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

Wolf Who Fled Isle Royale Was Killed By A Pellet Gun…

gray wolf wisconsin dnr wi.gov

Wolves are not safe anywhere. The poor female wolf, called Isabelle, who escaped her home on Isle Royale, was killed by a pellet gun, causing fatal injuries. The endless suffering wolves are enduring is beyond measure.

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Pellet gun killed wolf that fled Isle Royale park

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 7:37 am

Associated Press |

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — A gray wolf that fled Isle Royale National Park across a Lake Superior ice bridge and was found dead on the mainland had been shot with a pellet from an air gun, officials said Friday.

The 5-year-old female, nicknamed “Isabelle” by researchers who monitor wolves and moose on the island park, was described as a loner that had been bullied by other wolves.

She escaped this winter, seizing the rare opportunity to traverse at least 15 miles of ice separating Isle Royale from an area along the U.S.-Canadian border. Isabelle’s body was found Feb. 8 along the Minnesota shoreline on property owned by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

There were no visible wounds, and scientists initially said she apparently hadn’t been shot. But the pellet showed up during an X-ray, and a necropsy showed it had caused fatal internal damage.

The pellet was a type used typically to hunt small animals such as squirrels, said Phyllis Green, the park superintendent. That suggests the shooter may have been trying to scare off the wolf instead of kill it, she said.

Green described the wolf’s death as “a fluke thing” that resulted from the pellet striking Isabelle between two ribs and entering her chest.

“If the pellet had hit just a half-inch to the left or right, the outcome may have been less significant,” said Margaret Wild, the National Park Service’s chief veterinarian.

The Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory teamed with the park service on the necropsy.

An investigation concluded the shooting happened on tribal land, Green said. The Grand Portage Band prohibits hunting or trapping wolves on its territory but allows people to chase away or kill those creating a nuisance, she said.

Because it appears no rules were violated, the park service won’t try to identify the shooter, she said.

A message seeking comment was left with the tribal chairman’s office.

To Read More Click HERE

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Photo: gray wolf Wisconsin DNR

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: Isle Royale wolf, pellet gun killed wolf, wolf persecution, gray wolf

Embarrassing Press Coverage Continues For USFWS National Wolf Delisting Push…..

Wolf Pups Snoozing

Wolf Pups Snoozing

February 26, 2014

USFWS  continues to take heat over their politically transparent push to nationally delist gray wolves. They’ve never looked more inept or disingenuous as they attempt to twist the ESA into silly putty to suit their agenda.

PLEASE COMMENT!!!

Deadline Midnight March 27, 2014

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073

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Feds’ postponement of wolf delisting follows embarrassing scientific review

 February 26, 2014 Earth Journal
By Ron Meador | 02/25/14
It’s too soon to tell, I guess, whether this month’s decision to take more public comment on federal wolf protections will change the policy eventually adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But if you’re inclined to believe, or even just to hope, that sound science still has a role in such decisions — well, this embarrassing episode may be worth a closer look. The picture you’ll see is not pretty.

It’s probably fair to say that wolves are by far the biggest headache that Fish and Wildlife has been handed under the Endangered Species Act. Wolves have had ESA protections for four decades now, and for more than half that time the service has been working actively to shed its responsibilities for these worshipped and detested predators, battling an assortment of national groups at every turn.

What looked like maybe the last of those turns came in June, when FWS announced its plan to end protection of gray wolves throughout the remainder of the lower 48 where authority hadn’t already been turned back to the states.

However, such delisting decisions are legally required to be rooted in the “best available science,” and here the service had a problem: Its primary foundation for this delisting was a single paper laying out a fairly controversial re-classification of wolf species.

One species or two?

That paper, by Steven M. Chambers and three others, came down squarely in favor of seeing North American gray wolves as being of two types:

  • Those that have been recovering in the western U.S., with two populations sufficiently robust to justify their delisting in a zone of the northern Rockies and the region covering Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
  • Others of a separate “eastern” species that supposedly was native to but is now essentially extinct in 29 states west of the Mississippi.

Plenty of other wolf biologists and animal geneticists think that question is far from settled — and more than a few actually think it has been settled in the opposite direction of Chambers’ conclusion, with all gray wolves belonging to just one species.

The science of these things is complex and technical, as you might expect, rooted in DNA mapping and requiring judgments as to whether DNA differences detected among wolves are permanent or temporary, results of evolutionary divergence or interbreeding convergence, and so on.

But if the differences at the molecular level are tiny, at the policy level they could hardly be larger.

The gray wolf has Endangered Species Act protection until FWS can prove it’s no longer needed; “eastern gray wolves,” if they exist, have never been protected and presumably never will be, since virtually all of the territory that would be considered their natural range has been wolfless for a long, long time.

In another policy decision that has brought sharp criticism recently, FWS has chosen to define the “natural and historic range” of a threatened species as whatever territory it occupied at the time of being listed for protection — not its historic territory. Some critics see this as an effort to rewrite the ESA by recasting its most important definition.

In-house research project

There were some other problems with the Chambers paper, too:

  • Chambers is an FWS employee. So are his three collaborators. Their work was published in an FWS journal,  “North American Fauna” without peer review. (The paper can be found here.)
  • In forming a peer review panel after publication, a private contractor hired by FWS first selected and then de-selected three national wolf experts who had signed a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell expressing doubts about the service’s move toward delisting. (Among the three was John Vucetich, known to MinnPost readers as director of the Isle Royale study of wolf/moose population dynamics.)

FWS claimed at the time that it had no role in the picking and unpicking, but a reporter for MSN News turned up an email in which the three were told by the contractor that, “I understand how frustrating it must be, but we have to go with what the service wants.”

The only way out of the ensuing embarrassment was to halt that review and arrange for a second, this one to be undertaken by five scientists chosen without the service’s knowledge or involvement, and their work was released earlier this month.

It happens that one of the five, Robert Wayne of UCLA, was also among the three bounced from the first panel. But as the panel’s report puts it:

[W]e did not avoid selecting reviewers who had previously made known their personal (as opposed to scientific) opinions on the issue. This distinction is important; it is entirely possible for a scientist to have a strong opinion on policy or a proposed action, but also for that scientist to make an impartial assessment on (for instance) the precise genetics or taxonomic techniques and data that were used.

In any case, the five were assigned to give no thought to the policy aspects of the delisting proposed by FWS but to consider only its scientific basis for making them. And its conclusions are rather stark:

  • There was unanimity among the panelists that, although there was much good scientific work in the Proposed Rule, the rule is heavily dependent upon the analysis of Chambers et al.

  • There was unanimity among the panelists that Chambers et al was not universally accepted and that the issue was “not settled.” The issues raised by Chambers et al could be definitively answered relatively soon

  • There was unanimity among the panel that the rule does not currently represent the “best available science.”

  • READ MORE: http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/2014/02/feds-postponement-wolf-delisting-follows-embarrassing-scientific-review

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Photo: wolf-pups_mythwallpaper-com

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Endangered Species Act

Tags gray wolf, shaky science, USFWS, national wolf delisting proposal, please comment, March 27, 2014 deadline, wolf persecution

Remembering The Hog Heaven Wolf Pack…

Hog Heaven wolf pack

February 3, 2014

I wrote this post in October 2009, a month after  Howling For Justice was created and mere months after wolves in the Northern Rockies were delisted by the Obama administration. The first wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho had just gotten underway  but the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack wasn’t killed by hunters, they were wiped out by Wildlife Services in 2008.

27 members strong, with two breeding females and 15 puppies, they are now just a memory, as so many wolf packs are. Today they barely have names, they’re anonymous wolves, who live and die without any recognition. But I remember when Wildlife Services gunned down one of the largest wolf packs to roam Montana. Here’s a look back at the doomed Hog Heaven Pack. In their memory please vow to work harder than ever to stop the slaughter of wolves.

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Hog Hell: The Demise of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack

October 23, 2009

In 2008, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming killed 245 gray wolves in the name of ”livestock depredation”.

Twenty seven of those wolves were members of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack, residing southwest of Kalispell, Montana, in the Browns Meadow/Hog Heaven area. They had been accused of preying on a few calves, some llamas and a bull.  The decision was made in November 08 to take out the entire pack.  Eight members of the pack had already been shot from the air by Wildlife Services.

In a three-day period, December 3rd, 4th and 5th of 2008,  the remaining 19 members of the Hog Heaven pack were gunned down, an almost unprecedented event, causing public outrage. Many articles were written  and opinions voiced, opposing the action. FIFTEEN PUPPIES AND TWO BREEDING FEMALES were among the slain.  The Hog Heaven pack was “the seventh entire wolf pack to be killed by Montana in 2008.”

The zero tolerance wolf management plan is just plain wrong and senseless, especially since cattle deaths by wolves are minimal.  Domestic dogs killed five times the number of cows than wolves in 2005.  I don’t see Wildlife Services taking out Labs and Huskies from the air?

The average number of cattle losses specific to wolf predation in these States is less than 0.7%.  This compares to an average of 1.6% of cattle losses due to predation by coyotes and an average of 90% of losses due to non-predator related causes such as health problems and disease.”

*The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), reports on cattle losses in the lower 48 States every five years.  Nationally, health issues such as respiratory problems, digestive problems, calving complications and disease were overwhelmingly the most significant causes of cattle death in 2005.  (The year for which we have the most recent detailed data.)”

“Only 0.11% (about 1/10 of 1%) of all cattle losses were due to wolf predation in 2005. Coyotes killed 22 times more cattle than wolves killed that year.  Domestic dogs killed almost 5 times as many cattle, and vultures killed almost twice as many cattle as wolves in 2005.  Theft was responsible for almost 5 times the cattle losses as were lost by wolf predation.”

http://www.everythingwolf.com/news/readarticle.aspx?article=234

The Hog Heaven pack was special, one of the largest wolf packs ever recorded in Montana, (the once mighty Yellowstone Druid’s had 37 members at their peak).

Instead of trying non-lethal methods to preserve the pack, the state  eliminated them!  AND this all happened while wolves still had ESA protection!!

The anti-wolf crowd wants you to believe wolves are hanging around ranches waiting to prey on livestock, when in reality most of the miniscule depredations take place on our vast public lands, where cattle and sheep are left unprotected.

George Wuerthner, the famed ecologist, calls cows, “walking picnic baskets”. What would you do if you were a predator surrounded by an ocean of cattle and sheep?  Would you munch on them or go after more difficult prey? We already know the answer. Yet the wolf pays the ultimate price for lazy, sloppy ranching practices and the federal government’s refusal to pull public land grazing permits, even though cattle pollute streams, trample riparian zones and over graze the land.

Wolf supporters realize the unfairness of what’s happening.

In 2008, when the Hog Heaven pack was lethally removed, people spoke out:

“Gunning down an entire pack of wolves — a species that is supposed to be protected under the endangered species act — borders on criminal,” said Jerry Black of the Missoula group Wildlife Watchers.

“We are outraged by this senseless slaughter of one of nature’s most majestic animals.”

Added Whitefish resident Roger Sherman: “It seems to me the so-called ’scientific management’ of wolves boils down to simply killing them to conciliate the livestock industry.”

“Brian Vincent, communications director for the group Big Wildlife, insists that the elimination of the Hog Heaven Pack could have been avoided.”

“Why should an entire pack of wolves pay the fatal price for a situation that could probably have been avoided?” he said.

“Both agencies are acting like it’s the Wild West with all guns blazing.”

Yellowstone_Wolves

It’s too late for Hog Heaven, they’re not coming back. This unique pack, was wiped out by Wildlife Services before Montanans could react. Is it any wonder wildlife advocates question the motives behind so many wolves losing their lives for so little reason? Why are the lives of predators held so cheaply?

If the failed policies of the states and feds to “manage wolves” continue, it’s certain they will never fully recover. We’ll be left with fragmented populations of wolves, genetically isolated, constantly under the gun.

What’s behind the intolerance of wolves?  It’s certainly not because they’re killing large numbers of livestock, wolf predation on livestock is minimal.  It’s not because wolves are decimating elk populations. Elk in Montana and Idaho are strong, with numbers way up.  Idaho has 105,000 elk and Montana numbers are even higher at 150,000 plus.

Yet the war on wolves continues. This year the Sage Creek Pack and Yellowstone’s Cottonwood pack were gunned down, one wiped out by Wildlife Services and the other shot in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness at the beginning of Montana’s wolf hunt.  They join the Hog Heaven Pack and many others in the ever-increasing death toll of gray wolves.

Will it be Hog Heaven or Hog Hell for wolves in the Northern Rockies?

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Wolf photos: Courtesy Wikipedia Commons, All About Wolves, Wolf Wallpaper
Categories posted in: Montana Wolves, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife
Tags:  gray wolf, wolves or livestock, wolf intolerance, Wildlife Services, Hog Heaven Wolf Pack, National Agricultural Statistics Service

Wolves Work Hard For Their Dinner…..

Wolves don’t carry AR-15 assault rifles, drive expensive rigs, ATV’s or snowmobiles. They don’t use traps, snares, bows, poison, bait or wounded animal calls to catch their prey. Wolves are fed by their feet (Russian Proverb). They use their wits, incredible stamina and sense of smell as pack members join together in cooperation to feed their family. They may travel twenty to forty miles to find food, longer if necessary. Even then, their hunting success rate is low, just one in ten wolf hunts results in a meal. Can you imagine how hard life is for them under the best of conditions? Now they face even greater obstacles to stay alive. Hunted and demonized, by an unrelenting campaign to drive them back to extinction in the lower 48.

Howl for them, we are their voice!

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Posted in: Biodiversity, gray wolf, Wolf Wars

Video: Courtesy YouTube, Wolf Hunting – Attenborough -Life of Mammals – BBC Earth

Tags: gray wolf, wolf pack, howling wolf, David Attenborough, wolf hunt success rate, wolf persecution

More Dedicated Wolf Warriors At DC Rally!

Dedicated Wolf Warriors 1Thank you Warriors for traveling to support our wolves!! Lets hope there will be many more rallies like this one so our voices are heard around America!

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Photo: Courtesy CWWC (Colorado Wolf And Wildlife Center)

Posted in: Activism, Wolf Warriors

Tags: The National Rally To Protect America’s Wolves, gray wolf, Wolf Wars, stand up for wolves

Thank You Wolf Warriors!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DC Rally image by Oliver Starr

The National Rally To Protect America’s Wolves

Way to represent our wolves Warriors! Beautiful picture, great to see so many wolf advocates in one place!

Rally Speakers

Bob Goldman (event organizer)
Oliver Starr (son of a rancher & a wolf-lover)
Brett Haverstick (Friends of the Clearwater)
Merlyn Nelson (Adopt a Wolf Pack)
Laurie Hall (event organizer)
Elizabeth Huntley (Friends of Wisconsin Wolf)
Professor Hochtritt (University of Wisconsin)
William Huard (Good Wolf)
Bill Chamberlain (US Wolf Refuge Nevada)
Bob Goldman (speaking for Alaska Wildlife Alliance)
Bill Howell (NIWA)
Reyna Crow (Northwoods Wolf Alliance)

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Photos: Courtesy Oliver Starr, FB

Brett Haverstick

Posted in: Wolf Warriors, Activism

Tags: The National Rally To Protect America’s Wolves, gray wolf

Checking In…

ODFW yearling wolf killed by Wildlife Sevices

I’m still here, I have a few personal issues to deal with but I’ll be back.  Please hold down the fort while I’m gone. Feel free to read through the archives, it will give you a very clear picture of what wolves have been through since the first delisting in 2009.

Get your thinking caps on, we’re going to need all the brainpower we can muster to defeat this evil.

We will not allow our wolves, America’s wolves, to be used as target practice for the pleasure of a few sickos at the expense of the many.

Howl if you agree!!

For the wolves, For the wild ones,

Nabeki

Published in: on May 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm  Comments (17)  
Tags: , ,

Taking a Break!

Mexican Gray Wolf Pup

Mexican Gray Wolf Pup

May 14, 2013

Just to let everyone know I’ll be off and on the blog the next few weeks and will be posting very little.  I still encourage everyone to stop by and continue to read. I’ll be checking in as often as I can. So sorry for the the inconvenience.

For the wolves, For the wild ones,

Nabeki

Published in: on May 14, 2013 at 1:45 am  Comments (28)  
Tags:

What Good Are Wolves by Norm Bishop

An  excellent article by Norm Bishop.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative we continue to shout down the ignorant , the uniformed and the hateful who seek to  demonize one of natures perfect predators, the wolf.  It’s our job to defend and  fight for them.

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What Good Are Wolves?

A growing body of scientific research shows wolves are key to the ecosystems of the Northern Rockies. Here’s a condensed version compiled by a long-time wolf advocate.

By Norman A. Bishop, Guest Writer, 1-04-11

In 1869, General Phil Sheridan said, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” Others said, “The only good wolf is a dead wolf.”

Barry Lopez wrote of an American Pogrom, not only of Native Americans and wolves, but of the bison on which both depended. Between 1850 and 1890, 75 million bison were killed, mostly for their hides; perhaps 1 million or 2 million wolves.

“Before about 1878, cattlemen were more worried about Indians killing their cattle than they were about wolves. As the land filled up with other ranchers, as water rights became an issue, and as the Indians were removed to reservations, however, the wolf became, as related in Barry Lopez’s book, “Of Wolves and Men,” ‘an object of pathological hatred.’” Lopez continues: “The motive for wiping out wolves (as opposed to controlling them) proceeded from misunderstanding, from illusions of what constituted sport, from strident attachment to private property, from ignorance and irrational hatred.

In 1884, Montana set a bounty on wolves; in the next three years, 10,261 wolves were bountied. “In 1887, the bounty was repealed by a legislature dominated by mining interests. … By 1893 … desperate stockmen were reporting losses that were mathematical impossibilities. The effect of this exaggeration was contagious. The Montana sheep industry, which up to this time had lost more animals to bears and mountain lions than to wolves, began to blame its every downward economic trend on the wolf. … Men in a speculative business like cattle ranching singled out one scapegoat for their financial losses.”

Not until wolves were functionally extinct from much of the West did anyone begin to ask “What good are wolves?” to study wolves, and to report their beneficial effects on their prey species and on the ecosystems where they lived.

Adolph Murie realized that wolves selected weaker Dall sheep, “which may be of great importance to the sheep as a species.” His brother, Olaus J. Murie, thought predators may have an important influence during severe winters in reducing elk herds too large for their winter range. Douglas H. Pimlott pointed out that wolves control their own densities.

Yellowstone National Park wolf project leader Douglas W. Smith says that restoration of wolves there has added exponentially to our knowledge of how natural ecosystems work. It has also reminded us that predation is one of the dominant forces in all of nature, present in ecosystems worldwide over millions of years.

Bob Crabtree and Jennifer Sheldon note that predation by wolves is important to the integrity of the Yellowstone ecosystem, but we should realize that, before their return to Yellowstone’s northern range, 17 mountain lions there killed 611 elk per year, 60 grizzly bears killed 750 elk calves annually, and 400 coyotes killed between 1,100 and 1,400 elk per year.

P.J. White et al wrote that climate and human harvest account for most of the recent decline of the northern Yellowstone elk herd, coupled with the effects of five predators: wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, and coyotes. These are parts of a system unique in North America by its completeness.

Joel Berger et al demonstrated “a cascade of ecological events that were triggered by the local extinction of grizzly bears … and wolves from the southern greater Yellowstone ecosystem.” In about 75 years, moose in Grand Teton National Park erupted to five times the population outside the park, changed willow structure and density, and eliminated neotropical birds: gray catbirds and MacGillivray’s warblers.

Dan Tyers informs us that wolves haven’t eliminated moose from Yellowstone. Instead, burning of tens of thousands of acres of moose habitat in 1988 (mature forests with their subalpine fir) hit the moose population hard, and it won’t recover until the forests mature again.

Mark Hebblewhite and Doug Smith documented that wolves change species abundance, community composition, and physical structure of the vegetation, preventing overuse of woody plants like willow, and reducing severity of browsing on willows that provide nesting for songbirds. In Banff, songbird diversity and abundance were double in areas of high wolf densities, compared to that of areas with fewer wolves. Fewer browsers lead to more willows, providing habitat for beaver, a keystone species, which in turn create aquatic habitat for other plants and animals.

By reducing coyotes, which were consuming 85 percent of the production of mice in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, restored wolves divert more food to raptors, foxes, and weasels. By concentrating on killing vulnerable calf elk and very old female elk, wolves reduce competition for forage by post-breeding females, and enhance the nutrition of breeding-age females.

Wolves promote biological diversity, affecting 20 vertebrate species, and feeding many scavengers (ravens, magpies, pine martens, wolverines, bald eagles, gray jays, golden eagles, three weasel species, mink, lynx, cougar, grizzly bear, chickadees, Clark’s nutcracker, masked shrew and great grey owl). In Yellowstone, grizzly bears prevailed at 85 percent of encounters over carcasses, and they usurp nearly every kill made by wolves in Pelican Valley from March to October.

Some 445 species of beetle scavengers benefit from the largess of wolf-killed prey. In Banff and Yellowstone, no other predator feeds as many other species as do wolves. Wolf-killed elk carcasses enhance local levels of soil nutrients, adding 20 percent to 500 percent greater nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

Dan Stahler and his colleagues saw an average of four ravens on carcasses in Lamar Valley pre-wolf. Post-wolf, that increased to an average of 28, with as many as 135 seen on one carcass. Eagles seen on carcasses increased from an average of one per four carcasses to four per carcass.

P.J. White and Bob Garrott observed that, by lowering elk numbers, wolves may contribute to higher bison numbers; decreasing coyote populations result in higher pronghorn numbers. They also said wolves may ameliorate ungulate-caused landscape simplification.

Daniel Fortin and others saw that wolves may cause elk to shift habitat, using less aspen, and favoring songbirds that nest in the aspen.

Christopher Wilmers and all tell us that hunting by humans does not benefit scavengers the way wolf kills do. Carrion from wolf kills is more dispersed spatially and temporally than that from hunter kills, resulting in three times the species diversity on wolf kills versus hunter kills. Wolves subsidize many scavengers by only partly consuming their prey; they increase the time over which carrion is available, and change the variability in scavenge from a late winter pulse (winterkill) to all winter. They decrease the variability in year-to-year and month to-month carrion availability.

Chris Wilmers and Wayne Getz write that wolves buffer the effects of climate change. In mild winters, fewer ungulates die of winterkill, causing loss of carrion for scavengers. Wolves mitigate late-winter reduction in carrion by killing ungulates all year.

Mid-sized predators can be destructive in the absence of large keystone predators.  In the absence of wolves, pronghorn have been threatened with elimination by coyotes. Wolves have reduced coyotes and promoted survival of pronghorn fawns. Pronghorn does actually choose the vicinity of wolf dens to give birth, because coyotes avoid those areas, according to Douglas W. Smith.

Mark Hebblewhite reviewed the effects of wolves on population dynamics of large-ungulate prey, other effects on mountain ecosystems, sensitivity of wolf-prey systems to top-down and bottom-up management, and how this may be constrained in national park settings. Then he discussed the implications of his research on ecosystem management and long-term ranges of variation in ungulate abundance. He cites literature that suggests that the long-term stable state under wolf recovery will be low migrant elk density in Western montane ecosystems, noting that wolves may be a keystone species, without which ungulate densities increase, vegetation communities become overbrowsed, moose and beaver decline, and biodiversity is reduced. But as elk decline, aspen and willow regeneration are enhanced. In this context, wolf predation should be viewed as a critical component of an ecosystem management approach across jurisdictions.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) could wipe out our elk and deer. Tom Hobbs writes that increasing mortality rates in diseased populations can retard disease transmission and reduce disease prevalence. Reduced lifespan, in turn, can compress the time interval when animals are infectious, thereby reducing the number of infections produced per infected individual. Results from simulations suggest that predation by wolves has the potential to eliminate CWD from an infected elk population.

Wildlife veterinarian Mark R. Johnson writes that wolves scavenge carrion, such as aborted bison or elk calves. By eating them, they may reduce the spread of Brucellosis to other bison or elk.

Scott Creel and John Winnie, Jr. report that wolves also cause elk to congregate in smaller groups, potentially slowing the spread of diseases that thrive among dense populations of ungulates.

John Duffield and others report that restoration of wolves has cost about $30 million, but has produced a $35.5 million annual net benefit to greater Yellowstone area counties, based on increased visitation by wolf watchers. Some 325,000 park visitors saw wolves in 2005. In Lamar Valley alone, 174,252 visitors observed wolves from 2000 to 2009, where wolves were seen daily in summers for nine of those ten years.

Wolves cause us to examine our values and attitudes. Paul Errington wrote, “Of all the native biological constituents of a northern wilderness scene, I should say that the wolves present the greatest test of human wisdom and good intentions.”

Aldo Leopold, father of game management in America, said, “Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators. … The land is one organism.”

Leopold also pointed out that the first rule of intelligent tinkering with natural ecosystems was to keep all the pieces. Eliminating predators is counter to that advice. Wolves remind us to consider what is ethically and esthetically right in dealing with natural systems.

As Leopold wrote in his essay “The Land Ethic,” “A land ethic … does affirm (animals’) right to continued existence … in a natural state.” He concluded, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Norman Bishop lives in Bozeman, Montana, and is a member of the advisory board of Living With Wolves, a group which raises awareness about wolves and their importance to healthy ecosystems. He worked for 36 years for the National Park Service, which included leading and supporting wolf restoration interpretation in Yellowstone National Park from 1985 to 1997. He was a reviewer of the 1990 and 1992 reports to Congress, “Wolves for Yellowstone?” and contributed to the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement, “The Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho.”

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

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Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge

http://oregonstate.edu/terra/2007/04/high-alert/

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Photo: Courtesy OSU Terra The Power of Research

Video: YouTube: ripple wolves aspen

Posted in: gray wolf, biodiversity

Tags: gray wolf, apex predator, biodiversity

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 3:02 am  Comments (16)  
Tags: , ,
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