May 31

CA AB: Wolves switch up to beef, says study

Wolves switch up to beef, says study

By Sheena Read, Editor

Wolves will eat beef if they have a choice in the menu.

A recent paper published by the Ecological Society of America shows that wolf diets change seasonally when livestock are on the landscape.

The study, conducted by University of Alberta PhD student Andrea Morehouse and Dr. Mark Boyce, professor at the U of A department of biological sciences, says that although wild ungulates are the primary prey for wolves, livestock predation is a growing concern in areas where wolf and livestock territory overlap.

Predation on cattle in Alberta occurs mostly in the southwest corner of the province, with 37 per cent of all paid claims on livestock losses.

Predation in this corner is a year-round problem for cattle producers because wildlife habitats overlap grazing lands.

“The primary period of concern regarding livestock loss is summer and early fall, when cattle graze freely on public land, often in high densities, with little to no monitoring,” the study says.

These grazing times coincide with wolf pup rearing season.

From June to October, cluster kill sites indicated that nearly half of the animals killed by wolves were cattle, with the remaining kills being mostly elk, moose and deer. About 40 per cent of the cattle killed were calves, 40 per cent were yearlings, and less than 20 per cent were adult cows or bulls.

Scat samples indicated that killed and scavenged cattle made up about 60 per cent of the wolf diet, and the other 40 per cent was wild prey.

When cattle have been moved off these areas, and these territories are in non-grazing season, wolf diets switch back to ungulates, in what Morehouse and Boyce note as prey switching.

Wolves also scavenged more during the non-grazing season, and 85 per cent of all scavenging events occurred at rancher boneyards or deadstock piles.

Because scavenging at deadstock piles makes up a large part of the seasonal diet, wolves visited these sites repeatedly, and because of the location of the deadstock piles near ranch buildings, this brought the wolves into close contact with other activities such as calving.

The study used clusters of global positioning system (GPS) telemetry relocations and scat analysis to investigate wolf diets throughout the year.

Wolf diets were studied in a 3,300 square kilometre area in southwestern Alberta, where wolf-cattle conflicts are highest. This area is a narrow region of public land that represents an important corridor between a large population of wolves in Canada and one in the U.S.

The majority of seasonally-grazed cattle in this forestry area is cow-calf pairs and yearlings.

Four wolves from three packs — the Crowsnest pack, Bob Creek pack and Castle Carbondale pack — were collared with GPS radiocollars. The data off these collars provided locations of wolfs, and as a result, depending on the time spent at these locations, also indicated kill sites or scavenge sites.

The team of researchers visited 698 cluster sites, finding 181 kill sites and 32 scavenge sites. The other sites were bedding, denning and rendevous sites.

Examination of 319 scats identified 675 prey items.

The remains of 50 cattle at wolf kill sites were identified during the course of the study from the three packs, averaging at 17 head per pack per year. The GPS data allowed the team to locate cattle that otherwise may have been classified as missing at the end of the season. Because Fish and Wildlife have to confirm kills, the data allowed sites to be identified at least sooner than they may have been otherwise.

Results from the study showed higher predation numbers than what had been previously believed.

While the predator compensation program pays 100 per cent of the market value of livestock killed by wolves or bears, and 50 per cent for probable kills, there are no programs to compensate for missing animals.

The study recommends solutions such as bear-proof metal storage bins for deadstock to reduce scavenging and to prevent wolves and bears from becoming accustomed to the livestock diet and to the pattern.

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May 31

Michigan DNR to Host Michigan Wolf Forum June 3 in Marquette

Michigan DNR to Host Michigan Wolf Forum June 3 in Marquette

Michigan –(Ammoland.com)- The Department of Natural Resources will host a Michigan Wolf Forum on Friday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ramada Inn, located at 412 W. Washington St. in Marquette.

The Michigan Wolf Forum represents many diverse stakeholders with various points of view of wolf management in Michigan. The participants will be asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses in implementation of the state’s Wolf Management Plan. Participants will also discuss new opportunities or issues with wolf management in Michigan, including the current move by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the wolf as a federally endangered species in the Western Great Lakes states.

“The Forum is a way for stakeholders to give us feedback on the Michigan Wolf Management Plan’s implementation and helps improve communication with our stakeholders,” said DNR Wildlife Chief Russ Mason. “We are opening the Forum up to the public to allow their participation in the process.”

At 10:30 a.m. DNR Endangered Species Coordinator Christopher Hoving will update the Forum on the federal delisting process for wolves in the Western Great Lakes states. At 11:30, there will be a review of the Michigan Wolf Management Plan, followed by a discussion of the plan by participants.

For more information on wolves in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/wolves.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.

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May 31

NY: Study: Eastern wolves are hybrids with coyotes

Study: Eastern wolves are hybrids with coyotes

By Mary Esch

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y.—Wolves in the eastern United States are hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes, while the region’s coyotes actually are wolf-coyote-dog hybrids, according to a new genetic study that is adding fuel to a longstanding debate over the origins of two endangered species.

The study is unlikely to impact the management of the endangered red wolf in North Carolina and the eastern Canadian wolf in Ontario, but it offers fresh insight into their genetic makeup and concludes that those wolves are hybrids that developed over the last few hundred years.

Some scientists have argued that the red wolf, Canis rufus, and the eastern Canadian wolf, Canis lycaon, evolved from an ancient eastern wolf species distinct from the larger gray wolf, Canis lupus, that is found in western North America.

Wolf experts who adhere to that theory say the new study is interesting but falls short of proving anything. They say it doesn’t explain why hybrids appear only in some places and note that western wolves don’t hybridize with coyotes but often kill them.

In the study, published online earlier this month in the peer-reviewed journal Genome Research, 16 researchers from around the globe led by Robert Wayne of the University of California-Los Angeles, used information from the dog genome — the animal’s entire genetic code — to survey the genetic diversity in dogs, wolves and coyotes.

It was the most detailed genetic study of any wild vertebrate species to date, using molecular genetic techniques to look at over 48,000 markers throughout the full genome, said Roland Kays, curator of mammals at the New York State Museum and a co-author.

In a previous study of the dog genome published last year in the journal Nature, a Wayne-led international team of scientists reported that domestic dogs likely originated in the Middle East and shared more genetic similarity with Middle Eastern gray wolves than any other wolf population.

The recent study showed a gradient of hybridization in wolves.

In the West, wolves were pure wolf, while in the western Great Lakes, they averaged 85 percent wolf and 15 percent coyote. Wolves in Algonquin Park in eastern Ontario averaged 58 percent wolf.

The red wolf in North Carolina, which has been the subject of extensive preservation and restoration efforts, was found to be 24 percent wolf and 76 percent coyote.

Northeastern coyotes, which only colonized the region in the past 60 years, were found to be 82 percent coyote, 9 percent dog and 9 percent wolf.

In a study co-authored by Kays last year in the journal Biology Letters, museum specimens and genetic samples were used to show that coyotes migrating eastward bred with wolves to evolve into a larger form that has become the top predator in the Northeast, filling a niche left when native eastern wolves were hunted out of existence. The hybridization allowed coyotes to evolve from the scrawny mouse-eaters of western grasslands to robust deer-hunters in eastern forests.

The genetic techniques used in the recent study allowed researchers to estimate that hybridization, in most cases, happened when humans were hunting eastern wolves to extinction, Kays said.

“The few remaining animals could find no proper mates so took the best option they could get,” Kays said.

L. David Mech, senior research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Research Center in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn., is skeptical of the theory that eastern wolves are hybrids.

“How do you reconcile this with the fact that gray wolves typically don’t breed with coyotes, but kill them?” Mech said. “We have no records in the West of wolves hybridizing with coyotes, even in areas where single wolves looking for mates have dispersed into the middle of coyote country.”

Mech also questioned whether the study tested enough Canadian and North Carolina wolves and whether those specimens were true representatives of those populations.

Although 48,000 genetic markers sounds like a lot, it’s actually a relatively small part of the entire genetic code, Mech said. So the evidence of a unique eastern wolf ancestor could simply be in another part of the code that wasn’t analyzed, he said.

Several researchers who consider the eastern wolf species separate from the gray wolf weighed in recently in an online discussion of the new study.

Brent Patterson, a genetics researcher at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, called the study “an important step forward.” But until more samples are analyzed, the hypothesis that a North American wolf evolved independently from the gray wolf was still viable, he said.

“It’s an academic issue,” Mech said. “It’s nice to know what the origins are from the standpoint of curiosity, but from a conservation standpoint, it shouldn’t make any difference.”

David Rabon, coordinator of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina, said the federal agency has taken the position that the red wolf is a unique species that warrants protection. The new study, while interesting, won’t likely change management decisions, he said.

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May 30

UT: Wolves no longer protected in Utah? Guess again

Wolves no longer protected in Utah? Guess again

By Brandon Loomis
The Salt Lake Tribune

Wolves are advised not to linger in far northern Utah now that Congress has removed Endangered Species Act protection for the predators in their Northern Rockies recovery zone.

They are legally welcome everywhere else in Utah, though, if they can get here and breed — regardless of what state officials want.

The status shift, approved in a budget bill last month, allows Utah to kill any wolves that pair up to create a pack in its federally designated recovery zone — the mountainous corner of the state east of Interstate 15 and north of Interstates 80 and 84 — as the Legislature directed last winter.

“It kind of becomes our marching orders,” said Kevin Bunnell, a wildlife biologist and mammals program coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “State law at this point is that we remove those.”

He said the state likely would enlist expert trappers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services when necessary.

That doesn’t mean wolves cannot breed and thrive elsewhere in Utah. Federal protection remains everywhere else, in the places where they aren’t considered legally recovered or even present.

Those spots include the forests around the UintaMountains and a wild swath along eastern Utah’s Book Cliffs. Wolves are off the endangered list only in the Northern Rockies recovery zone, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says transplants to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho helped grow the population to more than 1,600 animals occupying nearly all suitable habitat in the region.

Previously, Utah could seek a wolf’s killing only when it threatened livestock.

Reports of wandering lone wolves in Utah, including some confirmations and a couple of cases of livestock predation last year in Rich County, have become steadier since the 1990s reintroductions 200-plus miles to the north. Experts say the wolf’s newly vulnerable status in the recovery zone scarcely affects the odds — slim but plausible for the near future, by some accounts —that compatible male and female wanderers will hook up in eastern Utah and start a pack in still-protected territory.

Idahoans and Montanans will resume legal hunting to thin the packs this year. Wyoming cannot because it lacks a state plan that federal authorities say is sufficient to maintain the species. That leaves southwest Wyoming as a possible back door into eastern Utah. State wildlife managers have said it’s only a matter of time, and wolf advocates agree.

“I’m fairly optimistic that wolves will come into Utah and make it beyond I-80 to the Uintas,” said Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy in Salt Lake City. “So I don’t think much has changed in that regard.”

He supports wolf recovery in Utah as a component of healthy ecosystems and says it should be encouraged in places such as the Book Cliffs, well away from all but a few ranches.

It’s not likely to happen soon, said Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who has managed Northern Rockies wolf recovery for nearly a quarter century before retiring this week. He likens lone wolf dispersers to spokes on a wheel, each one spaced farther apart the farther they get from the center.

The remote, forested patches of Utah don’t compare to central Idaho, where there are 13 million acres of contiguous public forests with little fragmentation. Still, wolves have strayed from Montana and central Idaho to take up residence in smaller enclaves of eastern Washington and Oregon.

“They’re not going to naturally colonize Utah in the near future,” Bangs said. “That doesn’t mean they can’t get a foothold,” though reintroduction would work better if Utah wanted wolves. That way, he said, they could go where there’s the least conflict.

No political appetite exists for such a program, with legislators seeking to kill packs before they grow. Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike Styler told a legislative committee last session that wolves are indiscriminate killing machines akin to a “modern T. rex.” Last week, he modified that slightly with a nod to the predator’s stealth, intelligence and cooperative hunting.

“I misspoke. They’re more like velociraptors,” he said in reference to the coldblooded killers of “Jurassic Park.”

A state wolf plan adopted in 2005 included survey results indicating 57 percent of urban Utahns and 42 percent of rural Utahns would like to see wolves in the state.

It’s a frightening prospect to Styler, a former farmer and rural Millard County commissioner, if it happens while Endangered Species Act protections still limit state control in most of Utah.

“We have had wolves wander through [Utah] without causing a lot of damage,” Styler said. “If we started getting packs established without management control, there is not enough wilderness-type area here to support packs of wolves without immediately moving on to livestock.”

The state plan calls for no more than two packs in Utah, though that was written with the expectation that federal protections would be removed statewide.

The reality now is that if wolves can quietly pass through the state’s legal no-wolf zone in the north and start packs south of I-80 in any numbers, they are home free.

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May 29

MN: Red Lake Band receives $200,000 grant to track timber wolves

Red Lake Band receives $200,000 grant to track timber wolves

According to Jay Huseby, wildlife director for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the grant will allow the tribe to purchase 10 GPS collars to track timber wolves on tribal lands and learn more about the types of habitat they prefer.

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa has received a $200,000 federal grant to launch a satellite tracking study of timber wolves on tribal lands.

According to Jay Huseby, wildlife director for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the grant will allow the tribe to purchase 10 GPS collars to track timber wolves on tribal lands and learn more about the types of habitat they prefer.

The collars cost about $2,000 each, Huseby said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the grant this week as part of a $7 million package of Tribal Wildlife Grants the federal agency awarded to 37 American Indian tribes in 16 states.

Huseby said the timing is “perfect,” with the recent Fish and Wildlife Service announcement that it plans to remove wolves from federal protection in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. That will return wolf management to the states, and the Red Lake Band will have sole authority of managing wolves on tribal lands, which cover more than 840,000 acres near Upper and Lower Red Lake and parts of the Northwest Angle.

Five and five

If all goes according to plan, Huseby said the band will trap and collar the wolves this fall. The goal, he said, is to collar five wolves within the core of the Red Lake Indian Reservation and five on tribal lands at the Northwest Angle. He said the band hopes to tap into the expertise of biologists from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other agencies to capture the wolves.

Most likely, he said, the capture will involve padded leg-hold traps and large snares.

“As with any big predator, it’s going to be interesting,” Huseby said of the capture process, which also will require sedating the wolves to attach the collars. “We have people trained in handling animals, but there could be some issues with sedation. It will be nice to have an expert there to walk it through.”

The two-year tracking study marks the second phase of a research project that began in 2008. Huseby said the first phase involved getting information on wolf abundance and distribution to help the tribe develop its wolf management plan.

The initial research included trail cameras, Huseby said, but with the management plan now in place, being able to track wolves with satellite technology will be “huge,” in terms of the information it provides.

“It will help us get more detail,” he said.

Wolf trends

Studies have shown Red Lake tribal lands have a potential population of 60 to 72 wolves, and the Northwest Angle has two permanent packs with 10 to 12 wolves each. But those numbers can change, based on movement to and from Canada, because the Northwest Angle is surrounded by Manitoba and Ontario on three sides.

The upcoming study will help shed light on the extent of that migration.

“The jurisdictional issue will be really complex up there with Manitoba, Ontario and state land,” Huseby said. “So any wolf issues could get really complex.”

Huseby said wolves are doing well on tribal lands, but some of the animals in the Northwest Angle have shown signs of mange, a contagious skin disease caused by parasites.

He said the band is working with the University of Minnesota’s veterinary diagnostics lab to deliver for testing the carcasses of any wolves that might be found.

“We put cameras out there for deer and saw wolves showing moderate signs of mange,” Huseby said. “What happens to a wild wolf when it gets mange? Does it make it or does it peel off from the rest of the pack and die?”

The upcoming study hopefully will help answer that question — and others.

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May 29

MN: WOLF WARS: Ranchers cheered by lifting of wolf protections

WOLF WARS: Ranchers cheered by lifting of wolf protections

By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press Writer

MINNEAPOLIS – Ranchers in Western states said they’re hopeful the removal of gray wolves from the federal endangered species list will make it easier to hunt the predators and stem losses of cattle and sheep.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month formally lifted federal protections for more than 1,300 wolves in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. That will allow hunting of the carnivores that ranchers say have taken a steady toll on their livestock over the past two decades.

Tex Marchessault, a cattle rancher near Dillon, Mont., said he’s lost several young cattle over the years, and other livestock have been injured in attacks. Government trappers killed a six-wolf pack on his land a few years ago, but another pack soon took its place, he said.

“Let the public know what kind of killers we’re faced with,” Marchessault said. “They’re killers and that’s the way it is.”

Many ranchers distrust a government they say created the problem by reintroducing wolves to the region decades after they were wiped out.

“We were just running along fine for the last 25 to 30 years of my life, and now you put a huge predator into the mix. It certainly makes it a challenge,” said John Helle, part of a four-family sheep and cattle operation near Dillon.

While Minnesota has close to 3,000 wolves, the most in the lower 48 states, most of the losses blamed on them have been in the West, especially Montana and Idaho.

Marchessault’s neighbor, Tom Tash, said wolves killed two calves and probably killed another in late March and early April. “And another cow split her pelvis fighting them off and had to be destroyed,” he added.

Ron Aasheim, spokesman for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said his state’s wolf population has grown to the point where it can sustain hunting.

But Collette Adkins Giese, a Minnesota-based staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said delisting wolves is premature without a nationwide recovery plan. Wolves in the western Great Lakes and Northern Rockies should remain protected so they can help repopulate portions of the Northeast and Northwest that could support packs again, she said.

Adkins Giese said wolves kill a relatively small number of livestock, and she argued those losses can be handled through compensation or nonlethal options. Federal statistics show guard animals, fencing and frequent checking are the most common nonlethal measures.

When the federal government issues final rules for Great Lakes wolves, the group will decide whether to sue, she said.

“We think there’s still too much up in the air with the science,” she said.

Jay Bodner, director of natural resources at the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said ranchers know they won’t be able to get rid of all wolves but are relieved they can take quicker action when problems arise.

The push to remove wolves from the endangered list came to a head last month when Montana’s senators succeeded in doing an end-run around the Endangered Species Act and the courts, which had blocked previous attempts. They attached language to a federal budget bill to force the “delisting” of wolves in the five western states. That move cleared the way for the Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer responsibility for managing wolves to those states.

Montana and Idaho are preparing to hold public wolf hunts this fall.

The Fish and Wildlife Service also plans to take gray wolves off the endangered list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. A 60-day public comment on that proposal runs through July 5. Some 4,200 wolves now roam the three states.

Protections remain in place for Wyoming’s wolves because the federal agency hasn’t accepted that state’s management plan. The Interior Department is still negotiating with Wyoming officials.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates wolves killed 8,100 adult cattle and calves across the country last year. That loss was valued at $3.6 million, making up less than 4 percent of all losses. Most cattle were lost to illness or weather.

Kim Baker, president of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association, said her family lost six head in 2008 and 2009, for which they were reimbursed $2,100, although the cattle’s value was closer to $42,250. She said authorities have killed seven wolves on their property.

Besides the dead livestock, the mere proximity of wolves puts cattle under so much stress they don’t breed or put on weight properly, said Baker, who ranches near Hot Springs, Mont.

Wolf numbers are higher but livestock losses are lower in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Gary Nohrenberg, state director for the USDA’s Wildlife Services division in Minnesota, said the situations in the Upper Midwest and the West aren’t comparable because livestock range free over large territories in the West, while they’re largely kept penned on smaller farms in his region.

USDA Wildlife Services verified 130 complaints about wolf depredation in Minnesota last year, and 192 wolves were killed in response. Most of the complaints involved attacks on cattle, domestic dogs, sheep and turkeys. The state paid about $88,400 in wolf claims in fiscal 2009 and $96,500 through the first seven months of the current fiscal year.

“This is time to get them off the list,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “That’s how the Endangered Species Act was set up.”

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May 28

CA BC: NDP seeks law to help protect wolves from unethical hunting

NDP seeks law to help protect wolves from unethical hunting

By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun

The NDP has introduced a bill that seeks to amend the Wildlife Act to make it illegal to hunt wolves by placing bait.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Michael Sather’s Fair Chase Act also would forbid anyone from impeding the movement of wildlife “by placing a motorized vehicle, aircraft, boat or other mechanical device between wildlife and the direction the wildlife is proceeding.”

The Vancouver Sun reported on a controversial wolf trophy hunt with Wicked River Outfitters on frozen Williston Lake reservoir in northern B.C. in February 2010.

A written account -published online by a couple associated with the Dallas Safari Club of Texas -detailed the use of bait and a snowmobile travelling in excess of 140 km/h to prevent a seven-member wolf pack from escaping.

The provincial conservation officer service continues to investigate that incident.

The province says it is awaiting the outcome of the investigation before deciding if fair-chase laws are needed.

The Wildlife Act prohibits the use of a “motor vehicle or other mechanical device to herd or harass wildlife.”

The NDP said Friday it proposed the bill not with the expectation it would be adopted by the Liberal majority in Victoria, but that it might help to influence future government policy.

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May 28

MT: USDA setting traps after wolves kill horse in Darby

USDA setting traps after wolves kill horse in Darby

by Irina Cates (KPAX News)

DARBY- A Darby rancher is mourning the loss of his horse Jack, after wolves chased him down and killed him.

“It’s hard to believe that two days ago I was giving Jack treats and now he looks like that. Because somebody thought we had to have wolves around here,” says Paul Shirley who owns the Two Feathers Ranch.

Shirley tears up when he talks about his horse Jack. He says he’s heart broken over losing his pet.

“They ran Jack right through the fence and killed him over on the other side,” Shirley said. “The day he was killed was his 13th birthday.”

Shirley says he is seeing a difference in the behavior of his animals out in the pasture. Not all the horses come up to him when he’s petting them and giving out treats, but after the wolf attack on Jack, their behavior changed.

“Every single horse came up and just nuzzled me and wanted to be petted a little bit. They knew what had happened and I guess that they wanted to let me know that they knew,” Shirley said.

He also says the cattle stay close to the house, which they almost never do.

“Fish, Wildlife and Parks has gave us permission to set the traps and we have the government trapper here doing it.,” says Jeff Rennaker, Two Feathers Ranch Manager. “We’re setting foot-hold traps. The wolves are coming through the fence in a spot up here over to the horse. They’ve got to step in the right spot.”

“We’re going to do what we can do to eliminate any wolves that come anywhere near any of our animals,” added Shirley.

The USDA trapper says he saw two distinctly different wolf paw prints after setting the first set of traps and at least one of the wolves missed the trap by inches. The dead horse is being used as bait with traps set up around it to catch the predator.

And when it comes to the wolf population, Shirley says he thinks it probably helps to thin them out.

“The problem with de-listing is that it’s a political issue. It’s not a nature issue and anytime you have politics, you’re going to have compromises. Sometimes those compromises are decent and work out, sometimes they don’t, but we’re going to do what we need to do here-and that’s kill as many wolves as we can,” Shirley said.

Since Friday night, the USDA increased the number of traps on Shirley’s ranch, hoping to catch a wolf on the second try.

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May 27

CA BC: Trapper kills wolf-dog that ate pets, terrified residents on B.C. island

Trapper kills wolf-dog that ate pets, terrified residents on B.C. island

(The Canadian Press)

BOWEN ISLAND, B.C. — A wolf-dog that devoured cats, dogs, chickens, sheep, deer, a swan and snatched a gosling from a backyard pond while striking fear into residents of this bucolic island off the coast of West Vancouver has finally been killed.

It took the handiwork of trapper Allan Starkey to bring a collective sigh of relief to the community that had been under threat by the predator since it was spotted in the bush last December.

Earlier this week, Starkey, 72, lured the animal with deer and sheep meat and scents for wolves and coyotes.

“I waited for her and that was it, game over,” said Starkey, who shot the animal in the head on Thursday.

“Instant kill, right through the brain. There was no suffering, it just collapsed right there.”

The municipality hired Starkey to take care of business after two previous methods of trying to lure the hybrid animal humanely failed and it became evident the brazen beast may attack a child.

“All I can say is I’m really happy for the people who can let their kids out and their little pets out because it was eating everything,” Starkey said Friday.

The trapper said he captured the female in an area where it had dug up some buried sheep it had killed the night before.

He said the half-timberwolf-half-dog was likely abandoned when it could no longer be controlled.

“It’s too bad,” he said. “Somebody must have brought that in as a little pup. It got too big to control and probably got away on them and has been living on livestock ever since. And that person should have never let that animal go, that’s for sure.”

The 43-kilogram animal appeared to be about three years old and had a huge head and powerful jaw and teeth, Starkey said.

“It was just unreal,” said the Maple Ridge, B.C., resident, adding he began trapping at age six, starting with weasels and beavers.

For about the last 15 years, Starkey has been trapping nuisance animals such as skunks, raccoons and coyotes for individuals and municipalities from Whistler to Hope.

Chris Buchanan, assistant to the bylaw services supervisor on Bowen Island, said that as fear about the wolf-dog spread, the municipality posted notices on the ferry to the town.

“But tourists don’t tend to look at community bulletin boards on a ferry,” he said.

In March, as more pets continued disappearing, the municipality hired a trapper to humanely capture the wolf-dog on the advice of the SPCA.

When that was unsuccessful, the local veterinarian tried to find the hybrid animal and subdue it with a tranquilizer gun.

That didn’t work either.

“He (the vet) was out spending several hours a day on his own personal time trying to locate this animal because his clients’ dogs and cats were being injured and on occasion being killed by this animal,” Buchanan said.

The municipality then applied for a special permit with the provincial government under the Wildlife Act to allow for a trapper to use a firearm.

“People are definitely relieved,” Buchanan said of the peace that now reigns on Bowen Island.

“As soon as I got the phone call from the trapper that he was successful, before I attended the scene at 6:30 (Thursday) morning, my partner opened the door and let the kitties out. They hadn’t been out in months.”

Iris Carr, director of the Coast Animal Welfare and Education Society on Bowen Island, said the group kept hearing about the “strange-looking dog” before reports about disappearing pets.

“I just felt quite emotional about it,” she said after hearing the animal had been killed.

“If it was an abandoned dog, then poor thing. I felt terribly sorry for it on one hand and relieved on the other,” she said.

“It seemed like it was on a killing spree rather than just killing for food.”

Marion Postgate, a Vancouver dog trainer, said she doesn’t recommend the public buy wolf hybrids because they are not suitable as pets and aren’t good watchdogs as people wrongly believe.

“Most of them, as they mature to a wild nature, become very difficult to handle,” said Postgate, who is also the Canadian Kennel Club’s obedience training representative for southwestern B.C.

She said people either turn such animals loose or discard them in a wildlife refuge.

“It’s very sad all around because the animal’s lost its normal fear of human beings and it’s not suited to live in the wild at this point and it’s not a good pet.”

- By Camille Bains in Vancouver

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May 27

SE: Moving of wolf pups tested

Moving of wolf pups tested

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Stockholm / TT

The Swedish zoos have begun to implement the movement of wolf pups between dens to test if the zoo puppies may be released among wild wolves next year.

In recent days, two pups from a litter of Nordic Ark moved to the zoo in Orsa, and Järvsö zoo has puppies moved between two litters. Zoo Society says that everything has gone according to plan, and soon one will know if wolf females accepted the alien pups.


Flytt av vargvalpar testas

Stockholm/TT

De svenska djurparkerna har börjat genomföra förflyttning av vargvalpar mellan olika lyor för att testa om djurparksvalpar kan sättas ut bland de vilda vargarna nästa år.

De senaste dagarna har två valpar från en kull på Nordens Ark flyttats till djurparken i Orsa, och på Järvsö zoo har valpar flyttats mellan två kullar. Djurparksföreningen uppger att allt gått enligt plan, och snart kommer man att veta om varghonorna accepterat de främmande valparna.

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