Action Alert: Dozens of Conservation Groups Urge New Mexico Gov. Martinez to Restore Permit for Crucial Mexican Wolf-recovery Facility on Ted Turner’s Ranch

Wolf Puppy Wayne Pacelle Stock Photo

Center For Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 15, 2015

Nationwide Movement Deplores Politically Driven Halt to Turner’s Assistance

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Forty-six conservation organizations and wolf-breeding facilities, in 13 states as well as the nation’s capital, are imploring New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to reverse the state’s Game Commission’s decision to deny Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch permission to continue housing endangered Mexican gray wolves. By providing facilities where captive-bred wolves can be acclimated to the wild before their release, the ranch’s work has been a key part of the federal Mexican wolf reintroduction program for the past 17 years.

“We find it odd and inappropriate for state government to interfere with philanthropic activities conducted responsibly by a private landowner on private lands to offset expenses that otherwise would be borne by taxpayers,” the organizations wrote in a letter sent to the Republican governor today.

On May 7 the game commission, whose members represent livestock and hunting interests, denied the Turner Endangered Species Fund a permit to continue operating its wolf-holding facilities on the Ladder Ranch, which abuts the Gila National Forest where Mexican wolves live in southwestern New Mexico. The facilities have been used since the beginning of the reintroduction program in 1998.

“Gov. Martinez should tell her game commission to quit playing politics and allow Ted Turner to continue his critically important work helping to recover the endangered Mexican gray wolf,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Reintroduction requires many helping hands, and it’s shameful that there are impeding hands as well.”

They groups also wrote that “policy decisions should not be dictated through depriving managers of infrastructure.”

“The game commission is composed of trapping, livestock and trophy-hunting representatives who apparently do not share most New Mexicans’ enthusiasm for these rare, important and beautiful wolves,” said Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club, Rio Grande chapter. “They should not unilaterally be denying a permit for a facility on private land that is and has been working cooperatively in the public interest to conserve endangered wildlife.”

“The game commission has once again shown its prejudice against New Mexico’s native carnivores,” said Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center. “But the commission’s act of ideological petulance is fiscally irresponsible, since taxpayers will now have to foot the bill for what Ted Turner was doing for free to help government biologists in the recovery of the Mexican wolf.”

Background The 157,000-acre Ladder Ranch includes five pens that can hold as many as 25 wolves. It serves as a way station for wolves released into or removed from the wild. Previously the ranch’s permit had been issued by the director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, but a November 2014 game commission rule required, for the first time, that permits used in reintroduction of mammalian carnivores be approved by the commission.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2015/mexican-gray-wolf-05-15-2015.html

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Contact New Mexico’s governor and let her know how you feel about Ted Turner’s Ladder ranch losing its permit to house critically endangered Mexican gray wolves. It looks like the New Mexico Game Commission is playing a nasty game of politics with the lives of Mexican gray wolves.

“Playing tit for tat with an endangered species is not only unproductive; it’s petty. Yet that appears to be what the New Mexico Game Commission did last week when it declined to renew a permit that had been in place for 17 years allowing Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in the Gila mountains to assist the federal Mexican gray wolf recovery program.”…editorial Albuquerque Journal

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New Mexico Governor  Susana Martinez

(505) 476-2200

Office of the Governor 490 Old Santa Fe Trail Room 400 Santa Fe, NM 87501

http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.aspx

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Editorial: Game board unfairly takes aim at gray wolf protector

By PUBLISHED: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 12:02 am
http://www.abqjournal.com/583202/opinion/game-board-unfairly-takes-aim-at-gray-wolf-protector.html
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Photo: Courtesy Human Society of the United States

Posted in: Mexican gray wolf, Wolf Wars, wolf recovery

Tags: Mexican gray wolves, New Mexico Fish and Game, Governor Martinez, Ted Turner Ladder Ranch, Ted Turner denied permit, playing politics with an endangered species

Wolf Advocates…Play Offense not Defense

October  28,2014

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

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

===

Feb 16, 2010

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

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

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

From Wolves A Cosmopolitan World View:

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

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

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

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

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

He goes on to describe how wolves were killed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what the world needs to know about wolves.

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

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

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

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

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

Remember:

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

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 Wolf Photo: Courtesy SigmaEye Flickr

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

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

Too Bad “Utah Legislature” – 74% Of Utahns Want To Bring Wolves Home….

wolvescartoon The Daily Utah Chronicle

The Daily Utah Chronicle – Luigi Ghersi

Big Game Forever, Don Peay and the Utah Legislature may want to stop wolves from returning to Utah but 74% of the state’s citizens are in favor of reintroduction. (hjnews.com)

The only thing that disturbed me about this opinion piece was this quote:

“The prime number of wolves for the available habitat space in Utah is 200. This amount would allow optimal growth of the species. Anymore would create an influx, which was most likely the problem with the Yellowstone restoration of wolves.”

It’s always about the end game, the day when wolves reach some magical number and then the slaughter begins.  That’s what we’re fighting in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes. Wolves are never going to be safe under state management.

  Mexican gray wolves need to expand beyond the Blue Range Recovery Area that’s choking with cattle. If they are to return to Utah,  these highly endangered wolves must remain protected under the ESA, otherwise in a few years they’d be facing the same brutality wolves are experiencing in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes. Once their numbers grow the “sportsmen” will decide it’s time to break out the guns!

But salient points were also made.

“Wolves had been a part of Utah’s ecosystem since before the pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock — before Utah was even a state. They used to freely roam the whole state — until humans pushed them to the brink of extinction.”

“Tourism is one example of additional economic benefits that would result from reintroducing wolves to Utah’s ecosystem. Our state parks would see a dramatic increase in the total amount of visitors per year, bringing in more revenue to the state.”

I think Mexican grays should return to Utah but only if they remain protected from wolf hunts.

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Mexican gray wolf should be reintroduced in Utah

http://www.dailyutahchronicle.com/?p=2585851

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Cartoon: Courtesy The Daily Utah ChronicleLuigi Ghersi

Posted in: Wolf Wars, biodiversity

Tags: Mexican gray wolves, highly endangered wolves, Utah legislature, Big Game Forever, Don Peay

Bitter Sweet Victory,..Fox Mountain Alpha Female Spared Death But Will Be Removed From The Wild….

The alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack will be spared a death sentence but is being sent to The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, where she will live in captivity separated from her four pups, who will be left with their father, the alpha male. This will put tremendous pressure on him to hunt and find food for his growing family without his mate by his side.  Will the pack even survive without their matriarch?

No doubt your  phone calls and emails, along with other wolf advocates, decrying the  impending kill order on this critically endangered wolf, was the turning point that led to the compromise. A big thank you to everyone who spoke out but I feel tremendous sadness that a successful and important breeding female will be removed from the wild. The ranchers won because there will be one less Mexican gray wolf roaming free. This mother will never see her pups again. She will spend the rest of her life in captivity and that is not what we want for these animals. But the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center did come to her rescue and we should all be grateful for that. Still the victory is bitter-sweet.

The USFWS must demand the BLM retire grazing leases in the wolf recovery area, to give these animals a fighting chance!!

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Scottsdale wildlife center saves Mexican Gray Wolf from death sentence

Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

Mexican Gray Wolf

A Mexican Gray Wolf that lives at Scottsdale’s Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012 6:17 pm

The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale has saved an alpha female Mexican Gray Wolf that federal fish and wildlife officials had planned to kill.

The mother wolf of four pups was to be shot after killing cattle in New Mexico, but Southwest Wildlife stepped in and offered the wolf a permanent home. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to the arrangement.

According to a news release from Southwest Wildlife, at last official count, there were only 58 Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild, making them one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

On Saturday, the Tribune received numerous letters from people in the Southwest pleading for the wolf to be saved.

The wolf is the alpha female of the Fox Mountain Pack in southwestern New Mexico, and has four puppies. Federal wildlife personnel are attempting to capture her, and Southwest Wildlife staff is awaiting word of whether she has been safely captured.

The puppies will not be taken from the pack, as they will be cared for by their father, Linda Searles, founder and executive director of Southwest Wildlife, said in the release.

On Thursday, federal Fish and Wildlife officials signed an order to shoot the wolf, which was accused of killing too many cows. This is the first time since 2007 that the agency planned to kill a wolf because of predatory attacks on livestock. The rancher who lost the cattle has been compensated, the release said.

Southwest Wildlife serves as a holding facility for the federal Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.

“We’re happy we could find a solution to this situation, other than killing the animal, because there are so few of these wolves left,” Searles said. “We will continue to work with Fish and Wildlife through the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program to maintain the species, which is an important part of our ecosystem and our Western heritage.”

The Nina Mason Pulliam Foundation will provide funds to construct an enclosure for the female wolf, but donations will also be needed to help Southwest Wildlife provide care. As part of the center, the wolf will help educate children and other visitors about the role different mammals play in our ecosystem and the importance of preserving endangered species.

For more information about Southwest Wildlife, visit http://southwestwildlife.org/.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/the_valley/article_8c748ae6-e41b-11e1-b793-001a4bcf887a.html

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Photo: Mexican Gray Wolf USFWS

Posted in: Mexican Gray Wolf, Wolf Wars

Tags: Fox Mountain alpha female, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, motherless pups, wild to captive, death order rescinded, Mexican gray wolves, USFWS

Wolf Advocates…Play Offense not Defense

October  28,2014

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

This is just as relevant today as it was in 2010!

===

Feb 16, 2010

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

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

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

From Wolves A Cosmopolitan World View:

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

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

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

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

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

He goes on to describe how wolves were killed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what the world needs to know about wolves.

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

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

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

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

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

Remember:

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

===

 Wolf Photo: Courtesy SigmaEye Flickr

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, biodiversity,  howling for justice

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

Wolves Call To Us On Earth Day…..

When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard.~~~Lakota


Photo: Courtesy All About Wolves

Posted in: Gray Wolf, biodiversity

Tags: Earth Day, gray wolves, wolves in peril

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 3:46 am  Comments (25)  
Tags: , ,

Feds Again Delay Release of Wolf Pack in Arizona

 

Center For Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 8, 2010

Feds Again Delay Release of Wolf Pack in Arizona

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today again delayed releasing a pack of eight wolves — badly needed to bolster the dwindling number of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest — into the Arizona wild. The Engineer Springs pack would infuse new genetics into a wolf population suffering from inbreeding.

The decision is a capitulation to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which has held up release of these wolves throughout 2010 and meanwhile has demanded resumption of federal trapping and shooting of wolves that prey on livestock.

“Continuing to postpone this wolf family’s release casts fresh doubts on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s commitment to recovering this highly endangered and iconic animal of the Southwest,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The delay announced today demonstrates that the Arizona Game and Fish Department, working at the behest of the livestock industry, still wields veto power over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and trumps the views of scientists.”

In December 2009, the Center and other conservation groups settled a lawsuit with Fish and Wildlife in which the federal agency acknowledged that a consortium of agencies led by Arizona Game and Fish had no authority over the federal reintroduction program.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service should honor its settlement agreement and make decisions based on what scientists think is best for this wolf population, not the political resistance of Arizona Game and Fish,” said Robinson.

The Mexican wolf population has declined or stayed stagnant for four years. Just 42 animals were counted in the wild in a survey in January, which was a 19-percent decline from the year before. A new count will be conducted in January 2011.

Only one Mexican wolf has been released into the wild from the captive-breeding program, without having previously been removed from the wild, over the past four years. That was in November 2008.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2010/mexican-gray-wolf-10-08-2010.html
  

Photo: Courtesy USFWS (F511 in Pre-release pen)

Posted in: Mexican gray wolf

Tags: The Engineer Springs Pack, Mexican gray wolves, inbreeding, Arizona Game and Fish, Michael Robinson

  

Wolf Advocates…Play Offense not Defense

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

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

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

From Wolves A Cosmopolitan World View:

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

Minnesota and Great Lakes ranchers are able to live reasonably amicably with almost 4000 wolves because most practice responsible animal husbandry. They have also  lived with wolves a very long time.  Please watch Lords of Nature to glimpse how predator and rancher can live side by side with reduced conflicts.

As for elk and deer, wolves have been coexisting with their prey for thousands of years without the need to be managed.  The elk owes it’s fleetness of foot to the wolf.  It wasn’t until Europeans set foot on this continent that the wolf suddenly became the enemy.  Europe had purged itself of most large carnivores. European farmers and ranchers transplanted that idea to America and the war against the wolf began, almost four hundred years ago. The last hundred years included an aggressive poisoning, trapping and shooting campaign led by the federal government.  Not only were wolves mercilessly killed but other predators and animals were targeted. It’s believed more then two million wolves were eradicated from the lower forty eight, that’s a grim figure.  To learn more about the extermination of wolves in the West and to understand the mindset that believed any wildlife that couldn’t be controlled should be eliminated, I recommend reading Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and The Transformation of the West, by Michael Robinson. 

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

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

He goes on to describe how wolves were killed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what the world needs to know about wolves.  

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

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

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

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

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

Remember:

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

Wolf Fact:

Canis lupus irremotus: (Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf) The original range of this large lightly colored animal was the northern Rocky Mountains including southern Alberta (Canada) Said to be extinct in the U.S there are recent reports of this subspecies possibly being spotted in Glacier National Park in Montana.

 

 

Wolf Photo: Courtesy SigmaEye Flickr

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, biodiversity,  howling for justice, Mexican gray wolf

Tags:  canis lupus, wolves positive influence, wolf research, Mexican gray wolves, wolves or livestock

Bad Moon Rising On Mexican Gray Wolves

February 7, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Robinson of  the Center for Biological Diversity states: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

===========

Officials say total from last year was down nearly 20%

Mexican wolf population dipping

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

Elk in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area

 

Photos: Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Services

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

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

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