Apr 30

OR: Cattlemen gather for wolf debate

Cattlemen gather for wolf debate

Recent attacks on livestock spark legislative hearing

Mitch Lies
Capital Press

SALEM – Oregon lawmakers on Thursday, April 30, were to meet to discuss recent wolf attacks on livestock in Eastern Oregon.

The hope among ranchers is the hearing leads to changes in the state’s wolf regulations.

Ron Anglin, wildlife division administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the state Fish and Wildlife Commission needs legislative action before it can ease restrictions on killing or trapping problem wolves.

Key to moving a bill this session could lie in whether the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and an environmental organization, Defenders of Wildlife, can reach a compromise allowing cattlemen to protect their livestock while looking out for the long-term welfare of wolves.

Cattlemen, reportedly, want the authority to trap or kill wolves caught chasing or biting livestock. To date, the groups have failed to reach a compromise, according to reports.

The head of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities Committee, Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, said even with an agreement between the two organizations, chances of moving a bill this session are slim, given that the deadline for scheduling work sessions has passed.

But, he said, “there are always opportunities with priority bills and relating clauses. There probably will be vehicles for moving a bill still floating around.”

The state could be in a position to manage wolf populations in Oregon as soon as May 4, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to delist the gray wolf. The wolf currently is protected under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

Oregon’s ESA prohibits trapping or killing problem wolves except with a permit from the ODFW. Before lethal measures are allowed, nonlethal efforts to resolve conflicts must be exhausted and wolves must be caught in the act of killing livestock. Also, the department can issue a permit only after a rancher suffers loss of livestock from a wolf attack.

So far, Anglin said, no rancher has requested a permit.

Anglin said wildlife agents are trying to locate two wolves responsible for the three recent attacks that led to the deaths of more than two dozen lambs and one calf in Eastern Oregon.

Agents have camped out near the attack sites and conducted several surveillance flights over the attack area in an attempt to locate the wolves, Anglin said.

Agents on Friday, April 24, said they were moving their focus into higher elevations under the premise the wolves had moved upslope.

Traps set at the depredation sites were pulled Thursday, April 23, after no sign of wolf activity for six days.

Wildlife agents hope to trap the wolves and fit them with radio collars.

ODFW Northeast Region Manager Craig Ely described the wolves as young, similar to teenagers who just received their drivers’ licenses.

Agents believe the wolves emigrated recently from Idaho. The Keating, Ore., site of the attacks is about 40 miles from Idaho, a distance wolves can travel in less than a day, Anglin said.

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Apr 30

SE: ‘Dala wolf’ shot

“Dala wolf” shot

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

The agressive wolf that alarmed a few people in western Dalarna, in the regions around Vansbro, has been shot.

Since the Natural Resources Agency decided on Wednesday on a controlled hunt of the wolf it did not take long before it was shot in the area mentioned.

Already by 4PM it was known that the wolf was dead.

It was transported immediately to the National Veterinary Institute where it will be necropsied.

”Dalavargen” skjuten

Den oskygga varg som skrämt upp åtskilliga i västra Dalarna, i trakterna kring Vansbro, har skjutits.

Sedan Naturvårdsverket på onsdagen beslutat om skyddsjakt på vargen dröjde det inte länge innan den sköts inom det område som pekats ut.

Redan klockan 16 kunde det konstateras att vargen var död.

Den transporterades då genast till Statens veterinärmedicinska anstalt där den ska obduceras.

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Apr 30

ID: Wolf may not be at fault in calf killings

Wolf may not be at fault in calf killings

ASHTON — When an Ashton rancher reported three of his calves were killed, possibly by a wolf, the Idaho Fish and Game Department and federal Wildlife Services personnel quickly responded and investigated.

The results: Some type of large canid (member of the dog family) killed the three calves south of Ashton Friday night, according to a Fish and Game news release. But officials aren’t ready to pin these killings on a wolf.

After being contacted by the livestock owner to investigate the incident, a Fish and Game officer contacted Wildlife Services.

An investigation of the scene confirmed that a single track of a lone large dog-like animal belonged to the animal responsible for killing the calves.

A live trap was baited and set at the site Saturday night.

A wolf seemed to be the chief suspect, but a large gray malamute dog was captured in the trap Saturday night. The trap was baited again and set, but no other animals were caught in the trap the following two nights.

While it cannot be confirmed that the dog killed these calves, a neighbor reported that he had shot at the same gray malamute that had been chasing his livestock earlier on the same night that the three calves were killed, the Fish and Game says.

“I think it is important for everyone to realize that anytime an incident occurs that could be related to wolves that it will be investigated thoroughly,” Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt says.

While wolves are known to prey on livestock, statistics indicate that the numbers of livestock killed by domestic dogs allowed to run loose totals several hundred in Idaho each year.

Wolves have been blamed on at least three attacks on dogs and for harassing a herd of horses in the Ashton area in the past two years.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries says the trapped malamute was taken to the St. Anthony dog pound and kept until the owner was located. The dog was released to the owner.

As per state code, the owner was served a letter indicating his dog was found running at large. The letter informs the owner of the state code and warns him if the dog is found running at large again, the owner will get a ticket.

Humphries says there is no way of proving the dog was to blame for the death of the calves, or that some other animal is to blame.

But he did say his office has had several complaints this spring of dogs running at large and has served several letters similar to the one served in this most recent case.

The complaints have come from all over the county, from Egin to Chester to Ashton, Humphries says.

While this case presents the most serious accusation against a dog running at loose, loose dogs also have been accused of chasing mares to the point of causing them to abort colts, the sheriff says.

He’s discovered many people are unaware of the state law against allowing dogs to run loose.

As far as wolves go, the Fish and Game encourages people to report possible wolf sightings and to find out more about wolves.

Visit fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves to learn more about wolves and report wolf sightings.

JOYCE EDLEFSEN

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Apr 30

Wolf advocates warn delisting will lead to ‘blood bath’

Wolf advocates warn delisting will lead to ‘blood bath’

ANDREW WINEKE

Tala and Nakai are sister and brother, 5½ weeks old and adorable.

The wolf pups from the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide made their first public appearance Thursday, starring in a wildlife exhibition at The Broadmoor, but Darlene Kobobel, their caretaker, is worried this will be an ugly spring for the pups’ wild-born brethren.

After years of debate, court cases and bureaucratic wrangling, on May 4 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is due to remove gray wolves from the endangered and threatened species list in Idaho, Montana and parts of Utah, Oregon and Washington. Wolves will remain protected in Wyoming.

Kobobel is using her furry ambassadors to speak out against the delisting, and urges visitors to the center to write or call U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to protest the decision.

“As a wolf and wildlife center, I felt I couldn’t stand back and not do anything,” Kobobel said. “I’m hoping these babies can help be a voice.”

Kobobel said the delisting could lead to immediate government-sponsored hunts and culls, at least in some of the states. This time of year, she said, killing the adults would leave pups like Tala and Nakai to starve in their dens.

“It will literally be a blood bath,” she said. “I’m not saying never kill a wolf, ever. I’m saying, there are better ways to do it.”

From the government’s standpoint, however, removing wolves from the list is a success story – the culmination of years of careful, and highly controversial, reintroduction. More than 1,600 wolves now roam the northern Rocky Mountains. That’s far above the 300-wolf minimum goal established by the recovery plan adopted in 1987, a mark that was achieved in 2001. In states where they will be delisted, wolf management plans aim to maintain a stable population size, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In Montana, for instance, that state’s fish, wildlife and parks department said in a news release that it wants a stable population of 400 or more wolves, compared with a current population of about 500. Idaho has a population of about 850 wolves currently, with a target range of 500 to 700.

Even with wolves coming off the protected list, there won’t be a full-fledged hunt – not yet, anyway. Montana and Idaho both plan to hold wolf-hunting seasons in the fall, although quotas haven’t been set yet.

The management plans, particularly Idaho’s, aren’t thorough enough to satisfy conservation groups, who plan to file a lawsuit and seek an injunction, said a spokesman for the group Defenders of Wildlife. A similar injunction last year successfully postponed the delisting until this May. The case won’t go to court until June 4, so there will be at least several weeks where the wild wolves will be unprotected.

Tala and Nakai are cute but unintended results of an accidental pregnancy of Koda, one of the wolf center’s females, Kobobel said, who was supposed to be too young to breed. The center tries not to add to the state’s captive wolf population, Kobobel said, but now that they’re here, the pups will spend their lives at the center.

And maybe they’ll change a few minds along the way.

Wolf Protection

You can visit timber wolf puppies Tala and Nakai at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, located on Lower Twin Rocks Road in Divide. Admission is $10. Go to wolfeducation.org or call 687-9742 for information.

For information on the decision to remove wolves from the threatened and endangered species list in some western states, go to fws.gov/endangered.

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Apr 30

MT: Elk and wolves

Elk and wolves

Seven to 23 elk killed per wolf at any time between the months of November and April

Not all elk populations respond in the same manner when faced with sharing the landscape with wolves, a new report by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) suggests.

Researchers who spent the past seven years measuring the populations and behavior of elk in Montana found that elk numbers in some areas of southwestern Montana have dropped rapidly due mostly to the loss of elk calves targeted by wolves and grizzly bears that inhabit the same area.

The same study, led by FWP and Montana State University, also suggests that i n some areas of western Montana elk numbers have increased while hunter-harvests of elk have decreased, with little apparent influence by local wolf packs on elk numbers.

“One-size-fits-all explanations of wolf-elk interactions across large landscapes do not seem to exist,” said Justin Gude, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park’s chief of wildlife research in Helena.

The 95-page report contains two sections. The first section summarizes research efforts in the Greater Yellowstone Area and southwestern Montana, with a primary focus on wolf-elk interactions. The second section summarizes FWP data collection and monitoring efforts from the entire range of wolves in Montana.

In their study of elk and wolves southwestern Montana and within the Greater Yellowstone Area, researchers found that elk are the primary prey species for wolves, especially during the cold-weather months that stretch from November through April.

“Our research shows that wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park tend to prey on elk calves more than on adult female elk, but they will also target adult male elk that inhabit a wolf pack’s territory,” Gude said.

Gude said the wolves’ wintertime predation on elk varies widely across southwestern Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Area, from about seven to 23 elk killed per wolf at any time between the months of November and April.

“In summer, data are more limited,” Gude said, “but it appears that wolves kill fewer elk during summer than during winter.”

Listed below are some other findings from the study.

  • In the Northern Yellowstone elk herd, a continued decline in elk numbers is likely unless total predator to elk ratios decline, even if hunting pressure remains low.
  • In most areas with low total predator to elk ratios, elk numbers have remained stable or have increased since wolf restoration began.
  • Wolves influence elk distribution, movements, group sizes, and habitat selection to varying degrees in different areas, but hunting activity and hunter access have a greater impact on elk distribution, movements, group sizes, and habitat selection than do wolves.
  • Elk and moose populations in northwestern Montana appear to be stable or increasing in the few areas that have sufficient data to examine long-term trends.
  • In most of northwestern Montana, it’s probable that white-tailed deer are the major prey of wolves, yet the recent decline in deer numbers there is most likely due to poor fawn survival and recruitment during the recent spate of severe winters—in combination with high antlerless harvests by hunters and wolf-predation rates.
  • Some areas in Montana are unsuitable to wolves because livestock depredations continually lead to wolf removals, preventing wolf numbers from increasing at rates similar to protected areas. In these areas, wolves are less likely to limit deer and elk populations.

The final report is available online at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Elk-Wolf Interactions.”

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Apr 30

Ore. ranchers seek freedom in handling wolves

Ore. ranchers seek freedom in handling wolves

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Cattleman’s Association is working to persuade lawmakers to change the current Wolf Management Plan and allow them to kill or capture wolves that harass or attack their sheep.

Curt Jacobs, a cattleman who operates a ranch outside Baker City, told a legislative committee Thursday about how wolves killed 24 of his lambs and injured three others. The association brought pictures of the attacks to further their point. One showed a lamb split in two.

Under current law ranchers can only haze wolves. An association lobbyist says the change would give ranchers more “tools” to work with.

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Apr 30

NH: Wither the wolves?

Wither the wolves?

Are there wolves among us? The Little Nature Museum is hosting Wolves: Beyond the Myth, on Saturday at 1:30 in the Community Room of the Hopkinton Town Library. Myrtle Clapp, who has studied wildlife behavior for 40 years and has worked at the Loki Clan Wolf Refuge in Conway for nearly 12 years, will present an illustrated program on wolves, including facts, current status, refuge activities and what people can do to help wolves. The event if free. For more information, visit littlenaturemuseum.org or call 746-6121.

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Apr 29

MT: Ninemile Valley calf injured by wolves

Ninemile Valley calf injured by wolves

By the Missoulian

NINEMILE – A domestic calf was injured by wolves on private land in the Ninemile Valley west of Missoula last week.

USDA Wildlife Services investigated and confirmed the incident on April 20, as well as another probable wolf-related livestock depredation on the same property.

The injured calf survived the incident, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is working with the livestock producer to try to reduce future depredation risks and monitor the area for wolves.

The wolves involved in the incident were likely members of the Ninemile Pack, which is known to routinely use this area.

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Apr 29

SE: Aggressive wolf will be shot

Aggressive wolf will be shot

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

A wolf which has appeared aggressive and followed several persons in Vansbro commune in western Dalarna may be shot, after a decision by the Natural Resources Agency.

“The wolves can be nosy, but this one shows a behavior which will not be accepted. Therefore we approve the application for a controlled hunt”, writes Susanna Löfgren at the Natural Resources Agency in a press release.

Oskygg varg ska skjutas

En varg som har uppträtt oskyggt och följt efter flera personer i Vansbro kommun i västra Dalarna får skjutas, efter ett beslut av Naturvårdsverket.

”Vargarna kan vara nyfikna, men den här visar ett beteende som inte ska behöva accepteras. Därför godkänner vi ansökan om skyddsjakt”, skriver Susanna Löfgren på Naturvårdsverket i ett pressmeddelande.

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Apr 29

NH: Experts remain dubious about existence of wolves, mountain lions in the wilds….

Experts remain dubious about existence of wolves, mountain lions in the wilds of the Granite State

By JOHN KOZIOL

Wolves and mountain lions in New Hampshire? Maybe, but not conclusively, say local, state and federal wildlife experts.

The experts — Patrick Tate, a wildlife biologist and the furbearer project leader for the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department; Michael Amaral, biologist and endangered species supervisor for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; and Dave Erler, senior naturalist at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center — also agree that wolves will, and mountain lions may, one day return to New Hampshire.

And, the trio concurs, the way to spike reports of sightings of what had once been the top predators in the Granite State is to publish an article like this one.

But they also agree that despite numerous reports — as well as a popular thread on the winnipesaukee.com forum about possible wolves in Central New Hampshire — there’s been no tangible proof that either the wolf or mountain lion has come home, yet, and established resident breeding populations.

As for wolves, Tate, Amaral and Erler suggested that what some folks may be seeing or hearing is a wolf hybrid, which either escaped from its owner — it is legal to own a wolf-hybrid in New Hampshire provided that the animal is sterilized and kept penned up; there are 300,000 wolf hybrids in the U.S., Amaral said — or one that may have been brought here from another state.

More than likely, however, it’s a large coyote or, much less likely, a “lone wolf” far from home.

It’s also possible, said Tate, Amaral and Erler, that a mountain lion — whose ownership is permitted in some states — may have been released illegally in New Hampshire and was spotted here.

Despite a lot of speculation by the public, Tate recently noted with a mixture of befuddlement and exasperation that there is no conspiracy to suppress information about either animal, both of which were pushed out of their habitat by settlers who could ill afford to lose a valuable cow or sheep.

A history of the state’s fauna, Erler said, notes that the last wolf in New Hampshire was killed in 1895, but the book is less clear about the last mountain lion.

“There are wolves in … Canada,” Tate said, adding that one school of thought is that they could eventually make their way down to New Hampshire despite the challenge of crossing the St. Lawrence Seaway.

He believes that it is “highly likely” that wolves will return to the Granite State because there’s abundant food for them in the form of moose, deer and beaver. Tate monitors the beaver population and said wolves would help keep it in check, thereby providing a service to humans because beaver dams create a variety of roadway drainage problems.

Tate, who frequently lectures about coyotes, will put up side-by-side slides of a wolf and a coyote and then ask the audience to identify which is which.

“And nine times out of ten they’ll tell me they’re both wolves,” said Tate, who added that the Internet contributes to false identifications, as people who think they’ve seen a wolf or a mountain lion will sometimes go online to verify what they witnessed and then call Tate with what they think is a conclusive sighting.

As to mountain lions, “the public believes the department is trying to cover up that we have mountain lions in the state and we’ve even been called up and heard rumors that the state picked up a mountain lion that was killed, but they’re just rumors,” Tate said. “They’re not true.”

Of all the photos he’s seen of purported mountain lions, “to date all have been proven to be misidentified wildlife,” he said. “They’ve been found to be anything from coyotes to dogs. One person gave us raccoon scat and we did another test where the animal wasn’t even a predator species.”

There may be wolves and mountain lions in New Hampshire, but “We just haven’t found the physical evidence. We investigate but we’re skeptical because of the amount of misidentified wildlife.”

Tate expects that Fish and Game will get a bunch of calls about wolves and mountain lions after this article is printed.

“We’ll see an influx of calls for two weeks and everyone sees them but as soon as the publicity dies down, the reports go down,” he said.

Amaral, who is based in Concord, reviews photos of suspected wolves with a group of fellow biologists who’ve studied wolves in Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territory, “and in almost every case, that looks like a big, winter-coated coyote.”

Coyotes came to New Hampshire from the West and as they did, it is believed they interbred with wolves, producing a coyote that is about one-third larger than its western cousin, Erler said.

Apart from the fact that coyotes can breed with wolves — and to what is believed to be a very limited extent with domestic canines, resulting in the so-called “coydog” — the Catch-22 in trying to positively identify a wolf is that you need some of its DNA to verify that, genetically, it is a wolf, Amaral said.

That job gets a little trickier, he said, because there is only one federal laboratory that does wolf DNA testing and it’s located in the West, meaning it doesn’t have an extensive collection of DNA samples of eastern wolves.

In most cases, obtaining DNA from a suspected wolf means killing the animal, which, if it turns out to be a real wolf, is then a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

While it is legal to kill coyotes in the state, Amaral cautioned hunters to be careful.

“We need to absolutely dispel the notion of a trophy coyote,” he said. “Just get that out of your mind. If you think you’re taking a trophy coyote you might be killing a wolf.”

Erler, who was a naturalist with the National Park Service and University of Minnesota Extension Service before coming to SLNSC in 1979, said both Tate and Amaral are “optimistic” in their thinking that there might be wolves in New Hampshire.

Wolves, like coyotes and other canines, aren’t shy about leaving signs of their presence behind, said Erler, who during an interview last week at the SLNSC pointed to some coyote scat right in the middle of a trail.

Also, if there were wolves around, we’d see not only their droppings but the remains of what they’ve been eating, Erler said, whereas a mountain lion would be more fastidious in doing their business and would also secret their prey away. And, Erler added, you wouldn’t be seeing coyotes around because while they might occasionally breed with them, wolves do not like coyotes and will kill and eat them.

Wolves also kill differently than coyotes, Erler said.

A coyote will try to bring its prey down by pulling at its shoulder or throat, while wolves, he said, will “hamstring” an animal, biting through leg muscles to prevent its running away to safety.

It’s understandable that people who aren’t used to seeing wolves can easily mistake a coyote for a wolf and it’s also understandable, if not predictable, Erler said, that he will get reports about mountain lions after someone visits the SLNSC.

“We get calls all the time about mountain lions because we have them on exhibit,” Erler said. “You’re not more than two steps removed from somebody claiming they saw it themselves or knowing someone who did.”

For the record, the seven-year-old mountain lions at the SLNSC are brother and sister and came as orphans from Montana.

Asked about the public fascination with mountain lions and wolves, Erler said it was natural.

“I think people tend to be drawn to things that are a little dangerous, as long as it’s not an immediate threat,” he said. “And we have had enough time go by and we’re not an agricultural community on a subsistence level where a wolf or mountain lion taking down your dairy cow would be huge economically and the predator would be considered enemy number one.”

Also, the Internet and television channels like Animal Planet “allow people to see animals that they could never really appreciate before,” Erler said. “People understand the natural order of predation a lot better than in prior centuries.”

Amaral said wolves now coexist with humans in parts of Europe, including Italy and Portugal.

“So wolves can live with people, but can people live with wolves?” Amaral inquired. “If they see an interesting-looking animal and want to take a picture of it, we’re happy to look at it. But otherwise the best thing they can do is not to attract these animals to their homes and leave them alone.”

Nonetheless, the wolves are coming one day, Amaral said.

“The table has been set for a while. We’re just waiting for the dinner guest to arrive.”

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