Feb 05

OR: Bill would allow ranchers to kill wolves attacking livestock

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking to allow ranchers to kill wolves when they catch a wolf in the act of killing livestock.

Senate Bill 197, which has been assigned the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, would give the state authority to allow what is known as permit-less take when the state’s wolf population reaches four breeding pair for three consecutive years.

“We’re basically two years away from that,” said Curt Melcher, deputy director of the department. “We had five or six confirmed breeding pair last year.”

To date, ranchers must be in possession of a kill permit before they can take a wolf caught killing livestock.

Kill permits are issued only after several nonlethal steps are taken to prevent depredation, and only after a rancher has suffered depredation.

The bill is the third and final piece of legislation needed to fully implement the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, Melcher said.

The first two pieces, one creating a compensation fund for ranchers who suffer livestock losses from wolf depredation, and one to change the status of the gray wolf from a protected to a game mammal, already have been adopted, Melcher said.

– Mitch Lies


Feb 05

CA MB: Park camera gives peek into wolf-pack life

By: Bartley Kives

GIVEN how tough it is to convince 11 kids to sit for a group photo, imagine trying to get 11 wolves to sit still.

A wildlife camera in Riding Mountain National Park managed to pull off this trick in January, when what appears to be an entire wolf pack — 11 of the wild canines — was captured within a single frame.

The black-and-white photo was triggered automatically along a trail in an undisclosed portion of the western Manitoba park, external-relations manager Roger Schroeder said.

The shot has made the social-media rounds since the park posted on Facebook.

“We’re just delighted with the response,” Schroeder said. “For us, it’s all part of the discussion we want to have about the (ecological) role of wolf populations.”

The park estimates 113 wolves reside within its boundaries, which amounts to Riding Mountain’s largest wolf population since 1975. Wolf packs typically range in size from two to 10 animals, with six being the average size. Packs of 11 wolves are unusual but not unprecedented.

A 2004 study says Riding Mountain’s wolves rely on elk for two-thirds of their diet. Moose make up another quarter of the wolves’ meals, while beavers, white-tailed deer and hares account for the rest.

Wolves are not, however, responsible for a decline in elk numbers within the park. In response to the presence of bovine tuberculosis among the elk herd, the park has facilitated more elk hunting outside its borders.

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A pack of 11 wolves was captured on camera on a trail in Riding Mountain National Park last month. The park posted the image on its Facebook page.

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A pack of 11 wolves was captured on camera on a trail in Riding Mountain National Park last month. The park posted the image on its Facebook page.


Feb 05

SE: Sweden hunts more wolves ‘to help genetic diversity’

Wolves in Europe being targeted again

February 2012. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has authorized the hunting of 16 wolves in what conservationists have described as a surprising U-turn.

According to WWF Sweden “It is a surprising decision that was not included in the management plan for wolves published as recently as last summer.

“This will constitute a complete U-turn compared from what Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency said a few weeks ago when they announced that the hunt would not be allowed. Since no new scientific information has emerged, this U-turn is a mystery, says Håkan Wirtén, Secretary General of WWF.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has announced permission for “selective and targeted hunt of inbred wolves as a step towards reducing inbreeding and having a sustainable, healthy wolf population. A selective and targeted hunt is the only method that can reduce the level of inbreeding in the short term,” it said. Wildlife Extra questions how hunting solves an inbreeding problem. If the problem is bad, the wolves won’t thrive due to a lack of genetic diversity. There are currently no plans to bring wolves in from Finland or Russia, another way to boost the genetic diversity.

Wolves in Sweden

Estimates made in 2012 put the number of wolves in Sweden at around 270 in about 30 packs. Swedish wolves are almost all descended from 2 pairs that moved into Sweden some 30 years ago, and pro-hunting groups claim that some wolves need to be shot to improve the genetic diversity.

Moose hunting

More cynical observers point out that, as advocated by the King of Sweden recently, hunters don’t like competing with wolves for moose and other animals that they like to kill. Farmers also have an issue as the wolves do take some sheep, and in the north the reindeer herders have issues with the wolves too.

Sweden’s parliament voted to resume a licensed wolf hunt in 2010 after a 46-year hiatus, allowing 27 wolves to be killed. In January 2011, the European Commission reprimanded the Scandinavian country for its wolf hunt.


Feb 05

NM: First New Mexican Gray Wolf Released Into Wild in Four Years Is Recaptured Three Weeks Later

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A four-year stalemate in federal efforts to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest took another step backward last week when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recaptured a male wolf only three weeks after his release into the wild.

“It’s unbelievable that after four years without releasing any new wolves to the wild, that they immediately pick him up again,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Both the chronic lack of releases and the recapture of this male ignore urgent pleas from scientists and conservationists to release more wolves to help the struggling population. At last count, there were fewer than 60 in the wild.”

After delaying for more than four years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released an endangered Mexican gray wolf into the Arizona wild on Jan. 7. The wolf was recaptured in New Mexico on Jan. 29 after he wandered outside the established territory of his intended mate, the alpha female of the Bluestem Pack, which lost its alpha male to a criminal shooting in July 2012.

Scientists have documented that the lack of new releases, coupled with government shooting and trapping of wolves, is causing genetic problems that manifest in smaller Mexican wolf litters and lower pup-survival rates. At the same time, genetically valuable wolves in captivity are growing old without the opportunity to breed.

At last count a year ago, there were 58 wolves, including six breeding pairs, in the wild. The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release results of a new census this week. The current breeding season for wolves will continue for only another week or so.

“Fish and Wildlife should be releasing family packs or at least dozens of single lobos to the wild right now, today,” said Robinson. “As the Mexican wolf slides toward extinction, officials are sitting on their hands and even hastening the decline by removing wolves from the wild.”


Feb 05

CA AB: Two wolves killed, another rescued on park highways


CALGARY – It’s been a rough couple of weeks for wolves in the Rockies after two were killed on highways and a third required a concerted effort to get it to safety.

Early last Tuesday, parks officials received reports that a wolf was spotted on the TransCanada Highway about five kilometres east of Castle Junction.

“It was probably close to four hours that the wolf was entrapped within the fenced area,” said Steve Michel, human wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park.

The unmarked wolf, believed to be a young female dispersing from the Kootenay pack, likely got on to the highway at Castle Junction where the fencing ends and no extra wildlife mitigation measures are in place.

Four resource management officers and a park warden responded to the calls at first light Tuesday and closed the TransCanada Highway for about 20 minutes while they tried to get the wolf back behind the fencing.

Michel said they were able to get it to safety by opening some of the gates along the highway.

“It is quite a challenge with wolves because they are very fast,” he said. “They startle easily.

“We were able to corral her in the direction of one particular gate and then she finally realized there was an open gate there and she went through it.”

Michel said it didn’t appear that the wolf had any injuries after the incident.

In the week prior to the most recent incident, however, two wolves were killed by vehicles driving through the mountain parks.

On Jan. 26, an adult Grey Wolf was hit by a vehicle on Highway 93N about 1.5 kilometres south of Rampart Creek.

Three days earlier, a young, black-coloured wolf was struck and killed on the TransCanada Highway near the Chancellor Peak campground on the west end of Yoho.

“They’re magnificent animals and we regret the loss of these wolves,” said Omar McDadi, a Parks Canada spokesman for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.

Neither of the areas where the two wolves were killed have highway fencing.

Parks officials are currently evaluating the Castle Junction, among other interchanges, where electrified mats and other mitigation measures could be installed to prevent wildlife from getting onto the TransCanada Highway.