Wolves, Revisting The Dream….

Wolves_IMAX 1999 film

February 3, 2013

This wonderful IMAX film was released in 1999 and documents the reintroduction of wolves into Central Idaho, while providing insight into wolf ecology and dynamics. These were good times,  hopeful times for the Nez Perce , wolf advocates and the wolves. That dream is now being dragged through the mud by the wolf states, who are bent on slaughtering them and profiting from their deaths.

Wolves – IMAX  enlightens us  regarding the true nature of  this iconic apex predator, traveling back to the heady days of wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies.  The Nez Perce tribe, like other wolf advocates, had high hopes for the wolves’ return, after their long absence.  How the worm has turned.

Looking back, I see how we were all duped into thinking wolf reintroduction would have a happy ending.  In reality, it’s clear there was never any real intent to maintain a viable, robust population of wolves outside the national parks.  It seems “the plan” all along was to slaughter wolves  in trophy hunts or kill them outright when they  ”recovered”.  Recovery is never defined, except in the outdated, original capitulation to ranching and hunting interests, of 100 wolves and ten breeding pairs per wolf state (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho) Those numbers are not based on science but politics and were never revised to reflect scientific findings or what constitutes a healthy wolf population in the Northern Rockies.  Wolf recovery is whatever the “wolf managers” deem it to be.  Ten wolves, a hundred, thousands?  That’s not a question the states seem interested in answering on their relentless march to decimate wolves .

The arrogance of  hunters and ranchers who think they have the right to dictate which animals will be allowed to exist on public lands,  is stunning.  These lands belong to us all. They’re  lucky Americans have been “asleep at the wheel”, allowing the anti-wolf crowd to dictate policy to Western politicians, ready and eager to do their bidding.

Wolf recovery, once a great success, has now descended into hell, with the deaths of thousands of wolves since their delisting by Ken Salazar and the Obama administration in 2009.

But all is not lost, we can still turn this around. Wolves must re-gain their Endangered Species Protections, for without them they will not be able to thrive as viable, healthy populations.  The wolf will be doomed to their current fate…. hounded, persecuted, tortured, maligned and DEAD. With their family structure and tight bonds decimated, their gene pool further diminished, they will exist as mere ghosts on the landscape, if even allowed to exist at all.

Please sign both petitions, if you haven’t already,  to demand wolves regain their federal protections before it’s too late.

Protect America’s Wolves

Click HERE to sign

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Relist Wolves

Click HERE to sign

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf, biodiversity, Wolf Wars, Native Americans, Wolf Recovery

Tags: Nez Perce, wolf recovery, Central Idaho, persecution of Native Americans, IMAX films, wolf delisting, wolf states, 1999, killing the dream, Relist Wolves, Protect America’s Wolves

Senior Wolves Give Elk A Break

social security

Update: June 30, 2012

I posted this in 2009, just as the first wolf hunts were underway in Montana and Idaho. I believed that if we provided  fish and game managers with scientific fact about the detrimental effects of wolf hunting it might have some effect. How naive I was! The only thing they care about is pleasing two groups of people (hunters and ranchers) and “managing” wolves down to a shadow population of 100 to 150 animals per state.

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November 5, 2009

It turns out wolves age just like people and according to wolf researcher, Daniel MacNulty, by age four, wolves are considered old. This insight into the life span of wolves could have far-reaching implications concerning “managing” them.   The older the wolf, the less threat they are to elk, due to their reduced physical stamina.

The teenagers and young adults of the pack do most of the leg work chasing down prey, while the older wolves are important at the end of the chase, with their larger bodies and heftier builds, they help youngsters with the take down.  It all makes perfect sense.  Dr. MacNulty states hunting wolves to reduce their numbers may backfire.

“It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,” he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.”

But wolf supporters don’t really believe wolf hunts are about “the science.”  Still I’m hopeful Dr.MacNulty’s research will open a few eyes.

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Washed-up wolves

Surprising discoveries about aging wolves and their effects on elk

washed up wolves

The elk-hunting skills of wolves decline significantly with age, a University of Minnesota study shows.

Photo: Douglas Dance

By Deane Morrison

Contrary to their fearsome, folk tale-rooted image, wolves just aren’t all that good as predators. To bring down big prey, they have nothing but speed and teeth–no claws that can rip flesh, no massive paws to kayo their quarry.

Now, a University of Minnesota-led study of wolves in Yellowstone National Park shows how even that modest ability soon ebbs away. Daniel MacNulty and his colleagues found that the wolves were in their hunting prime at the ages of 2 and 3, but then their skills deteriorated steadily. They lived, on average, till age 6.

Writing in the September 23, 2009 issue of Ecology Letters, MacNulty, a postdoctoral researcher in the University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, and his colleagues reported that the higher the proportion of wolves older than 3 in the park, the lower the rate at which they kill elk, their main source of food. The findings run counter to a belief, held by many ecologists, that wild predators maintain their physical skills as long as they live.

But the study “shows that aging impairs the ability of the wolves to catch elk,” says MacNulty, “The data connect aging with an important ecological process, namely predation.”

MacNulty has followed the Yellowstone wolves since their reintroduction to the park in 1995. He says the lowered hunting ability of older wolves may afford some protection to the elk, which would fare worse if all the wolves were spring chickens.

“For example, when 22 percent of the wolves in Yellowstone were 3 or older, the kill rate was 0.4 elk per pack per day,” says MacNulty. “If the older wolves were 52 percent of the population, the kill rate dropped to 0.22 elk per pack per day.”

In general, for every 10 percent rise in the proportion of wolves older than 3, the Yellowstone wolf population saw a decline in the kill rate of 10 to 15 percent, he says.

“… [W]hen 22 percent of the wolves in Yellowstone were 3 or older, the kill rate was 0.4 elk per pack per day. If the older wolves were 52 percent of the population, the kill rate dropped to 0.22 elk per pack per day.”

MacNulty has also documented the decline of individual aging wolves’ hunting skills. For example:

“Wolf number 21 in the Druid Peak pack lived to about 9,” he says. “Video of 21 over his lifetime showed him slowing down when chasing elk as he neared the end of life.”
As the geezer wolves lose their edge, the study suggests that young adults in the pack shoulder more of the workload and share their kills. This may provide aging members of the pack with a lupine version of social security.

Why wolf hunting may backfire

The number of elk in Yellowstone has declined in recent years, and many believe wolves are the main cause, MacNulty says. But he notes that drought, which has reduced the supply of plants elk eat, and predation of elk calves by grizzly bears have also probably contributed.

Montana legalized wolf hunting after the animal was taken off the endangered species list in 2008. But hunting of wolves won’t necessarily help the elk, and not just because only a few wolves have been taken so far, MacNulty says.

“It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,” he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.

Currently, MacNulty is working with a colleague at Michigan Technological University to “nail down,” or quantify, the effect on elk of wolf management that involves hunting. 

“We’re modeling wolf-elk dynamics and looking at how changes in wolf age structure affect elk numbers,” he says.

http://www1.umn.edu/news/features/2009/UR_CONTENT_143264.html

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Photo: Courtesy Douglas Dance

Categories posted in: gray wolf,  wolf recovery, wolves under fire

Tags: gray wolf, wolf recovery, wolf research, senior wolves, MacNulty

Wolves ARE The True Lords Of Nature!

It’s important to remember why we need wolves!

This was one of my early posts in the fall of 2009. Wolves were being hunted in Idaho and Montana for the first time since their near extermination in the lower 48.

October 29, 2009 

Wolves effect their surroundings and bring life to the lands they inhabit. For sixty years elk browsed the meadows of the North Fork of the Flathead, in Montana. Their adversary, Canis Lupus, who had chased them through time, was gone, hunted to extinction in the West.

Then the wolf came home to it’s native habitat and dispersed the elk. This brought back the aspen and willow, young shoots no longer trampled under the complacent elk’s hooves. With the aspen came the songbirds and other wildlife.

Once more the circle was complete with the return of the great canine, the wolf.

 “Aspen ecosystems are considered some of the finest and richest songbird habitat on the continent, second only to river-bottom riparian zones. Remove the wolf, and you remove the songbirds. Remove the songbirds, and the bugs move in. Everything changes, top to bottom, right down to the dirt”…..Cristina Eisenberg,  Oregon State University researcher

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Wolves Increase Biodiversity And Greatly Benefit The Ecosystems They Inhabit

Matt Skoglund Wildlife Advocate, Livingston, Montana

Posted October 26, 2009 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

Wolves matter.

They lead to more songbirds.  Better trout habitat.  More game birds.  Less insects.  Better soil.  Fewer coyotes.  Wilder elk.  More aspen trees.

Wolves, in essence, are key to a healthy landscape.

So says biologist Christina Eisenberg in a fascinating Missoulian article on the effect of wolves — and their absence — on an ecosystem.

Eisenberg has been studying the top-to-bottom effect of wolves — called a “trophic cascade” — in Glacier National Park for years.  She’s also been researching ecosystems near St. Mary’s, Montana, and in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada.

“Each study site is about the same size, and each has a similarly large elk population, native to an aspen-based winter range, and each has the same general density of cougars and bears.”  The difference between the sites is the number of resident wolves:  St. Mary’s has none, Waterton some, and Glacier many.

Her findings on the much heated debate over wolves and elk mirror what others have found:  there are plenty of elk in the Northern Rockies, but the return of wolves has made the elk behave again like wild elk:

The North Fork, Eisenberg said, is “full of wolves,” and has been for 20 years now.  It’s also full of elk – as many as 14 elk per square kilometer in this meadow, where the wolf den site is located.  Elk scat litters the ground not 20 yards from the den.

Clearly, the wolves aren’t eating all the elk.  But aside from the tracks and the scat and the bones and the antlers, there are no elk to be seen.

“They’ve totally changed their behavior,” Eisenberg said.  “For 60 years we’ve become used to complacent elk.  These elk aren’t complacent.  They’re on high alert.”

From a browse standpoint, that means elk eat a bit and move on, eat a bit and move on, never standing in one place long enough to eat a tree down to its roots.  And from a human standpoint, it means hunters see far fewer elk even as state wildlife officials insist Montana has more deer and elk than it’s had for years.

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Hunters, of course, prefer elk that aren’t quite so wily, but trophic cascades work both ways in wildlife management.  Remove the wolves, and elk are easier to find.  But then coyote populations explode, eating their way through the local game-bird population.  Enhance one hunting opportunity, and you affect another.

And from a bigger viewpoint than just elk, Eisenberg has found that wolves increase biodiversity and greatly benefit the overall health of the areas they inhabit:

Remove the wolves, she said, and you lose the birds.

Remove the wolves, she said, and the coyotes fill the niche.  The coyotes eat the ground squirrels, and so the meadows don’t get “plowed,” and soil productivity declines.

Remove the wolves, she said, and the deer eat the river-bottom willows, and the bull trout lose both their shade and their food, as insects no longer fall from overhanging brush.

Remove the wolves, she said, “and everything changes.”

Why is this so noteworthy?

Because the places with greatest biodiversity are the places most resilient, most able to adapt to, say, changing climate.

And Eisenberg wisely thinks her — and others’ — findings should guide wolf management.

Wolf populations aren’t recovered with 12 breeding pairs, or 15, or 20, Eisenberg said.  They’re recovered when there are enough wolves and other top-end predators to maximize biodiversity.  

Her findings are important, and they’re timely, as wolves are being gunned down all over Idaho and Montana right now.

In her research and in this article, Eisenberg simply and unequivocally points out a critical fact that’s been lost in the recent debate over the wolf hunts:

Wolves matter.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mskoglund/wolves_increase_biodiversity_a.html

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Tracking science: Biologist’s findings show forest diversity, health influenced by wolves

Wolf%20pack

http://www.missoulian.com/lifestyles/territory/article_3ec9fc54-c01f-11de-bf16-001cc4c002e0.html

Photo: first people

Photo: wolf wallpaper

Categories posted in: biodiversity, wolf recovery, gray wolf,  Glacier National Park

Tags: wolf recovery, gray wolf,  biodiversity

Wolf Recovery Sought Across US…Please Support This Plan!!

I’m reposting this because I think it’s the future of wolf recovery in this country. Wolves must be allowed to reclaim their historical home range, not be boxed in by brutal state management plans. USFWS should scrap the outdated wolf plan and give serious consideration to the Center For Biological Diversity national wolf plan!!  We have to take the lead on this people. Start writing USFWS, in support of this plan. It’s the only thing that makes sense for wolves.

PRESS RELEASE: CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

For Immediate Release, July 20, 2010

Contact:  Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Wolf Recovery Sought Across Country: West Coast, New England, Colorado and Great Plains

Silver City, N.M.— Gray wolves should be recovered in multiple, connected populations throughout the United States, according to a scientific petition filed today by the Center for Biological Diversity with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The petition asks for development of a national recovery plan for the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act to establish wolf populations in suitable habitat in the Pacific Northwest, California, Great Basin, southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and New England.

“Existing recovery plans for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest are out of date and apply to a small fraction of the wolf’s historic range,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “It’s time to develop a national recovery plan to facilitate true recovery of the gray wolf.”

Currently, gray wolf populations are limited to the northern Rocky Mountains, western Great Lakes and Southwest, which makes up less than 5 percent of their historic range. In part, this reflects the fact that the gray wolf has never had a national recovery plan, though it has been listed in the entire conterminous United States since 1978. Instead, individual recovery plans have been developed for only the three areas that now harbor populations. These plans were developed in the late 1970s and 1980s and are now outdated. Besides failing to recognize that wolves can be recovered to other areas, the plans set population goals well below what are now considered necessary for population health and survival. In the northern Rocky Mountains, for example, the recovery plan only called for 30 breeding pairs, split between three subpopulations.

“Small, isolated wolf populations are a recipe for extinction,” said Robinson. “Science teaches us that we need far more wolves that range across a much wider swath of the continent than the current minimalistic approach.”

The Center’s petition starts a process in which the Fish and Wildlife Service must make a determination on whether to develop such a recovery plan based on the science in the petition and the requirements of the law. The Endangered Species Act requires recovery of endangered animals and plants throughout all significant portions of their range.

“Wolves are an engine of evolution,” said Robinson. “They help feed bears, eagles and wolverines with the leftovers from their kills; they help pronghorn antelope and even foxes survive by controlling coyotes. A continent-wide approach to wolf recovery is necessary both to save the wolf and to restore ecosystems across the United States.”

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2010/gray-wolf-national-petition-07-20-2010.html

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Finally someone is calling for a national wolf recovery plan. I think the Center is seizing the opportunity to propose true wolf recovery in this country. 

If Judge Molloy relists the Northern Rockies wolf population there will be a chance to rewrite the rules and wolves would no longer be under state controlled death sentences, following outdated management plans.  This is the only hope for wolves to make a full and complete recovery in America. 

I applaud the Center for their bold plan!! 

Read the full petition submitted to the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar and Rowan Gould, Acting Director, USFWS.

Petition to the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for  Development of a Recovery Plan for the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Conterminous United States Outside of the Southwest.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/northern_Rocky_Mountains_gray_wolf/pdfs/GrayWolfNationalRecoveryPlanAPAPetition.pdf

Take Action For Wolves, Support This Plan!!

ALL WOLF CONTACTS: CLICK HERE

 

Photo: Courtesy Tambako the Jaguar Flickr

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, Positive wolf news, Wolf Recovery

Tags: bold wolf recovery plan, gray wolf, biodiversity, Lords of Nature

Wolves In Colorado?

Good news wolf advocates. Wolves may have dispersed to Colorado and landed in just the right place, on the 300 square mile High Lonesome Ranch, northeast of Grand Junction. The wolf researcher, Cristina Eisenburg, is working closely with Paul R. Vahldiek, Jr., the major shareholder of the ranch. Eisenburg lives in Northwest Montana and studies wolves and trophic cascades in the North Fork of the Flathead.

Wolf sightings, howls and scat have been identified on the High Lonesome by Cristina and her team. The scat was sent to UCLA for DNA testing and the ranch is waiting for the results to postively confirm the presence of gray wolves.  What welcome news this would be!!

“Committed to conservation of private lands and wildlife, Vahldiek has been working for several years to determine the baseline ecology of the ranch. To further that work, the rancher hired landscape ecologist and large carnivore specialist Cristina Eisenberg to study predator-prey relationships on the land, which was believed to be wolfless. Vahldiek hoped to complete these studies prior to any natural recolonization of wolves. Much to his and Eisenberg’s surprise, it now appears that the storied carnivore has already taken up residence on the property.

Asked about evidence for wolf presence on The High Lonesome Ranch, Eisenberg said, “Wolf sightings, tracks, howling, and other wolf sign gathered over the past eighteen months suggest likely wolf presence, pending DNA analysis results.”

Vahldiek recently became a board member of  the Wildland’s Network who’s mission ” is to reconnect and restore wildlands across North America to allow continued movement of wide-ranging species.” 

Vahldiek first became interested in the role that wolves play in regulating healthy landscapes when he attended a talk by Eisenberg given at the Boone and Crockett Club’s annual conservation meeting at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch. Her presentation made him realize that The High Lonesome Ranch’s approximately 300-square-miles of deeded private and permitted BLM lands might be likely habitat for natural wolf recolonization.

“It seemed logical to me, based on what happened in Yellowstone National Park, that keystone species like wolves might have a positive effect on biodiversity and restoring the health of aspen groves on this property,” notes Vahldiek. His interest in the ecological benefits of keystone species led him to attend further meetings on large landscape-scale conservation convened by the international conservation group Wildlands Network

There are 292,000 elk in Colorado according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2009 Spring press release, plenty of elk for wolves in the state.

Wolves have made a  few ventures into Colorado since they were exterminated from the state by the feds in the 1940’s,  almost seventy years ago.

A little Montana wolf , 314F, made an epic journey to Colorado, arriving in February 09.  There she met her sad end.  If wolves have found a home on the High Lonesome Ranch this could be a better outcome for them in the Centennial State!

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Colorado Rancher Says Wolves May Have Arrived; Welcomes Their Return

According to a press release, wild wolves may have already reached a Western Colorado ranchland.
By Press Release, Wildlands Network, Guest Writer, 2-08-10
 
 
http://www.newwest.net/city/article/colorado_rancher_says_wolves_may_have_arrived_welcomes_their_return/C8/L8/
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Prodigal Dogs

Have gray wolves found a home in Colorado?

From the February 05, 2010 issue of High Country News
 
 by Michelle Nijhuis
http://www.hcn.org/issues/42.3/prodigal-dogs

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Here is wolf 314F’s story:

The Amazing Journey and Sad End of Wolf 314F

Wolf1

She traveled through five states, her GPS collar registering 1000 miles.  This young Mill Creek Pack wolf  left her Montana home in September 08 and arrived in Colorado in February 09.  Her epic journey was long and precarious.  She was tracked through Yellowstone National Park, western Wyoming, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, southeastern Idaho , northeastern Utah, finally arriving in Eagle County, Colorado.  

Her journey ended in March 09 on a lonely hillside in Colorado called “No Name Ridge, where her bones were found.  Nobody is saying how she died.  The investigation into her death is ongoing.

314F’s life and death reinforces the argument wolves need ESA protection,  especially when they’re dispersing  in search of other wolves or a mate.  They’re under constant pressure from the SSS mentality, which makes this young wolf’s journey so incredible.  Hopefully more wolves will make the trip.  Colorado has some of the best wolf habitat in the lower forty-eight.

Against all odds, this eighteen month old wolf showed the world what wolves are made of. I hope Wildlife officials discover how she met her end.  If she died by human hands this person or persons should be prosecuted!  

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Lonely Lady Wolf Looks For Love in All The Wrong Places

Rocky Mountain News

By Berny Morson

Published February 25, 2009 at 3:09 p.m.

Call it the power of  love.

A female wolf has wandered more than 1,000 miles through five states in search of a mate and is now in Colorado’s Eagle County, wildlife officials in Colorado and Montana said Wednesday.

The wolf, known only as 314F, set off on her lonely quest in September when, for reasons unknown, she became unhappy with the male prospects among the pack of seven animals she was born into 20 months earlier.

Since then, 314F has followed her heart from the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone National Park through Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. She has trotted past areas where other wolf packs are known to live toward a state that has not had a wolf population for 60 years.

Montana officials follow her progress with a global positioning device on a collar that was fitted to her neck in July.

“Basically, what she’s doing is, she’s wandering around looking to see if there’s other wolves around,” said Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Her prospects here are not good. The last confirmed wolf sighting in Colorado was a male who made his way from Yellowstone in 2004. But he was killed on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs before anyone knew he was here.

Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist Shane Briggs said that when wolf packs get too large, some animals leave in search of a mate with whom to start a new pack in a different area, Briggs said. That’s how the species increases its range, he said.

Before the 2004 sighting, wolves were considered extinct in Colorado. The last confirmed one had been killed in 1943.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2009/feb/25/yellowstone-wolf-travels-1000-miles-colorado/?partner=RSS

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Suspicion Surrounds Colorado Wolf Death

Did the epic journey of Wolf 341F from Montana to Colorado end at the hands of a human? Officials aren’t saying.

By David Frey, 9-27-09

http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/suspicion_surrounds_colorado_wolf_death/C41/L41/

* It’s been reported that wolf  314F’s number is actually 341F but since she is so well known as 314F, I didn’t make any changes.

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in : Wolves in Colorado,  wolf recovery, gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: Dispersing wolves, wolf recovery, Colorado wolves

Bad Moon Rising On Mexican Gray Wolves

February 7, 2010

In a season of bad wolf news, Mexican wolves have been dealt another blow. Their numbers, already dismal, dipped from 52 wolves in 2008 to 42 wolves in 2009.

“The Mexican wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico plunged to its lowest level in seven years in 2009, with eight wolves including four pups found dead last year, officials said Friday.

Last year’s total of 42 wolves found in the wild was down nearly 20 percent from 52 wolves in 2008. Since the wolf recovery plan began back in 1998, the U.S. government has spent about $20 million trying to restore wolves in Eastern Arizona and southwest New Mexico, federal records show. Ninety-two total wolves have been released into the wild.”

This sad little tale has been going on since the late seventies, when a captive breeding program was started because the Mexican gray wolf was technically extinct in the wild, the result of a hundred years of persecution.  The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan was adopted in 1982.

In 1998 captive born wolves were released into Arizona and New Mexico. Before reintroduction began in 1998, the US Fish and Wildlife Service projected 102 wolves, including 18 breeding pairs, would be thriving on their historical range by 2006, with numbers expected to rise thereafter. That was four years ago and twelve years have gone by since their release. Not only are there not 100 Mexican gray wolves in the wild but their numbers have dipped even further from the handful of 52 animals counted in 2008.

Is it any wonder the program has been a failure?  Up until last year the wolves were subjected to the three strikes rule, meaning kill three livestock and you’re out, as in dead.

The three legged alphas of the highly endangered Middle Fork Pack  are up against a sea of cattle in the Gila National Forest, which is heavily grazed.  Many of those cows belong to the Adobe/Slash Ranch, which is owned by a Mexican businessman. One of the ranch hands was actually caught baiting wolves, a few years back, to get them in trouble and cause the three strikes rule to kick in.

I sincerely hope these amazing wolves were not part of the reported grim statistics of dead wolves. Both alphas lost their left front legs. Alpha female AF861, lost her leg to a gunshot wound, that case is still being investigated. Alpha male AM871 lost his limb to a leg hold trap. Despite their handicaps they are able to hunt and raise pups!!

Finally in 2009 the  US Fish and Wildlife Services settled a Settled a lawsuit:

“brought by conservation organizations, the Fish and Wildlife Service reasserted its authority over a multiagency management team and scrapped a controversial wolf “control” rule that required permanently removing a wolf from the wild, either lethally or through capture, after killing three livestock in a year. Conservationists had criticized the rigid policy, known as Standard Operating Procedure 13 or SOP 13, for forcing wolves to be killed or sent to captivity regardless of an individual wolf’s genetic importance, dependent pups or the critically low numbers of wolves in the wild.”

Since the three strikes rule was scrapped it looked like the beleaguered wolves would have a fighting chance to start their long awaited recovery. That was until they counted them.

“The decline is “tremendously disconcerting and very disturbing,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional director for the Southwest.

Two wolves were confirmed to have been shot to death last year. Tuggle said he is not ruling out the possibility that the other six dead wolves were shot. Those deaths are under law enforcement investigation.

An unusually poor survival rate among wolf pups appeared to play a key role in last year’s population decline, officials indicated. Thirty-one pups were born last year in seven wolf packs. Seven survived, the wildlife service said.”

Apparently the agency relies on captive wolves being reintroduced and pup survival to maintain or increase the population. So with the loss of four pups to probable poaching. a poor pup survival rate and no reintroductions  in 2009,  the wolf population declined significantly.

I think it’s safe to assume that the other six wolves were the victims of foul play. There is tremendous intolerance for wolves in the Southwest.  Big surprise. The same attitudes that plague wolves here in the Northern Rockies are mirrored there.  How pathetic that in the expanse of the Gila and Apache National Forests there isn’t a place for a hundred wolves?  There’s plenty of room for cattle though.  And that’s the problem.

Michael Robinson of  the Center for Biological Diversity states: 

“Lackadaisical Forest Service management, severe grazing during drought, trespass stock, and scattered carcasses of cattle that died of non-wolf causes which draw wolves in to scavenge, all guarantee continued conflicts between wolves and livestock,” pointed out Robinson.

“Preventing conflicts with livestock on the national forests makes more sense than scapegoating endangered wolves once conflicts begin,” said Robinson.”

The Beaverhead area has a history of wolves scavenging on carcasses of cattle that they had not killed, and then subsequently beginning to hunt live cattle. This spring, the Center for Biological Diversity documented sixteen dead cattle, none of them with any signs of wolf predation, within a few miles of the Middle Fork’s den site.

Independent scientists have repeatedly recommended that owners of livestock using the public lands be required to remove or render unpalatable (as by lime, for example) the carcasses of cattle and horses that die of non-wolf causes — such as starvation, disease or poisonous weeds — before wolves scavenge on them and then switch from preying on elk to livestock. No such requirements have been implemented.”

It sounds like Fish and Wildlife is finally waking up to the seriousness of the situation.  Bud Fazio is now heading the Mexican Gray wolf program.  He ran the Red Wolf program successfully in the Carolinas so I  have  hope he can figure out how to help these animals survive before they go extinct in the wild AGAIN!  It should start with going after the  poachers and giving them substantial jail time. If they think they can shoot a wolf and get away with it, what incentive do they have to stop?

Time is running out for the wolves in the Southwest. Why not expand the wolves recovery area outside of the Gila and Apache National Forests? How about Grand Canyon National Park for starters?

The status quo won’t cut it anymore.  The wolves have been struggling ever since their reintroduction in 1998. It’s going to take a major effort by Fish and Wildlife to protect these wolves and allow them to finally make their long-awaited recovery. Any good news on wolf recovery would be heralded.

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Officials say total from last year was down nearly 20%

Mexican wolf population dipping

http://www.azstarnet.com/news/science/environment/article_1d9a72c2-9f55-5730-b948-b57533cd1620.html

Elk in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area

 

Photos: Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Services

Posted in: Mexican gray wolf, gray wolf/canis lupus, wolf recovery, Wolf Wars

Tags: Mexican gray wolves,  wolf recovery, canis lupus, wolves or livestock

The Wolf Numbers Game….

  
 

The deadline to file briefs in the wolf delisting lawsuit has ended. As we wait to see if Judge Molloy will hear oral arguments or rule without them, I reflected on what constitutes wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies? 2000, 4000, 6000 wolves? It occurred to me the numbers game has been the nail in the coffin for wolves ever since they were reintroduced to Yellowstone and Central Idaho in the mid-nineties. We’ve been stuck on numbers ever since. The number of breeding pairs, the number of pups, the number of packs, the number of livestock depredations. It’s always about numbers. But is it?

I challenge this paradigm. I believe wolf recovery has little to do with numbers. It’s the numbers game that’s betrayed gray wolves. The true test of recovery for wolves will be their ability to disperse across state lines, to achieve genetic connectivity among sub-populations, to overcome fragmentation and marginalization, in effect to repopulate their entire habitat that was lost to them when they were slaughtered by the federal government for agribusiness and eliminated from the West, without mercy. 

And something else. Wolf recovery is dependent upon humans finding a place in their hearts for wolves to dwell, only then will they have a chance.  

It wasn’t until the enactment of the Endangered Species Act that wolves began to stage a slow comeback. In the 1980’s, well before they were reintroduced to Yellowstone and Central Idaho, gray wolves dispersed on their own from Canada to Glacier National Park. They started to come home. 

In 1995 and 1996 sixty-six MacKenzie Valley wolves from Alberta, Canada were released into Yellowstone and Central Idaho. The official counting of wolves had begun and has never stopped.

 

The map shows part of their historic home range, wolves now occupy a tiny fraction of that in the lower forty eight. Click on the map to see their current range.

At one time, wolves were distributed over an immense part of the northern hemisphere. Certainly, wolves lived across most of the United States within the last two hundred years. (The only exception was in the Southeast, where the red wolf filled the gray wolf’s niche in the environment.) Even today, there are still a few wolves left in the extreme Southwest and Mexico. (The Mexican wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf, and is considered extremely endangered.) Today the gray wolf is found in a few northern states in very low numbers. Only Minnesota is home to enough gray wolves for them to be considered in the threatened category. (“Threatened” is one step safer than “endangered.”
 
Instead of obsessing over numbers we should be concentrating on education to dispel myths that surround wolves. If the wolf is to survive the old attitudes and hates must end. If the wolf is to survive they must be able to move freely across state lines to expand their territory. Yet, a Utah senator recently introduced a bill that would bar wolves from entering that state, on pain of death or relocation, as if wolves can read road signs or understand state boundary lines. 
 
Colorado is not welcoming them. Wyoming is hostile to them, except for the tiny island of wolves, now numbering below 100, that find refuge in Yellowstone.  Yes, Canadian wolves have dispersed to Washington, which seems the most reasonable of all the states but even there a Lookout Pack pup was killed and then his killers attempted to ship his bloody pelt FedEx to Canada.   
 
 
How can the wolf ever hope to make a sustained recovery when they are so persecuted?

A major roadblock to wolf recovery is the livestock industry, who has a stranglehold on state politics, wolves don’t stand a chance until that changes. With the approval  of state “wolf managers”, Wildlife Services  acts  as the rancher’s personal wolf extermination service, courtesy of tax payer dollars.  Likewise state game agencies hamper wolf recovery because their coffers are filled by hunting and licensing fees. They cater to hunters that compete directly with the wolf for the same prey animals. Whose side do you think they will take, the hunter or the wolf ? There is no contest. The wolf loses every time.

We’ve come full circle. Wolves may be relisted by Judge Molloy, solely based on Wyoming’s recalcitrance,  since even the feds know Wyoming’s “management shoot on sight plan” will land wolves right back on the Endangered Species List. It’s an awful game that’s being played with the lives of a magnificent animal that has every right to exist on this earth.

The numbers game is responsible for much of wolf persecution because at some point that magic number will be reached, whether it’s 2000, 4000 or 6000 and the killing can begin again, just as it did in 2009, just as they were exterminated the first time around.  The numbers game says that wolves are living on borrowed time.  That they will always be in the crosshairs.  If we keep moving the numbers around,  how does that help wolves truly recover?

The fate of wolves hangs in the balance. Are we willing to open our hearts and minds to allow this vital apex predator, who is an integral part of a healthy ecosystem, to repopulate their historic habitat, not just a few marginalized pockets? Or will we continue to play the wolf numbers game? 

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Legal fight over wolves in Northern Rockies a question of numbers

By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian | Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 11:00 pm

http://www.missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_dd632f76-113b-11df-8019-001cc4c002e0.html

Map: Courtesy of Siteline Institute

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, howling for justice, wolf 2009 delisting, wolf recovery

Tags: wolf numbers game, delisting litigation, wolves in the crossfire

February 3, 2010

 
 
 

Wolves: The Persecution Continues

 
 
 
Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group.  Sound familiar? Wolf persecution is the systematic mistreatment of wolves by humans.
“Wolves have suffered more inhumane treatment and loss of range and populations than any other predator. The history of their survival and disappearance in various parts of the world is a reflection of the overwhelming importance of people’s attitudes toward animals. When emotions, especially fear and negative superstition, rule people’s minds, wolves can be destroyed on the basis of ignorance about their real threats to people and livestock. On the other hand, when people are aware of biological facts about the wolf and its ecological role, behavior, value to ecosystems, and the truth about its history of not attacking people, prejudices tend to dissipate. Native Americans had a natural affinity and respect for wolves, calling them “brother.” The wolf’s very survival as a species depends on its being treated with tolerance and respect. Gradually, this is happening in many parts of the world. Education and a change in government attitudes in many countries are needed to conserve this species, along with better ways of raising livestock.”

American wolves have been persecuted for hundreds of years. In the 19th century cowboys would rope wolves and drag them on horseback over rough terrain until they were dead or use them for target practice. They were trapped for their pelts, poisoned with strychnine, which causes extremely painful convulsions before death.

Ranching has always been at the center of wolf hatred and intolerance in the West.
“Wolves natural prey of mule deer and elk had been hunted out so they turned to livestock as the only large prey available and, in doing so, became the target of ranchers’ wrath. Western ranchers, like many livestock owners in Europe, believed that they should be able to release cattle to roam free without herding them into shelter at night. This situation had existed in Western Europe after large predators were eliminated from all but the most remote areas. In their new ranches, allocated to them by the government, ranchers sought to recreate the European model. This required the destruction of large predators.”

Ranchers convinced the feds to launch an all out wolf extermination program and by the 1930’s, 95 percent of gray wolves were gone from their range in the lower forty eight. The landscape was sanitized of predators. No stone was left unturned. Hunters would comb an area and set out poisons even in areas where there were no livestock. They earned points for each wolf  killed. Sound familiar?  Eerily similar to predator derbies. Men that earned fewer points could be fired, they were expected to eliminate all wolves in the territory they were assigned.

“The Forest Service and the Bureau of Biological Survey used poisons and traps to kill adult animals and many cruel methods to kill the pups in dens in their efforts to try to exterminate the wolf. In 1907 alone, the Forest Service killed more than 1,800 Gray Wolves and 23,000 Coyotes, among other animals (Laycock 1990). After the US Congress authorized the first substantial appropriation for hiring government hunters in 1915, federal wolf-control programs achieved an unprecedented level.”

Even though wolves were gone from the West the persecution continued in Alaska. They were shot, hunted from airplanes, chased for miles before being gunned down. If they couldn’t shoot the wolf from the air the plane would chase it to exhaustion, then land. The hunter would walk right up to the weakened wolf and shoot it point blank.  Just like shooting fish in a barrel.  Laws were passed to stop the practice of aerial gunning but became unenforceable. Wolves continued to die.

in Alaska in 1995. An entire wolf pack was chased by snowmobiles and shot dead.

“Brenda Peterson, an eyewitness to one of these hunts, described it, and photos taken of the event documented the wolves being chased into a tight group and killed. Six black wolves, an entire family, died “splayfooted against one another,” having run for their lives at a gallop of 35 miles per hour as the snowmobilers herded them into a terrified, dense mass, and then shot them at point-blank range.”

To this day, even with a ban on aerial gunning, the feds have found a loophole in the law. Wolves are gunned from the air in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Wildlife Services is still killing wolves for the livestock industry, just as their predecessors  did over a hundred years ago.

AERIAL GUNNING IS HAPPENING HERE IN MONTANA, IDAHO AND WYOMING, NOT JUST ALASKA. THIS IS THEIR FATE:

The sad legacy of this intense persecution still drives wolf management. Entire wolf packs are targeted if a few cows or sheep are killed yet wolves are not the main predator that kill cattle and sheep, it’s the coyote. And even coyotes kill very few livestock compared to cattle mortality from other causes. Over ninety percent of cattle losses are due to weather, calving and disease. Wolves actually help to keep coyote numbers down, since they are natural enemies. Better that coyotes are controlled by wolves then killed in cruel predator derbies that mimic the wolf extermination practices of the early 19th century.

The conundrum is wolves should be admired for their devotion to family and pack. Wolves will lay down their lives for each other. They will howl mournfully when federal agents wipe out members of their pack. Wolves mate for life, are dedicated to their young, puppies are revered by all pack members. The characteristics that people admire in dogs: loyalty, playfulness, devotion are even more prominent in the wolf. Wolves are smarter then dogs, their brains are larger. They solve problems, trust each other, work together to survive and provide for their families. All attributes we cherish. Yet no other animal has been hounded, tortured and despised like the wolf.

“Throughout the centuries we have projected on to the wolf the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.” -Barry Lopez

And so it goes….click here

 

Reference & Quotes:  The Endangered Species Handbook

Posted In: Wolf Intolerence, Wolf Wars, aerial gunning of wolves

Tags: wolf persecution, Wildlife Services, wolves or livestock

Wolves Howling Methow Valley, Washington

Listen to the Lookout Pack in Washington’s Methow Valley.  It’s music to my ears. 

“We listened for a voice crying in the wilderness. And we heard the jubilation of wolves!” -Durwood L. Allen

“When Conservation Northwest Executive Director, Mitch Friedman, his children, and nephew joined state and federal biologists to check in on the Lookout Pack, Washington’s first pack in over 70 years, they were treated to quite a chorus!”

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Here’s The First Litter of Lookout Pack Pups Caught On Remote Camera  August 12, 2008 (unfortunately only one survived)

===============

But all was not lost.  What you are hearing in the first video is their second litter born in 2009!! AND the discovery of a second wolf pack in Pend Oreille County.

Lookout Pack has new litter; wolves confirmed in Pend Oreille County

By Joyce Campbell, Methow Valley News
July 15, 2009
 
==============

Lookout Pack observed moving about its territory

By Joyce Campbell, Methow Valley News

January 1, 2010

http://methowvalleynews.com/story.php?id=540

Posted in: Washington wolves, wolf recovery, biodiversity

Tags: wolf howls, Lookout Pack, gray wolf/canis lupus, wolf recovery

Finally Hope For Idaho’s Wolves

There is good news to report!!  Western Watersheds Project and the The Wolf Recovery Foundation are suing to prevent helicopters from landing in the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness.  

The forest service recently gave Idaho Fish & Game the green light to land helicopters up to twenty times this winter in the Frank Church Wilderness, to dart as many as twelve wolves for collaring.  The Frank Church is a designated wilderness and this violates the Wilderness Act of 1974 which states:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

The lawsuit also targets Wildlife Services for their slaughter of wolves in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, for the livestock industry. They want SNRA grazing leases pulled.

Each year cattle are trucked in to graze the SNRA.  This is a national recreation area, cattle are the trespassers here, not wolves.  But time and again wolves are subjugated to livestock. The slaughter of the Basin Butte Pack during Thanksgiving week was an example of the arrogance Wildlife Services has shown, when they gunned down seven wolves from helicopters in broad daylight, like some surreal wild west show.

Finally this out of control agency is being challenged.  Their practice of killing entire packs of wolves is a travesty. The same thing is happening right now in Montana, where four wolf packs have lethal orders on their heads.  WS is intent on completely removing The Elevation Pack, The Miners Lake Pack, The Battlefield Pack and the Mitchell Mountain Pack. This lawsuit couldn’t have come at a better time.  Wolves are dying in record numbers.

I hope this will be a new beginning for wolves, not just on the Sawtooth but in the Northern Rockies. Over five hundred wolves died in 2009 and now their howls will be heard in court.

Thank you Western Watersheds Project and The Wolf Recovery Foundation.  This has given me new hope we can finally have justice for Idaho’s wolves and in turn for all the Northern Rockies wolves.  As one of my readers stated: Please stop killing wolves!  Just stop!

To read the full lawsuit click here

===================

WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Litigates Big to Protect Wolves in Central Idaho

January 6, 2010 — Brian Ertz 

===========================

Groups sue to end helicopter landings in Idaho wilderness

By the Associated Press | Posted: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:50 pm

http://www.missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_f9a6465c-fb04-11de-b162-001cc4c03286.html

Posted in: wolf recovery, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, biodiversity, gray wolf/canis lupus

Tags: SNRA, WWP lawsuit, Frank Church Wilderness, Forest Fervice, aerial gunning of wolves, intrusive collaring of wolves, wolves or livestock

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