Oct 31

Ethiopia’s endangered wolves are dying of rabies

Ethiopia’s endangered wolves are dying of rabies

Ethiopian Wolves, one of Ethiopia’s most endemic mammals, are currently dying because of a rabies outburst in the Bale Mountains National Park.

The main habitat for the Ethiopian Wolf are areas 3200 ms above sea level, namely Abune Josseph Mountain, Semine Mountains National Park, Guasa Menze Gera heather moorlands, Arsi and Bale Mountains. The planet’s around 300 individuals are expected to be found in the Bale Mountains, where the disease is currently raging.

After the deaths of the Ethiopian Wolves at the end of September, blood and tissue samples were sent to Addis Ababa Pastor Center for laboratory investigation and it was found that the cause for the deaths is rabies.

In order to control the outburst, a team of 10 people from Oromiya Agriculture Office, Ethiopian Wildlife conservation Authority and Ethiopian wolf Conservation Project went to the area to start a vaccination campaign. While the group was lead by Dr. Fikadu Sheferaw, Dr. Claudio Silerio, the Oxford University canine specialist, is among the members.

Even though an estimated hundred Ethiopian wolves are thought to be infected, the group managed to capture and vaccinate only 5 wolves up to yesterday.

Ethiopian wolves have a behavior of living in a family constituting up to 13 individuals; they are territorial.

The objective of the vaccination campaign is to separate and vaccinate uninfected animals in order to prevent further damage.

Ato Addisu Asefa, Biologist Bale Mountains National Park and a member of the team said that the spread of the disease is very worrying. He further explained that a similar outbreak in the year 2003 has killed almost 90 Ethiopian wolves while around 40 wolves died of distemper two years before

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Oct 31

SE: Queen defends husband over wolf row

Queen defends husband over wolf row

Queen Silvia has leapt to her husband’s defence after a prominent Swedish author ridiculed comments made in support of wolf hunting by King Carl Gustaf XVI, Aftonbladet reports.

In an interview with Sveriges Radio, the queen reacted angrily to Kerstin Ekman’s theory that the king had been drinking when he told journalists that he was not opposed to allowing the hunting of wolves in Sweden.

“I don’t know why anybody would ask an author who doesn’t know anything about wolves,” the queen said in an interview scheduled to be aired on Saturday.

Kerstin Ekman, a prizewinning author who recently wrote the screenplay for the Swedish movie Varg (Wolf), voiced her criticism of the king’s remarks in an article on the Newsmill website.

“The question is whether our king had knocked back a couple of drinks beforehand in light of his inarticulate and ill-considered comments on the issue of wild animals,” she wrote.

Comments by the king that the number of wolves in the country could “explode” if not kept in check also prompted concern from members of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), for which the king serves as honourary chair.

Wolves remain a protected species in Sweden with a pack size estimated to be around 200 wolves.

The WWF was quick to distance itself from the King’s remarks, arguing that Sweden’s wolf population was very much under control.

Sweden’s main hunting association, Svenska Jägareförbundet, has long called for a removal of the wolves’ protected status.

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Oct 31

CA: Wolf Warning Issued!

Wolf Warning Issued!

A warning today from the RCMP about wolves in Labrador. Residents in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Mary’s Harbour are on high alert after several wolf sightings. Constable Peter MacIntyre says there have been recent wolf attacks against ducks and chickens and a dog was killed this week. The wolves first showed up during the summer. Pet owners are advised to keep their animals inside. MacIntyre says efforts by wildlife officials to trap the animals have failed and he believes they migrated recently. He says parents are asked to supervise their children closely this Halloween night. He says kids should be kept in sight. He says it appears the wolves are around more in the evenings than during the daytime.

And the Department of Natural Resources has issued similar warnings for Happy Valley-Goose Bay. They’re on call 24/7 and patrolling day and night. Officers have also set wolf traps and are encouraging anyone who sees a wolf to contact them at 896-3405.

Meantime, Olive told VOCM Night Line with Linda Swain she’s very concerned in the wake of the attack by two wolves that left the family’s 13 year old Husky dead. She says the wolves came into her father’s backyard where the dog was tied on. She says they managed to get the dog out of her collar and dragged her into the woods. She says she is afraid the public doesn’t know how serious the situation is.

Olive says she is very concerned for children this Halloween night.

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Oct 31

MT: 2 wolves killed southwest of Kalispell

2 wolves killed southwest of Kalispell

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) – Wildlife officials say they’ve killed two wolves in northwestern Montana after wolves killed livestock in the area earlier this month.

The wolves killed Tuesday west of Niarada were members of the Hog Heaven pack.

Kent Laudon, a wolf management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says the pack has five to seven members left.

Also Tuesday, a young female wolf was found dead near Murphy Lake in the Trego area. FWP wardens and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.

On Wednesday, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves killed a cow on private land in the Big Hole Valley east of Wisdom.

The FWP authorized Wildlife Services to kill two wolves in the area, and issued a permit to the landowner to shoot two wolves.

On the net:

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html

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Oct 31

MT: New state agency releases payments for wolf kills

New state agency releases payments for wolf kills

By KARL PUCKETT
Tribune Staff Writer

Despite dwindling funds, a new state board charged with considering financial claims for livestock killed by wolves doled out $28,000 last week and approved an agreement allowing payments on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

George Edwards, program coordinator for the Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Program, said the program’s long-term fate is unknown.

“I’m below $20,000 now in remaining funds,” he said.

If the state can’t reimburse ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, they will be “left holding the bag,” Edwards said.

The program was created in April to take over reimbursement duties from the not-for-profit Defenders of Wildlife after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turned over management of wolves to the states.

The wolf has since been returned to the federal list of threatened and endangered species but the new livestock board still is in charge of the reimbursements.

“I’ve been paying claims all summer long,” Edwards said.

He reports to the seven-member Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Board, which approved $28,000 worth of claims on Oct 24 for 125 sheep, five head of cattle and two goats.

The largest claim came from a producer southeast of Dillon, who lost 90 sheep, Edwards said.

At the same meeting, the board also approved an agreement with the Blackfeet Tribe that allows the state to reimburse for wolf depredation that occurs on tribal lands. Montana law prohibits payments for losses on tribal land until tribes have state-approved wolf-management plans, Edwards said.

The Blackfeet submitted a plan to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in July, which approved it, Edwards said.

The owners of two heifers killed west of Browning were the first producers on the reservation to receive payments, but Edwards is expecting more claims from the reservation.

“Now I don’t have to try to pinpoint through (Global Positioning System) coordinates whether it was on tribal land or not,” Edwards said.

He added he is working on a similar agreement with the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation.

Since the state reimbursement program started in April, Edwards or the board has authorized $62,828 in payments to 38 producers. Edwards said he handles most claims, bringing only the large or complicated cases before the board, which meets twice a year.

The Defenders of Wildlife kicked in $50,000 for the reimbursement program when its duties were turned over to the state, and has pledged another $50,000 infusion after Jan. 1. The Legislature also appropriated $30,000 for the program.

Edwards is trying to raise private funds for the program, but with little success. The Yellowstone Coalition has given $1,000, and a couple from Texas who attended the Northern International Livestock Expo in Billings gave $20.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has proposed a bill that would provide a 50 percent federal match for funds raised by the state agency, Edwards said. That provision is part of the omnibus bill, which has yet to be heard by the full Senate.

The Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Board also will form a legislative committee whose goal will be finding a lawmaker to carry legislation asking for additional state funding.

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Oct 30

Wyoming proposes changes in its wolf plan

Wyoming proposes changes in its wolf plan

By BOB MOEN, Associated Press Writer

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming is revising its gray wolf management plan in hopes of placating concerns about providing enough protection for the animals, but environmentalists said the changes are inadequate because wolves can still be shot on sight in most of the state.

The state’s revisions include new wording to clarify its commitment to maintain at least 15 breeding pairs of wolves and 150 individual wolves in the state and new wording that further restricts the state’s ability to change trophy game boundaries.

By revising its management plan, Wyoming is trying to avoid being left out of a new attempt by the federal government to remove the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies from the endangered species list.

But a representative of an environmental group advocating for the predator said the state’s proposed changes are still not sufficient.

“We do not feel that this plan goes far enough,” Sierra Club representative Melanie Stein said.

The move by Wyoming comes after a federal judge in Montana recently restored the predator’s endangered status. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had stripped wolves of federal protection and transferred control over the animals to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

All three states adopted management plans that set up trophy game areas where controlled hunting of wolves would be permitted outside of national parks.

Wyoming’s plan went further by establishing an additional predator area where wolves could be shot on sight across most of the state. The idea was to allow ranchers to protect their livestock from wolves.

Environmental groups argue the shoot-on-sight provision cannot be part of any management plan, and U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy criticized Wyoming’s plan when he initially ruled in July on a lawsuit filed by the environmental groups.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has since announced a new initiative to end federal protections for gray wolves in Montana and Idaho while leaving them in place in Wyoming.

In an attempt to avoid being left out of the process, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal approved emergency rule changes to the state management plan.

However, the predator provision remains in the Wyoming plan because it is codified in state law and can only be changed by the Wyoming Legislature, which doesn’t meet again until next January.

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Oct 30

Idaho officials pushing to manage gray wolves

Idaho officials pushing to manage gray wolves

TWIN FALLS, Idaho(AP) – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is providing information to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service come up with a plan to give management of wolves back to the state, an official said.

Fish and Game believes federal protections for gray wolves in Idaho should be removed again so wolves can be managed by the agency, said Jim Unsworth, deputy director of the agency.

“In Fish and Game’s opinion, we certainly believe it’s time to delist wolves,” Unsworth told The Times-News.

Idaho was managing the wolves until last summer when a federal judge in Montana, ruling in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, barred the Fish and Wildlife Service from turning wolf management over to the states.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that Wyoming’s management plan in particular wouldn’t give wolves adequate protection. Wyoming has proposed that wolves be classified as predators that could be shot on sight in much of the state.

Earlier this month Molloy signed an order reinstating federal protections for the wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday announced that it was proposing a plan that could end federal protections for gray wolves in Montana and Idaho while leaving them in place in Wyoming.

The agency will take public comments until Nov. 28.

Unsworth said Idaho’s plan was previously approved by Fish and Wildlife and that it likely won’t change significantly.

“We don’t think we need to do a lot with that,” he said.

Unsworth said some things to be considered before wolves could be delisted again include looking at ways for wolf packs in the region to interbreed.

Fish and Wildlife is also looking at whether it can create smaller management areas for “distinct population segments,” or wolf packs that are isolated from other packs.

Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

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Oct 30

Wolf comments due by Nov. 28

Wolf comments due by Nov. 28

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period on a proposal to take the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains off a list that protects it under the federal Endangered Species Act. The comment period will end Nov. 28.

Meanwhile, the northern Rocky Mountain species will retain its federal protection in areas that include all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon and parts of north-central Utah.

Fish and Wildlife officials said that in 2002, recovery efforts reached the goal of 30 breeding pairs and at least 300 wolves for three consecutive years in the northern Rocky Mountain population. For more information, visit the Web site, westerngraywolf.fws.gov.

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Oct 30

WY: Study shows wildlife-watching generates billions

Study shows wildlife-watching generates billions

By WES SMALLING
Star-Tribune staff writer

A new federal report shows how the rapidly growing outdoor pastime of watching wild animals has become an economic powerhouse.

Released in October, the new addendum report tacked onto the federal government’s “National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation,” which is published every five years, concludes that expenditures from wildlife watching equal the revenues generated from all spectator sports, amusement parks and arcades, casinos without hotels, bowling alleys and ski resorts combined.

“Wildlife Watching in the U.S.: The Economic Impacts on National and State Economies in 2006″ concludes that in that year wildlife watchers generated $122.6 billion in total industrial output for state and national economies.

The country’s growing interest in watching birds and other wild animals is no surprise to Jessica Lynn, community naturalist for the Murie Audubon Society in Casper. At the Audubon Center at Garden Creek, she greets more than 500 student visitors a month and, depending on the season, about 100 adults a month. They come to peer through binoculars at birds and walk the nature trail that’s near the base of Casper Mountain.

“You just missed a flock of 30 turkeys that were right here,” she said, taking a break last Friday afternoon from setting up for a children’s Halloween event at the Audubon Center.

What does surprise her about the report is the massive amount of money generated by observing wildlife.

“Binoculars, backpacks, birding guides and maps, clothing for all four seasons,” she said.

People spend all that money on watching wildlife because observing the animals helps put them in touch with nature, she said.

“There’s just that connection to the natural world, and with so many people who live in town, live in cities, it’s seeing something different, getting away from all the hustle-bustle and the noise.”

While participation in wildlife watching grows, federal surveys show how the number of hunters and anglers continues to decline. That national trend is most likely a result of the country becoming more urban, said Nicolas Throckmorton, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program. The program distributes wildlife conservation grants to states and other entities from the revenues raised on a tax on hunting and fishing equipment.

“It’s a disturbing trend, because hunters and anglers provide the dollars for wildlife conservation,” he said. “There’s an 11 percent excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment. There is no tax on wildlife watching equipment.”

According to the surveys, wildlife watching is one of the most popular types of outdoor recreation in the country.

In 2006, nearly a third of the U.S. population, about 71.1 million people, enjoyed observing, feeding and photographing wildlife — an increase of 8 percent since 2001. Wildlife watchers spent $45.7 billion in 2006 on travel, gear and other related expenses. According to the report, those expenditures had a ripple effect across local, state and national economies generating $122.6 billion in industrial output and resulting in more than a million jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenues.

Together, hunters and anglers spent more in 2006 — $76.7 billion on travel, gear and other expenses of their sports.

In Wyoming, participation in fishing has declined 31 percent over the last decade, and there has been a slight decrease in the number of hunters. The state has had a slight rise in wildlife watchers who come from all over to visit the state for its wildlife, most notably at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The parks receive millions of visitors each year who come to camp, hike, see geysers and snap photos of bison, elk, grizzlies and wolves.

The big hit in the Casper area for birders is watching the showy springtime mating displays of sage grouse. There’s a growing local interest in the unique birds, and some people come from other states to see them, said Robin Kepple, spokeswoman for the Casper office of Wyoming Game and Fish, who teaches wildlife watching classes at Casper College.

“There aren’t many other places where you can go experience something like that,” Kepple said of watching sage grouse in the Casper area. “We do have some amazing wildlife populations in Wyoming, and it’s great you can just jump in your car and drive 15 minutes or so and see them.”

Like Lynn, Kepple is surprised at the billions of dollars generated from wildlife watching. As a baseball fan, she’s especially shocked that watching wild animals has more of an economic impact than pro sports.

“If that’s the case, it makes you wonder why professional athletes are making so many millions of dollars while wildlife are always scraping for habitat funding.”

The numbers are in

Recently released federal surveys conducted in 2006 show that during that year:

* Nationwide, 87.5 million people spent $122.3 billion hunting, fishing and watching wildlife.

* Anglers numbered 30 million and there were 12.5 million hunters, with 8.5 million participating in both pursuits. Combined, hunters and anglers spent $76.7 billion.

* Wildlife watchers numbered 71.1 million, an increase of 8 percent since 2001. They spent $45.7 billion, which generated $122.6 billion dollars in industrial output and resulted in 1,063,482 jobs, federal tax revenues of $9.3 billion, and state and local tax revenues of $8.9 billion.

* The top five states ranked by economic output for wildlife watching are California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New York.

* In Wyoming, 762,000 people hunted, fished and watched wildlife. About 203,000 of those fished and 102,000 hunted, while wildlife watchers numbered 643,000. Note that the sums of anglers, hunters and watchers exceeds the total number of participants in wildlife-related recreation because many people engaged in more than one type of activity.

Over the last decade, Wyoming has seen a 31 percent decline in the number of people fishing in the state. Hunting participation in Wyoming has remained relatively steady, showing only a slight decline. Wildlife watching has shown a slight increase in Wyoming.

The federal reports, “Wildlife Watching in the United States: The Economic Impacts on National and State Economies in 2006,” the “2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation” and state-by-state breakdowns are available for download online at the Web site of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program at:

http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/reports2006.html.

Where to watch

It’s always birding season at Casper’s Audubon Center at Garden Creek.

One of the best times to visit is for Brown Bag Birding every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Bring a lunch and watch birds at the feeders and keep an eye out for other wildlife visitors that frequent the area, such as deer, pronghorn and rabbits. Walk the nature trail or peer through binoculars from the warmth of the great indoors through the center’s large viewing windows.

Take Poplar Street south past Wyoming Boulevard, turn left at Garden Creek Road and follow it a short distance to the parking area.

A few other easily accessible spots to watch wildlife in and around Casper include:

* Casper Outdoor Classroom, located at the Casper office of Wyoming Game and Fish off Highway 220 along the North Platte River. The site includes an amphitheater, interpretive signs and area for outdoor learning activities. It connects to the North Platte River Pathway system and is adjacent to an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.

* Edness-Kimball Wilkins State Park is located 5 miles east of Casper. It features a viewing blind and nature trails with interpretive signs; handicapped accessible.

* North Platte River. Pick up a recreation guide from the Casper Parks and Recreation Department, which provides a trail map and info on the wildlife watching and other recreational activities along the river.

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Oct 30

MT: New book covers 16 years of MSU research in Yellowstone Park

New book covers 16 years of MSU research in Yellowstone Park

By EVELYN BOSWELL
For the Tribune

BOZEMAN — A multitude of findings about life in the heart of Yellowstone National Park are described in a new book covering 16 years of Montana State University research.

The book titled “The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone: Sixteen Years of Integrated Field Studies” covers many of the large charismatic animals that receive national and international attention, said editor and MSU ecologist Robert A. Garrott. It also deals with ecological processes that interest the general public, scientists, policy makers and park managers.

Wolves were reintroduced halfway through the study, so the researchers were able to document their effect on the behavior and population dynamics of elk and bison, Garrott said. As the park’s winter recreation policy became controversial, the scientists also became involved in studying wildlife responses to snowmobiles and snowcoaches and the potential effects of grooming the roads in winter on bison migration and movement patterns.

The purpose of the book is to provide readers a synthesis of a diverse body of research, Garrott said. He added that the effort was unique in its length and breadth.

Initial chapters describe characteristics of the landscape, climate, precipitation and snow pack dynamics. The core of the book presents several studies on elk, bison and wolf ecology and the interactions mong them. The authors conclude with an introspective discussion of the strengths and limitations of science to contribute to the contentious debates about wildlife and natural resource management in Yellowstone.

“My hope is that lots of people can pick up the book and understand everything we did, what we learned, what we didn’t learn, the surprises and the uncertainties about where the system is going in the future,” Garrott said. “The themes are ecological processes that are pervasive in all ecosystems and communities throughout the world.”

Garrott edited the book with P. J. White, his long-time collaborator and the supervisory wildlife biologist in Yellowstone, and Fred G.R. Watson, an earth systems scientists from California State University, Monterey Bay. Garrott also oversaw and coordinated the work of approximately 66 scientists and professionals and 15 graduate students whose research is explained in the book.

“It was difficult to keep collaborations going for 16 years and keep it integrated, but we worked really hard on it,” Garrott said.

The book demonstrates the value of long-term interdisciplinary collaborations, Garrott continued. Researchers in MSU’s College of Letters and Science worked with scientists in the College of Agriculture, for example. Research projects not only involved MSU, but the National Park Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and other state and federal agencies. Eight of the book’s 30 chapters represent doctoral theses of Garrott’s students. Jason Bruggeman, one of those students, focused on bison movements. Matt Becker studied wolf predation. Claire Gower studied elk behavior in response to wolves.

Garrott started the Yellowstone research in 1991 while a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He continued it after moving to MSU in 1995.

As a new professor, he didn’t want to muscle his way into the crowd of researchers already established on Yellowstone’s northern range, so he focused on the park’s interior, Garrott said. It was a unique, diverse and largely-ignored area that includes the range of the largest migratory populations of bison in North America. It’s also home to a unique non-migratory elk population associated with geothermal environments.

He suspects few researchers wanted to work in the harsh and isolated winter conditions in the park’s interior, Garrott said. Garrott, who had research experience in the Arctic and Antarctica, was undeterred.

“I saw really exciting opportunities that nobody seemed to recognize or just didn’t care to pursue,” Garrott said. “It was a good place for a new professor.”

Garrott and his teams of researchers were able to work relatively unnoticed for a decade until the arrival of the controversies surrounding wolves and winter recreation, Garrott continued. Suddenly, people who had been concerned about the debates of over-population of elk and bison focused their attention on these new issues. The profile of MSU’s research raised dramatically.

While the Yellowstone book is academic in nature, it is written and organized in a manner that will be useful to scientists, resource managers, policy makers, students and anyone interested in wildlife ecology, Garrott said. More than 100 color charts, maps and photos are interspersed over 736 pages.

The book — published by Elsevier in its Academic Press Terrestrial Ecology Series — is available through Amazon.com for $99.95.

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