Oct 31

Washington Considers Another Impact Of Wolves: Skinny Cows

By JESSICA ROBINSON

Washington ranchers who can show that wolves are making their cattle lose weight could get reimbursed under a new proposal. The rule before the Fish and Wildlife Commission would expand a compensation program for ranchers living in wolf country.

Washington’s cattle ranchers aren’t the first to complain about skinny livestock. Ranchers in Idaho and Oregon also say the reintroduction of wolves has made sheep and cattle move more and eat less.

That translates into the bottom line, says Dave Ware. He’s the game manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The way that a rancher gets paid in the fall when they bring their cattle from the range is by weight … so much per pound,” Ware says.

Washington would be the first state in the Northwest to compensate ranchers for livestock weight loss, not just livestock killed by wolves.

But Suzanne Stone is skeptical. She’s with the group Defenders of Wildlife.

“The weight loss claim has been made by a lot of ranchers. But as of yet, there’s not been a study that actually has proven that weight loss occurs because of wolves,” Stone says.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioners will take public comment on the proposal at their meeting on Nov. 9.

The plan would also expand compensation for livestock loss to more types of animals, including herd dogs, llamas, alpacas and goats, even for noncommercial livestock owners. Top priority for compensation would go to people who take preventive measures.

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Oct 30

Wyoming hunters more than halfway to wolf quota

CHEYENNE, Wyo.(AP) — Hunters are easily on track to max out their kill limit for the first wolf season in Wyoming since the animals were reintroduced to the Yellowstone region in the 1990s.

That contrasts with Montana, which fell well short of its statewide limit last year and in a couple months is about to supplement hunting with trapping to help achieve its wolf population goals.

A trophy game season for wolves in the northwest corner of Wyoming outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks began Oct. 1 and ends Dec. 31. As of Tuesday, hunters had killed at least 27 wolves in that area toward the season limit of 52 animals.

Three wolf hunt areas in northwest Wyoming were closed to further hunting after kill limits in those local areas were reached. Might the limit for all 12 areas be reached by year’s end?

“It’s definitely possible. It’s really hard to predict that kind of thing, especially since this is the first time we’ve had a regulated wolf hunt in Wyoming,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Eric Keszler said Tuesday.

Neither Idaho nor Montana has statewide wolf limits this year. In 2009, both states’ inaugural wolf seasons were cut short by a judge who suspended them. Montana and Idaho initiated their first full wolf hunting seasons in 2011.

In Wyoming, wolves were removed from endangered species protection for the first time in August. Of the three states, Wyoming is the only one with “dual classification” for wolves. In most of Wyoming, wolves can be killed on sight, without a license, any time of year.

In northwest Wyoming, wolves are classified as trophy game subject to licensed hunting during the new hunting season. Wildlife managers intentionally set a low limit for the first hunt in part because Wyoming has fewer wolves than Montana or Idaho.

“Also, this being our first season, we wanted to approach it fairly conservatively and be able to adaptively manage in the future based on how this first season goes,” Keszler said.

In Montana, hunters killed 166 wolves in 2011, far short of that year’s limit of 220. Montana ranchers and others eager to control the state’s wolf population looked to Idaho, where trappers helped reduce that state’s total estimated wolf population by at least one-third over a 10-month hunting season that began in August, 2011.

About one-third of the wolves killed were taken by trappers. Inspired in part by that success, Montana’s first wolf trapping season is scheduled for Dec. 15 through Feb. 28.

Wolf trapping could be introduced in Wyoming, depending on how this year’s hunting goes, but no decision about wolf trapping has been made in Wyoming yet, Keszler said.

More than 4,000 hunters have bought wolf licenses in Wyoming. Nobody has surveyed them, Keszler said, but it appears few have headed into the field specifically to kill a wolf.

“I think a large portion of people that are picking up a wolf license are in the area hunting elk or deer or something like that,” Keszler said, “and have picked one up just in case they see a wolf, as well.”

Source

Oct 30

WY: HUNTERS MORE THAN HALFWAY TO 1ST WYO. WOLF QUOTA

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Hunters are more than halfway toward meeting the quota for Wyoming’s first wolf hunt since the animals were reintroduced to the Yellowstone region in the 1990s.

The hunt began Oct. 1 and continues through Dec. 31.

The quota for this year’s hunt is 52 animals. As of Monday, hunters had killed 27 wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves from endangered species protection in Wyoming last summer.

Wolves are classified as trophy game animals outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in northwest Wyoming and are subject to regulated hunting in that area. Wolves elsewhere in the state are classified as predators and can be shot on sight without a license.

Wyoming is home to an estimated 328 wolves.

Source

Oct 30

Wolf Hunt Quota Already 1/3 Filled in Just Two Weeks

Wisconsin Ag Connection

If the main goal of the state’s inaugural wolf hunt was to bring down the population of the wild animals quickly, then things are right on track. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 38 grey wolves have been harvested since the season began on October 15. That’s 33-percent of the total limit of 116 that can be shot between now and February 28.

The DNR issued a report on Monday that said 21 of the wolves were caught with foot-hold traps. The remainder of them were shot with firearms.

Wildlife officials say each of the six wolf management zones established for the hunt has its own quota of animals that can be killed in the area. So far the wolves have been harvested in 21 different counties, with six of them taking place in Price County.

The state’s wolf population was estimated to be around 815 to 880 during the past winter.

Source

Oct 30

NM: Mexican gray wolf release proposal draws criticism

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists and a group of scientists are criticizing a draft proposal that outlines options for releasing Mexican gray wolves into the wild.

The plan deals with releasing wolves from captive breeding facilities into the wild in Arizona to replace wolves that are either killed illegally or die from natural causes.

The document suggests the replacement wolves be selected to maximize genetic diversity of the wild population in Arizona and New Mexico.

The scientists and other critics have sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying releases are needed but the plan doesn’t do enough to boost the wild population.

They also argue that release decisions should hinge on the federal agency rather than guidelines from the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

There are around 58 wolves in the wild along the New Mexico-Arizona border.

Source

Oct 30

MN: Leftover wolf licenses are gobbled up in minutes

The 614 leftover hunting licenses for Minnesota’s early wolf season were snapped up within minutes Monday by hunters anxious for a crack at the iconic canine.

“I heard they were gone in 3 1/2 minutes,” said Ed Boggess, Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division director.

He said there was a line of buyers at the DNR’s St. Paul headquarters Monday, although people could buy the licenses through any of the 1,500 electronic license terminals statewide.

“We sold about a half-dozen [to those in line] before they were all gone,” Boggess said.

The DNR offered 3,600 early-season wolf licenses through a lottery, but 614 of those went unsold. They were made available on a first-come, first-served basis at noon Monday to hunters who applied for, but didn’t receive, early-season wolf hunting permits.

Boggess said he wasn’t surprised the leftover licenses were quickly sold.

“We had 23,000 applications for 6,000 wolf licenses,” he said, including the 3,600 for the early wolf season, which starts Saturday, and 2,400 for the second wolf hunting and trapping season, which begins Nov. 24. “This is the way it goes for leftover bear licenses, too,” he said. “They’re usually gone quickly.”

Hunters and trappers selected by lottery for the late season must buy licenses by Nov. 15. Any leftover licenses will be made available to unsuccessful applicants beginning noon on Nov. 19, and to the general public on Nov. 21.

DOUG SMITH

Source

Oct 30

Accelerated wolf harvest rate may reduce the season

By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel

Thirty-eight wolves have been killed in the first two weeks of the Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season, according to a report issued Monday by the Department of Natural Resources.

The kill total represents 33% of the wolf harvest quota for non-tribal hunters and trappers.

The season opened Oct. 15 and is scheduled to run through Feb. 28 or until harvest quotas are met.

At the rate wolf kills are being recorded, the season could end by late November.

Twenty-one wolves have been taken by trappers using foot-hold traps; the others were killed by hunters using firearms. Twenty-seven animals killed were male.

The wolves were harvested in 21 counties, including six wolves in Price and four each in Bayfield and Oneida.

The agency also reported 769 licenses had been sold as of Monday morning, including six to nonresidents. The state authorized the sale of 1,160 licenses.

The DNR set the statewide wolf harvest quota at 201 wolves, 85 of which are reserved for members of Ojibwe tribes. Tribal leaders have voiced strong opposition to the state’s wolf hunting and trapping season; tribal members aren’t expected to kill any wolves.

Wisconsin had a population of 815 to 880 wolves at the end of last winter, according to the DNR. Wolf populations typically double after pups are born each year, then decline to an annual low in late winter due to various sources of mortality.

The season is the first regulated public wolf harvest in state history. The DNR’s goal is to reduce the wolf population to a “more biologically and socially acceptable level.”

With no experience managing the wolf as a game species in Wisconsin, DNR wildlife managers were unsure what success rates hunters and trappers would achieve. The relatively high success has surprised many wildlife managers.

Hunters and trappers are required to report taking a wolf within 24 hours of the kill. Two of the wolf management zones have reached more than half of their non-tribal harvest quota.

Source

Oct 29

WA: Sheriff’s office investigates wolf attacks

By MATTHEW WEAVER
Capital Press

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen showed a series of photographs of calves and cows that had been killed by wolves, pointing out the distinctive evidence that proves how they died.

Members of the Stevens County sheriff’s office have learned to investigate livestock deaths the same way they probe murders and other crimes, he said. They look at all of the evidence, including the wounds and the surroundings.

He and several deputies have gone through state Department of Fish and Wildlife training to learn to identify a wolf attack. But the photos of wolf kills that he showed Cattle Producers of Washington members at their Oct. 26 meeting were “far better” than anything they saw in training, he said.

“(We) have as much expertise in figuring out what’s a wolf attack and what’s not than anybody who works for the game department,” Allen said.

However, Allen and his deputies may determine a wolf attack was a likely cause of a cow’s death, but wildlife officers have to take the information back to a panel “of people that were never there, who have never actually seen a wolf depredation in their life,” to make a determination, he said.

According to the department, a review panel of predator experts from WDFW, USDA Wildlife Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including experts from other western states with wolves, is convened. WDFW investigators then review the case, and panel members ask questions and offer additional comments.

“Wolves are new to this state,” Mitch Friedman, executive director of nonprofit corporation Conservation Northwest. “My understanding from the writing of experts in the Rockies is it takes a lot of experience to identify a wolf kill.”

Friedman cited wolf expert Carter Niemeyer’s position that 90 percent of suspected kills are wrongly attributed to wolves.

Wolves typically attack the hind quarters of an animal, under the rear leg and under the front legs, Allen said. Cougars are stealthy and will lie in wait before attacking, but wolf packs will run an animal until it becomes exhausted and gives up. Wolves attack from behind and are messy eaters, and will scatter the animal they’re eating for hundreds of yards.

The longer it takes to find a dead animal, the less chance there is to prove it was killed by wolves, Allen said.

“There’s wolf predation, and there’s a wolf finding it dead and eating on it,” he said. “What you have to prove is that the wolf actually killed it.”

Allen recommended against moving a dead calf, since officials will look for insect activity, prints and scat in the area.

Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen advised ranchers who suspect wolf depredation to have an agency like the sheriff’s office provide oversight, keep the department accountable and protect the property owner.

Attorney Toni Meacham, executive director of the Washington Agricultural Legal Foundation, held up a large pink notebook holding the important parts of her Freedom of Information Act request to the state.

Meacham credited the county association’s and sheriff’s response for the reasons Wedge wolf pack attacks were confirmed on the Diamond M Ranch in Laurier, Wash.

“We can’t move forward and say there’s wolf kills if we don’t have incident reports that say ‘Confirmed kills,’” she said.

Friedman said Conservation Northwest is working to provide resources to reduce conflict between wolves and ranchers.

“From now until forever, we’re all going to be here together,” Friedman said. “Let’s figure out how to reduce the risk of conflict rather than how to react to it.”

Source

Oct 29

MN: Wolf hunt to start, despite questions on numbers

DENNIS ANDERSON
Minneapolis Star Tribune

One-half hour before dawn Nov. 3, wolves will again be hunted in Minnesota. Not like they were a half-century ago, with strychnine and airplane gunners, but by a smattering of deer hunters toting high hopes and high-powered ammunition into the state’s north woods.

Mike Lee will be among them. Last year, some of the buddies he hunts deer with just south of Duluth, Minn., saw a wolf pack run down a doe and kill it.

So he applied for a Department of Natural Resources wolf-hunting permit, and beat roughly 1-in-3 odds to win one of 3,600 permits issued by lottery for the deer season. “I was more than happy to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Lee, 40, of Hugo, Minn.

But in this most divisive of hunts, which has pitted wolf protectionists nationwide against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and many of the state’s sportsmen and women, Lee, like most deer hunters with wolf permits, knows it’s a long shot he’ll even see a wolf from his deer stand — and a longer shot still he’ll shoot one.

That’s because wolves, while at times appearing ubiquitous to northern Minnesota livestock producers, remain widely dispersed over the northern third of the state — only about five animals per 40 square miles — and because many wolves will “disappear,” experts say, and move only at night when 160,000 deer hunters decamp to the state’s wolf country.

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” said DNR wolf specialist Dan Stark of Grand Rapids. “My guess is that about 70 wolves will be taken during deer season, out of a quota of 200.”

The number of wolves killed during deer hunting, and the number that fall in a second season that begins Nov. 24 to another 2,400 hunters and trappers, will fuel what is likely to be an ongoing debate about how many wolves inhabit Minnesota.

The DNR uses various data, including annual scent post indices, to estimate the state’s wolf population at 3,000. But the animals haven’t been fully surveyed for about five years, and groups arguing against the hunt could be bolstered in their view that fewer wolves roam the state than the DNR believes if hunters and trappers fall short of their combined 400-animal harvest quota.

“The DNR talks about how many wolves there are in the state, but they don’t know,” said Maureen Hackett, a Twin Cities psychiatrist who founded the group Howling for Wolves, which opposes the hunt.

“If only 90 to 100 cattle were killed by wolves in the state last year, could we really have 3,000 wolves?” Hackett said. “I think the population is exaggerated. And holding this hunt without a recent baseline population of wolves is reckless. The DNR has no idea how many wolves Minnesota has, and no idea how many will be killed in this hunt. Because they don’t, the hunt shouldn’t be held.”

The state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Hackett’s group and the Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson, Ariz., asking that the hunt be stopped. But the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals have notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they intend to sue the agency in an attempt to return Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan wolves to the Endangered Species List.

The states regained wolf management from the federal government in January — a move applauded by Julian Brzoznowski, a retired cattleman living near Orr, Minn., about an hour south of International Falls.

Unlike Hackett, Brzoznowski believes far more wolves exist in the state than the DNR says.

“I started having trouble with wolves killing my cattle in 1975, shortly after they went on the Endangered Species List,” said Brzoznowski. “At the time, the DNR said Minnesota had only 400 wolves. But in the first month, the government trapped 50 of them off my place alone. That was back when they live-trapped wolves and moved them 25 miles or so away and let them go.

“The DNR was wrong about the number of wolves in the state back then, and they’re way off now.”

Still, Brzoznowski believes only about 40 wolves will be killed during deer season.

“Wolves aren’t going to walk by deer stands,” he said. “They’re too smart for that.”

Source

Oct 29

One-third of wolf harvest quota filled in 2 weeks

By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel

Thirty-eight wolves have been killed in the first two weeks of the Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season, according to a report issued Monday by the Department of Natural Resources.

The kill total represents 33% of the wolf harvest quota for non-tribal hunters and trappers.

The season opened Oct. 15 and is scheduled to run through Feb. 28 or until harvest quotas are met.

At the rate wolf kills are being recorded, the season will end in about 6 weeks.

Twenty-one wolves have been taken by trappers using foot-hold traps; the others were killed by hunters using firearms. Twenty-seven of the animals killed to date were male.

The wolves were harvested in 21 counties, including six in Price and four each in Bayfield and Oneida.

The agency also reported 769 wolf hunting and trapping licenses had been sold as of Monday morning, including six to nonresidents. The state authorized the sale of 1,160 licenses.

The DNR set the statewide wolf harvest quota at 201 wolves, 85 of which are reserved for members of Ojibwe tribes. Tribal leaders have voiced strong opposition to the state’s wolf hunting and trapping season; tribal members aren’t expected to kill any wolves.

Wisconsin had a population of 815 to 880 wolves at the end of last winter, according to the DNR. Wolf populations typically double after pups are born each year, then decline to an annual low in late winter due to various sources of mortality.

The wolf was removed from protections of the Endangered Species Act and returned to state management in January.

The season is the first regulated public wolf harvest in state history. The DNR’s goal is to reduce the wolf population to a “more biologically and socially acceptable level.”

With no prior experience managing the wolf as a game species in Wisconsin, DNR wildlife managers said they didn’t know what success rates hunters and trappers would achieve. The relatively high success to date has surprised many wildlife managers.

Hunters and trappers are required to report taking a wolf within 24 hours of the kill. Each of the six wolf management zones has a harvest quota and would be closed when the number of registered wolves approaches the quota.

Two of the wolf management zones have filled at least half of their non-tribal harvest quota. Here’s a list of the zones, the wolf harvest quota and number of wolves registered as of Monday morning:

Zone 1, 32 harvest quota, 12 wolves registered

Zone 2, 20, 10

Zone 3, 18, 3

Zone 4, 5, 3

Zone 5, 23, 7

Zone 6, 18, 3

Here’s a link to the DNR’s wolf hunting and trapping page, including a map showing the wolf management zones.

 Source