Jan 31

Litter of Rare, Scruffy-Necked Wolf Pups Born in Virginia

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

A conservation effort to breed rare maned wolves has resulted in four fuzzy bundles of joy in Front Royal, Va.

The litter of pups, born to an 8-year-old mother wolf named Salina and her 4-year-old mate Nopal, is the first at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in two years. The pups are part of an effort to breed these South American wolves under human care. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists maned wolves as “near threatened,” due to human activities encroaching on their habitat in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru. There are about 20,000 maned wolves left in the wild, and only 20 percent of the animal’s habitat remains.

“Every pup born here helps us understand more about the biology of this incredible species,” Nucharin Songsasen, an SCBI research biologist, said in a statement announcing the wolves’ birth. “SCBI has a long history with the maned wolf, both in terms of studying the biology and maintaining the genetic diversity of individuals living under human care, as well as in conserving the animals in the wild.”

Maned wolves are difficult to breed in captivity, likely because of gastrointestinal disorders that plague the species. Nopal and Salina are on a new trial diet that is heavily plant-based, which may better approximate the sort of food maned wolves eat in the wild. SCBI researchers also have learned that maned wolf females must be around a male of their species in order to ovulate.

Source

Jan 31

OR: Citizens report seeing wolf near Booth Ln.

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday it was unable to verify a reported sighting of a wolf Friday morning near Booth Lane and Carter Road northeast of La Grande.

Wildlife Biologist Leonard Ferguson said the department received reports from two citizens who said they saw the animal about 8:30 a.m. ODFW personnel responded to the scene but, by the time they arrived, the animal was gone and it left no trace of itself behind.

“We responded and looked around and did interviews. I did get a quick description, but the ground was frozen so there were no tracks,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said reports of wolf sightings in Union County aren’t all that uncommon, but confirming them is difficult.

Sometimes the sightings aren’t reported for a long time after they occur. It’s not unusual for people to bring in pictures of tracks taken weeks or months before on cell phones.

“We attempt to verify everything we get. We do what we can, but a lot of times, it’s like chasing shadows,” Ferguson said. “A wolf can cover 20 miles in a night.”

He said he doesn’t doubt that wolves do occasionally stray into Union County. He said tracks have been spotted in several locations, including the Starkey project area and the Wenaha wildlife unit. He said he has seen tracks himself.

As for the Booth Lane sighting, Ferguson said it’s rare for a wolf to be seen out in the open as this one reportedly was.

“I’m not saying it couldn’t or didn’t happen, but it (the sighting) was in a place you wouldn’t expect it. Anecdotally, you expect them up in the forest and not out in the middle of the valley,” he said.

Source

Jan 31

CA BC: Activists fight Kootenay wolf cull

Biologists say just 15 caribou remain in southern Purcell herd

CBC News

Animal rights activists in the Kootenays are criticizing the provincial government for killing wolves to save a dying caribou herd.

The Ministry of Forests plans to move 40 caribou from a healthy herd in the Dease Lake area, about 250km south of the B.C.-Yukon border. The animals will join the southern Purcell herd near Cranbrook.

Officials hope the transplanted caribou will boost the dwindling southern Purcell herd. Provincial biologists say there are just 15 caribou left in the area.

To ensure the transplanted caribou survive, the government will likely kill some of their natural predators — wolves and cougars.

Shelley Black, who runs the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, says that’s a terrible plan.

“Culling species to increase another, which our province seems to do quite regularly, is silly,” said Black. “We are trying to make people aware the wolf isn’t a threat to us it’s a very important predator.”

Black has started a petition to stop the wolf kill.

But even government biologists concede if the transplanted caribou have any chance at survival, some of their predators have to be destroyed.

Source

Jan 31

MT: Wolf, lion bounty proposed for Jefferson County

By EVE BYRON Helena Independent Record

HELENA – A proposal to put a bounty on large predators, such as wolves and mountain lions, in Jefferson County is leaving state and federal officials a little confused.

County Commissioner Leonard Wortman said he’s hearing from ranchers who have experienced many conflicts between their livestock and large predators, so, at the county meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners will discuss whether to explore allowing livestock owners to tax themselves and use the money as a reward for killing wolves and mountain lions.

“We found a statute that allows a bounty on large predators,” Wortman said on Monday. “It says the livestock owners would have to petition the county to place a bounty on them, up to $100 for a wolf or mountain lion and $20 on pups and kittens.”

The problem is that mountain lions and gray wolves, which only recently were taken off the list of endangered species, are managed as game animals by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

That state agency sets quotas and hunting seasons. As its regulations stand, shooting game animals like wolves and lions outside of the seasons, taking them without the required permits or killing more than the quota are illegal.

But the bounty statutes authorize that, and officials at multiple state agencies added that it appears a couple of statutes may be conflicting.

Becky Jakes-Dockter, FWP chief legal counsel, said there is a bounty program, but, in her reading, any harvested animals would have to be taken legally and be paid for by taxes levied in the county.

She added that she doesn’t see where such a bounty would provide incentive to people hunting wolves.

“They would still have to have a permit, and the county law couldn’t supersede FWP,” she said.

The state pays bounty claims on some animals, such as coyotes, through the Board of Livestock, mainly using a predator assessment tax that some counties put on livestock at the request of the majority of livestock owners in the county.

George Edwards, the DOL’s livestock loss mitigation coordinator, said counties in Montana also have a per-capita tax already on livestock. Along with the predator assessment tax, those funds typically pay for federal agents with Wildlife Services to hunt wild animals, such as wolves, mountain lions and coyotes, that have preyed on livestock.

But Wildlife Services doesn’t pay bounties for a private party to kill problem wolves.

Mike Foster, a Wildlife Services supervisor in Montana, said they respond to complaints on wolves and are authorized by FWP to remove them. He also was puzzled about putting bounties on wolves.

“I think, if you’re talking bounty, you’re talking way out of turn. That’s something we don’t have authority to do,” Foster said. “A bounty on wolves doesn’t exist in this state.”

Edwards added that statutes that he’s seen still authorize a bounty, at least on mountain lions.

“The bounty state still exists, but I don’t know what that means when it comes to legal standing because things have changed, times have changed and the law has been changed,” Edwards said. “I’m curious to see how this shakes out, since it’s still on the books.”

Jefferson County’s move toward instituting bounties comes as Ravalli County Commissioners consider becoming the first county in Montana to adopt a predator policy. That policy also includes conflicts between state laws and what the county is proposing.

Source

Jan 31

RU: Russian police in conflict with wolves

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Petrozavodsk / TT-Interfax

The authorities in Pitkäranta in the Russian republic of Karelia will investigate whether the police were right when they took up arms in a struggle against wolves on Monday. The police were alerted to a building in the city and found a pack of wolves outside the entrance.

“When the cops got out of their car saw them, one of the wolves tried to attack. The police fired several shots after which the wolf fell to the ground. When the wolf was killed the other wolves disappeared in the woods,” says a police spokesman.

Source

Jan 31

MT: Ranchers want bounty on predators

By EVE BYRON, Independent Record

A proposal to put a bounty on large predators like wolves and mountain lions in Jefferson County is leaving state and federal officials a little confused.

County Commissioner Leonard Wortman said he’s hearing from ranchers who have experienced numerous conflicts between their livestock and large predators, so at the county meeting this afternoon the commissioners will discuss whether to explore allowing livestock owners to tax themselves and use the funds as a reward for killing wolves and mountain lions.

“We found a statute that allows a bounty on large predators,” Wortman said on Monday. “It says the livestock owners would have to petition the county to place a bounty on them, up to $100 for a wolf or mountain lion and $20 on pups and kittens.”

The problem is that mountain lions and gray wolves, which only recently were taken off of the list of endangered species — are managed as game animals by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. That state agency sets quotas and hunting seasons; and as their regulations currently stand, shooting game animals like wolves and lions outside of the seasons, taking them without the required permits or killing more than the quota is illegal.

But the bounty statutes authorize that, and officials at multiple state agencies added that it appears a couple of statutes may be conflicting.

Becky Jakes-Dockter, FWP chief legal counsel, said there is a county bounty program, but in her reading any harvested animals would have to be taken legally and be paid for by taxes levied in the county.

She added that she doesn’t see where such a bounty would provide incentive to people hunting wolves.

“They would still have to have a permit and the county law couldn’t supercede FWP,” she said.

The state pays bounty claims on some animals like coyotes through the Board of Livestock, mainly using a predator assessment tax that some counties put on livestock at the request of the majority of livestock owners in the county.

George Edwards, the DOL’s livestock loss mitigation coordinator, said counties in Montana also have a per-capita tax already on livestock. Along with the predator assessment tax, those funds typically pay for federal agents with Wildlife Services to hunt down wild animals like wolves, mountain lions and coyotes that have preyed on livestock.

But Wildlife Services doesn’t pay bounties for a private party to kill problem wolves.

Mike Foster, a Wildlife Services supervisor in Montana, said they respond to complaints on wolves and are authorized by FWP to remove them. He also was puzzled about putting bounties on wolves.

“I think if you’re talking bounty you’re talking way out of turn. That’s something we don’t have authority to do,” Foster said. “A bounty on wolves doesn’t exist in this state.”

Edwards added that statutes he’s seen still authorize a bounty, at least on mountain lions.

“The bounty state still exists, but I don’t know what that means when it comes to legal standing because things have changed, times have changed and the law has been changed,” Edwards said. “I’m curious to see how this shakes out, since it’s still on the books.”

Jefferson County’s move toward instituting bounties comes as Ravalli County commissioners consider becoming the first county in Montana to adopt a predator policy. That policy also includes conflicts between state laws and what the county is proposing.

Ravalli Commissioner Matt Kanenwisher was quoted in the Ravalli Republic as saying they want the policy to be the beginning of a conversation with state officials over large predator management. That commission is set to discuss the matter at its Thursday meeting.

Part of Ravalli County’s draft includes removing the quota on wolves; letting people take up to five wolves annually, whether by hunting or trapping; and being able to bag a wolf with only an elk or deer tag.

Wortman said Jefferson County ranchers have asked the commission whether there’s some kind of action they can take as livestock predations have increased.

“We’re getting more and more complaints,” Wortman said. “A rancher lost a calf here and another one above Boulder where a cow had her udder chewed off and in the Boulder Valley there was a horse that looked like it was attacked by wolves — the horse got chewed up pretty bad.”

Jefferson County also plans to discuss filing a lawsuit with FWP over wolf management in Montana, he said. He believes that the management plan calls for limiting wolf numbers to around 150 in Montana, and that far more than that are present on the landscape, which is something the commission wants to explore.

“That may be a brief discussion,” Wortman said. “We can live with 150 wolves and don’t want to create a problem, but it’s closer to 1,000 wolves in Montana and we are seeing an affect.”

The meeting is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The bounty discussion will be preceded by subdivision reviews.

Source

Jan 31

WA: Yakima County Farm Bureau opposes state’s wolf plan

by Scott Sandsberry

YAKIMA, Wash. — As far as Mark Herke is concerned, the occasional cougar was bad enough. He’s lost cattle on his Ahtanum ranch in 2005, 2007 and 2010 — a bull and a cow the first year, a calf in each of the latter two, each time killed by a cougar.

But a cougar, he said, “is happier to get the deer.” And it hunts alone.

Wolves are pack hunters. “That,” Herke said, “is a hellacious tool.

“This wolf is not going to be a game-changer. It’s going to be game over.”

That’s why Herke and the other members of the Yakima County Farm Bureau last week came out in opposition of Washington’s state wolf management plan, thus echoing the sentiment of Okanogan County commissioners who last summer petitioned to remove all protections from the state’s wolves.

The farm bureau’s press release said the state’s elk fences would enable wolves “to trap and slaughter” large numbers of elk. “It seems ironic,” the release went on, “that we, as tax payers, paid to have elk introduced into this area, paid to have the wildlife fences built, pay to feed the wildlife, and now are paying to have wolves eat the wildlife.”

The state also pays hunters — by way of landowners’ damage permits — to keep elk from gorging on private croplands. That’s how a hunter and his 9-year-old son had an intriguing Nov. 26 encounter with the Teanaway wolf pack roaming the hills of northwest Kittitas County.

Don Wood of Kent was hunting on an antlerless elk permit on a friend’s property off Teanaway Road when a wolf approached within 20 yards and watched them for quite a while.

“It came up to a bush that the leaves had fallen off of, so it was just kind of sticks and we could see it,” Wood said. “It was staring directly at us for probably a good three or four minutes.”

Wood said he was fascinated but, with his rifle in his arm, was not afraid, “just cautious. My son was standing right beside me; I told him, ‘Look, it’s a wolf.’ He was like, ‘Whoa.’ We didn’t really say much because wanted to be quiet.”

Eventually the wolf trotted off, and Wood’s son, Kenny, walked over to look at its tracks. After a couple of minutes, though, four other wolves — one of which wearing what appeared to be one of the state’s radio-collar units — approached from the same direction.

“I was telling (Kenny) to stop, and I went over to him because he didn’t realize what was going on. At that point, I was a little more concerned,” Wood said.

Still, though, he was more curious than nervous, and instead of raising his rifle, he raised his smart phone to take some photographs of the wolves until they ambled off.

“I had the phone in one hand and the rifle in the other,” Wood said. “(The wolves) stayed spread apart. I think they were coming down looking for breakfast and trying to determine if we were breakfast or not. At the time, I was alert and just trying to assess the whole situation, wasn’t really concerned. A couple of days later, at home in my bed, I was got to thinking, ‘Hey, that really could have gone the other way.’”

Herke, the Yakima County Farm Bureau member, is concerned about what will happen with greater number of wolves in the state. Though the Washington Farm Bureau and the Washington State Sheep Producers have come out in support of the state’s wolf management plan, Herke calls the plan’s goal of 15 breeding pairs “an unsustainable number” and said some YCFB board members would prefer to see no wolves whatsoever in Washington.

“But we’re way past that point now,” he said. “That horse is out of the barn.”

Washington’s wolf population is at least 27 now, including three breeding pairs, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s year-end survey of the state’s five confirmed wolf packs.

“That (wolf number) is a minimum. We know there are other wolves,” said WDFW spokesperson Madonna Luers. “I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve taken since that (survey) went out, and it’s always, ‘We’ve got more wolves.’”

Seven of them are believed to be in the Teanaway pack, roaming the rolling hills of northwest Kittitas County. That pack has yet to be involved in any livestock predation, though several pack members feeding on the carcass of a female sheep — killed by a cougar — injured a shepherd dog belonging to the Martinez family sheep-ranching operation based in Moxie.

The state paid for the dog’s veterinary bills; it also paid $650 to the owner of a calf killed by wolves last fall in Colville, the lone verified case of domestic livestock predation by wolves in Washington so far.

In each case the money came from $30,000 in an account funded half by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and half in matching funds from Defenders of Wildlife — a circumstance that Washington Cattlemen’s Association vice president Jack Field called “a conflict of interest.”

“The folks who are funding this do not share the same goals the livestock producers have in wanting to manage and control problem wolves,” Field said. “It is (the state’s) responsibility, not some outside entity’s responsibility, to fund it.”

But not all private landowners around the state, even those in rural areas, are particularly averse to the wolves’ arrival. Typical of that response is that of Dan Studley, one of the property owners on the land Wood was hunting when he and his son encountered those several members of the Teanaway pack.

“(The wolves) came on their own. They weren’t planted,” Studley said. “I look at them like the bear and the cougar and the elk and everything else around us. They’re just wildlife. I don’t oppose them at all. If they became a problem and (state officials) had to trap some and movement, then they’ll do that.

“I just don’t see that they’re going to impact our lives that much.”

Source

Jan 31

Montana researchers plan study on wolf movement

By CHELSI MOY The Missoulian

The University of Montana will soon study how wolf deaths affect pack stability and population growth.

UM’s Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit just received a three-year, $150,000 grant from the Regina Bauer Frankenberg Foundation to study wolf populations in northern Idaho, the Canadian province of Alberta and Yellowstone National Park.

Wolf mortality varies greatly in the three areas, primarily because of management practices. Wolves are protected in the park, but are hunted in the other two areas, said David Ausband, UM research associate.

Researchers anticipate finding differences in the composition and stability of wolf packs in each area, and Ausband expects to find the most stable packs in Yellowstone.

“In Idaho and Montana, wolves have gone from endangered species to a hunted game animal pretty much overnight, and understanding how death will affect pack stability is pretty important,” he said.

Over the past five years, Ausband has found new techniques for tracking wolves. Tracking wolves with collars is expensive, and now that that the states have assumed management responsibilities, there are fewer federal dollars to pay for tracking, he said.

Instead, Ausband has found ways to track wolves using DNA samples taken from wolf scat and hair. Field researchers make “rub stations” by pouring a smelly, sticky substance on the ground. That draws wolves, which leave hair samples as they move about in the rub, Ausband said.

Researchers are also using what’s known as a “howl box,” a small computer with a speaker and microphone. It broadcasts wolf howls and records the responses. Wolves in packs howl on slightly different frequencies, so researchers can get an idea of the minimum pack size, he said.

Ausband is confident his team of researchers can use both DNA and howl information to track wolf populations in the Rocky Mountain region.

Although Montana has plenty of wolves to study, Ausband concentrated part of the study in Idaho because of familiarity with packs he’s been already been studying since 2007.

The field research will begin this summer, he said. Wolf movement is constrained during the summer because wolves are busy taking care of pups. That should make it easier to count pack size.

“My highest hope is that we find something useful for the management agencies,” Ausband said.

The UM Foundation discovered the grant opportunity and worked with the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit to apply. The foundation will report back to the Regina Bauer Frankenberg Foundation about how the money was spent and what the research uncovered.

The Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit is a collaborative relationship between states, universities, the federal government and nonprofit organizations. The various units conduct research on renewable natural resource questions and help educate graduate students, resource professionals and others with an interest in natural resource issues.

Source

Jan 31

MT: Sportsmen’s group to offer insight on Ravalli County wolf policy

By PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic

HAMILTON – The Ravalli County Commission could adopt the state’s first county government-created predator policy this Thursday.

But Ravalli County’s largest sportsmen’s organization hopes the commission will hear it out before they make a decision.

Last week, members of the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association voiced their displeasure that the county appeared to be moving forward on a controversial policy that asks for dramatic changes in the way predators are managed without reaching out to the group.

“We are the oldest sportsmen’s group in the state and we’ve been in this wolf battle since the very beginning,” said the association’s president, Tony Jones. “They never got any input from us on this policy.”

On Friday, the commission set a meeting with the group for Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 9 a.m.

Jones said he has put together a packet of information on state big-game laws and regulations the association believes the commission needs to understand before moving forward with its predator policy.

“We appreciate and understand what it is they are trying to do, but the direction they took with their draft policy was all wrong in our opinion,” Jones said. “Some of the things they are asking for are illegal. There are state laws against things like baiting bear.”

“How much credibility does a draft have when a county agency asks a state agency to do something that is clearly illegal?” he said. “We believe they need to learn the state’s policy, learn their procedures and then work within those. If you want to be effective, you have to learn to work within those procedures.”

“It took us a while to learn that too,” Jones said. “We tried to circumvent their procedures and it just ended in some major wheel spinning. The quicker they learn that, the better off they will be.”

Commission Chair Matt Kanenwisher said the commission understands that some of the policy’s suggestions are currently beyond the statutory authority of state wildlife managers.

Kanenwisher said he views the proposed policy as the beginning of a conversation that the county hopes will lead to better management of predators.

“It’s simply a way to give a voice to the people of the Ravalli County,” he said.

The proposed policy has the support of some sportsmen’s organizations in the county, including Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and the Western Montana Chapter of the Safari Club.

Safari Club chapter president Jon Wemple said his organization had ample time to offer input to the proposal.

“We applaud the commission for taking a proactive stand,” Wemple said. “We’ve had a significant impact on our elk herds in Ravalli County due to the influx of wolves.”

Even if all the policy’s proposals are not adopted, Wemple said the policy does bring awareness to the issue and provides the potential of adding additional resources to control predator numbers.

The county’s draft predator policy calls for removing the quota on wolves, allowing hunters and trappers to harvest up to five wolves a year, and allowing hunters to use their elk or deer tags to shoot a wolf during the general season.

It also addresses mountain lion and black bear season.

Most controversial is allowing hunters to use bait to hunt bears, which is currently illegal under state law and would require a legislative change.

The commission has made clear that it doesn’t propose to supersede the state in managing wildlife.

Keith Kubista of Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife said his organization believes that something needs to be done soon to preserve ungulates in Ravalli County.

“After sitting through the recent FWP meetings, it appears the outlook doesn’t look good for recovering herds of moose, elk and deer in the near future,” Kubista said. “We would like to see something happen sooner instead of later.”

Kubista said his group was content with its ability to offer input into the process of developing the county’s predator policy.

“We’re very hopeful that the commission can produce a policy that allows us to work with the state and federal government to get wolves and other predator numbers under control,” he said.

***

FWP Regional Supervisor Mack Long said the department will take a look at whatever it is the county produces.

“Their thoughts are important to us,” Long said. “We’ll listen to them.”

The state is in the process of completing its biannual season setting process. Long said wildlife managers heard concerns about predators in at meetings and in written comments from Ravalli County sportsmen.

The state is proposing some changes to the mountain lion season. Early results from a large-scale elk/predator study in the southern Bitterroot suggest that mountain lions are playing a large role in predation on elk calves in the area.

“We hear a lot from the public and they hear a lot from the public,” Long said.

The state has an established process it uses to establish seasons and regulations.

“The old adage about making sausage in a lot of cases like this are true,” Long said. “We have to weave in biology and social aspects with the laws that we’re required to abide by.”

The answers aren’t always as easy as they seem.

The department has heard a lot of people asking about the potential of allowing trapping as another tool to control wolves. While the state will consider that proposal for next year, Long said it’s unclear what impacts trapping might have on mountain lion hunters and their dogs.

“We try to look at the total package when we start opening up the tool box,” he said. “There are a ton of things that are in the pipeline.”

Meanwhile, Long said a recent monitoring flight found that there are four wolf packs remaining in the West Fork of the Bitterroot.

“They are still around and they are a lot more elusive than what they had been,” he said.

One hunter told Long of following wolf tracks on snowmobile. When the hunters thought they were close, they left the machines and went ahead on foot.

When the hunters returned, they found the wolves had circled back and come within 50 to 75 yards of their parked snowmobiles.

“They never saw them or heard them,” Long said. “They are learning that they need to be a little more careful if they want to survive.”

Source

Jan 30

MN: New wolf plan in place

The executive director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association is pleased that protection of the state’s gray wolf population has shifted from the federal government to the state Department of Natural Resources.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

The executive director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association is pleased that protection of the state’s gray wolf population has shifted from the federal government to the state Department of Natural Resources.

He also says too little money has been allocated to pay professional trappers who help to control problem wolves.

“Wolves are smart,” says Joe Martin, the association’s executive director. Minnesota ranchers “hardly ever” see wolves, but too often find dead calves killed by wolves. Professional trappers have the skill and knowledge to deal with the problem wolves, he says.

However, the state’s new Wolf Management Plan brings some big advantages, including giving ranchers in northeastern Minnesota the right to shoot or destroy wolves that pose “an immediate threat” to their animals, he says.

A little background:

On Jan. 27, gray wolves were “delisted,” or removed from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species List. Minnesota now has nearly 3,000 wolves and the state’s wolf population no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.

In the past, when gray wolves were protected by the Endangered Species Act, only authorized trappers could trap or kill wolves, even ones preying on livestock.

Know your zone

Wolf management zones

Under Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan, the state has been split into two zones.

In Zone A, the chunk of northeastern Minnesota that’s considered the wolves’ core range, there are greater restrictions on what ranchers and others can do to protect their animals from wolves.

In Zone A, owners of livestock may shoot or destroy wolves that pose an immediate threat to animals on property they own or lease. Immediate threat means that a wolf is stalking, attacking or killing livestock, according to the DNR website.

In Zone B, the need for an immediate threat doesn’t apply. People may shoot a gray wolf at any time to protect livestock on land they own, lease or manage.

In both zones, a person who kills a wolf must notify the DNR within 48 hours.

Ranchers and others should know which zone they’re in, says the DNR’s Lt. Pat Znajda in Thief River Falls, Minn.

He’s one of three DNR conservation officers in the wolf range designated to lead enforcement of the Wolf Management Act, according to the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association.

The other two DNR officers are Dave Olsen in Grand Rapids, Minn., and Greg Payton, in Virginia, Minn.

Znajda asks any rancher with wolf depredation problems to contact the DNR.

He describes the Wolf Management Plan as “a work in progress,” noting that some details haven’t been worked out yet.

More funding sought

In the past, the program paying professional trappers to control problem wolves cost about $500,000 annually, according to the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cut about $400,000 from the program. The remaining $100,000, coupled with about $100,000 in state funds dedicated to wolf control, leaves only about $200,000 for wolf trapping, the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association says.

At least $300,000 more is needed for the wolf control program to provide its historic level of service, the association says.

Martin urges Minnesota ranchers to contact their federal, state and local elected officials and encourage them to increase funding.

Five years of monitoring

Alaska leads the nation with an estimated 7.700 to 11,200 gray wolves. Minnesota, with its estimated population of roughly 3,000 wolves, ranks second.

Minnesota’s population of gray wolves has been increasing since 1975, when there were about 1,000 to 1,200 of the animals in the state.

Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan calls for a minimum population of 1,600 gray wolves. As required by the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting, according to the DNR.

More information on gray wolves in the western United States can be found at www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/.

More information on Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan can be found at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.

Source