Jan 31

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Wolves

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Wolves

By STEVE POLLICK
and JEFF BASTING

The thing about wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is that they are like wolves just about everywhere — too often and too much misunderstood.

They are neither warm and- fuzzy, thick-coated pets, like the family dog, nor are they the slack-jawed, slavering black beasts of fairy tales, out to ravage everything from bunnies to babies.

“Bar-room biology is far too rampant,” says Brian Roell, Michigan’s wolf biologist, who has spent years studying the U.P.’s wolves.

“It’s not milk and cookies out there for a wolf. It is like controlled starvation, waiting for your next meal.”

Every winter he and other field workers of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources count wolves as part of their research, and it would not surprise him if this winter the tally reaches 600 or more.

The numbers have been increasing about 10 percent a year the last five years, reaching 584 at last count in about 100 packs, with the larger concentrations occurring in the southern and western portions of the peninsula. Those areas are where white-tailed deer — prime wolf food — are more concentrated.

Mr. Roell said that he cannot say for certain where or when the wolf population will level out; it could be 600, possibly 800.

That would be quite a comeback from 1935, by which time Michigan wolves had been persecuted out of existence. The wolf biologist said that by 1956 an estimated 100 had become reestablished in the 16,000-squaremile U.P. from neighboring Wisconsin and Minnesota and Ontario.

But relentless persecution cut that to just six by 1973, eight years after wolves were legally protected in the state. In 1974 and 1976, respectively, federal and state endangered species laws further protected the wolf, to the point that it now has become a political or at least legalistic football.

“Wolf management has been taken away from the on-the-ground biologist, like me, to the courtroom.”

Thus, with wolves flourishing in upper Michigan, their “endangered” status pingpongs back and forth, a fact which hamstrings their cons e r va t ion and management.

Wolves, Mr. Roell notes, leave a larger than life footprint.

“They go jogging for 10 to 12 hours every day — that’s 365. They put down lots of footprints.”

One radio-collared U.P. wolf was killed in Missouri, 470 miles from home territory.

Wolves, like people, also prefer the path of least resistance, so their many tracks often are laid down right where people are likely to see them — on groomed and packed snowmobile trails and plowed roads.

“Your chances of seeing a wolf,” the biologist said in conclusion, “are a lot better than seeing other wildlife species.”

In contrast the U.P. is home to 15,000 to 18,000 black bears, which are highly reclusive, hibernate in winter, and are another large predator.

Such numbers dwarf those of U.P. wolves, the biologist noted, “yet people will say it’s the wolves not the bears” that are a concern.

Mr. Roell links it to the Little Red Riding Hood syndrome.

“It has created this fear in people and it’s undeserved.”

He notes that there are no documented wolf attacks on humans in the lower 48 states, and attacks seen in Alaska and Canada are rare and often linked to habituated animals.

Just the simple fact that wolves may come close to rural residences and farms, for example, is easily explained: “They’re curious, just like dogs.”

Wolves, too, often are blamed for a lack of deer in a given region. “Wolves and deer evolved together,” the biologist said. “Deer are what they are because of wolves. It is incorrect to claim that wolves are going to wipe out all the deer. If the deer goes, the wolf goes.”

Mr. Roell notes that nearby Minnesota is home to some 3,000 wolves and still has plenty of deer. A lot of factors figure into deer numbers, he added. Indeed, wolf numbers in the U.P. grow when deer numbers are peaking.

“Wolves are a piece of the pie but not the whole pie.”

Coyotes, bobcats, and bears all kill and eat deer, especially fawns. The same predators also claim occasional livestock, as do dogs. But wolves are easier to blame.

The biggest deer-killer in the U.P. is a severe winter, or worse, successive severe winters, along with condition of the habitat.

“Winter severity is the most important factor in deer survival [and reproductive success].”Another big deerkiller is the motor vehicle, and cyclical outbreaks of diseases such as mange also take a toll.

The biologist nonetheless notes that what is called “social carrying capacity” — humans’ tolerance for wolves — likely is something lower than the pure biological carrying capacity. “We’re probably over the social carrying capacity [tolerance] in many parts of the U.P.”

Only one female in a pack bears pups, usually about five a year. But 70 percent of the pups die the first winter.

Adult wolves live about five years in the wild. For all of which Mr. Roell says: “Being a predator is a tough life.”

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Jan 31

Wolf toll on livestock increases

Wolf toll on livestock increases

Hunters couldn’t curtail attacks on domestics

Matthew Brown
Associated Press

Gray wolves killed livestock in Montana at the rate of an animal per day in 2009, stirring a backlash against the predators in rural areas and depleting a program that compensates ranchers for their losses.

The sharp increase over 2008 livestock losses, reported Thursday by state officials, was fueled largely by a wolf pack ravaging 148 sheep in southwestern Montana near Dillon in August.

Such attacks – plus elk herd declines blamed on wolves in parts of Montana and neighboring Idaho – have renewed calls by many ranchers and hunters to reduce the predator’s population.

“They are beautiful creatures, but they’re also very deadly. They’ll go out and hamstring a bunch of animals just for fun,” said Barb Svenson of Reed Point, whose family ranch lost more than 30 sheep in attacks over the last two years.

“They’re killing our income,” she added.

Wolf attacks account for only a small fraction of sheep and cattle losses in the Northern Rockies. Disease, weather and coyotes each take more.

But wolves attract particular disdain because of their viciousness – many killed animals are left uneaten – and because of historic prohibitions against hunting the predators.

About 1,650 wolves roam the Northern Rockies, most of them descended from just 66 animals introduced to the region in the mid-1990s by the federal government.

Montana and Idaho launched inaugural wolf hunts in September, in part to put the fast-expanding population in check. The hunts came just six months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took wolves off the federal endangered species list.

It’s uncertain if the hunts will be repeated in 2010. A pending lawsuit from environmentalists could put wolves back on the list by late spring or early summer, said attorney Bob Lane with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The suit is before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who overturned the federal government’s first attempt to strip protections for wolves in 2008. Legal arguments in the case are due by the end of the month.

If the environmentalists lose, Lane said his agency would likely increase Montana’s wolf hunting quota. It was 75 wolves in 2009, although only 72 were taken.

Hunters in Idaho, where the season continues through March, so far have taken 145 wolves out of a 220-animal quota.

About 300 more wolves were killed by ranchers and wildlife agents in the Northern Rockies in response to livestock attacks and by other causes.

Wyoming’s 300 wolves remain on the endangered list.

Meanwhile, 365 sheep, cattle, horses and dogs killed by wolves have been tallied in Montana for 2009, said George Edwards, coordinator of a Montana program to compensate ranchers who suffer losses.

That’s up more than 50 percent from 2008.

The animals’ owners have been paid $139,000 for their losses, leaving only about $25,000 remaining in the state’s compensation fund. Legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, could soon boost the fund with federal money.

State and federal officials estimate that only one in eight wolf kills is confirmed. For many of the rest, proof needed to justify compensation is never found. Many sheep and cattle grazing on public lands in wolf country simply go missing.

Wolf numbers

Snapshot at the end of 2009

1,650: Gray wolves roaming the Northern Rockies.

72: Wolves killed by hunters in Montana

145: Wolves killed by hunters in Idaho

300: Wolves killed in Northern Rockies by ranchers and wildlife agents

365: Sheep, cattle, horses and dogs killed by wolves in Montana alone, an increase of 50 percent from 2008.

$139,000: Paid to Montana livestock owners for their losses

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Jan 31

Wolf hunt likely is years away

Wolf hunt likely is years away

Gov’t controls, public hearings likely to delay open season

By Jim Lee
Gannett Wisconsin Media

PARK FALLS — As Wisconsin’s timber wolf population has expanded over the past 30 years, so have concerns for their future management. But it appears a wolf hunting season is not on the near horizon.

“A public (wolf) harvest is unlikely to occur within the next five years,” said Adrian Wydeven, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and agency wolf expert.

He cited a July 1 federal court ruling that returned Wisconsin wolves to the endangered species list, a decision that is being challenged. It is anticipated that Wisconsin’s wolves eventually will be removed from the endangered list, thus allowing the state to utilize some lethal tactics in wolf management.

While some deer and bear hunters have proposed a public hunting season as a wolf control method, that solution is not a high priority for wildlife officials.

“When (wolves) are again delisted, the focus will be on controls by government trappers, landowner permits and possibly certified citizen wolf trappers to help control problem wolves,” Wydeven said.

A public wolf hunt could take place “somewhere along the way but unless wolves can remain federally delisted, this won’t be an option. We would also need the Wisconsin legislature to authorize DNR to hold such a harvest,” he explained.

Public hearings to establish administrative rules for a public wolf hunt are required, sessions that could be lengthy and contentious. Even if approved, it is unlikely there will be an “open season” on wolves in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future.

Any public wolf hunt “would probably be a combined trapping and hunting season restricted to a limited number of individual hunter/trappers in restricted portions of the state,” according to Wydeven.

“Currently, only Alaska allows a public harvest,” he said. “That state has an estimated population of 7,000-11,000 wolves.

“Montana and Idaho are planning wolf hunts but (the hunts) will only occur if they can keep wolves from being federally relisted as endangered (lawsuits have been filed).

“Minnesota’s wolf plan says they will not consider a public harvest until five years after federal delisting is completed. Michigan does not have any immediate plans for a public harvest. Canadian provinces with wolves allow trapping and hunting seasons.”

In 1975, timber wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin; today their presence has been reported in nearly half the state’s 72 counties.

In 1999, the Department of Natural Resources settled on a goal of maintaining a population of approximately 375 timber wolves. A decade later, the state is home to nearly twice that number of wolves and the agency anticipates revisions will be made to the earlier goal, Wydeven said.

The unexpected wolf expansion is largely due to “high deer numbers, recovery of public forest land, recovery and expansion of the Minnesota wolf populations due to federal listing (on the endangered species list) and generally favorable attitudes toward wolves by people,” he explained.

As the wolf population has increased and spread to more areas of the state, depredation problems on livestock and dogs have risen.

In 2008, the state encompassed at least 150 packs of at least 2 wolves, including several packs in areas of central Wisconsin that contain few large blocks of forest, according to the DNR.

During 2008, 32 farms reported losing livestock to wolves. Those losses included 39 cattle killed and four injured, along with a sheep, a pig, two chickens. a llama and a penned deer killed. In addition, 22 dogs were killed and six injured.

During the first nine months (through Sept. 26) of 2009, at least 25 dogs were killed by wolves and 10 injured, according to the DNR. The majority of dogs were hounds used in bear hunting but the toll included two beagles, two dachshunds, a German shorthair pointer and a Sheba Inu.

At least 27 farms reported livestock losses, which included 35 cattle killed and two injured, three sheep, two donkeys and a horse killed. At least one wolf was killed by a farmer defending his livestock.

The DNR reported finding 94 dead wolves in 2008. Of those, 39 were problem animals trapped and euthanized by government trappers, 22 were struck by automobiles and 14 were illegally killed (many during the gun deer season).

Wisconsin cannot take a more aggressive stance to control problem wolves until federal delisting occurs, which is not expected before spring of 2010, Wydeven said.

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Jan 30

SE: Crust stops the wolf census

Crust stops the wolf census

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

This weekend should be an inventory of hundreds of hunters predators in the county. But snow crust puts an end to the inventory of Dalsland and Bohuslän, says Benny Nilsson, who is responsible within Jägareförbundet for predator inventory, to Sveriges Radio West.

This means that there is no real inventory of wolves, since most of the county’s wolves are in Dalsland and the interior of Bohuslän. Rather the Jägareförbundet hopes for a new census in February.

On the other hand, hunters will take stock of wolf and lynx in other parts of Västra Götaland this weekend.


Skaren stoppar varginventering

Nu i helgen ska hundratals jägare inventera rovdjur i länet. Men skaren sätter stopp för inventeringen i Dalsland och Bohuslän, säger Benny Nilsson, som är ansvarig inom Jägareförbundet för rovdjursinventering, till Sveriges Radio Väst.

Det här betyder att det inte blir någon egentlig inventering av vargar, eftersom de flesta av länets vargar finns i just Dalsland och det inre av Bohuslän. I stället hoppas Jägareförbundet på en ny inventering i februari.

Däremot kommer jägarna att inventera varg och lo i andra delar av Västra Götaland nu i helgen.

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Jan 30

WY: State argues for wolf control

Feds say Wyo’s plan likely would harm animal’s population

State argues for wolf control

By JEREMY PELZER – Star-Tribune capital bureau

CHEYENNE — Lawyers for the state told a federal judge Friday morning that Wyoming should be given control over wolves in the state, calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rejection of Wyoming’s wolf management plan “arbitrary and capricious.”

Federal attorneys responded that Wyoming’s plan would likely cause the state’s wolf population to fall below required levels, as it would allow the animals to be killed anywhere in the state outside national park land.

The state filed suit in June, after Fish and Wildlife turned over management of wolves in Montana and Idaho to state governments but kept Wyoming wolves on the endangered species list.

The court case is the latest legal battle over wolves in Wyoming and neighboring states since the animals were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s.

Attorneys for Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Justice faced off with lawyers from the state and Park County during oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson.

Both sides said they weren’t sure when Johnson will issue a ruling on the case. But no matter how the case is decided, it will likely be appealed, said Harriet Hageman, one of the attorneys for the state.

Federal biologists estimate there are currently 1,645 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, including 300 to 350 in Wyoming.

Wyoming’s wolf management plan would list wolves as a “trophy species” in the state’s northwest corner and as a “predator species” in the rest of the state. Trophy species are regulated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and can only be legally hunted with a license; predator species can be trapped or killed on sight using any legal means.

Federal law requires that each state wolf management plan must ensure its wolf population never falls below 10 breeding pairs and 100 total wolves. Fish and Wildlife officials are pushing for a goal of 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves in each state as a “buffer” to ensure the wolf population never dips below the minimum requirements at any time.

Friday morning, U.S. Department of Justice attorney Mike Eitel argued wolves in Wyoming should be listed as a “trophy species” statewide.

Wyoming’s proposed plan, he said, would likely cause the state’s wolf population to dip below the minimum limits.

Eitel also said that under Wyoming’s plan, wolves in the state wouldn’t have the “genetic connectivity” with other wolf populations to maintain a healthy population.

The state of Wyoming, he said, has not acted in good faith with the federal government to reach a deal on an acceptable wolf management plan.

Attorneys for the state and county said that the state would ensure minimum wolf numbers are maintained.

But allowing too many wolves would devastate farmers, ranchers and sportsmen in the state, they said, as wolves target livestock and trophy game such as elk. And the federal government’s case, they argued, was a “Trojan Horse” designed to allow ever-increasing numbers of wolves in the state.

“We are willing to make sure that we protect a recovered wolf population,” Hageman said. “But you know what? We are going to be killing wolves. It was never part of the deal for us to have an unlimited number of wolves in Wyoming or Idaho or anywhere else.”

In a separate but related case, a federal judge in Montana will soon hear arguments about whether Fish and Wildlife properly removed wolves in Montana and Idaho from the Endangered Species List last year.

Both states subsequently allowed a wolf hunting season last fall; hunters killed 72 wolves in Montana and 144 in Idaho.

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Jan 29

SE: Protective hunt of wolf in Jämtland

Protective hunt of wolf in Jämtland

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Stockholm / TT

The Environmental Protection Agency has given permission for a protective hunt of a wolf in Handöl Valley’s village in Jämtland. It has caused great harm to the village’s reindeer.

The Board considers there is no other satisfactory solution to the problems than to allow a protective hunt. It begins on Friday and may run until 15 February.


Skyddsjakt på varg i Jämtland

Stockholm/TT

Naturvårdsverket har gett tillstånd till skyddsjakt på en varg i Handölsdalens sameby i Jämtland. Den har ställt till stor skada på byns renskötsel.

Verket bedömer att det inte finns någon annan lämplig lösning på problemen än att tillåta skyddsjakt. Den inleds på fredagen och får pågå till och med den 15 februari.

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Jan 29

UT: Bill targets wolves

Bill targets wolves

Summit County senator softens legislation

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

A state senator for eastern Summit County sponsoring legislation that once called for wolves in Utah to be destroyed has softened his controversial bill.

Substitute language in Senate Bill 36 instead would let state wildlife officers request help from the federal government in removing wolves from areas in the state where they are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The newer version of the bill was approved Tuesday afternoon with a 4-2 vote by the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, claimed livestock and wildlife in Utah would be destroyed if wolves roam freely.

Federal law does not protect wolves living in a small chunk of northeastern Utah. But wolves throughout the rest of the state should be removed from the endangered list, Christensen said.

“One hundred years ago they were eliminated from Utah. It wasn’t by accident. It was on purpose,” Christensen said.

Today about 1,700 wolves are living in the West, according to Don Peay, a spokesman for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.

Due to successful recovery efforts wolves in all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern third of Washington and Oregon and a small part of northern Utah were removed from the federal endangered list about two years ago.

“Wolves are clearly the reason for dramatic reductions in elk populations,” Peay said. “Hunters do not want to go to Idaho and have a bad experience, not see elk and not have a reasonable chance of harvesting an elk.”

Hunters in Montana killed about 75 wolves last year, according to Peay. About 150 wolves were killed by hunters in Idaho, he added.

“It’s a train wreck that is coming to the West and we want to see Utah get ahead of this curve,” Peay said.

But those views outrage environmentalists.

“There are multiple factors that affect wolf populations, elk populations and deer populations,” said Kirk Robinson, director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy. “Mule deer populations have been generally on the decline since the 1950s roughly for all kinds of reasons.”

Many Utahns view wolves positively and would like to see wolves return to the state, Robinson said.

“We don’t have any packs that we know of right now so it’s hardly an urgent issue,” Robinson said.

Lawmakers shouldn’t encourage wildlife officers to kill wolves in violation of federal law, said Joan Gallegos, who owns land in Emigration Canyon.

“The wolf has been extremely beneficial to wildlife,” she said. “As a citizen I’m concerned about the Utah state Legislature wasting money on potential lawsuits that really are frivolous in my opinion.”

It is likely that legislation calling for protected wolves in Utah to be destroyed could be deemed unconstitutional by a court.

Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Salt Lake City, said she is concerned the original version of Senate Bill 36 would not pass constitutional muster.

“It’s hard for me to support something where we’re asking [officers] to go out and do something that is against the law,” Morgan said.

However, state officials have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in livestock and wildlife, Christensen countered.

“The initial bill was a preemptive strike against the wolves migrating into Utah,” Christensen said.

Instead of authorizing state wildlife officers to kill wolves the newer bill would require the Division of Wildlife Resources to prevent the “establishment of a viable pack of wolves in areas of the state where the wolf is not listed as endangered or threatened.”

Morgan and Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, voted against the substitute bill at the committee meeting.

“We need more information before all of the members of the committee can actually make a good decision,” Morgan said before opposing the bill. “This is a significant move.”

Congressional representatives have been asked by state wildlife officials to have all wolves in Utah removed from the federal endangered list.

“That’s a real frustration for us at the division of wildlife,” Division of Wildlife Resources Director Jim Karpowitz said. “We have a hard time understanding where they are going with wolves in the rest of the state of Utah.”

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Jan 29

WY: Wyoming urges judge to end federal wolf management

Wyoming urges judge to end federal wolf management

By BEN NEARY Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no legitimate reason for its refusal to turn over management of gray wolves to the state of Wyoming, the state told a federal judge on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne heard arguments Friday in a lawsuit the state of Wyoming filed against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The state is challenging the agency’s decision last year to remove wolves in Idaho and Montana from the endangered species list while leaving them protected in Wyoming.

Jay Jerde, deputy Wyoming attorney general, told Johnson that the Fish and Wildlife Service has continually shifted and inflated the requirements the state would have to meet to take over wolf management.

“If they had any good reason for rejecting our plan, they wouldn’t have given this court so many bad reasons,” Jerde said.

A federal lawyer, however, told Johnson the Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the state’s plan because it didn’t guarantee a continued minimum wolf population.

Wyoming officials, together with many outfitters and agricultural producers, are anxious to end federal wolf protections so the state can start killing more of them to reduce their take of elk, moose and livestock.

Speaking after the court hearing, outfitter B.J. Hill of Jackson said wolf depredation on elk is forcing the state to weigh limited draw licenses in certain popular hunting areas bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.

Hill said he has been outfitting for 20 years in the area and said he’s seeing the ratio of elk calves to cow elk dropping quickly and the number of trophy bulls dwindling.

“The only way we can approach it is to get delisted and start harvesting these large carnivores,” Hill said. “It’s got to happen soon; we’re running out of time.”

Wyoming proposes to treat wolves as a protected game species in the northwest corner of the state, around Yellowstone. The state wants to classify them as predators that could be shot on sight elsewhere in the state.

Jerde told Johnson that Wyoming is committed to maintaining at least 15 breeding pairs and 150 total wolves in the state – the minimum number the Fish and Wildlife Service has said each of the three states needs to maintain.

Biologists this week said preliminary results show the population of wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming now stands at about 1,650. They say Wyoming has about 319, with at least 27 breeding pairs – up from 22 breeding pairs in 2008.

Michael Eitel, lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice, told Johnson that federal law required giving deference to the Fish and Wildlife Service on scientific questions of how to manage the wolves.

Wyoming’s plan would rely on Yellowstone National Park to maintain eight breeding pairs of wolves and reduce the population to seven breeding pairs in the state outside the park, Eitel said.

There are now at least 21 breeding pairs outside the park and six in Yellowstone, according to Fish and Wildlife.

Eitel told Johnson, “that’s a discretionary issue,” when the judge asked him how many wolves Wyoming should have to keep from dropping below the 15 breeding pairs, 150 wolf requirement.

“Wolves are unlikely to disburse in Wyoming under Wyoming’s regulatory scheme,” Eitel said. He added that protecting the wolves only in the northwest corner of the state was likely to keep them from traveling and breeding with the Montana and Idaho populations.

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Jan 28

CA BC: Wolf packs coming to the Nicola Valley?

Wolf packs coming to the Nicola Valley?

Tracks have been spotted and it is only a matter of time before wolves take up permanent residence in the Nicola Valley says a local rancher.

Mike Rose, owner of the Quilchena Ranch near Merritt, says he has spotted wolf tracks recently and is worried that it will not be long before the Nicola Valley becomes home to one or more wolf packs.

“The province has allowed these predators to explode in population,” says Rose.

“It is going to be devastating to wildlife and livestock alike.”

Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association says that wolf activity has increased throughout the province as a whole.

Wolves play an important role in the balance of nature, preying on sick and injured animals and ensuring the overall health of the ecosystem.

“If the wolves become too reliant on livestock it upsets the balance of nature, which can also have a negative impact on the animals they normally feed on,” says Boon.

When ungulates (deer, moose, elk, caribou etc.) have weakened herds due to sickness, this can also have a negative impact on livestock, as some of the diseases such as tuberculosis can spread between the species.

Boon estimates there is anywhere from 100 to 300 livestock lost to keystone predation yearly in B.C.

He says this is a conservative estimate, because verifying cause of death can be challenging if not impossible in the vast ranges where most of the ranching takes place.

“If we pay attention to the problem, we won’t need to resort to extreme measures to fix the problem later,” Boon says.

“The wolves play an important role in the ecosystem and we have to work to find the correct balance so that Ranchers and wildlife can continue to co-exist.”

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Jan 28

Sweden preps for post-hunt wolf imports

Sweden preps for post-hunt wolf imports

The government on Thursday ordered the Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) to prepare for the active import of foreign wolves into Sweden from the east.

At the same time, wolves that naturally make their way into reindeer grazing areas in the north of the country are to be pushed south to central Sweden where the country’s wolf population is concentrated.

“At most 20 healthy wolves that are unaffected by inbreeding will be assimilated with Swedish wolves over a five-year period,” Swedish environment minister Andreas Carlgren told the TT news agency.

He added that the move will require buy-in from people who live in the affected areas.

“It puts a lot of responsibility on the hunting organizations. I’m making a clear and direct appeal to them to take responsibility and contribute to the strengthening work which the Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) is about to start,” said Carlgren.

The Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management (Svenska Jägareförbundet) has, according to the minister, agreed to help bring the wolves into Sweden.

“I expect that the National Hunting Association (Jägarnas riksförbund) will do the same,” he added.

Following the controversial wolf hunt carried out earlier this year, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency will examine how it was carried out, including what was done before and during the hunt.

Among other things, the agency will look into the frequency of hunting injuries and the training of hunters, the demographic and genetic consequences of the hunt on Sweden’s wolf population, and how various parties affected or involved reacted to the hunt.

“Both wolf parents were shot on one reserve. Researchers have said that the orphaned pups will likely make it, but we’re going to investigate whether or not they do,” said Maria Ågren, director general of the environmental agency.

Another issue is whether or not 12,000 hunters were really required to kill 27 wolves.

“We want to know how many hunters are really needed to carry out a hunt like that, and if the hunters accepted their share of the responsibilities which come with the right to hunt. Make no mistake about this point; I’m not going to pull any punches if the hunters didn’t live up to their responsibilities,” said Carlgren.

TT/The Local

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