Oct 30

WA: Hunters tell state wolves not welcome here

Hunters tell state wolves not welcome here

By Jillian Beaudry – The Daily World

Local hunters and farmers have a clear message: Gray wolves are not welcome here.

Bill Pickell, who lives in a rural area outside Hoquiam, was among those who offered comment at a state Fish & Wildlife meeting in Aberdeen last night as the department sought comment on how to manage wolf populations. Pickell said wolves not only kill for food, but for fun as well. “These creatures are killing machines — most wolf kills are thrills.”

“This is a highly charged issue,” Phil Anderson, director of the department said. “The diversity of opinions about this is pretty striking.”

The agency has been working on a plan since 2007 to prepare for the migration of gray wolves into Washington from Canada and Idaho. Two wolf packs are currently being tracked in Okanagon and Pend Oreille counties.

“We’re not bringing wolves into Washington, they’re coming back here on their own,” Harriet Allen, the endangered and threatened species manager for Fish & Wildlife, said.

Allen said the agency wants to boost wolf numbers to have the animal removed from endangered and threatened species lists.

“Then they can be more directly controlled when there are conflicts,” Allen said. “They can become managed just like any species on the landscape.”

Wolves have not been in the state since the 1930s when impacts of pioneers depleted wolf numbers. In two-thirds of the state, the animal is federally protected.

The agency has a draft plan that it wants public comment on before submitting it to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for approval next fall. The meeting in Aberdeen last night was one of 12 taking place before the Jan. 8 deadline for public comments.

Copies of the plan are available at regional libraries and the Fish & Wildlife Office in Montesano. Comments can be submitted on the agency’s Web Site, wdfw.wa.gov.

The 300-page plan is known as Alternative 2. It divides the state into three regions and requires a wolf population in each, with an emphasis on wolves in the south Cascades and the northwest coast region.

It includes proactive, lethal and non-lethal ways to manage wolves and addresses conflicts with at-risk deer and elk herds.

As for compensation, the plan will provide money for livestock and herd dogs at a two-to-one ratio.

One of the more controversial pieces of the plan is translocation. For example, if a herd is flourishing in Eastern Washington and the numbers are still low in Western Washington, the agency would relocate part of the flourishing herd to Western Washington to boost its success.

Dan Boeholt of Aberdeen said he was curious about how the plan downplays translocation of wolves into the Olympics.

“This plan seems to be a way to get them here through the back door,” Boeholt said.

Allen said translocation would only be considered if there was little success in wolf migration on its own and studies would have to be completed before any action was taken.

Boeholt said today the agency does not believe the wolves will cross I-5 on their own.

Local hunting enthusiasts pleaded with the agency representatives to not allow hunting license and tag revenue to go to this project. Hunters believe the wolves will have a significant impact on the elk and deer herds in the state.

Anderson said 20 percent of the agency’s revenue comes from those fees. For the wolf plan, it will likely ask for funding from the state legislature and other partners.

“We are going to look at all revenue sources,” Anderson said.

He said he could not promise those license fees would not pay for the wolf management plan.

The wolves did have a couple of allies in the audience last night.

Marcia Dennison with the Pacific Rainforest Wildlife Guardians said wolves will aid salmon recovery and she is grateful to those working to bring the animal back to Washington where it belongs.

“We need that balance back,” Dennison said. “There must be a mutual respect for all lives on earth.”

A student at The Evergreen College, Miranda Cootie, questioned the plan’s use of lethal control when she believes non-lethal control is just as effective.

But the few who supported the wolves did not seem to sway local opinions.

“This is disheartening,” Chris Hide said. “They are not going to be controllable. Deer and elk can’t talk. When a wolf kills, they’re chewing on those animals while they’re still alive.”


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 29

Wis. wildlife officials looking for volunteers to monitor state’s wolf population

Wis. wildlife officials looking for volunteers to monitor state’s wolf population

By Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin wildlife officials need wolf watchers.

The Department of Natural Resources is planning training sessions in November and December for volunteers willing to locate and count gray wolves and other carnivores. More information is available on the DNR’s volunteer tracking web site, http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/mammals/volunteer/.

The trackers will have to conduct at least three surveys in blocks of central and northern Wisconsin forests.

So far this year 174 volunteer trackers have surveyed more than 8,000 miles. They have detected more than 367 different wolves.


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Oct 29

MT: Hunters, researchers challenged by wolf hunt

Hunters, researchers challenged by wolf hunt

By DANIEL PERSON Chronicle Staff Writer

Shortly after sunrise Sunday, Big Timber’s Kyle Stenberg, 22, began stalking the Baker Mountain wolf pack on his four-wheeler, equipped with a Remington .300 Ultra Magnum hunting rifle and a $19 wolf tag.

Stenberg had already filled his elk tag during bow season. He was strictly after a wolf as he hunted between the West and Main Boulder valleys on opening day of the state’s general rifle season.

But elk were on his mind. He is a ranch foreman up the Boulder, and has watched wolves harass the game animal.

“I think they are definitely taking a toll” on the elk population, Stenberg said, citing figures he had heard that a wolf can take down 40 elk in a year.

In pursuit of his prey Sunday, he eventually singled out a black-haired male. After stalking him for eight miles in the snowy foothills of the Beartooth Mountains, onto a wide and grassy plateau, he took four shots at the animal, missing each time.

After getting closer, he placed a lethal shot in the wolf’s rear.

“There was nothing easy about it,” Stenberg said. Many of his friends also took shots at wolves on opening day, with no success. “It took a lot of shells for me to even get one of them.”

Based on information collected earlier this year, the Baker Mountain pack had four adults and no pups, said Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

It was one of dozens of packs that FWP monitors to better understand the habits of the controversial species considered a keystone predator in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

Along with debates over whether Montana’s population of 500 or so gray wolves can weather annual 75-wolf hunts, some conservationists have questioned what toll the hunt will have on knowledge of the species, gathered largely thanks to radio collars like the one attached the wolf Stenberg shot last weekend.

In Yellowstone National Park, some researchers are lamenting the death of the Cottonwood Pack’s alpha female to hunters in hunting district 316, a backcountry area adjacent to Yellowstone that opened early because it tends to get too snowy later in the fall.

The Cottonwood Pack migrated in and out of the park, and was in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness on Oct. 3 when a hunter shot the female wolf, No. 527. Three other members of the pack were killed in the early season.

“We were studying one of the very few unexploited wolf populations in North America,” wildlife biologist Douglas Smith, leader of Yellowstone’s wolf project, told the journal Science after news of the Cottonwood Pack was reported. “We can no longer make that claim.”

Sime said FWP believes the wolf Stenberg killed had been collared by park biologists before moving to the other side of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Of the 13 wolves killed by hunters in wolf management unit 3, which includes most of Southern Montana, four had collars.

But Sime said FWP doesn’t see the hunt fouling up its research data. The agency collects the collars from hunters and uses them to understand how wolves are moving and dieing in the state.

“You have a sample of animals that are collared. You study what happens to that sample. You make estimates, and you assume what’s happening to the sample is happening to the wolf population at large,” she said.

Sime said it has been suggested that the agency make shooting a collared wolf illegal. But she said that would make for bad science, since it would take legal, hunter-caused mortality out of the data set — something that doesn’t reflect reality.

Also suggested has been a buffer-zone around Yellowstone to ensure wolves that live along the border don’t get killed. That idea could be taken up by wildlife managers when they plan next year’s hunt.

Stenberg was disappointed FWP took the collar that was on the large wolf he killed. He planned to hang it on his wall.

But he still has the wolf.

“I’m going to get it stuffed, stick out at the ranch,” he said. “I know a couple other guys who got wolves. This is bigger than any of theirs.”


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Oct 29

MT: Poachers kill three wolves

Poachers kill three wolves

The Daily Inter Lake

Three wolves have been illegally killed in the North Fork Flathead River drainage in recent weeks, and a Columbia Falls man has been found guilty of poaching two of them.

Two wolves were shot and left along the Whale Creek Road north of Polebridge the morning of Oct. 9.

A concerned citizen reported finding the wolves to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wardens.

The Columbia Falls man, who was not identified by the state wildlife agency, since has pleaded guilty in Flathead County Justice Court to killing two wolves out of season. He was assessed fines and restitution totaling $1,135.

Wardens are seeking information about the illegal shooting of another wolf that was found dead Oct. 25 in the North Fork’s Red Meadow area.

Anyone with information about the poaching is urged to call 1-800-TIPMONT.


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Oct 29

NY: Museum invites you to ‘Meet Atka, a Live Gray Wolf!’

Museum invites you to ‘Meet Atka, a Live Gray Wolf!’

CORNWALL — The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum will host “Meet Atka, a Live Gray Wolf!” at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Wildlife Education Center, 25 Boulevard, Cornwall-on-Hudson.

This program, a special benefit for the museum, will include an up-close encounter with this important but misunderstood predator. Guests will learn about the history of wolves in the United States, the importance of wolves in a healthy ecosystem and the efforts to save the wolves for future generations.

All ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The cost for nonmembers is $22, $16 age 12 and younger. For museum members, it’s $18, $12 age 12 and younger. Space is limited, and prepaid reservations are required. The program is indoors and will be held rain or shine.

For information and prepaid registration, call 534-5506, ext. 204.


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Oct 29

NY: New ad promotes wolves to Times Square audience

New ad promotes wolves to Times Square audience

By DANIEL PERSON Chronicle Staff Writer

Defenders of Wildlife says people in New York City are in the dark about the wolf hunts taking place in Montana and Idaho and has launched a Times Square ad campaign to raise their awareness.

From now through New Year’s Day, the conservation group, which opposes the wolf hunt, is buying time on the 520-square-foot CBS superscreen on 42nd Street for a 15-second video spot showing n among other things n a wolf pup howling in tall grass.

“They are being killed,” is written at the bottom of the screen, along with a number people can text to donate $5 to the group.

“This advertisement is just one albeit, very public and important vehicle in our public awareness campaign,” Erin McCallum, with Defenders of Wildlife, wrote in an e-mail to the Chronicle. “This issue understandably receives a lot of attention in the West, but understanding and information is lacking on a national level.”

Defenders of Wildlife is one of more than a dozen groups suing the Obama administration over its decision to take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species List. Revenue from the ad will go toward the legal battle, along with compensating and working with ranchers who raise livestock near wolf populations.


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Oct 28

MI Isle Royale: Trouble in nature’s laboratory

Trouble in nature’s laboratory

By Tom Meersman, Star Tribune


Rolf Peterson held up his arm for silence and pointed through the thick brush.

A hundred yards off the trail, a female moose sporting a shiny new mahogany winter coat was knee-deep in muck, munching on plants. She raised her head nonchalantly, then flicked up her ears and froze as she spotted observers. After a long minute, she plodded up toward firmer ground. A calf popped out of the brush and trotted after her.

Research happens up close in the world’s longest continuous study of predators and prey at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Peterson has been watching and counting moose and wolves in this wilderness off Minnesota’s North Shore for nearly 40 of the study’s 51 years, in summer by foot and in winter by air.

Now that continuity is at a breaking point. The island’s moose population is nearing a 50-year low, and what’s bad for the moose is worse for the wolves that depend on them. Peterson can see the day when the wolves die out on Isle Royale, and scientists must confront far-reaching questions: Should we intervene to help the wolves survive, or let them die out and start again? What role should humans play to preserve an ecosystem?

Disrupting the extraordinary research has ramifications far beyond the wolves on Isle Royale.

Through the years, the study has provided unprecedented information about how long wolves live in the wild, and how much prey they kill. For wildlife managers around the world who want to reintroduce wolves into an ecosystem, as they have in the Yellowstone National Park area, the answers emerging from the Isle Royale research have been crucial to their efforts.

Big decisions will have to be made. “The risks for wolves seem to be pretty large and growing,” Peterson said.

Outhouse and otters

Peterson and his wife, Candy, live and work out of a one-room log cabin built by Jack Bangsund, a Norwegian bachelor fisherman in 1931, the year Isle Royale became a national park. A Norwegian flag flutters outside the cabin in his honor. Under the cabin’s slanting floor, otters have hollowed out space to sleep and squabble. Loons call from the waters of Rock Harbor just beyond the rickety dock.

The lifestyle marries the pioneer with the 21st century. There’s no running water, and the outhouse is in the back. A sleek, vertical Finnish wind generator and a pair of solar panels power a couple of light bulbs — and the computers hooked via satellite dish to the Internet.

Under a ceiling papered with moose posters, family photos and island maps, Peterson has based his summer field work since 1970 when he joined the wolf-moose study as a 21-year-old graduate student.

Now 60, Peterson has retired from a teaching career at Michigan Technological University, but has no plans to give up this study, the love of his life. Trim and fit, he backpacks and bushwhacks through alder and hazelnut bushes with the energy of someone half his age. He climbs a spindly ladder to the roof of an old fire lookout tower, grasping a portable antenna to check signals from radio-collared wolves. It’s an iconic scene of a field scientist in a goofy sunhat leaning into the wind, listening for beeps and watching a meter with experienced blue eyes.

Science without a rival

Isle Royale is an ideal outdoor laboratory. About 22 miles off the shore of northeastern Minnesota, its remote location makes it difficult to reach even in summer, when most visitors arrive by boat. Its terrain is a rugged mix of parallel valleys and rocky ridges, as if a giant claw scraped across its surface, as a glacier did 8,000 years ago. With no roads, no hunting and almost no human presence, it’s a magnet for scientists to study plants and wildlife.

The moose-wolf study began in 1958. Durward Allen of Purdue University spent a decade learning how the two species seemed to be in balance, with each growing or declining at approximately the same rates. But that neat balance soon got messy, and the populations spiked and plunged over the decades with changes in snow depth, vegetation, diseases, parasites, higher summer temperatures and shorter winters.

By studying how much wolves prey on moose, said John Vucetich, research co-leader with Peterson, scientists can help answer a longstanding question of interest to sportsmen. “When we live with wolves, wherever it may be, we have to be concerned about the fact that they eat animals that humans also like to hunt” such as elk and deer, Vucetich said.

“In terms of the value of that study to science, nothing else rivals it,” said Mark Romanski, biologist and acting chief scientist at Isle Royale National Park.

The park service contributes about $36,000 annually to Peterson’s research, the National Science Foundation funds $90,000, and individuals and a small endowment provide about $25,000.

Collapse of a pack

Peterson’s field station, while visually idyllic, doesn’t always smell so good. Part of his research is to collect the carcasses of wolves and the skulls and other body parts of moose. A hand-made sign in front of bones collected in 2009 explains why studying the bones is important: “When they get old, moose exhibit arthritis, periodontal disease, osteoporosis. Sound familiar?”

Wolf skeletons became especially significant after a Swedish researcher discovered three years ago that Isle Royale wolves have a spinal deformity that’s a sign of inbreeding, Peterson said. The park service is planning a scientific review.

One day last month Peterson cooked the carcass of a female wolf that died trying to give birth to eight pups last spring. He wore protective gloves and glasses as he lifted the skull from a boiling cauldron. He plunked the grisly mess on a picnic table, wrinkled his face at the odor, and tried to pull muscles, tendons and tongue away from the skull.

“Not done enough yet,” he said, returning it to the cooker.

The death of this one female meant the collapse of an entire pack — one of four on the island. The pack had lost several members in recent years, and by early 2009 contained only one male and one female. Her death and that of her unborn pups were the pack’s last hope for regeneration.

Wolves have struggled to survive since the 1980s, when a domestic dog brought illegally to the island spread canine parvovirus. Their numbers dropped from a peak of 50 to 14 in two years, and have never fully recovered.

The current populations of about 24 wolves and 530 moose are close to what they were 50 winters ago, Peterson said, but each is at risk.

The wolves have lost more than half of their genetic variability compared with wolves on the mainland, he said. Moose are being stressed by higher summer temperatures that cause them to eat less, produce less fat for winter survival and die of starvation, Vucetich said.

Moose are also plagued by life-threatening ticks that have multiplied in the rising temperatures.

“Climate change is certainly an additional pressure, and it’s the big one,” Peterson said.

Night howls and spirits

So far the Park Service tradition has been not to intervene. “Our policy is basically to let nature take its course,” Romanski said.

But the prospect of the wolves’ extinction is forcing a new look at that policy. “It’s not just a science-based decision,” Romanski said. “It’s a blend of science and stewardship and conservation that will have to be addressed.”

For Michael Nelson, associate professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University: “It’s a moral question of should we genetically rescue this population or not, and how should we interact with these wolves.” He is writing a history of the wolf-moose study.

Scientific value cuts both ways, Nelson said. There is value in making sure that the wolves do not disappear so that the study can continue. But there would also be value in letting the wolves die out and studying how their absence affects moose populations, forest growth and other wildlife.

Backpackers on the island last month had mixed feelings about the future of wolves there. The hikers were tanned, rumpled and clutching mugs of steaming coffee as they departed Isle Royale on a windy day. Voyageur II, a 60-foot aluminum diesel cruiser, bucked three-foot swells on the trip back to the North Shore.

“It doesn’t matter about the wolves and moose,” said June Huffman of Zion, Ill., who was finishing her third trip to the park. “It’s an interesting thing, but not the whole reason to come here. You come for the beauty and the solitude.”

Dennis Nelson of Stillwater begged to differ. “As far as the experience here, the expectation or hope that you might see a wolf or a moose is part of the draw to come here.”

Whatever the future brings, Peterson knows that the island is not as remote or protected as he once believed. “I sort of gave up the notion that parks are undisturbed sanctuaries that we can just stand back and watch,” he said. But Peterson clings to the belief that in a place as wild as Isle Royale, man should strive to intervene as little as possible. He’s in no rush to rescue the wolves quite yet, although it may soon become necessary to do so.

If the 51-year-old study proves anything, he said, it’s that ecology is so complicated and unpredictable that people should be cautious about thinking they can manage it.

“Someone once said that nature is not more complex than we thought, it’s more complex than we can think,” he said.


Posted in Uncategorized
Oct 28

MT: Some Wolf Limits Reached

Some Wolf Limits Reached

BILLINGS – Less than 48 hours after the season opener more than a third of the state of Montana is barred from hunting wolves.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks officials have already reached the wolf hunt quota for District 3. That district includes the area between Dillon, Great Galls, the Montana/North Dakota border and Yellowstone National Park. Officials set the wolf quota at 75 statewide and 27 have been shot so far. The two other districts remain open for hunting.

“This is the first fair chase wolf hunt we’ve ever had in Montana. When the regulations were drafted for this it was a bit of a learning experience for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and we learned a lot,” said FWP’s Bob Gibson.

Gibson says the newly acquired knowledge could translate to possible sub-quotas for specific areas with large wolf populations in the state.


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Oct 26

MT: Wolf hunt suspended in southern Montana

Wolf hunt suspended in southern Montana

Wolf hunting in southern Montana is closing just after sunset today, only a day after the general season opened Sunday, after the 12-wolf quota for the region was quickly exceeded by one.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks had suspended an early back-county hunt in a small, remote part of the region north of Yellowstone National Park after nine wolves were shot — before the general wolf hunting season, Montana’s first in modern times, even opened on Sunday. That hunt raised controversy because four wolves from Yellowstone’s Cottonwood pack who had ventured outside the park, including the pack’s alpha male and female, were killed.

The brief opening saw an additional four wolves in the southern Montana region quickly shot, prompting Montana officials to close down all of Wolf Management Unit 3. Hunting remains open through Nov. 29 in northern and western Montana, where an additional 10 wolves out of the state’s overall quota of 75 have been shot so far. Wildlife officials have held out the option of extending the hunt through Dec. 31 if the quota isn’t met in November.

State officials said two of the four wolves shot in WMU-3 on Sunday were in Gallatin County, again not far from the border of Yellowstone National Park. The other two were shot in Sweetgrass County.

Conservationists have sued to stop the removal of Northern Rockies wolves from the Endangered Species list, arguing that wolf numbers could drop precipitously, especially since there are no assurances that wolves in discrete regions of Yellowstone, northwestern Montana and Idaho will be able to connect and share genes.

But Montana wildlife management officials have calculated that wolf numbers are likely to increase, despite the hunt. While there are about 500 wolves in Montana now, even if 75 are hunted this year, there are expected to be 590 wolves in established packs across the state, and 655 wolves overall (counting wolves that go out on their own) next year.

– Kim Murphy


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Oct 26

MT: Ten wolves shot opening day

Ten wolves shot opening day

Eleven wolves were shot during the opening weekend of Montana’s big game hunting season in Montana, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

That brings the total number of animals shot during the state’s first wolf hunting season to 23, said FWP Spokesman Ron Aasheim said. The first 12 were shot previously during the backcountry hunting season.

The quota is 75.

Ten of the 11 wolves shot over the weekend were killed Sunday, the opening of the state’s general season big-game hunting season. One was shot Saturday in an area where backcountry hunting is allowed.

Of the 11 wolves taken, four — two in Sanders County and one each in Flathead and Mineral counties — were shot in Wolf Management Unit 1. That unit covers the northern half of the state, including the Bob Marshall Wildnerness and the Rocky Mountain Front.

Two wolves were taken in Beaverhead County and one in Ravalli, which are in Wolf Management Unit 2, which takes in southwest Montana. In Wolf Management Unit 3, which is most of the southern half of the state, two wolves each were shot in Gallatin and Sweetgrass Counties. The hunting of wolves in Unit 3 will close a half-hour after sunset Monday because the quota of 13 for that area has now been met.


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