Wolf Advocates…Play Offense not Defense

October  28,2014

I’ve been going through my archives looking for timely pieces to repost.

This is just as relevant today as it was in 2010, maybe more, considering the challenges wolves and wolf advocates face are so much greater!

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Feb 16, 2010

When gray wolves are discussed the inevitable dialog commences concerning their effect on ungulates or livestock, which puts wolf advocates perpetually on defense. We feel compelled to defend the wolf.  Many of the posts on this blog are in defensive mode. Wolves are continually portrayed in a bad light, so I feel obligated to defend them, it’s a natural reaction.

I’m an avid football fan and I know a great defense is the backbone of any team but the best defense is a good offense.  If we’re constantly talking about deer, elk and livestock then we’re not talking about wolves.  I believe this is the strategy of the anti wolf-crowd, to take the focus off wolf issues. It’s a tactic as old as time and it works.  If you want to deflect attention from an issue, change the subject.

I challenge wolf advocates to stop playing defense.  The motives that drive wolf persecution are political and cultural.  It’s not about livestock depredation, elk numbers or “wolf management.”

From Wolves A Cosmopolitan World View:

“Wolves (have) persisted quite well alongside humanity for over a hundred thousand years, all without the “benefit” of wildlife management. It should be clear, then, that humanity’s troubled relationship with wolves has little to do with sound science in the sense of empirical data, quantitative models, or management techniques. Instead, our trouble with wolves is a deeply rooted ethical conflict over whether to coexist with wolves and other large predators. Resolving this conflict is a question of values, not facts and wolf recovery depends on a culture of tolerance for other life forms and their ways-of-life, not a science of wildlife management.”

As for elk and deer, wolves have been coexisting with their prey for thousands of years without the need to be managed.  The elk owes it’s fleetness of foot to the wolf.  It wasn’t until Europeans set foot on this continent that the wolf suddenly became the enemy.  Europe had purged itself of most large carnivores. European farmers and ranchers transplanted that idea to America and the war against the wolf began, almost four hundred years ago. The last hundred years included an aggressive poisoning, trapping and shooting campaign led by the federal government.  Not only were wolves mercilessly killed but other predators and animals were targeted. It’s believed more than two million wolves were eradicated from the lower forty-eight, that’s a grim figure.

To learn more about the extermination of wolves in the West and to understand the mindset that believed any wildlife that couldn’t be controlled should be eliminated, I recommend reading Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and The Transformation of the West, by Michael Robinson.

In a Nova Online interview, given ten years ago, Ed Bangs (Wolf Recovery Coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service) put it this way:

“Well, we deliberately got rid of them, as a society. A hundred years ago, our society placed very low value on all wildlife. We got rid of all the deer, the elk, the bison, the turkeys, you know, everything, in deference to other social objectives, primarily agriculture and settlement. And you can imagine being a grizzly bear or a black bear or a wolf or a coyote—when there was nothing else to eat but livestock, that’s what you ate.  As a consequence settlers really hated wolves, grizzly bears and other predatory animals and they deliberately tried to get rid of them all. The federal government actually sent out trappers who spent years hunting down the last wolf and killing it. The last wolves were actually killed by the U.S. Biological Survey, which is the agency that transformed itself into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is now responsible for wolf restoration!” 

He goes on to describe how wolves were killed:

Poison, and a lot of them were shot. The dens were found, the pups were hit over the head. And then the adults were shot around the den. But poison is probably what did away with most of the wolves. The old stories go that there wasn’t a cowboy in the west worth his salt that wouldn’t see a carcass and lace it with strychnine in the attempt to kill everything, I mean the foxes, the coyotes, the eagles, the wolves, the bears, everything. And this poisoning campaign, surprisingly, went on until the ’70s. There were poison baits placed throughout the western United States—even on public lands by federal agencies.”

This mindset is still prevalent today, especially in the West.  Many people holding these views occupy political office, populate state game agencies and have the power to make life and death decisions concerning wolves and other predators.  Even though wildlife belongs to all Americans, elected officials and bureaucrats who are grounded in outdated, arcane thinking,  exert tremendous control over wildlife “management”.  Think of  Wildlife Services and the damage they do every year. Yet they continue to operate with abandon.

Did you ever wonder if wolves are blamed for livestock kills committed by another predator, their very close cousins, the dog?  There was a recent study done in Basque that addressed this issue:

“Two researchers of the Euskadi Wolf Group at the Doñana Biological Station” examined the feces of wild wolves and dogs, which were identified by their DNA and examined the contents of their scat.  Their findings:

When compared the remains of prey identified in both wolf and dog feces, they saw each feces contained only a single prey item. Among the prey items identified in 30 wolf feces (the remains in one wolf fecal sample were unknown), 22 contained wild prey (17 roe deer, three wild boar, one Eurasian badger and one European hare) and eight contained domestic animals (four horses, three cattle and one sheep). Wild species represented 73% of all prey identified in wolf feces and sheep only 3%.

Of the 39 prey items they be able to identify in dog feces, 14 (36%) contained remains of sheep and seven (18%) contained remains of either horses or cattle. Domestic animals represented 54% of all prey identified in dog feces.

When suspected wolf livestock kills are reported, do you believe after reading the Basque study, that “wildlife managers”  sometimes get it wrong? That wolves may be blamed for more than they actually kill?  Or wolves may show up after a kill is made by another predator and be blamed for it?  This happened to the Mexican gray wolves that were under death warrants if they killed more than three livestock per year, even though cattle made up just 4% of their diet.  The three strikes rule was rescinded last year but before SOP 13 (Standard Operating procedure) was rejected, endangered Mexican gray wolves were eliminated for feeding on dead cows even if the cows died of natural causes.  The ranchers were not removing dead carcasses, even though it’s their responsiblity to do so as tenants on public land. The outrageous fact is the Mexican gray wolves Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area is all public land. The wolves should have dominion here, not ranchers, who are leasing the land.  That land belongs to the American people, yet we have zero input on what happens to the animals that inhabit it.

The Mexican wolves now number just 42 animals, down from 52 wolves counted at the end of 2008. Two Mexican wolves were conclusively shot and the remainder of the deaths are being investigated but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the dead wolves, including four pups, were probably killed by poachers.

The reason I bring up the Basque study and Mexican wolves is they provide two examples of wolves blamed for livestock deaths they may not have committed.  It’s akin to the half-truths and outright lies that are repeated about wolves decimating elk.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation declared elk numbers not only stable but rising in 23 states, in their 2009 Spring press release. The elk population grew 44% from 1984 to 2009 yet  I’ve actually had hunters write to me asking where I get my numbers on elk, when it’s their own RMEF stats.  Unbelievable but it shows what happens when people want to believe myths about wolves.  Which brings me back to taking the offense when it comes to wolves. Don’t be sucked into endless discussions about ranching and elk.  Wolves need our help. If we waste our time engaging in counter productive arguments defending wolves against rumor and myth,  then the anti wolf crowd has won.  They want to change the subject.  They want to talk about anything but wolves.

Our goal,  as I see it, is to emphasize the positives. Wolves and all apex predators improve the health of our ecosystems.  We can point out the admirable qualities wolves possess,  that we can all aspire to.  To quote Ed Bangs once more:

“A wolf’s territory represents the place where their family lives and where they’re safe. If you’re in your pack’s territory, you have a family to help defend you, to care for you, to share food with you. Wolves are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters that we always hoped we could be. I mean there’s extreme loyalty among family members, it’s everything to them.”

This is what the world needs to know about wolves.

You won’t see negative comments or arguments about wolves on this blog. I’m not going to perpetuate the same tired dogma that’s been ingrained in the thinking of so many people who should know better. If we can stand against the rumors, myths and prejudice that haunt wolves to this day, we can truly make a difference for them and other top line predators.

Let’s stop playing defense by allowing wolf haters to control the tone and content of the conversation. It  doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to dispel rumors but more of our time could be wisely spent devoted to helping wolves achieve the peace they deserve by spreading the word about the good qualities they possess.

It’s a tough job battling hundreds of years of persecution.  Even our language is rife with “bad wolf karma”  that we may not be aware of.  Phrases such as “Thrown to the wolves”,  “Wolves at the door” or “The Big, Bad Wolf”, imparts the idea that wolves are menacing and bad.  Or the way in which wolves are portrayed  in movies and literature.  Werewolves are almost always evil,  the idea of a human (usually a man) transformed into a wolf,  that kills humans with abandon, conveys the belief wolves are inherently evil, which is so far from the truth.

Wolf advocates it’s time for us to play offense and keep the conversation centered on wolf issues and their welfare. Education is the key, especially for young people,  so they don’t grow up believing the same lies and half-truths many seem to hold so dearly.  Maybe it’s time to write new fairy tales about wolves, instead of the “The Big Bad Wolf” eating grandma.  How about wolves saved aspen and willow trees?  Or having wolves on the landscape helps the Pronghorn antelope fawns?

We are their voice, wolves can’t speak for themselves, so it’s our job to speak for them.   Speak out for wolves and you control the conversation.

Remember:

“Perhaps it was the eyes of the wolf, measured, calm, knowing.
Perhaps it was the intense sense of family.
After all, wolves mate for life, are loyal partners, create hunting communities
and demonstrate affectionate patience in pup rearing.
Perhaps it was the rigid hierarchy of the packs.
Each wolf had a place in the whole and yet retained his individual personality.
Perhaps it was their great, romping, ridiculous sense of fun.
Perhaps it was some celestial link with the winter night skies
that prompted the wolf to lay his song on the icy air.
For the native people who lived with the wolves,
and the wolves once ranged from the Arctic to the sub-tropics,
there was much to learn from them.
Is it any wonder that the myths of many tribes characterise the wolves
not as killers but as teachers?”
~ Unknown

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 Wolf Photo: Courtesy SigmaEye Flickr

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, biodiversity,  Howling For Justice

Tags:  canis lupus, play offense not defense, wolf research, Mexican gray wolves, wolves or livestock

Save The Yellowstone Bison!

(From the Buffalo Field Campaign)

“NEW FILM: Silencing the Thunder
Independent film maker and Montana State University student, Eddie Roqueta, has just released an incredible 26-minute documentary about the ongoing war against America’s last wild buffalo.”

Yellowstone Bison_2013

Winter 2013 –  Magnificent Yellowstone buffalo, one of  the last wild, free roaming bison. A natural treasure!

Please help save them! Stop the slaughter!

Visit the Buffalo Field Campaign for more information.

Just like the wolves, bison are voiceless, speak for them!

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Yellowstone to cull (kill) 900 buffalo this year

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Buffalo Field Campaign

http://buffalofieldcampaign.org/media/update1415/101614.html

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Photo: Nabeki 2013

Posted in: Yellowstone Wild Free Roaming Bison, Activism, Biodiversity

Tags: Yellowstone Bison, Silencing The Thunder, Independant Film Maker Eddie Roqueta, Save the Yellowstone Bison, Buffalo Field Campaign

Published in: on October 18, 2014 at 2:09 am  Comments (13)  

Iconic 06 To Be Immortalized On Film….

O6 Female CC BY 2.0 Flickr

She was the alpha female of Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon pack, the most famous wolf in the world, with many names. The O6 female, collared wolf 832f, Rockstar but she was most commonly called O6, after her birth year. She was the granddaughter of the beloved Druid Peak Pack alphas, 42F and 21M. She was a legend.

From Notes From The Field:

“She left her family as a young adult and lived a colorful and independent life for the next few years. She became a master elk hunter, one of the best in Yellowstone, and was famous for killing elk by herself. In addition, 06 had scores of suitors over the years. During one mating season she bred with five different males. She left each of those males, however, and
continued to live independently sometimes in temporary association with a few other wolves, sometimes as a lone wolf.

When she was nearly four years old, in early 2010, 06 finally settled down. She ran into two yearling brothers who had just dispersed from their pack. They were later collared and given the numbers 754 and 755. At the time that 06 met the two brothers, they had already started a partnership with seven sisters who controlled a high quality territory. Their father, the
pack’s alpha male, had recently left the group and the sisters needed new males. Despite the brothers being in such favorable circumstances, 06 managed to lure them away from the other females and they joined her in establishing a new pack. That event said a lot about 06. The brothers judged her to be more valuable than seven females.

Being only yearlings, the two brothers had not bred while 06 had more experience. Perhaps due to the significant difference in their ages and experience levels, the brothers, with 755 as  alpha male, were willing to let 06 be the undisputed leader of the new group they formed: the Lamar Canyon Pack. Both brothers bred with 06 a month later. She discovered an old wolf den near Slough Creek and prepared it for her pups. The site was centrally located in an area with enough prey to support her family. But it had one disadvantage: grizzlies were very common in the region. In mid-April, 06 had four gray pups in that den: two males and two females. Since the opening to the den was visible from the road, we often saw 06 nursing the pups and carrying them back into the den when they strayed too far away.

Fiercely protective of her pups, 06 frequently had to deal with grizzlies that approached her den. She would run at a bear, get behind it, bite the rear end, then run off in the opposite direction of her pups. The grizzly would chase her, but could not match her speed or agility. When the bear stopped, 06 would run back, bite it again on the hind quarters and draw it further away. In one case she spent twelve hours decoying a grizzly away from her pups before she felt it was lured a safe distance away and only then returned to the den. That fall, when the pups were old enough to travel, she led her pack a few miles to the east and resettled her family in Lamar Valley. That had been the territory of her ancestors, the Druid Peak Pack..”

Read more: 

http://www.as.wvu.edu/biology/bio21site/Rick’s%20Field%20Notes%204-2013.pdf

Lamar Canyon Pack Flickr_CC BY_ND 2.0

Sadly, on a cold December day in 2012, her life came to a sudden and ugly end. Brought down by a hunter’s bullet, as she ranged outside the safety of Yellowstone’s boundaries, something she rarely did,  the wolf who had come to mean so much to so many, was no more.

Now a book and film are memorializing her life. She is the ambassador for all  wolves who’ve suffered and died due to the unnecessary delisting of  gray wolves and speedy wolf hunts that followed in 5 states: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota,  Wisconsin with Michigan not far behind. UPDATE: On September 23, 2014, District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson  reinstated  ESA protections for Wyoming wolves, it is now illegal to kill a wolf in Wyoming.

I hope the film, along with celebrating her life, will confront why wolves are being hunted at all. O6 and thousands of other wolves, who’ve been brought down by hunter’s bullets, would still be with us today if they hadn’t been betrayed by Congress and the Obama administration.  The infamous budget bill wolf delisting rider, passed in 2011, wiped out decades of wolf recovery and seriously weakened the Endangered Species Act.  Now wolves face a USFWS national delisting, which would remove all federal protections for wolves in the lower 48, including areas where they remain listed, including western Oregon and Washington.

The movie and book are called American Wolf. Thank you Leonardo for taking on this project to tell the O6 story. It’s well worth telling and in the process will elevate the discussion of the importance of wolves. This could be a game changer!

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Leonardo DiCaprio Tackling Wild Animal Tale ‘American Wolf’ (Exclusive)

2:29 PM PST 09/26/2014 by Borys Kit

Wolf tells the story of O-Six, who in some circles was the world’s most famous wild animal. The female alpha wolf was collared and tracked by researchers at Yellowstone National Park, gaining a huge following from not only scientists but the public as well. She was shot by a hunter in 2012 just outside the park’s boundaries, an act that caused howls around the country (she even got an obituary inThe New York Times)

Read More: 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/leonardo-dicaprio-tackling-wild-animal-735948

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Photos: Courtesy Treehugger (CC BY 2.0 Flickr) (Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

Video: Courtesy YouTube/ SuperMontanamike

Posted in: Wolf Wars, gray wolf, Yellowstone Wolves, biodiversity, trophy hunting

Tags: American Wolf, O6 female, wolf 832f, Rockstar, Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon alpha female, iconic Druid Peak Pack alphas, 21m and 42f, Yellowstone National Park, Leonardo DiCaprio, wolf hunting, wolf delisting via budget bill rider 2011, wolf persecution, stop the wolf hunts

Wolves In North America Losing Their Genetic Diversity….

NatureColdWarriors_3wolves

September 19, 2014

I thought this was worth reposting, in light of the ongoing and relentless wolf slaughter.

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February 7, 2012

The mass slaughter of wolves over the centuries in North America has caused more damage then we could ever have guessed. As far-fetched as it sounds it could push wolves to extinction.

A 2004 study in New Scientist found wolves in Canada have lost 43% of the their genetic diversity. This is very concerning, it means wolves are becoming increasingly inbred. This can effect them negatively in so many ways. Weaker immune systems unable to fight off disease,  skeletal deformities, the inability to withstand increased hunting pressure, smaller litters.  It’s a shocking find, yet very little attention has been given to this important study.

The hunt slaughter, taking place in the Northern Rockies, could have far-reaching implications. The 432 wolves who’ve been killed in the hunts took their genetics with them, they won’t be coming back. All this killing is weakening the wolf. Could they be wiped out by an epidemic, due to their diminished genetic diversity?

Are either of the fish and game agencies in Montana and Idaho concerned about wolves loss of genetic variability? Isn’t it their job to know and care about this? What about Yellowstone wolves? Their numbers have crashed several times. The iconic Druid Peak Pack is gone, taken down in large part by mange mites they were unable to fight off.

When Judge Molloy presided over the 2009 delisting lawsuit there were several  issues raised supporting wolves relisting,  including  the lack of  genetic connectivity of the three wolf sub-populations (Idaho, Montana, Yellowstone NP).  Unfortunately his ruling focused on just one, the USFWS decision to delist Montana and Idaho wolves, while keeping Wyoming wolves listed. Once Judge Molloy returned wolves’ protections,  in August 2010, the anti-wolf forces went to work and lobbied Congress to remove Northern Rockies wolves from the ESA,  without judicial review.  Sadly, the science was not mentioned again.

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New Scientist

Wolves’ genetic diversity worryingly low

 by Gaia Vince

18:41 26 November 2004

Wolf eradication in the US has had a far more devastating impact on the genetic diversity of remaining populations than previously thought, a new study reveals.

Although wolves were systematically eradicated across North America over the last couple of centuries, it had been thought that the human impact on the Canadian wolf population – which is currently a relatively healthy 70,000 – was minor.

Conservationists therefore assumed that the Canadian population had the same level of genetic diversity that had existed in the 19th century – prior to the mass slaughter – and that small-scale re-introductions of these wolves into the US would lead to diversity on a par with this earlier period.

But these assumptions were wrong, according to researchers from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and the University of California Los Angeles, US, who looked at the genetic diversity of the original wolf populations using DNA analysis. They used bone samples taken from grey wolves dating from 1856 – held in the National Museum for Natural History in Washington DC – and compared this genetic diversity with that of modern wolves.

“We found a 43% drop in genetic variability in the modern wolves,” said Carles Vila, one of the team. “It is impossible for the wolf populations to recover this important diversity, which enables them to adapt to different environmental challenges.”

Bears and lions

Vila notes: “It takes thousands of years of naturally occurring mutations to build up such diversity. And if the Canadian wolves – with such a large population remaining – have lost so much genetic variation, what is the situation for other endangered species in North America, such as bears or mountain lions?”

Wild wolves from across North America were captured and reintroduced to the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, US, 10 years ago with considerable success. For example, the population of elk was reduced to more sustainable levels, allowing vegetation to recover.

It was hoped that choosing wolves from across the continent would produce a population with high genetic diversity. But the new research shows this has not happened.

Isolated pockets

The researchers suggest the wolves’ limited genetic variation will make them more vulnerable to factors such as disease or environmental change, limiting the pack’s ability to survive in adverse conditions.

“The species now exists in such isolated pockets that it is impossible for them to breed across the gaps, so genetic diversity will continue to fall,” Vila told New Scientist.

Read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6730-wolves-genetic-diversity-worryingly-low.html

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In 2007, geneticist, Dr. Ken Fischman, Ph.D, testified at an IDFG  open house on Idaho’s then wolf management plan.

Testimony Concerning The Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan – 2008

 Idaho Fish & Game Open House

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, December 12, 2007

 Genetic Problems in Small Populations of Idaho Wolves

 Ken Fischman, Ph.D.

Sandpoint, Idaho 83864

 Ladies/Gentlemen:

 My name is Ken Fischman, and I live in Sandpoint, Idaho.  I have a Ph.D. in Genetics, and over 30 years of experience in Genetic research. I wish to address the question of the number of wolves in Idaho that would constitute a genetically viable population.

    Everyone has been impressed by the rapid increase in Wolf numbers since their reintroduction.  However, that was to be expected when wolves were first introduced into this area, in which the ecological niches for large carnivores were previously quite open.  As these niches are filled, wolf reproduction will likely slow down.

    I would like to put the 673 wolves in Idaho in geographical and comparative perspective.  The size of Idaho is 82,751 square miles. That works out as one wolf for every 123 square miles.  The Human population is more than 1,240,000, which means one wolf for every 1,842 people.

    ID F&G has proposed a minimum of 100 wolves and 15 Breeding Pairs as a statewide objective.

    A key principal in Population Genetics is that what is important for species preservation is not the total population, but the number of Effective Breeders.  ID F&G estimates that there are currently no more than 42 Effective Breeding Pairs in Idaho.(that is, wolves, not people)

    Because only a small fraction of a pack reproduces, that further decreases the genetic pool.  If Idaho’s wolf numbers are reduced to this level, it could lead to severe inbreeding, thus decreasing their genetic diversity, and making them more prone to a population crash under a variety of circumstances.

    The concept that the existence of over ten breeding pairs of wolves should justify removing wolves from the Endangered Species list is therefore biologically insupportable.  It is clear therefore, that this was a political, not a scientific decision, and has no basis in any established genetic or evolutionary principles.

     Inbreeding is far from the only danger to small populations. Even under the best of circumstances, the lives of wolves are precarious.  Any one of dozens of natural or man-made calamities, which could be weathered by large, dispersed populations, such as a virus epidemic, an unusually severe winter, change of climate, or loss of habitat, could wipe out such a small number of animals almost overnight, with permanent loss of their gene pool.

    Population Genetics guidelines estimates that a Minimal Viable Population is 500 individuals, and I calculate that the Number of Effective Breeders should be at least 50 pairs.

    Under any other circumstances, and with almost any other animal population, the numbers of wolves in ID F&G’s Statewide Objective would be considered, not a success, but a population in danger of extinction.

    This is the likely outcome if the number of Idaho’s wolves is reduced to the level ID F&G has proposed.

      No, in a manner of speaking, these wolves are not out of the woods yet.   A much larger, genetically diverse, and widespread population would be needed if wolves are to become once again a stable, permanent part of the forests of the Northern Rockies.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

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What happens to a  species when genetic diversity declines?  Look to the wolves of Isle Royale.

Bone Deformities Linked To Inbreeding In Isle Royale Wolves

Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2009) — The wolves on Isle Royale are suffering from genetically deformed bones. Scientists from Michigan Technological University blame the extreme inbreeding of the small, isolated wolf population at the island National Park in northern Lake Superior.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402171440.htm

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Wolves will never regain the genetic diversity they once had. Instead of conducting more research into wolves decreasing genetic variability, it seems “wolf managers” will just try to guess if the mass slaughter of wolves in the Idaho and Montana hunts will weaken the species even further.  Russian Roulette anyone?

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Photo: Courtesy Nature Cold Warriors

Posted in: Wolf Wars, biodiversity

Tags: wolves decreasing genetic diversity, Dr. Ken Fischman, Ph.D, IDFG, University of Uppsala, Sweden, UCLA, wolf inbreeding

Butterfly Dances On Pink Coneflower

Hope you enjoy this soothing little video :)

Butterfly on coneflower 1

Published in: on August 23, 2014 at 1:04 am  Comments (9)  

Oregon Wolf Pup Calls To It’s Pack….

August 8, 2014

I love posting this video,  I do it almost every year.

Is there a more haunting, ethereal sound in nature than the howl of the wolf?  This sweet pup calls to its pack and they howl back!!

Remote camera photo from July 21, 2013, documenting three pups in the newly formed Mt Emily pack. Photo courtesy of ODFW

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Posted in: gray wolf pups, biodiversity, Oregon wolves

Video: Courtesy YouTube ODFW

Photo: Courtesy ODFW

Tags: Snake River Wolf Pack, ODFW, wolf pup, howling wolves, Oregon

Looking Back: Remembering The Sage Creek Pack..

July 23, 2014

This week I’m re-posting tributes to fallen wolves and wolf packs, some killed before the 2009 delisting, like the 27 member strong Hog Heaven Pack, slaughtered in 2008 by Wildlife Services, outside of Kalispell, Montana.  It makes no difference to me whether they are famous park wolves or wolves who remain faceless and nameless, they are all equal in my eyes and I love them. To think of the thousands who’ve died  breaks my heart. I can’t help them now but I can honor them through remembrance. Sleep well beautiful souls.

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The Sage Creek Pack was eliminated by aerial gunners in 2009.  It was a huge loss. Yellowstone wolves are genetically isolated, the  Sage Creek Pack could have provided them with important genetics but that means nothing to the wolf killers. Wildlife Services was aerial gunning wolves even as the first wolf hunt was taking place outside the park, which decimated the famed Cottonwood pack.

“The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.”

Sage Creek Pack Wiped Out By Aerial Gunners in Montana

October 9, 2012

Aerial gunners wiped out the remaining four members of the Sage Creek Pack, which will serve to further genetically isolate Yellowstone’s wolves. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement concerning this outrageous event. This pack was originally targeted because it killed ONE SHEEP!!

“The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho”

It always comes back to grazing livestock on public lands and who pays the price? The Wolf!

Montana FWP recently closed the backcountry area WMU-3 (which encompasses the wilderness outside of Yellowstone) in part due to the loss of nine wolves in that area, including the Cottonwood Pack. This pack was part of ongoing research on Yellowstone’s famous wolves. The hunts eliminated the pack because buffer zones were not in place for the wolves, who can’t read boundary signs. Their only crime was leaving the protection of the park. So that’s two wolf packs gone in a matter of weeks. One lost to hunters and the other to FWP aerial gunners.

For Immediate Release, October 9, 2009

Aerial Gunning of Wolf Pack in Montana Isolates Yellowstone Wolves, Undermines Recovery

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week’s aerial gunning of the last four members of the Sage Creek wolf pack in southwestern Montana contributes to the genetic isolation of wolves in Yellowstone National Park – even as, on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission suspended the public wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone in order not to isolate the national park’s wolves.

Said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity: “We are saddened by the loss of the Sage Creek Pack. Suspending the permitted wolf-hunting season near Yellowstone will not be enough to save these animals as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to gun down entire packs from the air.”

The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member Sage Creek Pack was its predation on a single sheep on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station, which grazes thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres in Montana and Idaho.

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project sued the sheep station for its failure to disclose the impacts of, and analyze alternatives to, its operations, which has occurred in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The sheep station settled the lawsuit with an agreement to disclose and analyze and to decide its future via a public process.

“The USDA Sheep Experiment Station is undermining gray-wolf recovery and should be shut down,” said Robinson.

Genetic isolation of the Yellowstone wolves, which may be exacerbated through the federal killing of the Sage Creek Pack, is at issue in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies seeking to place wolves back on the endangered species list after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the list this spring. Such genetic isolation was part of what led a federal court, in July 2008, to order the relisting of wolves after a previous delisting action.

The Sage Creek Pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho – precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation through the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack’s demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.

A 1994 environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and central Idaho identified genetic exchange between sub-populations as key to wolf recovery.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/wolves-10-09-2009.html

Top photo: kewlwallpapersdotcom

Photo courtesy James Balog/www.goagro.org

Categories posted in: aerial gunning of wolves, biodiversity, Wolf Wars, Yellowstone Wolves

Tags: wolves or livestock, aerial gunning of wolves, wolf intolerance, Sage Creek Pack, genetic diversity loss

How Wolves Changed the Landscape in Yellowstone

This video is a little dated, filmed about five years after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone but already their effects on rivers and the environment were being felt!!

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Video: Courtesy YouTube

Posted in: Biodiversity, gray wolf

Tags: Trophic cascades, Yellowstone National Park, gray wolves

“How Wolves Change Rivers”

This video is dedicated to the short-sighted flat earthers, who can’t seem to grasp the meaning of trophic cascades, or the benefit of having apex predators, like the wolf, on the landscape.  Maybe for one second you can stop talking about elk and realize nature is interconnected. Predators strengthen prey species and balance the ecosystem. That’s why they were put on this earth!

“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being”….Black Elk Speaks

Mt_Emily_male_wolf_brown_odfw

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Video: Courtesy YouTube Sustainable Man

Photo: Mt. Emily gray wolf – courtesy ODFW

Posted in:  gray wolf, biodiversity

Tags: gray wolf, biodiversity, Trophic Cascade, Yellowstone National Park, wolves return to Yellowstone, elk overgrazing, how wolves change rivers

A Little Good News, California Extends Deadline On Wolf Protection Decision!

Five wolf pups from the Imnaha pack July 2013 courtesy ODFW

Thank you wolf advocates for speaking out for the protection of wolves in California.

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Fish and Game Commission gives California gray wolves 90-day reprieve

April 22, 2014

Gray wolves finally caught a break last week when an overflow crowd gave testimony and provided 2,600 comments to the California Fish and Game Commission in Ventura. The commissioners voted to delay their decision on extending Endangered Species Act protection to gray wolves for an additional 90 days, according to a press release from Center for Biological Diversity.

“This is a huge victory for gray wolves who are clearly trying to return to California where they lived for generations,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center. “It gives me great hope that rather than simply rubber-stamping the state’s recommendation not to protect wolves, the commissioners wisely decided to take a broader look at making sure wolves get a chance to recover here. I think the Commission realizes that’s what’s right, that’s what Californians want and that’s what the law says.”

On the federal level, wolves, a species that was pushed to the brink of extinction in the mid-70’s, have been under attack since 2011 when the US Fish and Wildlife Service began removing ESA safeguards and delisting them as state management plans were being created.

Far too often, say wildlife conservationists, decisions relating to wolves as top apex predators in their ecosystems are based on political pressures and flawed science without a clear understanding of the beneficial role they play in every aspect from controlling deer and elk populations to having an influence on the flow of rivers.

There is a rare, but extraordinary influence on rivers caused by the presence of wolves in the ecosystem. It is called a Trophic Cascade, which is explained by George Monbiot, in a YouTube video featured by National Geographic.

When wolves are reintroduced to an area it causes deer and elk populations to avoid places where they could easily be trapped. Over time, it allows regeneration of vegetation and trees attracting more wildlife back into the regions that play critical roles in healthy riparian habitats.

Moreover, strong wolf populations are clearly important for economic reasons.

Yellowstone National Park disperses $70 million a year into the surrounding Northern Rockies communities from wildlife tourism, of which wolves are a vital attraction.

READ MORE: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16933779-fish-and-game-commission-gives-california-gray-wolves-90-day-reprieve

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Photo: Five wolf pups from the Imnaha pack July 2o13 Courtesy ODFW

Posted in: gray wolf, biodiversity

Tags: California Fish and Game, gray wolf, wolf advocates speak out, 2600 comments, 90 day extension on wolf decision

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