Jan 31

SE: Extended controlled hunt for a wolf

Extended controlled hunt for a wolf

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

The controlled hunt of a wolf in the Herrestad’s hills is extended until 28 February.

From the beginning the permission for a controlled hunt was valid for 14 days in January but since there was not any snow it has not been possible to track. Now the Natural Resources agency has given extended permission for one of the wolves of the pair which established itself in the Herrestad hills last summer. Since then five or six dogs have been killed by wolf.

Förlängd skyddsjakt på varg

Skyddsjakten på varg på Herrestadsfjället förlängs till den 28 februari.

Från början gällde tillståndet för skyddsjakt för jakt under 14 dagar i januari men eftersom det inte varit någon snö har det inte gått att spåra. Nu har Naturvårdsverket gett förlängt tillstånd för jakt på en av vargarna i det par som etablerade sig på Herrestadfjället i somras. Sedan dess har fem eller sex hundar dödats av varg.

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Jan 31

UK: Elusive wolves caught on camera

Elusive wolves caught on camera

By Rebecca Morelle

Science reporter, BBC News

Remarkable new footage of Canada’s Arctic wolves has been caught on camera by a BBC crew.

The team managed to film the wolves taking to the water to hunt waterfowl – behaviour that has never been seen before, according to an expert.

Arctic wolves live in the Canadian Arctic and northern parts of Greenland; observing them is a difficult task as they rarely interact with humans.

The team followed a pack on Ellesmere Island for several weeks last summer.

This glimpse into the lives of these elusive animals was filmed for the Natural World wildlife programme: White Falcon, White Wolf, which also features other animals, including gyr falcons, Arctic foxes and snowy owls, that live on the remote island.

Wolf expert David Mech, from the US Geological Survey, said: “I’d never seen wolves try to catch waterfowl before and this was interesting to see.”

Usually, he said, wolves eat large hoofed animals, although they will vary their diet as circumstances dictate.

He explained: “They take advantage of whatever food opportunities are available, and in this case, these waterfowl were available, so they took advantage of trying to get them.

“I’m interested in the challenges these animals overcome to hunt their food. I’ve been intrigued with how the wolf manages to solve problems in so many different ways, with so many different species.”

Lucky find

Ellesmere Island sits at the northernmost tip of Canada; it is only during the brief Arctic summer that the snow thaws to reveal the true features of the rugged landscape beneath.

Here, the BBC Natural History Unit tracked down a pack of eight wolves, including a dominant male and three one-year-olds.

Harry Hoskyns-Abrahall, assistant producer of White Falcon, White Wolf, said the team was lucky to come across the wolves almost as soon as they arrived on the island.

He told the BBC News website: “We went to this particular area because wolves had been spotted there a few years earlier.

“We were immediately encouraged when we found wolf tracks and marking posts on day one; and then the next day, we went out on the same route and we saw a wolf, which was absolutely unbelievable and very exciting.”

By following the wolf and its tracks, the team was eventually able to track down a den.

“We were incredibly lucky,” said Mr Hoskyns-Abrahall. “Once you’ve got the den, you have somewhere where the wolves are going to focus their behaviour.”

The crew was able to film the animals going about their daily business.

“The most incredible part was when we saw the young wolf swim out to the middle of a lake and go after the geese, we just couldn’t believe that it could seriously consider getting a goose in that way,” he added.

Inquisitive nature

The team was also amazed by the wolves’ boldness.

“The younger wolves in the pack would come right up to us, and they would come up to our camp and empty our rucksacks – you would wake up and find your clothing spread all over the place. They were very inquisitive,” explained Mr Hoskyns-Abrahall.

Arctic explorer Jim McNeill, who worked with the crew and kept a diary of his experiences for the BBC News website, was particularly taken with one young wolf who he nicknamed Lucy.

He said: “The highlight for me was one afternoon when the crew was off filming.

“Lucy came near the camp and I spent the best part of an afternoon with her in spectacular sunshine. We just shared a space – it felt extremely special.”

He added: “I’ve been exploring this area for 25 years and to spend this time with these animals gave me another perspective on Arctic life.

“To be part of the process of finding them and then capturing that footage was a fantastic feeling.”

Fergus Beeley, producer of the programme, said making the film was something of an accomplishment.

He said: “Arctic wolves have been an aspiration [to film] of mine for about 15 years.

“I have a bit of a reputation for going for animals that are a tricky: filming the wolves posed the ultimate challenge.

“We didn’t know where they would be ‘denning’, what their movements would be, so we had to do a lot of planning based on ‘guestimates’ – and luckily they worked out to be right.”

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Jan 31

WY: Gingery wolf bill garners support

Gingery wolf bill garners support

By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyo.

A state legislative hearing on five bills proposing differing ways of managing wolves in Wyoming drew strong support for designating the animal as a trophy species to be managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

But the hearing, in front of the House Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee, also solicited testimony from wolf critics who said the state should seize wolf management from the federal government and fight in court. Advocates of that position, including agricultural groups, said it is Wyoming’s constitutional right to manage wildlife outside national parks.

At one end of the lawmaking spectrum was House Bill 21, sponsored by Rep. Keith Gingery, of Jackson. The bill would give wolves trophy game status throughout Wyoming. Endorsed by conservation groups, it would allow Wyoming Game and Fish to manage the species once the federal government removes protection of the Endangered Species Act.

At the other end is House Bill 148, which declares Wyoming will assume authority over the animals this spring, regardless of federal action. Supported by ranchers and agricultural groups, it directs the attorney general to defend Wyoming’s moves in court.

Wyoming Game and Fish Director Steve Ferrell said his agency favors the bill that most quickly would result in the removal of federal protection of the wolf, giving management to Wyoming. Only then can Game and Fish complete its job of managing all wildlife, a responsibility that is hard to carry out when the federal government is in charge of wolves, he said.

Game and Fish officials’ testimony indicated that giving trophy status to wolves throughout the state — instead of declaring them predators that can be killed any way at any time across much of Wyoming — would be a step toward satisfying a federal judge’s reluctance to give Wyoming its own authority.

Outgoing Game and Fish commissioner Bill Williams, of Thermopolis, specifically backed trophy game status — a key element of Gingery’s bill — as the best route for Wyoming.

“Trophy game statewide is the most expeditious way of getting management in the hands of Wyoming Game and Fish,” he told the committee.

The wolf in Wyoming won’t be removed from federal Endangered Species Act protection if plans continue to include a predator designation for the animal in portions of the state, he said.

“I believe there’s a guarantee that if we don’t change dual classification, we won’t be included in delisting,” he said.

In Jackson, Melanie Stein of Sierra Club and Franz Camenzind of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance both backed Gingery’s bill.

Making all wolves trophy game, whose killing would be regulated by Game and Fish, “takes one uncertainty off the table,” and would help the federal government step back from wolf management, Camenzind said.

“It is a clear and appropriate step we should take,” he said of adopting Gingery’s bill.

Stein also backed House Bill 21 and trophy game status for the animal. Committee chairman Pat Childers pressed her about whether Sierra Club would drop lawsuits against Wyoming if wolves were declared trophy game.

“We do not have a lawsuit against a delisting rule that is pending now,” Stein said. “We need to see trophy game [status]. Without that we would be likely to challenge.”

Representatives of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Wyoming Conservation Voters all backed Gingery’s bill.

But Taylor H. Haynes, a founder of the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, was among those who urged a stand-and-fight position.

Calling the Endangered Species Act “clearly illegal and unconstitutional,” he urged lawmakers to go further than the least tolerant wolf bill and declare all wolves outside national parks predators.

“We draw the line there and simply stand our ground,” he said. “We cannot lose.”

Others, including Albert Sommers, of Sublette County; Darlene Vaughn, of Lander; and Maury Jones, of Star Valley, asked legislators not to back down to federal demands and to fight by adopting House Bill 148.

Childers said the committee could start to debate the bills Wednesday.

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Jan 30

MN: Sex education is hot topic for wolf scientists

Sex education is hot topic for wolf scientists

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

Mexican wolves that roam the hills of Arizona and New Mexico don’t know it, but their Minnesota cousins did them a huge favor last week.

The Southwestern wolves are endangered, so scientists tested 14 Minnesota gray wolves as surrogates to learn more about wolf reproduction.

It got personal.

Eight male wolves donated sperm. Six females had their reproductive organs probed and viewed on monitors.

The goal of those and other tests is to improve the chances that artificial insemination can rebuild the endangered Mexican wolf population, said Cheryl Asa, reproductive biologist at the St. Louis Zoo.

The zoo team found an ideal lab at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake. The nonprofit center cares for more than 50 gray wolves that have been orphaned, injured or are unable to survive in the wild for other reasons. They and other animals are used for scientific research and education programs.

All of the procedures were safe and the wolves were anesthetized, said Peggy Callahan, executive director of the center. “Under anesthesia the wolves don’t have any pain, and they don’t have any sensation, and they don’t have any awareness,” she said.

From Minnesota to Mexico

The Minnesota wolves are not in jeopardy, but the Mexican gray wolf came within a whisker of extinction by the 1970s. “It basically came down to seven wolves,” said Dan Stark, wolf specialist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Mexican gray wolf is slightly smaller than its northern relative, has larger ears to dissipate heat, and lives in mountains and forested areas. In the United States, it went extinct in the wild decades ago, largely from hunting and poisoning by ranchers.

Biologists captured the five remaining wild wolves in Mexico and began a breeding program with a few captive ones in the United States. Today, there are about 300 Mexican wolves in zoos and other institutions, and 50 have been reintroduced into wild areas of Arizona and New Mexico.

Stark, who worked on those reintroductions for 10 years before coming to Minnesota in 2007, said the research in Forest Lake will help scientists maximize the remaining genetic diversity of the Mexican wolves.

One of the questions tested with the Minnesota wolves is how long it takes females to ovulate. Six females were implanted on Jan. 6 with a synthetic hormone to stimulate ovulation. Scientists checked the condition of each female last week by inserting an endoscope and viewing the womb on a monitor. Others checked the vital signs of unconscious wolves lying on pads on the floor, waiting their turns on the examination table.

Asa said that learning more about the optimal time for insemination is critical to success, because wolves ovulate only once per year. “There are only two to four days that it’s appropriate to inseminate a female and we have to figure out when that is,” she said. The team also practiced artificial insemination procedures to be used with Mexican wolves.

Technique from war vets

Male wolves underwent a different regime. A slight electric current caused ejaculation. Volunteers held the wolf as its pelvic and leg muscles twitched and contracted. Technicians collected semen in clear plastic cups for computer analysis.

Asa said the stimulation technique was first used on paraplegic Vietnam veterans who wanted to father their own biological children.

After four days of testing the wolves, the researchers learned that they had underestimated the time it takes a female wolf to ovulate, and they discovered that a different “extender” will probably do a better job of preserving semen so it can be frozen for future breeding.

Callahan said the research represents small but important steps in the quest to help the Mexican wolf return to the wild and breed naturally. “Given what society did to this animal to begin with, they need our support,” she said.

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Jan 30

Midnight rulings and over-rulings

Midnight rulings and over-rulings

By Brennan Sang

Quickly after taking office, Barack Obama followed the lead of many past presidents and halted any rulings made by his predecessor that hadn’t yet been published in the Federal Register. While these decisions effect hundreds of rulings, there are three rulings that the Bush administration made before leaving office that directly affect us here in West.

The first is the Bush administration’s ruling to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in the Rockies. Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995-96 after a nearly 70 year absence. The original recovery goal was to have at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs in the states where wolves were reintroduced. Today’s estimates place the wolf population at over 1,500 with a total of nearly 100 breeding pairs in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming .

After their second attempt to remove wolves from the endangered species list was overturned in 2008, the US Fish and Wildlife Service under President Bush announced a rule that would stop federal protection of gray wolves on January 14, 2009.

The freeze that Obama placed on Bush’s last minute rulings gives the new administration a chance to review, make changes to or possibly throw out the wolf delisting, as well as many other rulings that the Bush administration made in its final days.

In its final months, the outgoing administration put in place a new policy that allows people to carry concealed firearms in most national parks and wildlife refuges. This changes a 25-year-old policy restricting loaded firearms which was enacted by the Reagan administration.

The new firearm policy had already been published in the Federal Register when Obama took office, so the freeze doesn’t apply to this policy. Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, supported the rule change, so the future looks bright for those wishing to carry concealed weapons in Yellowstone.

Another contentious midnight ruling by the last administration allows National Park managers to make decisions regarding mountain bike trails in the parks. Prior to this ruling, bike trails in the parks were regulated by bureaucrats in Washington.

The new rule will make it easier to open trails to mountain bikers that are currently open to hikers and horseback riders. Under the old rules, opening existing trails to mountain bikes would often take months, and occasionally years

Many environmental groups opposed the mountain bike ruling , which was heavily lobbied for by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The ruling will stand for the time being, as it was enacted before the Bush administration left the White House.

These sorts of last minute rulings are commonplace with outgoing administrations, especially when the political party in control of the office is about to change. It is just as common to see a new president come in and halt as many of the previous administration’s rulings as possible.

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Jan 30

WY: Wyoming lawmakers mull wolf rules amid uncertainty

Wyoming lawmakers mull wolf rules amid uncertainty

By MATT JOYCE
Of The Associated Press

CHEYENNE – Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg says it’s unknown how the new presidential administration will decide to handle gray wolves in Wyoming, complicating any attempt by the state Legislature to address the issue.

A House committee heard from Salzburg, state wildlife managers and the public on Friday as lawmakers are considering five different bills regarding the management of wolves in the state.

The lengthy fight over Wyoming’s wolf-management rules has reached an uncertain juncture.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to leave Wyoming wolves on the endangered species and under federal protection.

But before that decision took effect, the Obama administration took office and the Interior Department withdrew the decision and began reviewing what action to take.

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Jan 29

FR: Guess who’s coming for dinner? Wolf tracks spotted in central France

Guess who’s coming for dinner? Wolf tracks spotted in central France

For the first time in 70 years, grey wolf tracks have been found in the peaks of the Massif Central. Conservationists are thrilled but French sheep farmers are howling, reports John Lichfield

The grey wolf appears to have colonised the uplands of central France for the first time in 70 years, inviting another battle in a ferocious pastoral war between wolf-lovers and wolf-haters.

Wolf tracks were identified this month in the snow of the Cévennes mountains, in the lower part of the Massif Central, north-west of Avignon. A park ranger also reported seeing a wolf near the Cévenol village of Bondons, close to the ripped carcass of a newborn calf.

Wolves began to recolonise the French Alps from Italy 16 years ago, provoking running battles between shepherds and animal-lovers and even between anti-wolf and pro-wolf shepherds. The sightings in the Cévennes suggest that a few animals are spending their second winter in the mountains 100 miles west of the Alps, on the other side of the busy and heavily populated Rhône valley. Two successive winters is the official definition of animal “residence” used by biologists.

In the past two years, there have been isolated, confirmed sightings of lone wolves in other parts of theMassif Central – as far east as the hills of Cantal. Until now, however, there has been no evidence that colonies of wolves have begun to settle in the vast upland territory west of the Rhone in which they were hunted to extinction in the late 1930s.

“This is a fascinating development but it was only a question of time,” Daniel Véjux, one of France’s foremost experts on the wolf, said yesterday. “It was inevitable that the need for new wild prey would force young wolves to establish new hunting territories across the Rhone at some point. Now, unless they are persecuted to extinction by mankind again, there is nothing to stop wolves spreading across thousands of square miles throughout the Massif Central and Limousin in the next couple of decades.”

The news of a possible wolf claw-hold west of the Rhône has caused alarm bells to ring among the sheep farmers of the département of Lozère, which includes the Cévennes range. Joel Bancillon, a spokesman for the local branch of the militant small farmers’ union, the Conféderation Paysanne, said: “Our only problem at present is with wild dogs. But if this is confirmed there will be a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear.

“In the Alps, shepherds have been forced to adopt anti-wolf defences but, even then, their flocks have been decimated.”

That is disputed by animal protection groups and even by those Alpine farmers who have embraced official measures to keep the wolf at bay. M. Véjux is a wolf expert and a member of the national committee of the main French wildlife study and lobby group, L’Association pour la Protection des Animaux Sauvages. “If sheep are protected properly, a wolf will not attack them,” he said. “It will not risk injury by dogs. It will seek wild prey in the forests. If you leave sheep unprotected, well then, you make the wolf’s choice an easy one…”

A bitter quarrel has been raging between animal lovers and some shepherds since Italian wolves began to recolonise the French Alps in the early 1990s. Wolves, which are a protected species under French and European law, have been poisoned, trapped and shot. There have even been attacks on flocks belonging to those shepherds who have agreed to live with the wolf and adopt new forms of protection for their animals.

The last of the original population of native French wolves was shot in the Massif Central in 1939. Wolves had already been driven from the Alpine regions of France by the end of the 19th century. Some time around 1991-2, Italian wolves began to creep back across the Alpine frontier with France. They have not posed any danger to humans but attacks on sheep began almost immediately.

Some militant shepherds’ groups and local politicians insisted that the wolves had been reintroduced secretly by ecologists. DNA tests on dead wolves showed that the newcomers were indeed immigrants from the native Italian population, which had been reduced to a few packs in the Apennines by the 1920s but has been spreading northwards since the 1970s.

There are now believed to be between 100 and 120 wolves resident in France, split into about a dozen packs. In 2004, the French government introduced a Plan Loup (wolf plan) to try to pacify shepherds and protect the wolves. A small, official cull of six wolves a year was allowed. Sheep farmers were given grants to create anti-wolf defences, including electrified night enclosures and a permanent day and night guard by dogs and “summer shepherds” (often students).

The plan has been a success but some French alpineshepherds still complain that the arrival of the wolf has disrupted what was already a fragile summer grazing industry. Wild animal campaigners point out that wolves kill a fraction of the number of sheep that are destroyed each year by wild dogs, disease and rockfalls.

Officials of the French national agency for hunting and wildlife have recovered wolf droppings from the Cévennes in recent days. If they match samples found in the area last winter, the first wolf colony west of the Rhône since 1939 will have been officially identified.

“The spread of the wolf is an entirely natural phenomenon,” said M. Véjux. “Two-year-old wolves often have to leave the pack to find new hunting territory. Isolated animals have also been seen in the Jura and the Vosges.”

The Rhône Valley, with its motorways and railway lines and dense population, and the broad river itself, might seem to be an insuperable barrier for a young wolf to cross.

“Not in the least,” said M. Véjux. “A wolf can run 60 kilometres (40 miles) in one night. It can swim a river and it can easily pass through urban areas unnoticed or mistaken for a dog. They are very intelligent, adaptable animals.”

Could the grey wolf therefore soon be at Britain’s door? Wolves are not that adaptable, it seems.

“That’s not at all likely,” said M. Véjux. “They will almost certainly stay in the hills and the forests. There would be nothing for wolves in the plains north and west of the Auvergne.”

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Jan 29

SD: Wolf killed in South Dakota by coyote hunter

Wolf killed in South Dakota by coyote hunter

Staff Reports
Argus Leader

On Jan. 25, 70-pound, female wolf was shot and killed by a coyote hunter in Roberts County.

Wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act and state law, and it is illegal to kill them, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state Game, Fish & Parks Department officials.

People who plan to hunt coyotes in north-eastern South Dakota, particularly in Northern Roberts County, make sure the animal is definitely a coyote and not a wolf.

Anyone who witnesses the illegal taking of a wolf can call Fish and Wildlife Service special agent Ken Dulik at (605) 885-6403 or the GF&P poacher hotline at (888) 683-7224. People in Roberts County can call conservation officer Dean Shultz at (605) 698-3852.

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Jan 29

MT: Wolf-livestock board members needed

Wolf-livestock board members needed

For the Tribune

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking nominations for the board directing the state’s program to reduce livestock losses caused by wolves and to reimburse ranchers for wolf-related losses.

The seven-member Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Board was established in 2007 by the Montana Legislature in response to recommendations made several years ago by the Montana Wolf Management Advisory Council, and to provisions in Montana’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that call for the creation of livestock loss-reduction and reimbursement programs.

The purpose of the board is to administer programs and funds to minimize livestock losses caused by wolves and to reimburse livestock producers for wolf-depredation losses.

The board consists of three members nominated by the Board of Livestock, three members nominated by the FWP Commission, and one member from the general public.

Prospective board members must be knowledgeable or experienced in at least one of the following subjects: raising livestock; livestock marketing, sales, or breeding associations; wolf and livestock interactions; wildlife conservation; administration and fundraising.

The addition of fundraising experience to the list of qualifications reflects the board’s leading role in generating financial support for the program.

Nominations are due Feb. 15 to Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Board Nominations in care of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701.

E-mail nominations to FWP at fwpwld@mt.gov.

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Jan 29

ID: Biologist: At least 2 packs live in Boundary County

Biologist: At least 2 packs live in Boundary County

A local biologist with Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the agency doesn’t have a good hand on Boundary County’s wolf population, but there are at least two established packs.

“We certainly have had numerous sightings,” said Wayne Wakkinen, a wildlife research biologist with Fish and Game. “We know there’s many more wolves around. We haven’t trapped or radio-collared them to have really good estimates.”

One group is called the Boundary Back in the Hall Mountain area. There other is called the Calder Mountain Pack.

There is some wildlife loss. Within Idaho, it’s estimated that each wolf consumes about 16.5 deer or elk per year, Wakkinen said.

He also believes a farmer in the Hall Mountain area last year lost some cows to wolves, for which the farmer was reimbursed.

“We had a group in the Grass Creek this year, but I don’t think there’s any known losses,” Wakkinen said.

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