Remembering Limpy: The Life and Death of Wolf 253

Limpy

Limpy – Wolf 253/Steve Justad

March 16, 2015

On March 28, 2008, almost seven years ago, a cherished Druid Peak pack wolf,  nick-named Limpy, was shot dead outside Daniel,Wyoming.  It happened on the day wolves, in the Northern Rockies, lost their ESA protections for the first time by the then Bush Administration. 

“He died for nothing”  said Lake City resident Marlene Foard.  A senseless death for a beloved wolf.

RIP Limpy – we remember and miss you!

Here is Limpy’s story told  by the Trib.com.

 ===

The life and death of wolf 253

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:00 am  Trib.com

FRANZ CAMENZIND

A wolf died the other day in Wyoming. Along with three others, it was shot and killed on the first day that wolves in most of the state lost the protection of the Endangered Species Act. These were legal kills made by people simply because they could. Nothing more was required of them but to report the kills to state officials – no license, no fees, no restrictions.

For sportsmen, one of the proudly held rules is: “Know Your Target.” What did these hunters know about their targets?

One of the four dead wolves was a female that may have been pregnant. Two of the males were unknown and will be remembered simply as body count numbers in the West’s war on wolves. But one wolf has a history known to many throughout the region. To some he was “Limpy,” to others he was “The Wanderer.” Officially, he was 253M, the 253rd wolf to be radio-collared in the Greater Yellowstone area since wolves were reintroduced in the mid-90s.

253M was born in April 2000 into the Druid Peak Pack, whose territory encompasses Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley. His father was likely 21M, a leader of renown and a story unto himself. 21M was one of the first generation of wolves born in Yellowstone in more than 60 years.

253M was black, as are nearly half of Yellowstone’s wolves. Before he was two, he was injured defending his territory from intruders from a nearby pack. Although the Druids held their territory, 253M’s left hind leg was injured, causing a life-long limp distinguishing him from other wolves.

In the fall of 2002, he left his home territory, typical behavior for wolves of that age. Later that fall, on Nov. 30, 253M was accidentally caught in a trap set for coyotes about 20 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, making him the first confirmed wolf in Utah in more than 70 years. Tracks around the site suggested that he was traveling with another wolf – perhaps they were a pair exploring for a place to begin a new life.

253M was taken back to Wyoming and released three days later by a federal biologist south of Yellowstone Park. He made his way back to the Druid Pack before Christmas, surprising the “experts,” who thought he would immediately head back south.

This second time around, he remained with the Druids for nearly two years and rose to the level of second-ranking male – subordinate only to the now-famous, but aging, 21M. In the summer of 2004, 21M died, and most observers thought that 253M would take over as leader of the Druids. But again, he managed to fool the experts and waged only a minor battle with “New Black,” as the victor and new Druid leader came to be known.

Immediately after New Black assumed his alpha status, 253M broke from the pack and began wandering about Yellowstone, mostly undetected, only to unexpectedly appear on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole – 90 miles south of his birthplace – alone, but looking healthy.

It was in early 2005 that 253M may have fathered his only offspring. He was observed with another male and female, and 5 pups, forming the new Flat Creek Pack. But within a year, 253M again headed south, and the Flat Creek Pack dissolved. The cause of the sudden disintegration of this new pack will never be known. Was 253M simply living up to one of his names, The Wanderer?

Meanwhile, the Daniel Pack, which roamed across a mix of ranching and wild lands 60 miles southeast of Jackson, was implicated in cattle depredations and thus under constant surveillance and control. Sometime in the next year or so, 253M found his way into this persecuted pack.

During his eight years of travel across thousands of miles and at least two states, 253M was never accused of any destruction of human property. He was a “good wolf” – one who adapted to his human-dominated world. The kind of wolf we should be able to live with.

But on the morning of March 28, his luck ran out. Not because of anything he did, but because of what a minority of people in Wyoming wanted – to take all protection off wolves in 88 percent of the state, where anyone can now kill any wolf by any means at any time. 253M and three others were killed for nothing more than being wolves in Wyoming’s politically designated predator zone.

253M and other wolves are now dead in Wyoming because some don’t want wolves in the Equality State.

Now we “Know The Target.” What have we learned?

Franz Camenzind is executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

http://trib.com/editorial/forum/article_124999b7-cf79-5ce6-bb05-48213d55554b.html

===

Click the video to watch on YouTube

August 16, 2011

This video is a treasure I found by chance, a beautiful narration by Brian Connolly of the life and death of wolf 253M. It is so moving you will be brought to tears.

Limpy was the inspiration for this blog.  He was the perfect wolf in my mind’s eye, a member of the iconic Druid Peak Pack, who once ruled Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.

Brian, I don’t know you but thanks  for your beautiful ode to Limpy, who gave pleasure to so many. A wolf, who over came the adversity of injury but was killed for nothing in the name of blood sport.

Rest in peace dear, dear wolf 253M

Limpy- steve justad 2006

For the wolves, For Limpy,

Nabeki

Howling For Justice is dedicated to wolf 253.

===

Beloved ‘Wolf 253′ killed in Wyoming

Limpy KSL dot com Utah

April 2, 2008

John Hollenhorst reporting

One of the nation’s most famous and beloved wolves has been killed. Someone in Wyoming shot him, along with two other wolves, apparently the very day the Bush Administration lifted legal protections.

READ MORE:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=2994073

===

Top Photos: Courtesy Steve Justad

Bottom Photo: Courtesy KSLdotcomUtah

Video:  Courtesy YouTube Brian Connolly

Posted in: wolf 253,  Endangered Species Act,  Wolf wars

Tags: Endangered Species Act, wolf intolerance, blood lust, Limpy, Wolf 253, Druid Peak Pack, RIP Limpy, KSLdotcomUtah, Brian Connolly, Trib.com

Wolves In North America Losing Their Genetic Diversity….

NatureColdWarriors_3wolves

February 7, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

===

New Scientist

Wolves’ genetic diversity worryingly low

 by Gaia Vince

18:41 26 November 2004

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

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

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

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

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

Bears and lions

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

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

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

Isolated pockets

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

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

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

===

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

Testimony Concerning The Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan – 2008

 Idaho Fish & Game Open House

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, December 12, 2007

 Genetic Problems in Small Populations of Idaho Wolves

 Ken Fischman, Ph.D.

Sandpoint, Idaho 83864

 Ladies/Gentlemen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you for your time and attention.

====

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

Bone Deformities Linked To Inbreeding In Isle Royale Wolves

Science Daily

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

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

===

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

====

Photo: Courtesy Nature Cold Warriors

Posted in: Wolf Wars, biodiversity

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

Environmental Groups To Sue USFWS Over Wyoming Wolf Delisting, “Shoot-On-Sight” Plan

Limpy (photo Courtesy Steve Justad)

September 11, 2012

It was not unexpected but very welcome. Two coalitions of environmental groups put the USFWS on notice Monday they intend to sue over the delisting of gray wolves in Wyoming. Once wolves are delisted, as of October 1, 2012, they can be used for target practice in most of the state. Any method of killing is allowed, which means terrible pain and suffering for wolves in Wyoming. Wolf haters can run wild, anything a twisted mind can come up with. This comes at a time when Yellowstone wolves are being decimated by mange and other disease. Mange wrote the obituary for the famed Druid Peak Pack, who were so revered and loved by wildlife watchers around the world.

Is Yellowstone treating  wolves with Ivermectin,  which is effective against the infestation?  The famous African film makers and big cat advocates, the Jouberts, darted a mange infected wild leopard family they were studying with Ivermectin and in a few weeks the leopards were once again thriving.  They decided to act because another leopard they were filming fell to the mange mite and they couldn’t watch the  painful saga play out again but I digress.

My biggest worry concerning the lawsuit is securing an injunction to stop the killing before it starts. If the lawsuit proceeds and wolves remain unprotected, Wyoming’s fragile wolf population could suffer major losses even if the lawsuit is successful and wolves are relisted.

The means test for granting an injunction center on two questions the judge will weigh.

1. Will there be irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted?

Certainly the answer to this question has to be yes. Uncontrolled killing of wolves in most of the state could do terrible damage to Wyoming’s fragile wolf population in just a few months. In 2008 the famous Druid wolf Limpy was shot and killed in Daniel, Wyoming when the then Bush administration briefly lifted ESA protections for wolves.  Limpy died for nothing. His death broke hearts, he was a wolf who overcame so much, yet his life was snuffed out for blood sport. Think of what could happen to hundreds of Limpys if Wyoming has its way.

2. Do the plaintiffs have a good chance of winning the lawsuit?

It’s very obvious the Wyoming wolf plan is driven by politics and not science. It was reported last week that many of Wyoming’s elk herds have grown so large extra permits will be available to hunters  this season. One of the big lies about wolves is they are decimating elk herds in Wyoming,  when clearly this is BS. I think the plaintiffs have a very good chance of winning. Let’s hope the judge sees it that way.

===

Environmental groups to sue over Wyoming wolf delisting 

 Associated Press

September 10, 2012

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Two coalitions of environmental groups filed notice Monday that they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency’s decision to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming.

The groups oppose the state of Wyoming’s classification of wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in more than 80 percent of state when federal protections end Oct. 1. Wyoming also has scheduled a regulated trophy wolf hunt in the remainder of the state, an area around the eastern and southern borders of Yellowstone National Park, starting next month.

The environmental groups emphasize that Wyoming’s current wolf management plan is similar to an earlier version that the federal agency repudiated after initially accepting it a few years ago. They claim the federal government is stopping wolf management for political reasons, not because the current plan is any better than the last one.

READ MORE: (From the Missoulian)

 http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/environmental-groups-to-sue-over-wyoming-wolf-delisting/article_e88904d4-fb5d-11e1-998b-0019bb2963f4.html?comment_form=true

===

Yellowstone Wolves Hit by Disease

Live Science

Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 10 September 2012 Time: 11:23 AM ET

Less than two decades after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, viral diseases like mange threaten the stability of the new population.

Humans had killed off gray wolves in the region by the 1930s, but in 1995, U.S. wildlife officials tried to restore the native population by bringing 31 wolves captured from Canada into the national park.

The new wolf community initially expanded rapidly, climbing to more than 170 at its peak. But researchers from Penn State University say that the most recent data show the number of animals has dipped below 100.

“We’re down to extremely low levels of wolves right now,” researcher Emily S. Almberg, a graduate student in ecology, said in a statement. “We’re down to [similar numbers as] the early years of reintroduction. So it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as large and as a stable a population as was maybe initially thought.”

 READ MORE: (From Live Science)

http://www.livescience.com/23048-yellowstone-wolves-hit-by-disease.html

===

Photos: Courtesy Steve Justad 2008

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Wyoming wolves, Activism

Tags: Environmental groups sue, Wyoming wolves under fire, Limpy, Druid Peak Pack,  USFWS,  Yellowstone National Park, mange mite, Yellowstone wolves hit by disease

Wolves In North America Losing Their Genetic Diversity….

NatureColdWarriors_3wolves

September 19, 2014

I thought this was worth reposting, in light of the increasing wolf slaughter without seeming end.

===

February 7, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

===

New Scientist

Wolves’ genetic diversity worryingly low

 by Gaia Vince

18:41 26 November 2004

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

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

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

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

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

Bears and lions

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

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

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

Isolated pockets

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

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

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

===

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

Testimony Concerning The Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan – 2008

 Idaho Fish & Game Open House

Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, December 12, 2007

 Genetic Problems in Small Populations of Idaho Wolves

 Ken Fischman, Ph.D.

Sandpoint, Idaho 83864

 Ladies/Gentlemen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you for your time and attention.

====

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

Bone Deformities Linked To Inbreeding In Isle Royale Wolves

Science Daily

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

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

===

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

====

Photo: Courtesy Nature Cold Warriors

Posted in: Wolf Wars, biodiversity

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

Killing Wolves For Fun And The War On Wolves….

~~~
As 2011 draws to a close I’ll be revisiting a few of my early posts from 2009, when the first wolf hunts were taking place in Montana and Idaho, after the Obama administration delisted them in the Spring of that year. This was the first time wolves were hunted in the lower 48 since the last wolves were wiped out in the 1940′s.

Since 2009 the state sponsored  hunts have gotten bolder and more brutal,  with the inclusion of traps and snares, even bringing Alaskan trappers to kill wolves in Idaho’s Lolo and Selway zones, with the addition of aerial gunning.  All to harass and kill wolves who’ve done nothing wrong except try to exist.

In 2009,  wolf advocates were awaiting Judge Molloy’s decision, would he relist wolves?  The ruling came  in August 2010. Wolves were relisted in the Northern Rockies!! But the victory was short-lived.  Thanks to Jon Tester D-MT,  who inserted a wolf delisting rider into the Senate budget bill, wolves were delisted  and the bill was signed into law by President Obama. Wolves are now paying with their lives for that betrayal.

===

Killing Wolves For Fun & The War On Wolves

November 9, 2009

yellowstone wolf runnintg

Wolves have been accused of it but the predator with the reputation for killing for sport isn’t the wolf, it’s man.

I’ve often asked myself why people trophy hunt, this is especially relevant since wolves are firmly in the cross fire, with ongoing wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho.

Wolves aren’t being hunted for food. Hunters are making a personal decision to go out and kill a wolf just because it’s there.

Over 26,000 wolf tags were sold in Idaho alone to kill 220 wolves and Montana sold thousands to kill 75 wolves.  A little over kill, don’t ya think?  Add to that the hatred some people feel for wolves, it makes for an even scarier and mean-spirited climate.

alaskan wolf shot by aerial gunner

Alaskan wolf shot by aerial gunner

Even before the wolf hunts began the air was charged with anti-wolf bias. The governors of Montana and Idaho inserted themselves into the negative wolf rhetoric.  Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana made a questionable statement about federal Judge Molloy, who is presiding over a lawsuit brought by environmental groups to reverse the recent wolf delisting.  The plaintiffs were asking for an injunction, to stop the wolf hunts, while the merits of the case were being decided.  Governor Schweitzer stated: ”If some old judge says we can’t (hunt wolves), we’ll take it back to another judge.”  That was a totally indefensible remark for the Gov to make. Gov “Butch” Otter of Idaho went one better. Back in 2007, before wolves were even delisted, he stated in front of a rally of camouflage wearing hunters, he was prepared to manage the wolf population down to just 100 animals. He went even further stating “. “I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.”

Should the executive officers of Montana and Idaho, use the wolf as a political football by posturing to ranching and hunting interests?  What chance does the wolf have to be treated fairly when the governors  make those kinds of statements?

The “management” or killing of wolves is sanctioned by the states of Montana and Idaho but exactly who is this benefiting?  Certainly not over the ninety percent of the non-hunting public.  Wolves and other predators are being “managed” for the benefit of a few interest groups, mainly elk hunters, ranchers and outfitters. The rest of us, who want to view wildlife in their natural state, which means “not dead”, don’t seem to count.  Our wildlife is being slaughtered for the benefit of a few. That is inherently wrong but it continues because hunting and ranching interests have powerful lobbies that seek to influence policy and it works! Unless and until the politics of the usual are replaced with the policies of change, America’s predators will suffer.

hayden pack wolves

wolf photo: SigmaEye Flicker

Montana and Idaho have decided which wildlife they consider important and which are disposable.  Predator management is just a euphemism for killing them.  Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on tracking, collaring and lethally controlling predators and other wildlife by cruel means, IE, poisoning with 1080 compound, M44s, denning and trapping.  Most of the killing is done by Wildlife Services, which is an arm of the USDA.  The lethal control of wolves is not supported by the majority of Americans but we have little input in the decision-making process. Why does the non-hunting consumer have so little influence on  how our wildlife is managed?

Although predators control ungulate populations, the states aren’t comfortable with that because they cater to the hunting and ranching lobbies, who bring millions into state coffers. This creates a conflict of interest.  Wolves compete with hunters for the same prey.  The budget of state game agencies depend on hunter licensing fees.  Is it any wonder we are having wolf hunts and wolf “management”?

As soon as predators, like the wolf, start to increase in number, the call rings out for them to be managed.   “In 2008, wolves are known to have killed fewer than 200 cattle and sheep in Montana, and 100 wolves were hunted down in response.” 

How can anyone defend that kind ”managment”? Yet Montana and Idaho contend their wildlife management practices are grounded in science.  I would like to see the science that backs wiping out 100 wolves for the death of 200 livestock?

In January 2008, before the current delisting took place, FWP issued new revised rules concerning the “management” of  gray wolves, who had been reintroduced to Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone in 1995-96.  The new rules state the feds and tribes can kill more wolves if they become a “threat” to game animals and private property.  So once again FWP is “managing” for the benefit of the few ignoring the wants of the many.

Have you ever visited Yellowstone National Park and watched the Druid Peak Pack?  They were literally the super stars of Yellowstone, sadly the pack is plagued by mange, their numbers declining, yet we are caught up in wolf hunts, which threatens them and other wild wolves in the park.  Already the famed Alpha female, 527F, of Yellowstone’s Cottonwood Pack, was gunned down a mile outside of the park, along with the Alpha male and her daughter, when the Montana hunt began.  This decimated the Cottonwood Pack and halted important research into some of Yellowstone’s most famous and studied collared wolves.

Trophy hunting of wolves only inflames passions and hatred of wolves. I won’t call trophy hunting a sport.  It’s an unfair game where the hunted aren’t acquainted with the rules. The only way it could be considered fair is if you placed the “hunter” in the woods without their high-powered rifles or high-tech bows and have them run up against a wolf with their bare hands, you know, Mano y Mano. How many “brave” hunters would be out there killing wolves for fun in that scenario?  I say the number would be ZERO.  Killing for sport is a cowardly exercise that features an uneven playing field between hunters and the hunted,  just to get a cheap thrill and rush of testosterone (yes most hunters are men).  How skillful and brave is it to kill an animal, hundreds of yards away, that has no fighting chance against you, with a scope and high-powered rifle? Trophy hunting gives all hunting a bad name!!  It’s blood lust pure and simple. Wolves shouldn’t be subjected to this in the 21st Century. We’ve already exterminated them in the West once, are we aiming for round two?

286_lobo_wolf-wars

Lobo wolf wars (Photo: Nature Online)

The most encouraging words come from Richard Baldes, a Shoshone and former Fish and Wildlife Service biologist on the Wind River Indian Reservation, inhabited by the Arapahoe and Shoshone tribes.  They’re managing to coexist very well with wolves and welcome Canis Lupus.  He explained the tribe’s views to High Country News in 2008:

“The tribes’ management plans are pretty simple. “The Wind River Reservation is somewhat of a sanctuary,” Baldes tells me from his porch at the foot of the Wind River Mountains. Much as they do with the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho, which was instrumental in the original reintroduction, wolves play an important role in the lore and religion of Shoshone and Arapahoe people. Wolves represent a social role model, for starters: “They take care of the family,” Baldes says. “The aunts and uncles take care of the young, and they also take care of the old.”

The obvious parallels between government efforts to eradicate wolves and past efforts to eradicate Indians aren’t lost on Baldes. In fact, the resurgence of wolves is a powerful metaphor on the reservation. “The Creator put them here for a reason,” Baldes says. He chuckles to himself about the raging controversy. “People have made the issue with wolves much more complicated than it needs to be,” he says. “It’s just a nice feeling to know that these animals are back and that they’re going to be here to stay. I don’t see any reason why they won’t be here forever.”

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Why State Fish and Game Agencies Can’t Manage Predators

 By George Wuerthner, 4-17-09
  
minn gray wolf
http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/why_state_fish_and_game_agencies_cant_manage_predators/C564/L564
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Top Photo: kewl wallpapers
Bottom and Middle Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Wolf Wars
Tags: trophy hunting wolves, wolves in the crossfire, Wildlife Services, Obama administration de-listing, Druid Peak Pack

A Beautiful Ode To Limpy (Wolf 253M)

This video is a treasure I found by chance, a beautiful narration by Brian Connolly of the life and death of wolf 253M, also known as Limpy. It is so moving you will be brought to tears.

Limpy was the inspiration for this blog.  He was the perfect wolf in my mind’s eye, a member of the iconic Druid Peak Pack, who once ruled Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.

Brian, I don’t know you but thanks  for your beautiful ode to Limpy, who gave pleasure to so many. A selfless wolf, who over came the adversity of injury but was killed for nothing in the name of blood sport.

Rest in peace dear, dear wolf 253M.

For the wolves, For Limpy,

Nabeki

Photo: Courtesy Steve Justad

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Limpy/wolf 253M

Tags: Limpy, wolf 253M, Hoppy, evils of blood sport, Wyoming, Druid Peak Pack, ode to Limpy

Nowhere To Hide…The Intrusive Collaring of Wolves

Pack after wolf pack has been tracked down by WS and killed in “lethal control actions” BECAUSE wolves were wearing radio collars, making them easy to find. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

As you can see from the photo, leg hold traps are also used to capture wolves for collaring. What effect does this traumatizing event have on a wolf? 

The USFWS wolf recovery coordinator, Ed Bangs, estimates two percent of wolves, trapped for collaring “die from the trauma”. Is that acceptable to you?

Wolves can and do suffer from PTSD,  just like people.

The famous Ninemile pack female wolf, Tenino, was afflicted with it.

“Tenino was an adult female wolf, born in the wild and placed into captivity at 1 year of age because of her participation in livestock depredation. Her method of capture, well documented, involved being darted twice by helicopter and translocated twice. This method of capture would have exposed her to the 2 factors that are important in the etiology of post traumatic stress disorder inhumans uncontrollability and unpredictability.

In a case study we conducted, Tenino displayed symptoms that were similar to those of humans with post traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms included hypervigilance, exaggerated startles, generalized fear, avoidance, and arousal. She also displayed looking up behaviors that occurred during the presence of perceived threats such as a neighboring rancher’s gunshots; the keeper truck; some keeper activity; and, occasionally, aircraft. When compared to 3 other wolves, including her enclosuremate, these behaviors were exclusive to Tenino”…Jay S. Mallonee, Wolf and Wildlife Studies

Wolves are sensitive, social animals. Being chased by helicopters or having their paw caught in a trap must be horribly frightening for them. How would you feel? Wolves experience the same emotions we do, including sorrow, loss, fear and pain.

Wolves are continually harassed by the collaring process itself.  Chased, darted with tranquilizers (Telazol), handled, having collars fitted, collars replaced.

Radio-Tracking Timber Wolves in Ontario

“Miniature collar-type transmitters originally designed by W. W. Cochran, Illinois, were adapted for use on timber wolves (Canis lupus sp.) in east-central Ontario. Wild timber wolves were captured in steel traps, restrained with a forked stick, fitted with radio-collars and released at point of capture. Receivers were adapted for use in trucks, airplanes, and for walking in rough bush country. Maximum ranges were 3.2 km with ground and 9.6 km with aircraft receivers.”

That’s why I believe the knowledge gained by studying collared wolves is far outweighed by the negatives.

Another adverse effect of collaring is the dreaded mange mite. It finds a warm home under their collars, which can torment wolves who are infested with the pest, causing itching and distress, leading to further deterioration of their condition.

Look at the size of that thing. Think of mange mites hiding under it and the wolf not being able to do anything about it.

To my knowledge Yellowstone biologists didn’t lift one finger to treat the Druids sarcoptic mange, which contributed to their demise. The last little Druid female was plagued with mange. Burdened by a radio collar, which I’m sure exacerbated her infestation, she eventually drifted out of Yellowstone, weak and hungry. She was shot and killed in Butte, Montana. The last little Druid, dying alone, without a family. What a tragic end for an iconic wolf pack!!

From the Missoulian:

Wolf No. 690 from Yellowstone National Park had seen her pack ravaged by disease and attacks by other wolf packs before she wandered south of Butte and started attacking cattle.Herself stricken with mange, the 2-year-old female was shot recently by a rancher when he spotted the black wolf attacking cattle.

State wildlife officials inspected the collared wolf and found she was from the former Druid Peak pack, which no longer exists after members caught mange and then dispersed into the hostile territory of other packs.

“We had the last location with her in March, then she disappeared,” said Erin Albers, a biologist with the Yellowstone wolf project. “We were searching for her and we were just assuming that she had left the park, but we didn’t expect her to go to Butte.”

The Druid Peak pack was well-known and a favorite of wolf watchers in the park’s Lamar Valley. It was also the subject of several documentaries about Yellowstone’s wolves.But it began to fall apart last fall when the alpha female died, presumably at the hands of wolves, Albers said. The remaining members of the pack were also hit hard by mange.The pack had a litter of pups last summer that all died of the parasite, which causes wolves to lose their hair. The remaining members dispersed, but found a tough environment in the park with its dense wolf population, Albers said.The weakened wolves would wander into a carcass, only to be attacked and killed by other wolves that were protecting their food and territory. Three wolves from the former pack were found dead, their bodies left mutilated by other wolves, within a four-month period.”

Do Yellowstone park biologists believe it’s invasive to treat mange in resident wolf packs but completely miss how intrusive it is to continually collar wolves? If true, how ironic, because Canadian biologists successfully treated wild wolves for mange. If biologists can handle and interfere with wolves while collaring them, they can certainly treat their mange with Ivermectin.

Wolves tranquilized for collaring: Photo Kevin White (Wolf Song of Alaska)

After reading the USFWS wolf reports for the Northern Rockies, I was stunned by the continual intrusion into wolves lives. Two collared wolves were accidentally killed by Wildlife Services in Idaho, while carrying out a lethal control action on other wolves. Collaring has become a tool to track and kill wolves, instead of what it was originally developed for, scientific research.

Just last year IDFG asked the forest service for permission to land helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness, the largest area of protected wilderness in the continental United States, comprising 2.3 million acres. Can you guess why they wanted to land there?  To dart and collar wolves of course. Even though the Wilderness Act of 1964 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.”

That means, helicopters should stay out. Unfortunately, IDFG was eventually granted permission to collar wolves in the Frank Church, even though Western Watersheds Project mounted a court challenge. Hundreds of Americans sent comments to Regional Forester Harvey Forsgren, with a clear message:

NO HELICOPTERS IN THE FRANK CHURCH WILDERNESS!!

Sadly, Judge Winmill ruled IDFG could land helicopters in the Frank Church but with a caveat:

“Chief US District Judge B. Lynn Winmill denied injunctive relief sought by Western Watersheds Project to prevent IDFG from landing helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness to collar wolves.  This is another blow for wolves and wilderness. It will only embolden IDGF to continue their war on wolves.  The judge did warn:

“The next helicopter proposal in the Frank Church Wilderness will face a daunting review because it will add to the disruption and intrusion of this collaring project. The Forest Service must proceed very cautiously here because the law is not on their side if they intend to proceed with further helicopter projects in the Frank Church Wilderness. The Court is free to examine the cumulative impacts of the projects, and the context of the use. Given that this project is allowed to proceed, the next project will be extraordinarily difficult to justify.”

The outline of  the proposal submitted to the Forest Service by IDFG, asked permission to land a helicopter in the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness, up to twenty times last winter to dart as many as twelve wolves.  The reason/excuse was to research and observe wolves. Their intentions aren’t so noble. I believe they wanted to collar wolves in the Frank Church so WS can track them easily, or boost wolf quota numbers for future hunts, if they can document more wolves in the FC. In the end IDFG had to land twelve times in the Frank Church to collar FOUR wolves. Pretty ridiculous. That’s an example of the current state of “wildlife management”.

If IDFG wanted to study wolves they could hike or ride into the Frank Church on horseback. The collaring of wolves in this vast wilderness is just another ploy in their continuing harassment of wolves. The Frank Church/River of No Return wilderness is a vast, refuge for wolves and other wildlife. Now they can’t escape humans even there. The collar program has become a means to an end.  And that end spells trouble for wolves.

Wolves have no place to hide, they’re being monitored as if they were common criminals.  Wearing a radio collar is like being under house arrest. The authorities know where you are at all times.

There is a less invasive way to track wolves with the use of Howl Boxes. I personally think wolves should be left alone, to live in peace but “HOWL BOXES” can be used in place of radio collars!!

Ed Bangs, of the US Fish & Wildlife service, …… estimates that approximately 2 percent of the wolves trapped for radio collaring die from the trauma. “The howlbox is efficient, inexpensive, and less intrusive,” says Bangs. “It uses the wolves’ own communication system to monitor populations.”

Teresa Loya’s invention broadcasts a recorded howl into the wilderness and records any responses from wolves in the following two minutes. From that response, Loya hopes wildlife biologists will be able to get an accurate count of the number of wolves in any particular area, reducing the need for the expensive, invasive and time-consuming process of outfitting wolves with radio collars.

It’s time to stop collaring wolves. It’s intrusive, traumatizing and gives Wildlife Services “a leg up” to track and kill wolves for agribusiness. It harasses wolves in Yellowstone and steals their “wildness”. According to a knowledgable reader of this blog, 759 wolves have been collared during the Yellowstone Wolf Study. Further, he states wolves are chased with helicopters to exhaustion, darted and handled by “gloveless self-serving researchers”. What is this doing to Yellowstone’s wolves?

Collaring is also a potential weapon to be used against wolves by poachers, who may have acquired access to their collar telemetry. Think of the four highly endangered Mexican gray wolves who were found dead this year. How many of the dead wolves or members of their packs were collared?  Since wolves stick together, you can track the entire pack that way. Did poachers use wolves’ collars to track and kill them?

Collaring wolves is out of control. Wolves have enough problems, they don’t need to be hounded by biologists or Wildlife Services to further some nebulous agenda.

What right do we have to chase wild wolves around for collaring? Wolves don’t belong to us. Let them live in peace for godsakes!!

 

A USDA Wildlife Services employee radio-collars a wolf in the Madison Valley after darting it from a helicopter.

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Photos: Collared wolf: Courtesy Howard Golden, Tranquilized wolves: Courtesy Kevin White (Wolf Song of Alaska), Tranquilized wolf: Courtesy USDA

Posted In: Let Wolves Live In Peace

Tags: Druid Peak pack, intrusive collaring of wolves, aerial gunning of wolves, Wildlife Services, sarcoptic mange, Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness, Yellowstone National Park, HOWL boxes, PTSD, Telazol, Ivermectin

*This post has been re-written. I posted a version of it in December 2009 but have since changed my opinion about even collaring wolves for research in National Parks.

The Once Mighty Yellowstone Druid Peak Pack Down To Just One Wolf….

This is the saddest wolf news I’ve heard and that’s saying something in a season of bad wolf news.  The once mighty Druids, who ruled the Lamarr Valley in Yellowstone for so many years, the wolves that people came from all over the world to view, who’ve had several documentaries made of their lives, are now down to just one wolf.  Six Druids are missing.

The Druids were hit with mange and lost pups to parvo but this could be the end of them as a pack.  How unbelievable this would happen now when wolves are being hunted for the first time since their reintroduction and over 500 wolves died in the Northern Rockies in 2009.  I have no words to describe the sadness I feel about the demise of the legendary Druid Peak Pack, though their genes will live on in their offspring.

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Kathie Lynch: Druid wolf pack likely to fade away

Only one Druid is known to remain-

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/kathie-lynch-druid-wolf-pack-likely-to-fade-away/

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End of an era in Yellowstone?

 March 03, 2010 Jeff Welsch | GYC

http://www.greateryellowstone.org/news/index.php?id=278

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Famed Yellowstone wolf pack down to 1 member

By The Associated Press

March 07, 2010, 12:11PM

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/famed_yellowstone_wolf_pack_do.html

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, Yellowstone wolves

 Tags: Druid Peak Pack, mange, parvo, legendary wolf pack

 

Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm  Comments (26)  
Tags: , , ,

IN WOLVES SAD HOUR WE REMEMBER AND CELEBRATE THE RETURN OF A LEGEND TO YELLOWSTONE

large wolf pack

As we sit sadly by, wolves are being killed in Montana and Idaho. But on this day I want to remember their home coming to Yellowstone, fourteen years ago.

Watch the reintroduction, as National Geographic and Doug Smith, tell the story of Yellowstone’s Wolves and the formation of the Druid Peak Pack.

A LEGEND RETURNS TO YELLOWSTONE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC:

Wolves_A_Legend_Returns_To_Yellowstone

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Videos: Courtesy to National Geographic
 
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Bringing Wolves Home: Ed Bangs
Wolf Recovery Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  
 yellowstone wolf runnintg
 
“Wolves are a top-line predator. They have a major influence…”
 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/wolves/bangs.html
 
 
 
Categories posted in: Yellowstone wolves, biodiversity, wolf recovery
 
 Tags: wolf recovery, Yellowstone wolves, Druid Peak Pack

 

 photo: Wikimedia Commons
Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , ,

Remembering Limpy': The Life and Death of Wolf 253

Limpy

Limpy – Wolf 253

On March 28, 2008, almost seven years ago, a cherished Druid Peak pack wolf named Limpy,  was shot dead outside Daniel,Wyoming.  It happened on the day wolves, in the Northern Rockies, lost their ESA protections for the first time, by the then Bush Administration. 

“He died for nothing”  said Lake City resident Marlene Foard.  A senseless death for a beloved wolf.

RIP Limpy – we remember and miss you!

Here is Limpy’s story told  by the Trib.com and Earth Justice.

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The life and death of wolf 253

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:00 am  Trib.com

FRANZ CAMENZIND

A wolf died the other day in Wyoming. Along with three others, it was shot and killed on the first day that wolves in most of the state lost the protection of the Endangered Species Act. These were legal kills made by people simply because they could. Nothing more was required of them but to report the kills to state officials – no license, no fees, no restrictions.

For sportsmen, one of the proudly held rules is: “Know Your Target.” What did these hunters know about their targets?

One of the four dead wolves was a female that may have been pregnant. Two of the males were unknown and will be remembered simply as body count numbers in the West’s war on wolves. But one wolf has a history known to many throughout the region. To some he was “Limpy,” to others he was “The Wanderer.” Officially, he was 253M, the 253rd wolf to be radio-collared in the Greater Yellowstone area since wolves were reintroduced in the mid-90s.

253M was born in April 2000 into the Druid Peak Pack, whose territory encompasses Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley. His father was likely 21M, a leader of renown and a story unto himself. 21M was one of the first generation of wolves born in Yellowstone in more than 60 years.

253M was black, as are nearly half of Yellowstone’s wolves. Before he was two, he was injured defending his territory from intruders from a nearby pack. Although the Druids held their territory, 253M’s left hind leg was injured, causing a life-long limp distinguishing him from other wolves.

In the fall of 2002, he left his home territory, typical behavior for wolves of that age. Later that fall, on Nov. 30, 253M was accidentally caught in a trap set for coyotes about 20 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, making him the first confirmed wolf in Utah in more than 70 years. Tracks around the site suggested that he was traveling with another wolf – perhaps they were a pair exploring for a place to begin a new life.

253M was taken back to Wyoming and released three days later by a federal biologist south of Yellowstone Park. He made his way back to the Druid Pack before Christmas, surprising the “experts,” who thought he would immediately head back south.

This second time around, he remained with the Druids for nearly two years and rose to the level of second-ranking male – subordinate only to the now-famous, but aging, 21M. In the summer of 2004, 21M died, and most observers thought that 253M would take over as leader of the Druids. But again, he managed to fool the experts and waged only a minor battle with “New Black,” as the victor and new Druid leader came to be known.

Immediately after New Black assumed his alpha status, 253M broke from the pack and began wandering about Yellowstone, mostly undetected, only to unexpectedly appear on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole – 90 miles south of his birthplace – alone, but looking healthy.

It was in early 2005 that 253M may have fathered his only offspring. He was observed with another male and female, and 5 pups, forming the new Flat Creek Pack. But within a year, 253M again headed south, and the Flat Creek Pack dissolved. The cause of the sudden disintegration of this new pack will never be known. Was 253M simply living up to one of his names, The Wanderer?

Meanwhile, the Daniel Pack, which roamed across a mix of ranching and wild lands 60 miles southeast of Jackson, was implicated in cattle depredations and thus under constant surveillance and control. Sometime in the next year or so, 253M found his way into this persecuted pack.

During his eight years of travel across thousands of miles and at least two states, 253M was never accused of any destruction of human property. He was a “good wolf” – one who adapted to his human-dominated world. The kind of wolf we should be able to live with.

But on the morning of March 28, his luck ran out. Not because of anything he did, but because of what a minority of people in Wyoming wanted – to take all protection off wolves in 88 percent of the state, where anyone can now kill any wolf by any means at any time. 253M and three others were killed for nothing more than being wolves in Wyoming’s politically designated predator zone.

253M and other wolves are now dead in Wyoming because some don’t want wolves in the Equality State.

Now we “Know The Target.” What have we learned?

Franz Camenzind is executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

http://trib.com/editorial/forum/article_124999b7-cf79-5ce6-bb05-48213d55554b.html

 

Uploaded April 2009 DOW

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Limpy: The Story of Wolf 253

Wolf 253 was one of the first casualties as the federal government stripped Endangered Species protections for gray wolves in the northern Rockies. But this particular wolf was unique.

He was known by the nicknames of “Limpy” or “Hoppy,” depending on who you talk to; the name comes from an old injury that left him crippled for life. His official designation was Wolf 253, part of the wolf population brought back from the verge of extinction in the northern Rockies, and one of 1,500 gray wolves that lost federal protections in March when the federal government “delisted” wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

And on March 28, 2008, he was shot dead.

Limpy wasn’t just any old wolf. His distinctive gait, walking on three legs, made him one of the more easily recognized wolves in Yellowstone. Among his pack, too, he was unique: he was taller than Wolf 21, his father and the alpha male of the Druid pack that roamed the open fields in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.

Wolf-watchers in the northern Rockies say Limpy grew up charging after elk at the same speed as the rest of his pack, despite the injury that hobbled him as a pup. He played an important role in the Druid pack, tending to pups and defending the pack’s main den from bears.

As a young male, Limpy left the safety and security of the Druid pack and struck out on his own. He trotted south out of Yellowstone Park, and traveled across southern Wyoming until he crossed the Utah border. A trapper chasing coyotes in the mountains 20 miles from Salt Lake City caught Limpy in one of his traps. It was November, 2002, and the first confirmed wolf sighting in Utah in 70 years.

Once, hundreds of thousands of wolves roamed the great expanse of the northern Rockies. Decimated by decades of unregulated slaughter and persecution, gray wolves were pushed to the brink of extinction. In 1973, gray wolves became one of the first animals to appear on the Endangered Species list. With the help of legal protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, wolves in the northern Rockies had begun making a comeback when Hoppy arrived.

The wolf trapper called the US Fish and Wildlife, who sent a man down from Wyoming to fetch Limpy. The injured wolf was loaded in the back of a truck and driven to the far northern stretches of Grand Teton National Park, where he was released back into the wild two days later.

“He was a hell of a wolf,” recalls one veteran wolf-watcher. “After he was released with a hurt foot from the coyote trap, he crossed the territories of probably four hostile wolf packs in order to rejoin his old pack in Yellowstone Park.”

No one witnessed Limpy’s reunion with the Druid pack; it happened under cover of darkness. But the next morning, when one avid wolf-watcher and local photographer spotted Limpy back with his former pack, he was stunned.

“He was in bad shape,” recalled the photographer. “Must’ve been down to two and a half legs.”

Survival is a strong instinct, and so is the natural inclination of wolves to live in close-knit families and packs. Limpy was welcomed back to the Druid pack, and resumed the life he’d known years before.

Eventually, Limpy left the safety of Yellowstone and headed south again. He spent a year near an elk refuge near Jackson, then moved on toward Pinedale, feeding on elk, an occasional deer, and probably a smattering of jackrabbits and mice.

Limpy must have known that elk could be found around man-made feeding grounds, where elk are concentrated and disease is easily transmitted. Limpy was one of many wolves who preyed on elk grazing the land, helping keep the populations in check and thinning the herds of the sick and weak.

Limpy had, however, crossed into Sublette County, where local grocery stores sell bumper stickers that read “Wolves — Government-sponsored terrorists!” Some ranchers and farmers don’t hold much love for wolves, which they see only as predator… despite the fact that many animals are, by their very nature, predators. It’s a brutal fact of nature. It’s how they survive.

In the end, Limpy’s venture outside the safety of Yellowstone Park’s official boundaries proved fatal. After eight years spent traveling over thousands of miles, he was shot — along with another male and a female wolf — near the elk feeding ground a few miles outside Daniel, Wyoming on March 28, 2008. He became one of the first casualties in a resurrected war against wolves that began the day the federal government stripped Endangered Species protections from gray wolves across the northern Rockies.

Limpy’s death was reported to the state, as required under new Wyoming wolf rules, and word of his killing quickly spread across the Internet. The Salt Lake City Tribune picked up the story, and talked with several people who were fans of the old wolf with the bum leg.

“He died for nothing,” lamented Salt Lake City resident Marlene Foard. “If there was a reason to kill him, I could live with that. But there wasn’t.”

Another reader wrote in an e-mail, “I think they have no idea what they have done by killing this particular wolf.”

And Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, said people knew wolves had been hanging around the feeding ground, but none had been seen attacking cattle herds or destroying human property. As Camenzind told the Salt Lake City Tribune, Limpy was “a good wolf. He covered thousands of miles and didn’t cause any trouble.”

Come fall, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana expect to approve formal, legalized wolf hunts. Right now, except for a small area just outside Yellowstone in Wyoming, all you need is just a gun and a steady aim to legally shoot a wolf.

But there’s still hope for the rest of the wolves in the northern Rockies. In the past, Earthjustice has opposed several previous versions of Wyoming’s plans to declare wolves enemies of the state, and this time around we’re heading back to court to press for reinstating ESA protection for gray wolves in the region.

Our goal is to get the federal government to come up with a more realistic wolf recovery plan… something that recognizes recent science findings about a species that fought for 30 years to recover from nearly a century of devastating slaughter. The current plan could allow Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to hunt down wolves far and wide, and reduce a population of 1,500 wolves across three states to a mere 300 survivors.

Sadly, Limpy won’t be among their numbers.

http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/hoppy-the-story-of-wolf-253.html

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Photo: Courtesy Steve Justad

Posted in:  wolf 253,  Endangered Species Act,  Wolf wars

Tags: Endangered Species Act, wolf intolerance, Limpy, Wolf 253, Druid Peak Pack, RIP Limpy

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