Apr 30

New Wyoming Wolf Plan Will Allow Killing of Hundreds of Wolves

CHEYENNE, Wyo.—  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Wyoming has passed legislation and an amendment to its wolf-management plan that will meet federal approval and trigger removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the state.

The new law and plan — to take effect later this year when wolves are removed from the federal endangered species list — increase the area of Wyoming where wolves would be designated “predators” and could be killed without limit; they also keep in place a “trophy game management area,” where hunting will be allowed to dramatically reduce wolf populations.

“Wyoming’s wolf-management plan is a recipe for wolf slaughter that will only serve to incite more of the prejudice against wolves that led to their destruction in the first place,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been working for two decades to save and recover wolves throughout the West. “Removal of federal protections for wolves has been a disaster in Idaho and Montana and will be even worse in Wyoming.”

While wolves would remain fully protected within Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, elsewhere in Wyoming they would be subject to shooting, trapping and snaring, including 83 percent of the state where they will be considered “predators” and there will be no limits on their killing. The remaining portion of the state would be considered a “trophy game management area,” where killing wolves would be permitted, with the goal of reducing the population from approximately 29 packs to around 10.

“Along with the killing of wolves in Idaho and Montana, which had their protection taken away last year through a back-door congressional rider, this planned persecution of wolves in Wyoming could be devastating to the beautiful animals’ survival in the northern Rocky Mountains,” said Robinson. “Killing most of Wyoming’s wolves will hurt wolves in Colorado, too, where they’re only starting to return by way of Wyoming.”

Since wolf hunting and trapping seasons opened last fall, 378 wolves have been killed in Idaho, which has no cap on killing and several ongoing open seasons. An additional 166 wolves were killed in Montana, which has now closed its season. Contrary to promises, hunting and trapping have appeared to inflame anti-wolf sentiment, with comments and pictures appearing on the Internet that boast of wolf killing and call for more slaughter.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened a two-week comment period, during which feedback is sought from the public before the agency finalizes the delisting rule.

In October 2011 the Obama administration announced finalization of an agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead whereby the agency would remove wolves in Wyoming from the federal endangered species list and the state would only be required to keep alive 100 wolves or 10 breeding pairs outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks (which together provide habitat for a few dozen wolves that would remain protected while in the parks).

After pups are born within the next few weeks, it is likely that more than 500 wolves will live outside the national parks in Wyoming. The state plan will allow their unregulated killing throughout most of the state.


Apr 27

Scientists Dig into How Wisconsin Wolf Hunt Might Impact Population Stability

Susan Bence

Wisconsin leaders recently passed a controversial bill allowing people to hunt wolves starting this fall.

The move came shortly after the federal government removed the animal from the endangered species list.

Friday, researchers from UW-Madison share what they’ve learned about the impact wolf harvesting could have on the stability of its population.

The team will present its findings in Duluth, where a range of interested people – from scientists to livestock producers, are gathering for an annual conference on wolves in the Great Lakes region.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence met the Madison researchers before they departed.

We sit in a conference room, dominated by a larger than life portrait of Aldo Leopold.

Over three-quarters of a century ago, he lead UW-Madison’s game management program. It was the first in the nation.

Today, Wildlife Biologist Tim Van Deelen says he’s following in Leopold’s footsteps.

“We look at research that really is intended to inform the management of white-tailed deer, black bear, gray wolf,” Van Deelen says.

Van Deelen says scientifically-informed management is crucial to making sure wildlife populations strike the right balance in nature.

Van Deelen’s “toolbox” is far more sophisticated than Leopold’s , but comes with age-old tensions. In the case of the gray wolf……..

“Much of the antipathy towards wolves has to do with their perceived or expected impacts on the deer population,” Van Deelen syas.

Three years ago, Van Deelen launched a wolf study in Wisconsin.

“At the time, there was already discussion about delisting wolves and so management authority would then return to the state and I said that we really need to understand the population dynamic of wolves in order to be able to craft a responsible management program,” Van Deelen says.

Scientists had already observed that during the first 20 years of the wolf’s return to Wisconsin, its population barely grew.

“Growth was sometimes positive, sometimes negative,” Van Deelen says.

Van Deelen says the slow growth could be attributed to the fact that, with so FEW wolves around, it was difficult to find a mate.

Alpha pairs breed and raise their young.

Then, if one of the Alphas dies….

“Gets hit on the road, gets poached, it may be a year or two before a new Alpha pair in that wolf pack territory breeds and a pack forms and they give birth. And having even a one year lag, can really depress the population growth rate,” Van Deelen says.

Van Dellen says scientists have also begun to document the cooperative nature of wolf packs. In addition to the “parents and their pups” – other adult wolves join packs and serve as “helpers”, such as when the Alpha heads out to hunt for food.

“A helper will stay behind and act as sort of a defender. There’s research that suggests that having those helpers in the pack facilitates the pups’ survival, “ Van Deelen says.

Van Deelen says in recent times, DNR wildlife biologists radio-collared wolves to collect data from the field.

“Wisconsin made the very fortunate decision when wolves began re-colonizing that they would monitor that. And there’s an unbroken radio telemetry record that spans the entire period of wolf recovery, which is just remarkable,” Van Deelen says.

It fell to PhD student Jennifer Stenglein to put the pieces together. She created a computer model reflecting what scientists have learned about wolf behavior in Wisconsin.

Her model features tiny wolf figures dotting northern and central Wisconsin – with each dot representing a wolf pack.

“And it’s shaded from dark to light as a probability of mortality; so higher mortality are lighter colors, and lower mortality are darker,” Stenglein says.

Stenglein says the “danger” zones are areas where uninterrupted forest gives way to agricultural land and roads – places where wolves are more likely to get into trouble.

She has put her model through the paces by introducing different hunting scenarios and running each hundreds of times to test its predictability.

For instance, what happens if hunters harvest wolves only in the “danger” zones or during wolf mating season.

“ It becomes a pretty big deal, because of that pack structure being broken up,” Stenglein says.

Just days before our meeting, Stenglein and Tim Van Deelen met with DNR administrators to demonstrate how they could use the model to design Wisconsin’s hunt.

The agency has not yet set rules.

“We showed it to DNR managers with the idea that if they chose to use it, this is something that would be reasonable, because at least for five years, Fish and Wildlife Services is kind of looking over their shoulder to make sure the wolf management still ensures the security of the wolf population in the Great Lakes,” Van Deelen says.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife will closely monitor Wisconsin’s success at maintaining its wolf population.

If it dips to 250 or below, the federal agency would re-impose endangered species status.

No matter how Wisconsin’s first official wolf hunt is designed, PhD candidate Jennifer Stenglein will plug its parameters into her computer model.

If it churns out the same outcome as what happens in the field, she’ll know she has a reliable wolf management tool to share.


Apr 27

MN: Hunting, livestock main topics of Duluth wolf conference

by Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio

DULUTH, Minn. — With a proposed wolf hunting season nearing approval in the Minnesota Legislature, state wildlife managers and others are meeting in Duluth for an annual conference on wolves in the Great Lakes region.

The two main issues being discussed at the Midwest Wolf Stewards Conference are hunting and the depredation of livestock by wolves.

Since the wolf was removed from the Endangered Species list in January, Minnesota has certified nearly 80 trappers to kill problem wolves that prey on animals.

U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist John Hart said a wolf hunt likely won’t have much impact on the number of wolves that prey on livestock. He said most depredation occurs in the summer, while a hunt would take place in the fall and winter.

“As the public has become more engaged in wolf management and a wolf season in the western Great Lakes, they really need to keep in mind that a wolf harvest does not equal wolf depredation management,” Hart said.

But Hart does think a hunting season, combined with landowners who are now allowed to kill some problem wolves, could shrink the wolf population in central Minnesota.

Both the Minnesota House and Senate have approved bills to have the wolf and deer hunting seasons coincide in the fall. The state Department of Natural Resources had proposed to start the wolf season later in the year, but large carnivore specialist Dan Stark says the agency can work with an earlier start.

“In a lot of places wolves are hunted incidental to other big game hunting and success rates are very low,” Stark said.

There are about 3,000 wolves in Minnesota. The DNR has proposed an initial hunting quota of 400.


Apr 26

WA: State helps protect livestock from wolves

Capital Press

With the number of wolves increasing in Washington, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is stepping up efforts to help ranchers protect livestock.

Conservation Northwest of Bellingham also is working to help ranchers and wants to start a program to do so.

Within the past month, Fish and Wildlife helped a producer near Laurier, in the northeast corner of the state, install turbo fladry, electrified flagging and fencing, around a 3-acre calving pen, said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane.

Big red flags were used that have been effective in keeping wolves out of areas in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Luers said. The rancher had an electrified fence around a 1-acre pen and expanded it to 3 acres. The department paid for the flagging and some of the electrification with funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, she said.

The department will do more as needs arise, particularly in the northeast corner of the state where there are lots of ranches and wolves, Luers said. The department has added four to five personnel dedicated to wolf monitoring, she said.

Steve Pozzanghera, the department’s eastern regional director, discussed agency efforts with ranchers in Colville on April 25, she said.

Meanwhile, Conservation Northwest held a workshop the same day in Colville for ranchers to listen to a rancher from Blackfoot, Mont., and a program coordinator from Longview, Alberta, about successful management of wolves in those areas.

“One of our goals is to develop a program but we are far from it,” said Jasmine Minbashian, special projects director for Conservation Northwest.

Large cooperatives of ranchers and other parties were formed in Blackfoot and Longview and have used range riders, electric fences and removed carcasses which reduced livestock deaths by 90 percent, Minbashian said.

Conservation Northwest would like develop a similar program in Washington at little or no cost to ranchers, perhaps paid by government grants, she said.

The workshop was a starting point to see if ranchers are interested and let them hear strategies from ranchers dealing with wolves, she said.

“Conflict is inevitable with more wolves but if we can get ahead of it we can reduce it,” she said. “Wolves are social and human presence with livestock is one way to get them to learn livestock is not desirable prey.”

Flagging, electric fencing and cracker shells (shooting blanks) have been tried in other states with varying degrees of success, said Jack Field, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association in Ellensburg.

“The only effective tool is removal (shooting), but the department wants to exhaust all preventative tools before it gets to that and I understand that,” Field said.

Ranchers are concerned about potential losses this summer, particularly as they move livestock to higher-elevation ranges, he said.

Fish and Wildlife estimates 10 wolf packs may be living in the state, up from five last year. It has documented three breeding pair and 27 wolves although each breeding pair is believed to have about 14 wolves.

There has only been one confirmed probable livestock loss to a wolf in the state, a calf near Laurier in 2007. Ranchers say there have been others, cattle and sheep, that are unconfirmed.


Apr 26

ND: Control of wolves divided

By BRIAN GEHRING | Bismarck Tribune

It wasn’t that long ago when hunters — and wildlife managers in North Dakota — didn’t have to worry about mountain lions.

We didn’t have any, supposedly because of a lack of habitat, among other reasons. I guess the same could be said for pheasants at one time.

The appearance of mountain lions on the landscape here ultimately led to the Game and Fish Department splitting the state into two units after establishing a season on the cats.

It’s probably not a complicated issue for one agency to manage the mountain lion population, even with a split season within one unit and a longer season in another unit.

But a recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take the Great Lakes gray wolf off the endangered and protected list could cause at least some confusion.

It might not seem as big of an issue as it is in other Midwestern states, but it’s interesting none the less.
While there aren’t a whole lot of wolves wandering through the state, one was mistaken for a coyote and shot in the eastern part of the state a couple of years ago.

That’s the hitch: the delisting of the gray wolf only extends to U.S. Highway 83, basically covering the eastern half of the state.

West of that, however, the wolves still will be protected under federal law.

In other words, management of any wolves found east of Highway 83 would fall to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department while any found west of that would be under the authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Game and Fish Department furbearer biologist Stephanie Tucker said there are not enough wolves in the state to warrant a season and sightings are rare.

State law allows livestock producers to shoot and kill predators that threaten their herd when it comes to species managed by the state, but the same does not hold true for animals protected under federal law.

Control of wolves is becoming an increasingly hot issue in many western states.

Livestock producers there many years ago adopted the “SSS” method of dealing with predators that fall under federal protection: “Shoot, shovel and shut up.”

It may or may not become an issue in the coming years because at least for now there is no indications that wolves are moving into the state — either east river or west river.

Snagging season opening

The paddlefish snagging season opens Sunday and as a reminder, there are a couple of changes in the regulations.

Sundays are now included in the snag-and-release days along with Mondays and Tuesdays. On all other days. paddlefish must be tagged and harvested.

If you are out on the release days, you must have your tag with you but you cannot have a gaff hook with you.


Apr 26

WY: Wolf regulations pass in Wyoming, move to feds

By CHRISTINE PETERSON and JEREMY PELZER Star-Tribune staff writers

One of the most contentious animals in Wyoming moved one step closer to being hunted, with very little fanfare.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on Wednesday approved a hunting season for wolves that would begin Oct. 1, if the animals are removed from the endangered species list. It also approved rules on how to manage the wolves in and outside of the hunt areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could decide on the listing by Oct. 1.

The plan would allow 52 wolves to be harvested this fall in northwest Wyoming. It also would create three types of management areas:

A trophy game management area that would be most of northwest Wyoming outside of federal lands such as Yellowstone National Park. Here wolves could only be hunted according to hunting regulations.

A seasonal trophy game management area in northern Lincoln and Sublette counties where wolves would be trophy animals from Oct. 15 to the end of February. The rest of the year they would be predators similar to the rest of the state.

A predator area, which would be all of the state outside of northwest Wyoming and the Wind River Indian Reservation where wolves would be classified like coyotes.

Rick Kahn, a wildlife biologist with the National Park Service, wants the commission to consider creating smaller hunt areas around Grand Teton National Park if the packs that live in the park are facing too much hunting pressure. It’s not something the commission needs to change right now, but something it can consider in the future, he said.

Some questioned the requirement to report a wolf kill in the hunting area within 24 hours to the statewide hotline instead of the standard 72 hours for other trophy carnivores.

Officials chose 24 hours because they were not sure how many and how early wolves would be killed, said Mark Bruscino, large carnivore management section supervisor with the Game and Fish Department. That time frame could be changed in the future.

Representatives from some groups, including the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said they supported the plan.

The management plan now rests with the Interior Department.

Gov. Matt Mead said he expects the department to publish a final rule by Oct. 1, in time for the fall hunting season.

The biggest threat to the wolf plan now is likely the prospect of lawsuits by environmental groups claiming the deal would decimate Wyoming’s wolf population to the point that it’s no longer viable.

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., tried in vain last year to insert a clause in an Interior appropriations bill to ban any legal challenges to the wolf deal. Congress passed a similar clause in a budget bill last year to prohibit lawsuits against wolf delistings in five other Western states.

Mead said Wednesday at a media conference in Cheyenne that he and Wyoming’s congressional delegation are working to try again for a Wyoming no-sue clause, though he said he wasn’t yet sure if they would draw up another budget clause or introduce stand-alone legislation.

Mead urged environmental groups to think twice about suing, saying they should recognize that the plan is scientifically sound, has been agreed to by top Interior officials, and has been worked on for more than a year with input from a wide variety of groups.

“It is not just something that we came up with that is just good for Wyoming,” Mead said. “It’s an agreement by a lot of parties who have worked on it.”


Apr 26

CA: Habitat issues for local wolves


Imagine walking into a grocery store and all the shelves and aisles are barren and bleak. Where has the food gone? Would you return to that store or would you look for your groceries elsewhere?

This is what it is like for the terrestrial wildlife of our coast when they are in some forests that were harvested between the 1950s and 1980s, using historical methods like clearcutting.

Many of these areas, like parts of the Kennedy Flats, were later replanted as second-growth forests with Douglas-fir.

Unfortunately, Douglasfir is better suited to well drained soils and is considered offsite and ecologically inappropriate for most of the Kennedy Flats.

In these second-growth forests, trees usually grow close together and are dense, with little to no gaps in the canopy.

This canopy cover limits the amount of light reaching the forest floor, which inhibits plant growth and diversity, creating a dark, un-vegetated forest.

Vegetation is important to both forest and stream ecosystems.

For terrestrial wildlife, understory vegetation provides important habitat characteristics, which include but are not limited to, providing cover and security, habitat for prey, and a safe travel corridor.

The lack of habitat found in dense second-growth forests or disturbed harvested sites can result in wildlife, such as deer, wolves, bears and cougars, coming into the margins of nearby communities.

Central Westcoast Forest Society (CWFS) and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are working together to restore the second-growth forest in the riparian area.

The riparian zone is the area adjacent to streams. It offers many benefits to wildlife, from providing travel corridors for safe movement between habitat types to promoting the dispersal of wildlife populations.

Although it can take hundreds of years for a forest to acquire old-growth characteristics, there are silviculture treatments like thinning, creating snags and gaps, which can accelerate the process. For 15 years, CWFS restoration crews have used silviculture treatments and planted native vegetation and conifer seedlings to rebuild the biodiversity of the riparian areas that feed wildlife.

The goal is to revitalize these areas to resemble the neighbouring old growth forest and to allow nature to do the rest.

As vegetation returns, the hope is that species such as deer, wolf, bear and cougar will follow.

There has been a dramatic increase in large mammals and ungulates making their way into unnatural terrain over the last few years.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of wolf activity in our neighbourhoods. This increase is relative to habitat degradation caused by industrial operations and development, and a lack of attention to areas affected by historical logging.

Parks Canada wildlife biologist, Bob Hansen states, “As always I think it is food driven. If they have an abundant and dependable localized food source then their need to travel outside these areas diminishes significantly.” We can support diverse and healthy ecosystems within the park by increasing food availability, which will help keep our communities safe by working to limit predator and people interactions.

Local organizations, including Central Westcoast Forest Society, complete valuable work as they restore forest and stream habitats by hand and saw. The resulting replenishment of the forest may provide an increase to the ‘groceries’ local wildlife need to thrive.

For more information on CWFS projects please visit us at www.clayoquot.org


Apr 26

Wyoming plans wolf hunts this fall while still hoping Congress will block legal challenges

BEN NEARY Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted Wednesday to allow hunters to kill up to 52 wolves in the state this fall even as Gov. Matt Mead said he remains hopeful that Congress will act to exempt the state’s wolf management plan from legal challenges he expects from environmental groups.

Game commission approval is the latest in a predictable series of state actions since Mead reached a deal last summer with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to end federal protections for wolves in the state. Mead said he hopes final federal approval of wolf delisting in the state by early fall.

The agreement would require Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone.

Under Wyoming’s plan, the state would allow trophy hunting for wolves in a flexible zone around Yellowstone National Park, beginning in October. The hunting would last until 52 were killed or until the end of the year.

Wolves in the rest of the state would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight year-round.

Mead said 90 percent of Wyoming’s wolves live in the trophy hunting area. Although he said he’s heard criticism that the limit of 52 wolves this year is too low, he said he believes it’s appropriate.

“This was a complex deal that we reached and we don’t want to break the deal,” Mead said. “And we don’t want to get down to that bare minimum, where disease, or an accident out on the freeway where five wolves are wiped out, and we go below those minimums.”

Mead said he’s hopeful Congress will act to exempt the state’s wolf management plan from any legal challenges from environmental groups. Congress earlier extended such protection to earlier wolf delisting actions in Idaho and Montana.

Gov. Matt Mead told reporters on Wednesday that he’s hopeful Congress will act to exempt the state’s wolf management plan from any legal challenges from environmental groups.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, had pushed to exempt Wyoming’s wolf plan from legal challenges last year but the provision was removed from an Interior Department spending bill.

Christine S. D’Amico, spokeswoman for Lummis in Washington, said Wednesday that Lummis continues to explore all options for how to protect the state’s wolf plan.

Many ranchers and hunters in Wyoming believe the state’s wolf population has grown unacceptably high since wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. The state has fought for years to try to get state control of the animals, repeatedly and unsuccessfully suing the federal government.

The federal government accepted a similar delisting agreement from Wyoming in 2007 only to repudiate it as soon as a federal judge criticized it in response to a legal challenge from environmental groups.

Mead said he’s heard environmental groups are intent on suing to try to block Wyoming’s new wolf plan.

“Anything we have done on wolves, or that other states have done on wolves, is just a hot-button for litigation,” Mead said. “But I would ask all those groups, number one, recognize that we’re approaching this very conservatively, that we worked hard over a year on this plan, that I think it is scientifically sound.

“It has been signed off on by the Secretary of Interior,” Mead said of the plan. “It has been repeatedly signed off on by the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. So it’s not just something that we came up with as just good for Wyoming. It’s an agreement by a lot of parties that worked on this.”

Jenny Harbine is a lawyer with Earthjustice in Bozeman, Mont. The group has mounted legal challenges to wolf delisting efforts before.

Harbine said Wednesday it’s too early to say whether her group or its clients will challenge Wyoming’s wolf plan until the plan receives final federal approval this fall.

“I’ll just say that the (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service should only delist wolves in Wyoming if the agency feels like doing so would comply with the Endangered Species Act and has a sound scientific basis at this time,” Harbine said. “If delisting rule in Wyoming is legal, then there’s no reason to seek indemnification from Congress for such a rule.”


Apr 25

SE: A wolf appeared in the lake during exercise

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer


Firefighters from Bålsta practiced in the lake when they were joined by something as rare as a swimming wolf, reports local media.

“We could hardly believe our eyes”, says Tomas Andersson to Enköpings-Posten.

He and his colleague Niklas Barkfjärd guessed at first that the swimming star was a moose cow. As they got closer they started to think it to be a deer or wild boar.

“When we saw that it was a wolf it was quiet in the boat”, says Andersson, who immortalized the meeting with his iPhone.

The Enköpings-Posten has shown the pictures to the county administrative officer in charge of predators Johan Mansson, and after reviewing them he is certain:

“It’s a wolf”, said the expert firmly.


Apr 25

DE: 71-year-old: I shot wolf of the century

A 71-year-old German hunter turned himself in to police on Tuesday and confessed he shot the first wolf in the Rhineland for 123 years. He said he thought the animal was a stray dog.

The man showed up at a police station in the small town of Montabaur in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany. Since the wolf is a protected species, he could face five years in prison.

The man, who comes from the neighbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is the leaseholder of the forested land where the wolf’s body was found by a rambler on Saturday.

A spokesman for the local hunter’s association said the man had thought the wolf was a stray dog which might hunt the wild game on his land. “He is extremely sorry that he shot a wolf,” the man said.

The wolf is thought to be the same one that was spotted and photographed in the Westerwald area at the end of February – the first proven sighting of a wolf in the region for 123 years.

German conservationist society NABU had pressed charges against the unknown shooter. “The killing of this wolf is a malicious act,” said NABU leader Leif Müller.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/bk