UPDATE: Huckleberry Pack Alpha Female Shot Aerially by WDFW Contract Sharpshooter

huckleberry pack pups 2012 WDFW

Huckleberry Pack Pups – 2012/WDFW

September 10, 2014

This post was sent to me by “Anonymous For Wolves”

Huckleberry pack alpha female shot aerially by WDFW contract sharpshooter

On September 4th, WDFW posted a News Release under the Latest News link on their website wdfw.wa.gov) with this heading, Sheep moved from scene of wolf attacks. The release reads that rancher Dave Dashiell worked over the Labor Day weekend collecting his flock of 1800 sheep to eventually truck them, somewhat prematurely, to their winter pasture area.

This is good news for Stevens County Huckleberry wolf pack as it acts as a stay of execution after a WDFW contract sharpshooter from USDA Wildlife Services, shot dead the breeding female from a helicopter on August 23. The pack had been preying on Dashiell’s sheep with WDFW determining the need for lethal action. “If non-lethal tools fail, lethal actions can be taken. It is a process,” WDFW’s Wildlife Conflict Manager Stephanie Simek said.

Wolves are on Washington’s landscape and ranchers now need to put in place the new best practices for ranging livestock. These practices include quickly removing injured, sick or dead livestock, all of which help attract wolves and other large carnivores. Consistent human presence in non-fenced range situations to “babysit” herds is imperative. Such models are being taken from Western Idaho and Montana ranchers: range-riders go out on foot, 4-wheeler or horseback, attending to the herds.
“This may not be accomplished 24/7,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW’s Carnivore Manager, “but they go out as much as they can.” Wolves can also be hazed by shooting overhead and with rubber bullets, as well as by being chased off. Spotlights, flashing lights and fladry may also be employed.

Was Stevens County rancher Dashiell timely and diligent in his non-lethal tactics? Reports have been mixed. WDFW had claimed that Dashiell was out every day and night, along with four guard dogs, a range rider, and eventually with the department adding a second rider and a greater human presence during the night. West Coast Wolf Organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity, Amaroq Weiss, believes otherwise.

Weiss spoke with David Ware, WDFW’s game division manager who also oversees wolf management for the department. While WDFW had released statements that on August 15 Dashiell’s range rider was on task and the sheep were being moved, “Ware confirmed that these actions were not happening and that (Dashiell’s) range rider had quit a month ago. The following week the sheep still had not been moved and a range rider did not show up until August 20,” said Weiss.

WDFW observed prey switching within the Huckleberry pack: the switch from preying on wild to domestic animals. This switch can be determined by energetics, ease in taking, and by abundance, what is most often being seen.

“Sheep are such easy prey and so abundant, it’s hard to get wolves to stop preying on them,” said Martorello. Dashiell’s range allotment is also rugged, brushy and sprawling; it can be difficult to protect livestock on this type of landscape.

The GPS collar on the Huckleberry pack’s alpha male collects data every 6 hours. It was observed that by the 3rd or 4th depredation, with the wolf traveling back and forth from the rendezvous site to the sheep, the animal had begun solely preying on the domestic sheep. This behavioral pattern can also be passed on to pups.

WDFW’s original goal was to remove four animals from the Huckleberry pack as a means to reduce their numbers on the landscape. This reduction would lower the food requirements and nutritional needs of the pack. In this case, the removal of the breeding female may have broken the Huckleberry pack’s pattern of sheep depredation. Said Martorello, “Removal of a single animal may have been enough to break the pack’s cycle. The animal was removed on August 23rd and the collared male has not been back to the vicinity of the sheep since the 27th. The sheep were not moved until September 1st or 2nd.”

WDFW claims that killing the breeding female was not the department’s intention. Their goal was to not take the breeding pair, but to remove yearlings and two-year olds from the pack. The litter had a mix of colors with the pack’s collared adult male being black. The sharpshooter was to look for color (the breeding or alpha female’s color has yet to be released at the time of this writing), look for smaller–younger– wolves to shoot, and to only shoot when multiple wolves were under the helicopter to use for size comparison.

When the breeding female was shot by Wildlife Services, she was the sole animal under the under helicopter and weighed only 66lbs; small but not uncommon for an adult female wolf. “We were certainly disappointed in this outcome but, there was no way to sort from the air in this circumstance,” said Martorello .

When asked why take the risk of shooting the wrong wolf if there is no means of comparison,  Martorello explained that the department was trying to achieve an objective and the only instructions were that if the opportunity to sort existed, to try and not remove the collared male. “You know going into it you get what you get. We did not have the opportunity to sort in this case,” said Martorello .

The helicopter had been up on multiple occasions and had been unable to spot animals due to weather conditions and visibility limits. And as we learned from the aerial shooting of the Wedge pack in 2012, time in the air translates to tens of thousands of dollars ($76,500 in 2012 to kill the Wedge). Per Martorello, at some point a wolf, or wolves, must simply be killed.

The Huckleberry pack is a relatively young pack, having only been formed in the last 3 years and with a young breeding female. It would not be uncommon then, for another female next in the hierarchy to step in and care for the pups, pups approaching full-grown and traveling with the pack. She may also become the new breeding female. With the Huckleberry pack WDFW finds science, in these early stages, that pack cohesiveness remains and that there may not be a loss in pack structure.

Hope for the Huckleberry pack.

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My comments:

Everything kills sheep, wolves are certainly not the main predator of sheep. Bears, bobcats, coyotes, dogs, ravens, eagles, foxes, mountain lions and others all eat sheep, since sheep have literally no natural defenses. But whenever a wolf does anything it’s treated as if it’s headline news. Mostly sheep  die from other causes, like lambing complications, disease and bad weather.  Sheep are also found on their back, they’re stolen and yes, overeat and die. Sheep and lambs are farm animals slaughtered for food.  So the hoopla about  predators attacking sheep, living in rugged country, is not really news. It’s only news when wolves are involved.

Meanwhile we have a dead alpha female, motherless wolf pups, all because of a few sheep! And please don’t think I’m denigrating sheep because I value their lives as well. I hate that the little lambs are slaughtered. Ranching is a cruel, cruel business. It would be a much better world without it!

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Photo: Courtesy WDFW

Posted in: Wolf Wars, gray wolf

Tags: Huckleberry Pack, alpha female shot dead, WDFW, sharpshooter, sheep

Published in: on September 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm  Comments (12)  
Tags: , , , ,

Killing Echo: The “Mistaken Identity” Excuse, Part One

Echo Grand-Canyon NPS

Echo (Courtesy NPS)

February 27, 2015

It’s been several months since Echo was shot dead by a coyote “hunter”. Her identity was confirmed by DNA analysis of her recovered scat, since she evaded all attempts of capture, making her one smart little wolf. I think Echo should have been called Miracle because it certainly was a miracle she managed to traverse the kill zone of the Northern Rockies and make it to the Grandest of all Canyons. She was the first wolf to set paw there in 70 years. Unfortunately she was not able to evade a bullet and so what could have been a new chapter in wolf recovery turned out to be a sad tale of loss. And the loss was huge. Echo defied the odds. She defied the USFWS who repeatedly said, no gray wolves in  Grand Canyon National Park. But Echo made it on her own, she didn’t ask permission, she left her natal pack in Wyoming and went searching for a mate. Her presence in The Canyon was history in the making, just as her male counterpart, OR7, made history by becoming the first wolf  to roam California in 90 years!

The Canyon is amazing wolf habitat, mule deer abound but there was only one problem, Echo was the only gray wolf in the park. What’s a wolf to do?  So she left the park and headed north, retracing her steps on her quest to find a mate, instead she found  a man with a gun.

Echo’s tragic story is not new, it’s been  repeated over and over again, ad nauseam. When wolves disperse out of the Northern Rockies or Great lakes they usually end up dead. How many more times will we hear about wandering wolves shot and killed by “coyote hunters”? There is no way in hell wolves will ever be able to reclaim former habitat if every time they attempt to do so, they’re killed. We could point to Oregon and Washington as success stories, Oregon now has 77 wolves.  Yes, wolves are thriving there, with OR7 as the poster wolf for that success but OR7’s story could have gone a completely different way. He made the right choice and dispersed to western Oregon and south to California, where there’s tolerance for wolves. Unfortunately a few of his siblings OR5 and OR9 took different paths and went east to the killing fields of Idaho, where they met grisly deaths.

Oregon and  Washington wolves have been successful because they’re not hunted YET. But Oregon is already in the planning stages of delisting wolves in the eastern part of the state, since Oregon’s wolf
“management” plan is so weak.

Washington, although they have a better long-term “management” plan of 15 successful breeding pairs over three years,  has not been particularly kind to wolves since they returned to the stateThe Lookout Pack, the first wolves confirmed in Washington state in 70 years were decimated by the White family.  I’m sure everyone remembers the disgusting account of Erin White trying to Fedex a bloody wolf pelt . 

“A FedEx agent declined to take the package after seeing what appeared to be blood leaking from it.

When a local police officer and the shipping-store owner discovered an animal pelt inside, they alerted state fish and wildlife agents. Genetic tests of the pelt later confirmed it was a gray wolf and an apparent member of the Washington state wolf pack.”…SeattleTimes

And we can’t forget the Wedge Pack and Huckleberry Pack debacles. Washington’s Teanaway Pack alpha female was poached in 2014, with a significant reward offered. Other wolves have been poached there as well, so all is not peachy for wolves in the Evergreen State,  even though they remain protected by state law in eastern Washington and retain federal and state protection in western Washington. Additionally the Colville and Spokane Tribes in eastern Washington hold wolf hunts on their reservations. The 2014/2015  Spokane tribe wolf hunt has a 6 wolf quota.

Aside from Washington and Oregon where are the dispersing wolves’ success stories? Can anyone name a single successful breeding pair of wolves outside of the Northern Rockies, Great Lakes or Mexican gray wolf territory, in Arizona and New Mexico?  In Missouri,  3 wolves have been killed in the last 13 years using the “coyote excuse”. In Kentucky, where wolves had been absent for 150 years, a wolf was shot dead because of “mistaken coyote identity”. The same thing in Kansas. And now Echo in Utah.

Obviously the “coyote excuse” is very convenient, even though coyotes and wolves look very different. It’s the equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” If you cop to killing a protected wolf, charges may be brought against you, probably just a slap on the wrist but there’s a possibility of fines or losing a hunting license. Using the “coyote excuse” is a get out of jail free card. This is why wolves are struggling to reclaim former habitat, because they walk around with targets on their backs, with little protection. The USFWS wants to put a final nail in their coffin with a national delisting. US Fish and Wildlife Services can’t protect wolves now when they’re listed as endangered, so how on earth can wolf recovery go forward if all federal protection is stripped from them? The message is clear and not subtle,  wolf recovery must be stopped dead in its tracks.

When Echo died it wasn’t just one wolf dying, which is tragic in itself but her demise closed the door on what could have been a new chapter for wolves in the Southwest. The Grand Canyon is perfect wolf habitat,  plenty of prey, mule deer abound, room to roam. Sadly the one thing missing were other wolves and that sealed Echo’s fate. She left the Canyon or was lured back into Utah, where she met her killer.

The Chairman of Arizona Game and Fish opined that Echo may have been deposited in the Grand Canyon by “radicalized environmental monkey wrenching”. In other words, stealth greenies snatched Echo from the Northern Rockies and plopped her in the North Rim of the Canyon, just to “monkey wrench” the USFWS plan to delist wolves nationally. Ummmmkay. Does this have anything to do with Area 51?

Here’s the article:

Wolf appears during controversy: Coincidence?

Robert Mansell 7:46 p.m. MST December 6, 2014

azcentral.com

There has been a great deal of interest in the wolf observed on the Kaibab Plateau in Northern Arizona. Many herald this as a wonderful event, and for the first time in 70 years, a wild wolf was in northern Arizona.

There are also some who view this as an example of what I have heard referred to as radicalized environmental monkey wrenching. The reality is that placing an animal that has full protection of the Endangered Species Act in a novel area requires agencies to manage a species that arrived to the area with the help of humans and not by natural dispersal.

Although the truth may never be known, I have had numerous folks call me to question how a wild wolf traveled more than 450 miles from the Northern Rockies to Arizona without having been observed somewhere along the way? Why now when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of determining whether or not to delist the gray wolf? Why now when key decisions are being made on the management of the Mexican wolf?

Recently, I got a long look at this animal, and while it looked like a wild wolf, it behaved otherwise.

To be clear, wild animals are known to make wondrous, long-distance movements, and while the arrival of a wolf on the Kaibab Plateau is not impossible, how interesting is it that this happens now when management of wolves in North America is at a critical juncture…..Robert Mansell azcentraldotcom

http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/letters/2014/12/06/grand-canyon-wolf/19962721/

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I can play the speculation, conspiracy game too. What if Echo was lured into Utah? What if the “coyote hunter” knew she was a wolf and shot her anyway? She was a threat after all, a wolf successfully dispersing into new territory? That can’t be allowed now can it? And that must have been a pretty dumb “monkey wrencher” to forget to bring along a male wolf to keep her company.

Echo traveled hundreds of miles, defying the odds, to become the first wolf to set paw in the Grand Canyon since the 1940’s. This remarkable little wolf, just three years old, could have opened a new chapter for wolves reclaiming lost habitat.  She defied the USFWS, who said NO WOLVES IN THE GRAND CANYON! Excuse me if I’m suspicious of Echo’s death. NOTHING connected to wolves is ever straightforward.

RIP Sweet Echo, you were a pioneer for your species, an ambassador, seeking to reclaim the land of your ancestors! May your species continue to follow in your tracks!

“It is nothing short of a tragedy that this wolf’s journey across the west was cut short because she was shot and killed by a coyote hunter (…) This brave and ambitious female gray wolf that made it all the way from Wyoming to the Grand Canyon had already become a symbol of what gray wolf recovery should look like – animals naturally dispersing to find suitable habitat.”….Inquisitrdotcom

Echo Arizona Game and Fish

DNA Confirms Famed Wolf ‘Echo’ Killed By Coyote Hunter In Southern Utah

February 12, 2015

http://www.inquisitr.com/1837494/dna-confirms-famed-wolf-echo-killed-by-coyote-hunter-in-southern-utah/

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Coming next: Part Two

Killing Echo/Killing Wolves: The “Mistaken Identity” Excuse

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Top Photo: Courtesy Echo – NPS

Bottom Photo: Echo – Arizona Game and Fish

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Biodiversity, wolf recovery

Tags: Echo, epic journey, wolf recovery, biodiversity, North Rim Grand Canyon, wolf in the Canyon, senseless death, “coyote excuse”

426 Wolves Wiped Out in 2014 and It’s Not Over…

Wolf Family fanpop

Update: November 21, 2014

443 wolves killed 2014

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 November 18, 2014

blood drip 2

426 wolves have been wiped out since the beginning of 2014. Pups, alphas, whole packs, gone. The majority have been slaughtered in the ongoing  Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin wolf hunts. 17 wolves were killed in Wyoming’s “predator zone” before a federal judge recently relisted them. 3 wolves were killed in Washington state, even though they’re “protected” there. The Huckleberry Pack alpha female was shot by a WDFW sharpshooter from the air, the alpha female of the Teanaway Pack and a female wolf from the Smackout Pack, were both poached.  And I’m not even counting wolves killed by Wildlife Services this year or wolves killed in the 2014 part of the 2013/2014 hunts. That would push the total much higher.

The saddest part of all this are the hunts are far from over. Wildlife Services killings are not over.

This has to stop, we are traveling down that long, dark road of wolf eradication.

Please don’t give up on wolves, be their voice!  Speak out for them, they’re suffering, in the cold, in traps, shot, snared, torn from their families! We must work to end this nightmare! We are their only voice!

For the wolves, For the wild ones,

Nabekiblood drop

Wolf hatred has spread west to Washington State

Teanaway pack wolf after collaring WDFW

And don’t forget WDFW aerial gunned the Huckleberry pack alpha female back in August, so that’s two breeding females killed in Washington state this year, where they are supposed to be federally and state protected. What a disgrace!

Huckleberry Pack Alpha Female Shot Aerially by WDFW Contract Sharpshooter

September 10, 2014

https://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/update-huckleberry-pack-alpha-female-shot-aerially-by-wdfw-contract-sharpshooter/

Exposing the Big Game

From Defenders.org:

Yesterday, we learned that the alpha female of the Teanaway pack was shot and killed, throwing the entire pack’s future into jeopardy. Disturbingly, the killing may have been intentional and a criminal investigation is underway since wolves in Washington State are protected under both state and federal law.

Fear and demonization of wolves is like a virus.

Defenders of Wildlife and our conservation partners are offering a reward for any information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the wolf’s killer.

There are barely 60 known wolves in the entire state of Washington. With the tragic loss of the alpha female, the fate of the Teanaway pack is now uncertain. This is a major blow to wolf recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

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Published in: on November 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm  Comments (24)  

Why It’s Bad To Be A Wolf in Northeastern Washington

howlingwolfkewlwallpaersdotcom-1

 by Anonymous for Wolves
October 26, 2014
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For a time, I lived in an old log cabin on 146 acres in Northwest Montana, a stone’s throw from a collared wolf pack, and I listened to their haunting howls during the morning’s wee hours.

Following Montana, I lived in the Methow Valley (on the east slopes of Washington’s North Cascade mountains), fifteen crow miles from the Lookout wolf pack, the pack that the White family all but destroyed. The White’s had lost no livestock to wolves while they attempted to ship bloody wolf pelts to Canada, emailing boasts and images of the dead wolves to friends.

 I spoke up for the Wedge Pack in Olympia (WA’s capitol), after seven members of the pack were shot from a helicopter by Wildlife Services in 2012, all to protect irresponsibly ranged cows grazing on terrain unsuitable to livestock. Lethal removal of the Wedge, said WDFW director Phil Anderson, would hit a re-set button with ranchers so that the action would not need to be repeated. I was at the meeting when he spoke these words and they were indeed in this context.

I now live a handful of miles from the Canadian border, on the west slopes of the North Cascades and I will tell you there are wolves here, dispersers and with packs on the horizon. I saw my first wolf fourteen years ago in this greater Kulshan area, and my second wolf nine years ago in a canyon above the Methow Valley.

On Tuesday, October seventh, I attended the WDFW wolf meeting in Colville, Stevens County, in northeastern Washington. I sat quietly and observed during the meeting, taking notes and quotes, as well as images with my camera. The crowd in attendance was filled mainly with ranchers and with those opposing wolf recovery. It was a lynch mob scene! WDFW allowed the crowd to call out mean-spirited comments to those few who spoke in support of wolves (this was ranching country, after all). WDFW allowed those speaking against wolves to talk well in excess of their allotted three minutes, permitting speakers to talk back to the WDFW panel and refuse to sit down and shut up when asked. Rancher Len McIrvine refused to stop talking well after using his and other’s time allotments, and the crowd cheered. The department allowed this behavior.

WDFW allowed the crowd to stand and cheer loudly when there was talk of wolves having been killed: the Ruby creek female hit by a car and the Huckleberry female flushed out of dense forest (forest unsuitable for grazing) and shot from a helicopter by Wildlife Services.

I acquired the necropsy report for the Huckleberry female and interviewed the department’s veterinarian who had performed the necropsy and had written the report. It is notable that the Huckleberry pack female’s stomach was empty when she was shot dead. She had not eaten for close to two days. She certainly hadn’t been eating the rancher Dashiell’s sheep, and so the non-lethal tactics and helicopter hazing had worked. And yet a wolf needed to die.

 The Colville crowd called for three more Huckleberry wolves to die, and better yet the whole pack! They demanded a total of at least four dead wolves, although the department had said they would shoot “up to four wolves” never guaranteeing they would shoot four wolves total. The WDFW panel just sat and listened to the calls for more dead wolves, nodding their heads and looking sympathetic, never making this correction to the ranchers’ demands for more wolf blood to be spilled.

The department’s initial statement regarding the aerial assault on the Huckleberry pack is that they would only shoot if there were multiple animals under the helicopter as a means of size comparison so that they would only take out pups and two year-old wolves. They would not target black, adult wolves as the collared male is black (they use the collars for tracking purposes, of course). Later the department’s directive was amended (changed and twisted) and it was stated they would remove any wolf (or wolves) but for the collared male.

When the Huckleberry female was shot, she was the sole animal under the under helicopter and weighed close to 70 pounds while alive (reports of 65 and 66 lbs were post-mortem, although WDFW never made this clear). Said the department’s carnivore specialist Donny Moratello, “We were certainly disappointed in this outcome but, there was no way to sort from the air in this circumstance.” When I asked him why take the risk of shooting the wrong wolf if there is no means of comparison, he replied, “You know going into it you get what you get. We did not have the opportunity to sort in this case.” As well as saying, “To not shoot (a wolf) they would have not been complying with the directive at that point, they would not be following orders.”

So, you get what you get. The helicopter had been up on multiple occasions over a number of days, unable to spot animals due to the visibility limits of the dense terrain, terrain unsuitable for healthy and responsible ranching and in which the sheep were being grazed. Simply, the lethal endeavor was becoming too expensive, so they flushed out a single black, adult sized wolf and shot. Blam! They shot the breeding female whose pups at the time were only a little over 4 months old and unable to hunt on their own. The department’s reports to this day say the pups were almost full grown but, this is grossly inaccurate as per their own veterinarian.

It is also important to note from WDFW’s own reports and slide presentation, that most of the wolf activity and depredations fell outside of Dashiell’s grazing allotment. Dashiell had not had a working range rider for close to thirty days; during the onset and well into the confirmed depredation activity. He had merely two working guard dogs which, is insufficient for the size of the herd (1800) and sprawling, densely forested terrain. Two more guard dogs and additional human presence were added around the period of the Huckleberry kill order, but it was too little too late. Wolves needed to die.

Additionally, rancher Dashiell had not been removing sheep carcasses including well before the confirmed depredations, as evidenced by the carcass’ level of decomposition and thus, the inability to determine cause of death.

Northeastern Washington commissioners spoke in support of the ranchers and the call for dead wolves, speaking to taking matters of wolf control in their own hands. There was talk of shooting, trapping and most of all, poisoning the wolves. In a Seattle Times article Rancher Len McIrvine is quoted as saying, “Our ancestors knew what had to happen — you get poison and you kill the wolves.”

The quad-county commissioners grandstanded and played to the lynch mob. Jim DeTro, Okanogan County commissioner opened his speech with, “Welcome to Okanogan County where you can now drink a Bud’, smoke a bud and marry your bud.” He said this with obvious disdain and the crowd laughed loudly. He said, “People in my county have decided to not shoot, shovel and shut up, but to be totally silent.” He said this as a wink and nod to poisoning wolves while the department panel sat there silently, nodding their heads up and down and looking sympathetic.

I tell you, when a wolf is killed illegally and poisoned, WDFW is guilty of complicity y by not speaking out against these illegal acts and by nodding their heads up and down in agreement.

DeTro continued on that people in his county don’t want the agency to know when they’ve seen a wolf or experienced (alleged) wolf depredation. They want, he said, to take matters in their own hands. DeTro then said smiling proudly, “Olympia, you have a problem.”

Mike Blankenship, Ferry County commissioner, stood there and encouraged people to take matters in their own hands, as well. All the while, WDFW just sat there nodding their heads, looking sympathetic and remaining silent. More complicity!

A local sheriff said, “Wolves are messy eaters, scattering a cow from hell to breakfast,” and making other inflammatory statements about wolves to the again cheering crowd. He said he was “pissed” that only one Huckleberry pack member had been killed.

One rancher cried out angrily, “Wolves kill to eat!” I was curious then, as to what he had done to his livestock before they ended up in the grocer’s meat section, if his livestock were not also killed to be eaten.

At the end of the meeting, WDFW director Phil Anderson acted very cozy and familiar with the ranchers, in spite of them having raked him mercilessly over the coals for not killing more wolves.

He looked sympathetic and referred to them by name, and recalled riding around in their trucks with them. Anderson said he would plan a closed meeting with the area ranchers to discuss wolf issues and management. I demand that NO meeting in relation to Washington wolves be closed.

Two final points:

-In the case of the Huckleberry pack, the department did not adequately implement the state’s wolf management plan, nor did they adhere to their own published procedures, before lethal removal took place. This negligence WILL NOT be repeated.

-We demand full documentation of every wolf mortality, and that given the threats to use poisons, we expect that toxicology reports be made public as part of any necropsy, where cause of death has not otherwise been determined. If wolves are poisoned, WDFW will be held guilty of complicity due to their behavior in Colville; supporting poisoning by remaining silent and nodding their heads up and down.

While I sat silently during the Colville meeting, a rancher two rows back passed me a piece of paper on which he had scrawled, “Wolf Lover!” When I looked back at him he scowled at me severely. I wrote in reply on the note, “So?” along with a happy face, and passed it back to him. I’ll take his accusation as a compliment.

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Photo: Courtesy kewlwallpapersdotcom

Posted in: Washington wolves, Wolf Wars, gray wolf

Tags: anonymous for wolves, Huckleberry pack, WDFW, killing wolves, Northeastern Washington, ranchers, Huckleberry Pack alpha female

Don’t Silence The Howl!

Lookout Pack yearling 2008 WDFW

Don’t Silence the Howl!

from Anonymous for Wolves


So quickly we forget. Joe Public, the press, politicians, you and me, we appear to tire of being reminded that the problem remains, that the system is broken, that something needs to be done NOW. We become monkeys sitting comfortably on our asses, our eyes tightly shut, our fingers in our ears and our mouths so filled with food that we cannot speak.

Newspaper editors tell me that there has been enough in print lately about the Washington State wolves and that there is currently little interest in updates or fact checks.

Allow me then to remind you that wolves are being killed every day, killed and tortured by poachers, ranchers, hunters, trappers, sociopaths, and by your very own state and federal governments. Wolves are dying at the hands of state and federal agencies to “protect” irresponsibly ranged livestock and you are paying dearly for this service. You pay with your tax dollars and maybe you even pay with a heavy heart. The wolves are paying with their lives.

Between poaching, tribal takes and government issued kill orders, nowhere else in the Lower 48 is there a more dangerous place for a wolf than in the Northeast corner of Washington State. And the director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Phil Anderson, has been doing his darndest to make this so, first with the death sentence carried out in September 2012 on eight members of the Wedge pack, and now, not even two years later calling for an aerial assault on the Huckleberry pack. Both packs were located in northeastern Washington, Stevens County, with members killed to pacify irresponsible ranchers busily crying wolf.

The Wedge pack was accused of attacking and eating McIrvine cows, yet necropsy reports from the dead wolves found that no, they had not been ingesting cows. At the time, WDFW’s carnivore specialist Dave Ware told a local news station that agreements with ranchers were subsequently being put into place (new best practices for non-lethal aversion tactics) for the following year to, “avoid a repeat of the Wedge Pack situation.” While Anderson had said that killing the Wedge would “hit a re-set button” between ranchers and wolf management.

McIrvine, the rancher on who’s cows the Wedge had allegedly been snacking, was quoted as saying that he believed groups with “a radical environmental agenda” were conspiring to introduce gray wolves in order “to take our (grazing) lease from us”; a lease which allows him to range livestock in terrain unsuitable for responsible ranching and for pennies an animal. Welcome to crazy town! Gray wolves have been returning to the Northern Rocky States from Canada naturally, yes, of their very own accord, without the aid of any radical environmentalists.

Are you curious of the bill from Wildlife Services for the aerially gunning of the Wedge? $76,500.00 that could have bought a lot of McIrvine cows!

Said another of WDFW’s carnivore specialists recently, “Wolves are recovering (in the Northern Rocky States) at a phenomenal rate, a rate unheard of in wildlife. This growth rate is unprecedented and to experience the return of an apex predator in our lifetime is exciting.” But are wolves retuning so that they can again be systematically and inhumanely eradicated, as they were almost seventy years ago?

Details from the recent aerial gunning of the Huckleberry pack’s breeding female were slow to come. WDFW’s initial goal was to gun from a helicopter, again using USDA approved Wildlife Services, up to four members of the pack thereby reducing their numbers and lowering the pack’s food requirements. This could also, they hoped, break the offending male’s cycle of sheep depredation.

Dashiell’s sheep, for which this wolf had been found to have acquired a taste, were being irresponsibly ranged on a rugged and sprawling timber company allotment for mere pennies per. Allow unprotected sheep to run around in the woods in known wolf country… what else would one expect? Wolves find sheep to be delicious and easy prey.

But the rancher and again WDFW cried wolf, saying that there had been in place an active range rider with guard dogs on the scene and that neither had been an effective means of deterrence. It later surfaced that Dashiell’s range rider had quit over a month prior to the incidents and that the added protection of range riders had not occurred until August 20th (the Huckleberry wolf was shot on the 23rd). Frequent nocturnal human presence was also added but not until after the kill order was already in place.

It was simply a matter of far too little, far too late.

The Wildlife Services sharpshooter went up in the chopper over a three-day period, experiencing poor visibility conditions and unable to spot wolves for the first two days. On the third day the shooter finally spotted a lone, black wolf under the craft and shot her dead. BLAM! It was day three of a very expensive undertaking and a wolf needed to die.

Prior to shooting the lone, black, nearly 70 pound wolf (reports of 66lbs were the results of post-mortem weighing) WDFW made statements that they did not wish to shoot the breeding pair nor the collared male. To this end WDFW vowed to only shoot when multiple wolves were under the chopper to use for size comparison and to not shoot black wolves as the collared male is black. They would shoot smaller wolves: two-year olds and pups. And while the breeding female was not a monster in size, 70 pounds is not small especially if you have other wolves spotted for size comparison.

But in the end, the only instructions from WDFW to the sharpshooter were that if the opportunity to sort existed, to try and not remove the collared male. “You know going into it you get what you get,” said the guy I talked to from WDFW.

It took me weeks and numerous phone calls to several WDFW contacts to find out what had been the color of the breeding female. In an earlier interview, Ware (WDFW) had told me he thought she was gray, not white or black, but your standard gray. The others I spoke with knew her weight but not her color. I finally got a hold of the report from the wildlife veterinarian who conducted the necropsy on the dead wolf for WDFW.

The vet confirmed that the pups would have been about four months old at the time of her death, weighing about forty pounds: far from almost full grown as I had been told earlier by WDFW, and far smaller than their almost 70 pound mother if one wished to use them for size comparison.

When asked, the vet said that the breeding female had been shot through the chest and had likely “bled out quickly.” She had been shot with buckshot which is bigger than bb sized pellets and scatters like shotgun powder.

Her postmortem condition was “Poor” because she had been frozen, taking two days to thaw with the first tissues to thaw beginning to rot early on (the vet had been out of area at the time of the killing and so freezing the breeding female’s body had become necessary).

Her stomach was empty -EMPTY- at the time of her death; she hadn’t eaten in 24-48 hours, not sheep, not anything. Had she ever eaten sheep? Truly, we will never know. It is obvious, however, that the non-lethal aversion activity and maybe even the noise of the chopper’s flights, was working days before she was shot; apparently this was so disruptive she stopped eating all together. But again, a wolf needed to die …

Wildlife Services were out in Washington again recently, this time killing coyotes on Vashon Island, coyotes who had also discovered that sheep are delicious and easy prey. Sheep that had been shipped up from Oregon to the Island for the Vashon Sheepdog Classic. Sheep grazing in an unfenced field and ironically enough, without the protection of guard dogs. The dead sheep were not removed and the coyotes came back for those the very next day. No surprise!

And now three coyote’s howls have been silenced forever.

Do not forget and do not remain silent. Do not become accustomed to images of dead wolves as some Conservation Nothing organizations would prefer of you. Do not sit idly by while heartless humans and greedy, weak government officials cry “off with their heads” to apex predators or to any wildlife.

Take action! Make noise! Never compromise! Do not let Them silence the howl!

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Photo: Courtesy WDFW Lookout Pack yearling 2008

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Washington Wolves, gray wolf

Tags: Don’t Silence the Howl, WDFW, Huckleberry Pack

Gray Wolves in the Crosshairs

Mt_Emily_male_wolf_brown_odfw

Mt. Emily male wolf/odfw

September 9, 2014

Howling for Justice turns five on September 16 and “Gray Wolves In The Crosshairs” was my first post.

It’s hard to believe all that’s happened  to wolves in the past  five years, much of it bad. We had such high hopes of prevailing in the courts, because we were winning! After the initial delisting in the Spring of 2009 and sadly losing 500 wolves the first year, Judge Molloy relisted wolves on August 5, 2010. But the victory was short-lived, the anti-wolf forces knew they were losing so they turned to Congress to trump the ESA and delist wolves. And Congress listened.  In the Spring of 2011 the US Senate  betrayed wolves. Apparently they valued holding onto their Senate majority more than the lives of wolves. The wolf delisting rider, attached to a must pass budget bill, will forever live in infamy as a part of each Senator’s legacy who voted yes.

For the next few days I’ll be revisiting my earlier posts, written in 2009, to take us back five years and help us remember what a hard-fought battle we’ve waged for wolves.  Just remember, wolf blood continues to flow, as another year of hunting wolves spans six states. Even wolves who remain “protected” are not safe, as the accidentally/on purpose killing of  Washington’s  Huckleberry Pack alpha female clearly shows.  That’s why we cannot stop fighting for wolves!

For the wolves, For the wild ones,

Nabeki

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Gray Wolves In The Crosshairs

gray wolf in snow wallpaper

September 16, 2009

The gray wolf stands at a crossroads in the lower 48.  Stripped of their Endangered Species status by the Obama administration, they are left unprotected from the guns in Montana and Idaho. The first federally sanctioned wolf hunts in the Continental US are taking place as I write this.  Thanks Ken Salazar for allowing the de-listing of wolves to stand.  I thought a Democratic administration would be different, apparently it’s business as usual in wolf country.

Idaho’s hunt started on September 1st, with a quota of 220 wolves from a population of 875.  That’s one-fourth of Idaho’s wolves.  Montana’s hunt began Sept 15, 75 wolves are slated for execution. How did it come to this?

The purpose of this blog is to explore that question and try to understand why this magnificent apex predator is so misunderstood and hated, merely because they exist. I welcome your comments and opinions wolf lovers.

Meanwhile a federal judge in Missoula, Montana holds the fate of gray wolves in his hands. Thirteen environmental groups filed a lawsuit opposing the de-listing and asked Judge Molloy to grant an injunction to stop the wolf hunts, while the lawsuit was pending.

The judge issued a partial ruling on September 8th denying the injunction to stop the hunts but stated the plaintiffs opposing the de-listing were likely to prevail on the merits of the case. Small comfort for the wolf as it’s being hunted. Male, female wolves and pups of the year can be taken. Yes, apparently it’s OK to hunt PUPPIES!!

The war against wolves continues unabated.

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Photo: wolf wallpaper

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Howling for Justice

Tags: gray wolf/canis lupus, Montana wolves, Idaho wolves, wolf intolerance, wolf myths

It’s Official: Wolves Are Protected In California!

OR7

OR7  – dual citizen of California and Oregon (:

October 9, 2014

Even though, officially, there are no known gray wolves in California, the state extended endangered species protection to canis lupus today. This is critically important, since the USFWS plans to rubber stamp a national wolf delisting plan, removing all federal protections for wolves in the lower 48. Without state protections, wolves across the country will face tremendous risk.

Gray wolves are subjected to persecution in Montana, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, even Washington and Oregon, where they remain listed. Wyoming wolves, until recently, could be shot on sight in 80% of the state. Last week, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson,  placed Wyoming wolves  back on the Endangered Species List. Her ruling was the result of a lawsuit challenging the state’s faulty “wolf management” plan, specifically the predator zone, where wolves could be killed by any means, 365 days of the year, seven days a week. Mexican gray wolves face an uphill battle on a daily basis, as their tiny, inbred numbers struggle to survive, surrounded by thousands of cattle in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery area and hostile ranchers.

Now that wolves are protected in California they can safely disperse from other states, as the iconic Oregon wolf OR7 did ( so named because he was the seventh wolf to be collared in Oregon.) OR7 made history when he set paws on California soil in December 2011, the first wolf to officially do so since the 1920’s, when canis lupus was eradicated from the Golden State, almost ninety years ago.

OR7 dispersed from the Imnahas, his natal pack in Eastern Oregon. OR7’s mother is famous in her own right. Swimming the Snake River from Idaho into Oregon in 2008, B-300 and her mate became Oregon’s first breeding pair in almost sixty years. Her son went on to become even more famous and provided the impetus for the protection of gray wolves in California.

OR7’s Mother B-300 (Sophie) making her way into NE Oregon 2008

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ODFW caught the ten member Imnaha wolf pack walking single file through the eastern Oregon woods with at least six pups!! Leading the pack is alpha female B-300. OR7 was born in April  2009, so he’s somewhere in this video. Where’s Waldo? 

OR7 logged thousands of miles on his tracking collar, as he searched for a mate. His arrival in California set off an international sensation. OR7, also known as Journey, moved back and forth between California and Oregon, before finding a mate and settling down in Oregon, now with pups in tow.  If it wasn’t for this amazing wolf it’s unlikely wolves would now be protected in California. It was OR7’s presence in a state long devoid of two of its top predators, the grizzly bear and wolf, that sparked the conversation leading to California’s  decision to right the wrong of almost a century ago. Thank you California. Now lets work on returning your state animal, the grizzly bear, to its native home.

OR7 Pup

One of OR7’s Pups ( ODFW 2014)

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California Fish and Game Commission ratifies gray wolf findings

The California Fish and Game Commission held a meeting in Mount Shasta on Wednesday, drawing a crowd for its decision to ratify findings supporting the listing of the gray wolf as an endangered species in California.

By David Smith
@SDNDavidSmith
Posted Oct. 9, 2014 @ 9:57 am

http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/article/20141009/NEWS/141009745/-1/news

Alpha male Imnaha pack

Alpha male Imnaha Pack 2011

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Top Photo: Courtesy Wiki

Middle Photo: Courtesy ODFW

Bottom Photo: Courtesy ODFW

Top Video: Courtesy YouTube ORWild

Bottom Video: Courtesy YouTube ODFW

Posted in: Wolf Wars, California wolves

Tags: California wolves, Oregon wolves, OR7, B-300, Imnaha pack, California Fish and Wildlife, California lists gray wolves, ODFW

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