Jun 30

NM: Mexican Gray Wolf One Step Closer to Separate Protection Under Endangered Species Act

Mexican Gray Wolf One Step Closer to Separate Protection Under Endangered Species Act

Recognition Will Mean Increased Protection, New Recovery Standards

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A Center for Biological Diversity settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, filed today with a federal court, requires the Service to respond by July 31, 2010 — one month from today — to a 32-page petition submitted by the Center last August asking for recognition of the Mexican gray wolf as an endangered species separate from gray wolves in the rest of the country. The federal agency had missed a 90-day deadline to issue an initial finding on the petition’s scientific validity.

“Today’s settlement agreement is a victory for the Mexican gray wolf, which now has a shot to receive the recognition and protection it needs to survive,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “The Mexican gray wolf’s distinctiveness from other gray wolves means their survival and recovery is of heightened significance.”

A separate listing for the Mexican wolf as a subspecies or distinct population would compel the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a new Mexican wolf recovery plan, which the agency has been promising to do since the mid-1990s.

The Center’s petition cites multiple independent assessments that the Mexican wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf and also describes the peril to Mexican wolves from government and private persecution and habitat loss. Mexican wolves are smaller than other gray wolves and inhabit very different ecosystems.

In 1976, the Mexican gray wolf was originally listed as endangered separate from other gray wolves, but in 1978 the Fish and Wildlife Service consolidated the various wolf subspecies listings into a single listing for the conterminous United States. In 1982, the Service did issue a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf, which called for captive breeding and establishment through reintroduction of two viable populations in the wild, but it failed to contain criteria for recovery and delisting — an omission the Service has used to stall progress in securing the viability of the first reintroduced population, in the Gila and Apache national forests of New Mexico and Arizona, as well as stall any planning for establishing additional populations. Once the Mexican wolf is separately listed, the Fish and Wildlife Service will be required to update the recovery plan — something that is merely discretionary right now.

“With today’s settlement, we hope Mexican wolf recovery can get back on track,” said Robinson. “With its own listing and recovery plan, the Mexican wolf should see needed reforms in management and eventual return to the other Southwest habitats where it once roamed.”


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Jun 30

CO: Wolf signs at ranch vague, tests show

Wolf signs at ranch vague, tests show

By Dave Buchanan

Samples of what researchers thought was wolf scat near De Beque were too decomposed to prove their origin, according to a lab report issued this week.

The Robert Wayne Lab at UCLA conducted DNA tests of what the researchers picked up on the High Lonesome Ranch north of De Beque.

Although the tests were not able to determine the origin of most of the scat samples, some were proven to come from coyotes.

According to a news release issued Wednesday, High Lonesome Ranch Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul R. Vahldiek Jr., who initiated the original ecological assessment of this property, says researchers will continue to investigate a die-off of aspen groves on his land.

Vahldiek said the ranch shares a oncern around the West about sudden aspen decline, which is thought to be caused by a variety of factors, including climate change, disease and excessive browsing by elk.

In such places as Yellowstone National Park, where wolves have re-established healthy populations, their pressure on elk herds have kept the animals from overgrazing in aspen stands.

During the aspen assessment on High Lonesome Ranch, researchers led by Cristina Eisenberg, a conservation biologist at Oregon State University specializing in predator-prey interactions, reported hearing howls and seeing wolf prints.

Eisenberg had said that earlier this year she found scat and tracks that indicated that at least one wolf, and possibly a pack, had set up housekeeping on the ranch.

Although no wolves were seen, suspected wolf scat was collected and sent to the lab at UCLA.

Ed Bangs, head of the wolf recovery program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena, Mont., said if wolves were present on the ranch, they would be hard to miss.

“In order to have a wolf pack, a wolf would have had to show up at least a year ago, and wolves rapidly become very obvious,” Bangs said. “Wolves walk 15 to 20 miles a day, in the same places people like to walk. You can’t really miss wolves.”

Plus, the slim chances that a female wolf would travel to Colorado and find a male wolf with which to breed makes the possibility of an existing pack even more remote, Bangs said.

Although wolves haven’t established themselves in Colorado, several have been reported traveling through the state over the past few years.

In 2009, a young female wolf from Yellowstone National Park trekked some 1,000 miles from southwestern Montana to Meeker, where it was found dead last April. That wolf’s death remains under investigation by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The previous-known wolf to make it this far south was killed on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs in 2004.


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Jun 30

Animal-Rightists Cry Wolf

Animal-Rightists Cry Wolf

Wolves continue to thrive as elk numbers drop. And the elk hunting game has changed as a result.

By Dr. Dave Samuel

Over the past several years I’ve written about the growing numbers of wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming; the impact of wolves on elk; and the lack of wolf management. When states petitioned to get wolves removed from the endangered species listing so that the states could manage growing packs, animal-rightists predicted that wolves would be eliminated. One group went so far as to predict extermination, perhaps using such extreme language to cajole more donations from well-meaning but misinformed citizens.

The April 2, 2010, online issue of The Outdoor Wire outlined the facts on the hunts.

Idaho had set a harvest quota of 220 wolves, and hunters in that state killed 185, or about 26 percent of the state’s estimated population of 850 wolves. Montana set a quota of 75 wolves, and hunters killed 72, or 14 percent, of the estimated pre-hunt population — and this occurred after the 2009 wolf population growth of 18 percent. In truth, then, the number of wolves killed in the “management” hunts hasn’t even equaled the average 20 percent reproduction increase that occurs in the Northwest. Given these facts, the term “exterminate” is more than a little misleading.

Meanwhile, wolves are hammering elk in some areas such as Idaho’s Lolo Zone, where elk numbers have dropped from 16,000 to 2,000 in recent years. Habitat loss is part of the reason, but wolves have taken more than their share.

Various factions continue to debate the impact of wolves on elk, and the best assessment I could find on this situation comes from elk biologists in Montana. You can read the results of their study regarding the impact of wolves and other predators on elk numbers (and I strongly encourage you to do so) by going to www.fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/game.html. This report basically shows that when hunter numbers are stable and habitat and weather conditions stay the same, high numbers of wolves, mountain lions, and bears have a major effect on elk numbers. When these predator numbers are low, elk do well. In one of the best elk habitat areas in the country (northwest of Yellowstone Park), elk numbers in the past three years have dropped 30 percent a year, and elk hunting there is all but gone. Indeed, in some elk areas, wolves take more elk than hunters do.

Most biologists feel that wolf harvests need to double if elk herds are to remain stable. Things have gotten so bad that in some areas of the Northwest, outfitters no longer take elk hunters. When wolf numbers are kept at reasonable numbers, elk do okay. Studies indicate that elk may be changing migration patterns in response to wolves. They may also be reducing herd size, again because of wolves. No question, the wolves have changed the elk, making the hunter’s job a bit harder. Where wolves and elk overlap, the hunting game has changed, and hunters must adapt.

However, there is no question that certain areas of the Northwest have too many wolves. Overall, wolf numbers are higher than the targets set when they were introduced and protected, yet groups such as Defenders of Wildlife continue to cry “wolf!” All this has stimulated the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) to publicly challenge the “mischaracterizations (of animal-rights groups) of the real impacts of wolves in the northern Rockies” (quote from the April 9 The Outdoor Wire). You can read the RMEF letter on this topic at www.rmef.org. This letter is must-read material considering the fact that animal-rightists want the “endangered” wolf protected, but the wolf is not listed as an endangered species. This is just another example of what happens when emotion and politics derail informed wildlife management.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jun 30

OR: Groups Object To Wolf-Kill Rule Changes

Groups Object To Wolf-Kill Rule Changes

Rob Manning

Environmental groups are objecting to proposed rule changes about Oregon’s wolves. As Rob Manning reports, advocates are concerned that a temporary rule came out just a day before Wednesday’s deadline to comment on a new wolf plan.

The temporary rule changes when a wolf can be killed for its pursuit of livestock.

Under the new rule, a problem wolf wouldn’t have to continually appear on the same or adjacent properties, but just “in the area.”

And, the rule’s new language suggests that a wolf only needs to be involved in two livestock incidents – one of them fatal – rather than four.

Sean Stevens with Oregon Wild says those changes make it too easy to kill wolves.

Stevens: “We have to remember that we’re talking about an endangered species with a population of only 14 confirmed in this state. So lethal control should be our option of absolute last resort.”

Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say lethal measures still have to wait until other methods have failed.

The agency says it will still accept comments on the wolf plan after the June 30th deadline. But advocates are worried that late comments won’t be part of deliberations.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jun 30

OR: Oregon Wolf Plan Blasted for Too Easily Allowing Killing of Wolves…

Oregon Wolf Plan Blasted for Too Easily Allowing Killing of Wolves and Setting Too Low a Recovery Goal

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity today blasted Oregon’s wolf management plan for making it too easy for federal agents to kill wolves before first exhausting nonlethal methods to keep them away from livestock. The group – in its comments to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on the last day for public comments – also criticized the 2005 plan for setting recovery goals far below what’s needed for a healthy, sustainable population.

“The Oregon wolf plan stemmed from the good-faith civic participation of many people with opposing values, and we honor that,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center. “Unfortunately, the plan strayed from the science, and that’s why we’re witnessing the unconscionable prospect of federal employees gunning down two members of Oregon’s only known breeding wolf pack.”

The Center’s comments take issue with the authority the plan gives Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue permits to kill wolves in Oregon before ensuring all nonlethal measures have been taken to discourage depredation of livestock. Although the plan contains some requirements for measures to be taken before kill permits can be issued — requirements that have not been met in this case — it doesn’t go far enough. For example, the plan doesn’t require that piles of livestock carcasses that can attract wolves be cleaned up before lethal measures are taken against wolves. Adding insult to injury, the Department this week made a special rule further weakening plan requirements for issuance of kill permits.

“Making a special rule that eases the path to kill permits — right in the middle of an open comment period on the possibility of revising the wolf plan — is a clear violation of the public trust,” said Greenwald.

The Center’s comments also refute the wolf plan’s position that wolves may be taken off Oregon’s list of endangered species after just three years of maintaining only four breeding pairs in eastern Oregon. Scientific studies show that hundreds, if not thousands, of breeding animals are necessary to maintain genetic health and long-term viability of wildlife populations.

The Center recommends that the wolf plan be revised in three major ways: 1) Clearly require the removal or destruction (i.e., rendering inedible) of the carcasses of non-wolf-killed livestock so that wolves are not attracted to areas with vulnerable stock before any kill permits can be issued; 2) Eliminate the authorization for killing wolves not caught in the act of attacking livestock; and 3) Raise the bar for consideration of taking wolves off the Oregon endangered species list. The goal should be changed from the unsupportable number of four breeding pairs in eastern Oregon to a number reflecting the needed distribution within and outside the state. Only a higher number will ensure Oregon’s wolves’ connectivity to populations elsewhere and the species’ genetic health.

“Allowing government agents to kill wolves in Oregon without requiring that all other non-deadly steps be taken first – and with so few wolves in the state to begin with – clearly highlights the need for continued federal protection under the Endangered Species Act,” said Greenwald.

The state wolf plan is in effect in the absence of protection of wolves on the federal endangered species list. The Center and other conservation organizations have sued in federal court seeking to place wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and eastern Oregon and Washington back on the national list. A ruling is expected this summer or fall. Should the conservation groups prevail, continuation of the ongoing wolf “control” operation would require new authorization, including a federal permit. The Center successfully opposed such a permit to kill wolves in Oregon in the past and would do so again.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jun 30

WY: Wolf pups slain after packs kill livestock

Wolf pups slain after packs kill livestock

In fringe habitat areas with livestock, wolves will just cause trouble, coordinator says.

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

Federal agents wiped out two wolf packs, including 10 pups, in parts of Wyoming last week, drawing criticism from an environmental group.

The killing of the pups, along with adult wolves, took place near Kemmerer and Cody, federal wildlife officials said in a weekly report posted on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site. Members of the packs had killed livestock in areas where wolves have been a chronic problem in the past, federal wolf coordinator for Wyoming Mike Jimenez said Tuesday.

In all, 16 wolves were killed after they killed three calves on private property near Cody and a lamb near Dempsey Creek, northwest of Kemmerer.

Killing of the pups brought a protest from Suzanne Asha Stone of Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, Idaho.

“Simply killing wolves and their young, whether or not they’ve been implicated in conflicts, does very little to resolve the problem,” she said in a letter to the editor this week. “Instead, state wildlife agencies should work with ranchers to reduce the risks of depredations via effective nonlethal solutions.”

Loss of the wolves will mean nothing to the Wyoming population, Jimenez said. Such killings were contemplated when wolves were brought back to Yellowstone National Park from Canada in 1995.

Because the effort to restore the predator to the world’s first national park and surrounding areas has been so successful, they are now spreading out to colonize areas with marginal wildlife prey, he said. Data collected by biologists indicates that wolves in such areas are likely to continue to run into trouble for killing stock, he said.

“We all agreed to this in 1994,” he said of language in an environmental study that includes pups as potential victims should their parents kill stock. “It is the trust we made with the public” in exchange for bringing back the wolf.

“I don’t want to kill pups, nobody wants to,” Jimenez said. But, “We are not going to allow wolves to raise wolves that depredate. We’re going to make sure the livestock industry is not unduly impacted.”

Solutions proposed by conservation groups, such as using flagging and guard dogs to scare wolves, won’t work in some open-range situations, Jimenez said. Killing wolves is the only solution, he said.

“In areas where there’s chronic depredation, now we stop it very quickly,” he said.

That happens regardless of whether the responsible pack has gotten in trouble for only the first time, he said.

“It’s not necessarily this pack, but this area,” he said of the logic behind speedy killing.

The number of conflicts between wolves and stock in Wyoming, with the exception of the killing of sheep in the middle part of the state last year, has been going down recently, he said. There are now more than 200 wolves in the state outside Yellowstone, and the population grew 26 percent last year.

The population can stand the recent killings “without a blink,” he said.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jun 29

WA: Search for Washington wolves

Search for Washington wolves

Posted on 29 June 2010 by Eric

While a citizen’s panel works to finalize Washington’s wolf management plan, wildlife biologists are looking for wolves in the state. Most people believe it is only a matter of time before a wolf pack is confirmed in the Blue Mountains.

Wolf packs have been confirmed in Pend Oreille and Okanogan counties. Earlier this year a wolf pack was confirmed in north eastern Oregon and biologist believe wolves dispersing from Idaho will colonize Washington.

Paul Wik, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist at Clarkston, told me there have been no confirmed packs in the Blues but the department has received numerous wolf sighting reports in recent years.

“We do not have any confirmed packs. I have gotten howl response and trail camera pictures that appear to be wolves. We have a couple of areas we call activity centers that we get a lot of reports from but we haven’t had any reports pining down reproduction or getting good visual sightings on them. We have seen no indication of breeding yet.”

The department is asking anyone who sees a wolf to report it by calling 1-888-584-9038. Wik said the sooner the reports are made the better. Wolves are known to cover large distances and old reports leave a cold trail.

Wolves in eastern Washington were removed from federal protection last year along with wolves in Idaho and Montana but they are listed as endangered by the state.

More information on Washington’s wolf plan is available here.


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Jun 29

New email alert system to recent wolf activity available

New email alert system to recent wolf activity available

Madison (News Release) – Dog trainers, pet owners and others interested in keeping track of recent wolf activity can now sign up for an e-mail or wireless service that will send an alert anytime wolves attack hunting dogs or pets.

The new feature relies on an easy-to-use service called GovDelivery. From the DNR home page search for “dog depredation by wolves” and follow the simple instructions for subscribing to the alerts. It is possible to unsubscribe at anytime.

The alert will be sent to a subscriber’s e-mail and/or wireless addresses of choice and will include a link to details of 2010 depredations and a caution map based on the location of any attacks.

Wisconsin’s dog training season opens July 1 and runs through August 31 leading up to the opening of the 2010 Wisconsin Black Bear Hunting season on Sept. 8. The bear hunting season runs through Oct. 12. It is legal during this training period for hunters with a class A or B bear hunting license to train dogs on wild bear on public property open to bear-dog training.

“This new system will give dog trainers rapid alerts to problem areas with information that can help them avoid attacks on their dogs,” said, Adrian Wydeven, wolf ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “We will post new alerts just as soon as attacks are confirmed. We’ll also continue to maintain our wolf alert web pages with documentation of all attacks throughout the current season.”

Wolves with pups leave the den area where the pups were born and occupy one or more rendezvous sites within the pack territory during summer months. A wolf pack changes rendezvous sites somewhat unpredictably but will defend the current site and pups from any hunting dogs that get too close.

Alerts on other topics are also available through the GovDelivery feature. At the DNR home page select “Subscribe to DNR Updates” and select the topics you want to follow.

Wisconsin’s closely monitored wolf population continues to grow

Wisconsin’s gray wolf population at the close of the 2009-2010 winter is estimated to be 690 to 733, a roughly 10 percent increase over the 2008-2009 end-of-winter estimate.

Wolves continue to be listed as endangered in Wisconsin and elsewhere. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to remove the wolf from this list in portions of the Great Lakes states, so that management of the wolf could be handed over to the states.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources submitted a petition to the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging them to complete the delisting process and return management authority to the state. So far, attempts to delist the wolf have been blocked by the courts.

The annual winter wolf count relies on aerial tracking of radio-collared wolves, trail cameras, and snow track surveys by DNR and volunteer trackers. Also included are wolf sightings by members of the public. The agency has conducted these counts since the winter of 1979-1980 when there were 25 wolves in the state.

A total of 180 wolf packs were detected in Wisconsin during the winter count consisting of at least 2 adult wolves each. Biologists found 30 packs distributed across central Wisconsin and 150 packs in northern Wisconsin. The largest packs in the state were the Moose Road Pack Douglas County with 11 wolves, the Crotte Creek Pack in Douglas County with 9 wolves and the McArther Pine Pack in Forest County with 9 wolves. At least 52 packs had 5 or more wolves in them.

The Wisconsin wolf population is considered to be one of the most closely monitored and managed animal species in the nation, according to Adrian Wydeven, a DNR conservation biologist and wolf specialist.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jun 29

Wis. wolf popoulation jumps 10 percent

Wis. wolf popoulation jumps 10 percent

Associated Press


State wildlife officials say Wisconsin’s wolf population has grown by about 10 percent over the last year.

The Department of Natural Resources estimates the population at the end of the 2009-2010 winter season was somewhere between 690 and 733 animals, up roughly 10 percent from the 2008-2009 end-of-winter estimate.

The DNR counted 180 packs of at least two adult wolves each. Thirty packs were distributed across central Wisconsin. One hundred and fifty packs were spread across northern Wisconsin. At least 52 packs had at least five wolves. The Moose Road pack in Douglas County was the largest in the state with 11 wolves.


Posted in Uncategorized
Jun 28

AZ: Ariz. agrees to extend Mexican Wolf deal with NM

Ariz. agrees to extend Mexican Wolf deal with NM

PHOENIX (AP) – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has approved a new agreement with New Mexico, federal agencies and others to guide wolf conservation.

The state has participated in the Mexican Wolf reintroduction program since 2003, and continued working cooperatively after it expired in 2008.

The agreement approved on Friday re-established the formal partnership between the states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Indian tribes and counties in each state. The other government agencies still need to OK the deal.

Arizona has been working on wolf conservation since the 1980s. The first 11 captive-reared wolves were released at the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico in 1998


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