘we can live with them, but we have to be able to manage them.’ Wolves will do just what they did when they were reintroduced. They’ll adapt, and the state will manage them properly. None of us want them back on the ESA list.”

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, also praised the FWS action, calling it a decision long overdue.

“Unfortunately, if history is a guide, radical preservationists will sue the federal government over this decision. Because the wolves have been so successful in recovery, far exceeding the goals set by the Clinton administration, their opposition to delisting is a signal that they never wanted them delisted. They want the noose of the ESA to hang around the neck of states, ranchers and others more than they want wolves to recover and be managed in a way that balances the many uses of our resources. The noose gives them control over land and wildlife management under the guise of protecting the wolves,” Craig said. “I hope they realize that balancing management will help bring more support to the wolves, benefiting them in the end.”

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Feb 26

MI LP: DNR seeks help in finding N. Mich. wolves

DNR seeks help in finding N. Mich. wolves

By MARK SPENCLEY

Tribune Staff Writer

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has launched a survey to identify the presence of wolves in Northern Michigan.

DNR officials will focus their attention on the northernmost counties in the Lower Peninsula, including Cheboygan and Emmet.

Survey teams will began conducting the survey in mid-February and will continue through March 10, and DNR officials said that public input will be vital to the success of the survey.

This year there will be a targeted search approach, said DNR Wildlife Biologist Brian Mastenbrook. Survey teams will be searching areas where there have been one or more public observations of wolves.

Sightings from earlier in the year will be considered, but sightings during the survey period will be especially important, he later noted. Given the low probability that tracks will be found, public reports are very important in helping the DNR identify potential wolf locations.

“If the public finds anything related to wolves, we are encouraging them to preserve the physical evidence or take photographs, and then contact us as soon as possible so that we can follow up with field investigations,” explained Mastenbrook. “The goal of the survey is to verify the presence of wolves both in the area where we previously confirmed tracks and detect new occurrences in other parts of the region.”

Wolves began naturally returning to the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula via Canada and Wisconsin in the early 1990s, according to DNR officials. Today, the U.P. is home to at least 500 wolves.

Following the accidental killing of a wolf in Presque Isle County in 2004, the DNR also confirmed two other gray wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula in 2005.

The DNR is asking the public to report any sightings of wolves or tracks they believe were made by wolves during the survey period which runs through March 10 to the DNR Gaylord office at 989-732-3541, ext. 5901.

The DNR is partnering in this survey effort with USDA Wildlife Services, Central Michigan University and the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians.

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Feb 26

SE: Hunter attacked by a wolf

Hunter attacked by a wolf

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

A 77 year old man was rabbit hunting outside his summer home in Grangärde in southern Dalarna together with a neighbor on Monday.

Suddenly, he was jumped on from the side by a wolf. The man fell and the wolf bit the man’s ear. When the 77 year old protected himself with his arms he was even bit there, writes Nerikes Allehanda.

When he shot in the air the wolf left.

The man sought care for his injuries at the hospital in Lindesberg, which determined that he had scratches and swelling of the ear after tge attack.

“It was a young wolf, that I am sure of,” says the injured hunter to Nerikes Allehanda.

For wolves to attack people is extremely uncommon. Now wolf researchers investigate the incident.

Jägare attackerad av varg

Den 77-årige mannen var ute på harjakt utanför sin sommarstuga i Grangärde i södra Dalarna tillsammans med en granne under måndagen.

Plötsligt blev han påhoppad från sidan av en varg. Mannen föll och vargen bet tag i örat. När 77-åringen skyddade sig med armarna fick han bett även där, skriver Nerikes Allehanda.

Först när han fick iväg ett skott i luften gav sig vargen av.

Mannen sökte vård för sina skador på sjukhuset i Lindesberg, som kunde konstatera att han får rispor och svullnader på örat efter attacken.

- Det var en ungvarg, det är jag säker på, säger den skadade jägaren till Nerikes Allehanda.

Att vargar attackerar människor är extremt ovanligt. Nu ska vargforskare undersöka fallet.

TT

Source

Posted in Uncategorized
Feb 26

SE: Attacking wolf was a dog

Attacking wolf was a dog

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

It was probably not a wolf which attacked a 77 year old yesterday in the Dala woods – but a dog. So says Jens Karlsson from Grimsö Wildlife Center after inspection of the site.

Attackerande varg var hund

Det var sannolikt inte en varg som igår attackerade en 77-åring i Dalaskogarna – utan en hund. Det säger Jens Karlsson på Grimsö viltskadecenter efter inspektion på platsen.

Source

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