Oct 31

MT: Hunting Harvest Slow But Steady

By KECI Staff

MISSOULA, Mont. — Hunting season is off to a slow start this year.

One week into general rifle season and Fish Wildlife and Parks agents say the harvest is trickling in.

Check stations are seeing better elk numbers from the Upper Clark Fork area near Deer Lodge and Anaconda. The deer harvest is low all over. FWP hopes the harvest picks up once the snow falls, which will stir up the animals and make them easier to track.

Vivica Crowser of Fish Wildlife and Parks tells NBC Montana, “If we see those things start to happen, then we could really see the season start to spike, hunter participation could spike, and we could see a fun middle to the season. Otherwise, It’s hard to tell. Probably, these trends will continue to play out where we are seeing stronger elk harvest in the eastern part of the region and mule deer kind of down overall and white tail the same.”

There were almost 10% fewer hunters out there for the first week, as compared to last year.

Nearly 8% who passed through one of the region’s three hunter check stations brought home game.

The three check stations in Western Montana tallied 5,593 hunters and a harvest of 266 elk, 47 mule deer, 124 white-tailed deer, three wolves and three black bears.


Oct 31

SE: The female wolf in Småland eludes hunters

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Ljungby / TT

The result of the controlled hunting of the endangered female wolf in Småland is that she survived the weekend, despite her being chased by hundreds of hunters and can be tracked with GPS.

“She is a cunning predator who is more intelligent than us,” says hunting leader Rune Håkansson.

The wolf Kynna, who walked into Småland in the summer, is suspected of having destroyed more than 20 sheep.

The protective hunt, which the EPA decided to permit, will run until November 4 but it will likely be extended if the wolf is not killed by then.


Oct 30

WA: Commission takes more comments on wolf plan

Staff report

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a work session on a proposed state wolf conservation and management plan Thursday in Spokane, followed by a meeting Friday on other issues.

The discussion of the wolf management plan is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Public comments will be accepted during the afternoon portion of the meeting.

The plan, developed by Department of Fish and Wildlife staffers, is intended to guide state management efforts as wolves re-establish a sustainable breeding population in the state. Details of the recommended plan are available at swdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf. The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.

During Friday’s meeting, the commission is scheduled to amend existing restrictions on importation of harvested wildlife from states known to harbor chronic wasting disease in wildlife populations. The proposed change would add Maryland and Minnesota to the list of states with the disease. The restrictions are aimed at protecting Washington’s native deer, elk and moose populations.

The commission also is scheduled to consider approval of a proposed acquisition of 7,711 acres in Kittitas County and hear a briefing from department staff on criteria for setting population objectives for deer and elk.

An agenda for the meeting is posted at wdfw.wa.gov/commission.

Get invovled

Both meetings will be at the Ramada Spokane Airport hotel, 8909 W. Airport Drive, Spokane. The commission’s regular November meeting had previously been scheduled in Olympia. In addition, the continuation of the regular meeting scheduled for Saturday has been canceled.


Oct 30

NY: Rare wolves raised near NYC for return to the wild

By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press

SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. (AP) — She seemed perfectly normal, so it was surprising and a little scary when Maggie Howell suddenly let loose with a long, loud, screechy yell that sounded unlike anything human.

Then came the responses. A yip, a bark, and then howl after howl, cascading down the wooded hill from two dozen or so unseen animals at the Wolf Conservation Center in the New York City suburbs.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Howell, 39, the wolf center’s managing director.

The chorus went on for more than a minute, a strange and unfamiliar sound within 45 miles of midtown Manhattan.

The wolf center is a key component in the national effort to return endangered wolves to the wild. In partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the 27-acre center is raising and breeding Mexican and red wolves in large enclosures, letting them eat roadkill and whatever they catch and limiting their contact with humans.

The hope is that they or their progeny can one day be released into the wild in North Carolina or along the Arizona-New Mexico border and help save animals that were nearly wiped out by man through hunting, poisoning and loss of habitat.

There are 53 zoos and nature centers in the Mexican wolf program and 42 in the red wolf program, but the Wolf Conservation Center is among the more valuable, officials said.

“They keep several animals as wild as they can, they participate in breeding, and they can get the joy of fostering animals into the wild,” said David Rabon, who is based in Mateo, N.C., as national coordinator of the red wolf recovery program.

“Being able to do what the WCC is doing so close to a major metropolis is pretty remarkable,” said Peter Siminski, coordinator of the Mexican wolf program based in Palm Desert, Calif.

Of the 10 pairs of wolves chosen to breed for the Mexican wolf program this coming winter, two pairs are at the WCC. The red wolf program has also designated two of the center’s pairs for breeding.

So there’s great anticipation on the center’s wooded grounds in South Salem, where almost all of the space is taken up by one- to three-acre wolf pens, each with a pair or family.

During a recent visit, a pair of greyish Mexican wolves, barely visible in the dense foliage in their 1-acre pen, kept a wary eye on the humans at the fence. In a neighboring enclosure, a family of red wolves, shorter, ruddier and with pointed ears, was even more withdrawn. But suddenly all the reds — parents followed by 17-month-old pups — raced through the dappled sunlight in a clearing.

“It’s great to see them like this,” Howell said.

None of the red and Mexican wolves are given names, part of the effort to limit their human contact. Their designations are letter-and-number combinations like F1397 and M1483, with the letters designating their sex.

The wolf center also plays a key role in combatting the notion of wolves as grandmother-gobbling monsters or mindless sheep-killers. Three socialized “ambassador” wolves, not involved in the back-to-the-wild task, help educate schoolchildren and others about the animals’ nature and history. The wolf center also hosts lectures, movies and “howls,” tours that include getting the wolves to sing.

The newest ambassador wolves are juveniles — black Zephyr and tawny Alawa, both Canadian grey wolves. They loped eagerly to a fence when humans approached and tugged at their toys, which included a teddy bear and part of a bison skull.

The third ambassador, a regal arctic grey wolf named Atka, rested in a separate pen. He’d been out the previous night — visiting an upstate high school.

The wolf center’s education aspect has suffered some recent setbacks. Three of its longtime ambassador wolves died within the last year and a half of cancer or old age.

Then in July, the wolf center lost a court case and had to give up a donation of land worth nearly $1.5 million. The case pitted two conservation groups against each other: the Westchester Land Trust claimed that erecting wolf enclosures would violate an existing conservation easement on the land.

The lawsuit spoiled plans to move the educational aspects of the wolf center to the new acreage a couple of miles away. Instead, the wolf center is hoping to buy some of the land it’s currently leasing from pianist Helene Grimaud and photographer J. Henry Fair, who together founded the wolf center in 1999.

Meanwhile, staffers are hoping to see wolf mating and wolf pups in 2012.

“Hopefully, with four breeding pairs, we’ll celebrate at least one new litter, but this is captivity and these are arranged marriages, so you just don’t know,” Howell said.

The Mexican wolf was all but extinct in the wild in the 1980s.

“To save the subspecies, the Fish and Wildlife Service took a few animals from the wild and established a captive breeding program,” Siminski said.

“In 1998, wolves from the program were released on the Arizona-New Mexico border. To maintain genetic diversity, the 50 or so wolves in the wild are restocked from pups born to the 300 wolves kept in captivity.

“Breeding pairs are selected carefully, Siminski said.

“They have to know what wild prey is, they need to fear people, and they need to be good social wolves,” he said.

Pups born into the Mexican wolf program would likely be sent to a prerelease facility, paired with opposite-sex wolves and allowed to raise pups themselves before being sent out into the wild.

The red wolf story is similar. In 1970, on the brink of extinction, 14 were gathered up for a captive breeding program that led to a release in eastern North Carolina in the 1980s. There are about 115 wolves there, and about 180 in captivity.

The red wolf program uses a technique called fostering-in. Rabon said that if a wolf in captivity and a wolf in the wild have litters within a few days of each other, and the captive litter is big enough, pups from the captive litter can be rushed down to North Carolina and placed in the wild wolf’s den.

“It has to be done before the eyes open,” Rabon said. “We have found that mothers will take them in and we have no evidence of harm to the birth mother or the rest of her litter.”

That could mean that next spring, a wolf born in metropolitan New York will be in the care of a wild pack in North Carolina.

“It would be amazing to celebrate pups,” Howell said, “and then say, ‘Bye-bye, have fun, do what you need to do out there.’”


Oct 30

OR: New wolf pack identified in northeastern Oregon along Snake River

By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian

JOSEPH — With the shrinkage of the state’s oldest and biggest pack of gray wolves to four — and a potential kill order looming over two of the pack’s remaining wolves for preying on livestock — Oregon’s fledgling wolf population looked like it was in trouble.

But a new pack of five gray wolves is now hunting on the Oregon side of the Snake River along the Oregon-Idaho boundary in Wallowa County. One is a pup, and the pack’s actual number might exceed five, said Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Snake River pack’s male and female won’t officially become a “breeding pair” unless two or more pups are documented during the next two months, she said.

Oregon now has four wolf packs encompassing 19 gray wolves and four rootless, roaming wolves for a total of 23 compared to a count of 14 about a month ago, Dennehy said.

“There are very likely more wolves out there,” Dennehy said. “We only give the minimum number because we want to be certain.”

The current breakdown: four wolves in the Imnaha pack (formerly the biggest at 16 wolves); four in the Wenaha pack; six in the Walla Walla pack; five in the Snake River pack; two more wolves in northern Umatilla County; and two radio-collared males that trotted from northeastern Oregon’s Wallowa County into central Oregon.

The state has targeted wolves in the Imnaha pack for killing cattle and the latest episode happened last week in Wallowa County. Wolves injured a cow and it was euthanized, Dennehy said.

The state has issued a “kill order” for two Imnaha pack wolves, the alpha male and a younger male wolf, in response to an earlier livestock death. But the order is on hold while the Oregon Court of Appeals reviews a challenge filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Oregon Wild.

The conservation groups contend the kill order violates Oregon’s Endangered Species Act and exceeds the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s statutory authority to address livestock deaths.

A response by the Oregon Department of Justice argues that nothing in the state Endangered Species Act or related statutes prohibits wildlife biologists from killing wolves.

The state response also says Oregon’s 6-year-old Wolf Conservation and Management Plan is predicated on a belief that “human tolerance” is the primary limiting factor for wolf survival and that nonlethal and lethal controls may promote the long-term survival of wolves in the state.

It notes that from 1996 to 1999 in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed up to 14 percent of the previous year’s estimated wolf populations because of livestock depredation. “Even at that level of agency-caused mortality, wolves continued to expand,” the response said.

Sean Stevens, spokesman for Oregon Wild, said the Department of Justice is adopting a paradoxical stand that to save wolves, they must be killed.

“With few wolves in the state and a population struggling to recover, ODFW has been far too quick to implement lethal controls,” Stevens said. The agency shouldn’t be in such a rush to kill the Imnaha pack’s two male wolves, he said.

“We can figure out if the state is breaking the law first, and then move forward,” he said.

Oregon Wild contends the state has potential habitat for 1,000 wolves.

Wolves were virtually exterminated across the West by the 1930s and declared endangered by the federal government in 1976. Oregon’s newest generation of wolves is less than 5 years old. The first evidence that two wolves had paired up after migration here from Idaho took place in 2007, when tracks were found on the south side of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

“They are slowly on the path to recovery, as long as we are willing to allow them to move toward that,” Stevens said.

On the opposite side of the question, officials of Wallowa, Grant, Umatilla and Union counties have filed “friend of the court” briefs and committed $8,000 to oppose the delay in the kill order.

“We chose to support their efforts due to the fact that we have wolves now,” said Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens. “We hope we won’t have to call on neighboring counties to come back and support us.”


Oct 28

DE: Wolves likely to spread across Germany

Wolves are doing so well in Germany, and adapting to so many different habitats, that they are likely to spread from their current strongholds in the eastern parts of the country to become part of the natural landscape nationwide.

It was 11 years ago that a pack was discovered in Germany again, after the species had been effectively exterminated in the middle of the 19th century. Their protected status in Poland and Germany means their return is “unstoppable” according to Beate Jessel, president of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

And having been restricted to the eastern and southern parts of the country, the wolves are starting to spread out, adapting to the way people have shaped the world.

A two-year study by the BfN involved fitting six wolves from the Lausitz area in Saxony, with GPS tracking devices to see how far and where the young animals went after leaving their packs.

“This is the first study in central Europe where the migration routes were followed by satellite, and the residency of wolves in their territory was investigated,” Jessel said in a ministry statement.

“They did not only cross rivers and Autobahns, but also felt comfortable in a variety of habitats – so long as they were left in peace.”

One young male wolf covered 1,550 kilometres in two months, heading east into Belarus, while another stayed with her family for two years. There were also great differences in territory then used – between 49 and 375 square kilometres – and not just woodlands, but also open land like fields. One adult female even dug several holes less than 500 metres from a heavily-used road, in which to raise her young.

“Wolves do not need wilderness, rather they can rapidly spread in our landscape and fit into the most varied habitats,” said Jessel.

“One should thus be prepared for the appearance of wolves across Germany, and use management plans to establish the most conflict-free relations between people and wolves as is possible.”

She told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) that wolves have no desire to annoy humans.

“It loves living space in which it can retreat, where it has quiet,” she told WAZ.

But problems have already emerged, with reports of wolves killing sheep in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bavaria – and wolves being killed in return.

At least 17 wolves have been killed on German roads since 2001, while hunters have also shot at least 13 wolves dead since 1990, although Jessel told WAZ that the numbers are probably under-reported.

“Hunters know that the animals are protected, that shooting them will be seen as a crime,” she said.

In the end, Jessel told the newspaper, education will be important as Germans learn to deal with wolves in their presence after a long absence.

The wolf is not an evil beast but also not a cuddly toy, she emphasised.

“It’s a wild animal,” she said.

The Local/mdm


Oct 28

SE: Death threats against wolf-affected sheep farmer

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Ljungby / TT

Death threats were made ??against one of the sheep farmers whose sheep were attacked by the wolves that are in Småland. The threat was made in connection with the demand for a protective hunt of wolves made to the county, reports TV 4 News Vaxjo.

The sheep farmer reported the threats to police, which were both in phone calls and text messages. Police have no suspects.

A protective hunt for wolf Kynna is underway including using her GPS transmitter.


Oct 28

DE: Wolves ‘thriving’ in Germany

Wolves are thriving in Germany, according to a new study, which found the animals could soon become part of the natural wildlife across the country.

By Matthew Day, Warsaw

One hundred years since hunting nearly wiped wolves out in Germany, they are moving out from their last bastion in the forests on the Polish border.

While 11 years ago there was one pack, there are now 12, and the return of the wolf to all of Germany, said Professor Beata Jessel, head of Germany’s Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, is now “unstoppable”.

The two-year study by the agency has surprised experts by revealing that far from requiring vast forests, the grey wolf has started to adapt to the modern environment.

“Wolves do not need wilderness, rather they can rapidly spread in our landscape and fit into the most varied habitats,” said Prof Jessel in an interview with the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

GPS tracking of one female wolf revealed that she built her lair just 500 metres from a busy road and raised her young undisturbed by the traffic.

Two packs, comprising 18 animals all together, now live just 40 miles from Berlin.

“One should thus be prepared for the appearance of wolves across Germany, and use management plans to establish the most conflict-free relations between people and wolves as is possible,” the professor added.

The study also showed the huge distances wolves can travel. One male animal, called Alan by researchers, travelled the 963 miles to Belarus in two months, crossing countless main roads and swimming the Oder and Vistula rivers. This tendency to wander, wolf specialists say, should aid the spread of wolves across Germany.

But canis lupis also face dangers.

Wolves have struggled to shed a reputation forged in centuries of folklore and stories that casts them as sinister and ruthless killers, prepared to hunt down man or beast. This has made them a target for hunters.

Official figures put the total of illegally shot wolves since 1990 at 13 but experts believe the true figure is much higher owing to hunters hiding the carcases.

Road accidents also inflict an annual toll on the population with 17 reported deaths since 2000.


Oct 27

ID: Research shows guard dogs relax sheep

Presence of pooches can lead to improved income

Capital Press

POCATELLO, Idaho — Sheep tend to travel greater distances in the presence of a guard dog, likely because they’re less concerned about predators, according to new research led by Idaho State University.

Bryson Webber, a graduate student in ISU’s Geographic Information Science department who analyzed the data, said the study affirms the importance of guard dogs because stressed sheep tend to gain less weight.

Previous sheep dog studies have focused on mortality linked to predation; Webber is unaware of any other studies done about how dogs affect sheep behavior.

“We don’t always have to remove predators,” Webber said. “With this, hopefully we can show that the lifestyle guardian dogs simply being present improves the health of these animals. That equates to larger income for the ranchers.”

The data was collected during a 16-day period in the spring of 2010. Oregon State University supplied GPS collars to record the elevation, location and velocity of the sheep every second. Webber plotted the data with mapping software to depict movement. Students with the ISU GIS club volunteered to observe the behavior of the sheep.

The U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois provided the livestock and the four expansive pastures utilized for the study.

The study tracked herds of sheep accustomed to predators. Half of the sheep were left alone and half were guarded. The guarded flocks were switched, and the process was repeated. Though the guarded flocks were more at ease to travel farther, Webber noticed no difference in speed.

The study’s supervisor, ISU GIS Center director Keith Weber, said future research at the university will likely focus on analyzing cortisone levels and fecal matter to determine stress in sheep.

“The trend seems to be to move toward (guard dogs) now, especially as people are moving up against wolves that are moving in,” Weber said.

Margaret Soulen Hinson, president of the American Sheep Industry Association, started increasing her use of guard dogs in 1996, when wolves began posing a threat to her animals. She now uses four dogs per band.

“In situations where you have lone wolves, the guard dogs can be pretty darned effective. A pack, they’ll take out your guard dogs,” she said.

Even with guard dogs, she’s lost as many as 330 sheep to wolves in a single year.

“One of the ways they’re the most effective is they truly alert the herders that wolves are in the area,” Soulen Hinson said.

Webber hopes to submit a paper for peer review by the end of December. Suzanne Stone, wolf expert for the Northwest with Defenders of Wildlife, has requested a copy of the paper upon its release.

“We do a lot of work with the ranching community using nonlethal deterrents, including the use of guard dogs,” Stone said.

Stone advised ranchers to use the best nonlethal predator control for a given situation, noting guard dogs can actually draw wolves to sheep during the spring when they’re protecting their pups.


Oct 27

Arabian wolves need to be protected


RIYADH: Some people, especially hunters, are basically trophy hunters with fixation of killing rare animals.

In the Kingdom, many of these hunters are fond of killing Arabian wolf, a rare species facing extinction. In addition, after making the kill, they proudly display their trophies (the wolves) — even displaying their (wolves) bodies in public places.

Reports of such kills are increasingly being highlighted in Saudi newspapers, with stories about attacks and killings of wolves — the latest of which being in Aqlat Al-Sokhour.

A Saudi citizen killed a wild wolf when it attacked his friend while they were on a desert-hunting trip. His friend was injured in the attack, but both managed to subdue the wild animal.

The Arabian wolf has etched itself in the Arabian folklore and several folk songs, fables and narrations highlight the wolf’s extreme nature — virtuous with their strong bond of friendship as well as its vile action of killing man and animals. The folklore also stress on it being a bad omen, according to a report in Al-Eqtisadiah business daily.

The Arabian wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf that was once found throughout the Arabian Peninsula, but now only lives in some small pockets —especially the mountainous regions — of the Kingdom.

They attack and eat any domestic animal up to the size of a goat. As a result, farmers do not hesitate to shoot, poison, or trap them whenever there is a need for it. Hunters also kill wolves when they come across it during their trip to remote desert areas. As a symbol of their so-called ‘heroic act,’ they exhibit its body at public places or hang them from electric posts or signboards.

Wildlife advocates are of the view that killing wolf is a grave matter and that Arabian wolf should be protected at any cost. They say that killing the wolves could be done only on rare occasions — in self-defense.

Muhammad Al-Shawi, a desert enthusiast, said that he saw wolves at a number of spots during his trips. “I have never harmed them in view of the fact that they are rare species. Most of the wolves in the Kingdom live in mountainous regions of Najd and Tabuk,” he said, adding that he has seen bodies of wolves on display on signboards at numerous places.