Study Shows “Government-Sanctioned (Wolf) Culling Actually Results in More Illegal Killings”

 A new study finds that gray wolf culls may lead to more poaching.

 When the Government Kills Wolves, the Public May Follow Suit

A new study looking at two states in the U.S. could weaken the theory that culling some large carnivores can help conserve them.

In 2005 Wisconsin wanted a permit to kill 43 endangered gray wolves. So the federal government granted it. The way it saw things, controlling wolves—which had earned a bad name by preying on livestock and pets—would increase human tolerance for the predators. By letting the state cull them, it would prevent even more wolves from getting shot by frustrated ranchers.

 Wildlife activists disagreed. In a federal lawsuit, they argued that killing the animals ran counter to the Endangered Species Act, a law meant to help conserve endangered and threatened species. The judge agreed, and the federal government was forced to revoke the permit.

Nonetheless, this argument—that legal killing helps stop illegal killing—continues to be made around the world. The United States still asserts it when it comes to grizzly bears. Both Sweden and Finland use it as a justification for controlled wolf hunting. “The philosophy that underpins wolf management is that hunting them makes them more socially acceptable to people,” says Doug Smith, senior wildlife biologist at Yellowstone National Park.

But now a new study examining wolf population growth rates in Michigan and Wisconsin shows that the opposite is true. Government-sanctioned culling actually results in more illegal killings, scientists report this week in the journal Proceedings Royal Society B.

They created this animated video to help break down the results:

 This animation was created by scientists who concluded in a new study that wolf culls result in more illegal killings of wolves.

“The idea that we need to kill to conserve large carnivores—in light of our study, it does not make sense,” says author Guillaume Chapron, an ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who teamed up with Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to research the topic.

Adding Fire to a Heated Debate

The research will likely inflame the hotly contested debate that has long pitted conservationists and biologists against agricultural and hunting interests. “I suspect there’s going to be a lot of folks weighing in on this from both sides,” says Jason Fisher, a wildlife scientist with Alberta Innovates, a research agency for the government of Alberta, Canada.

Gray wolves were viewed as so destructive to livestock that by the early 20th century they’d nearly been wiped out in most of the U.S. In 1978 the U.S. listed them as endangered in all states but Minnesota. Reintroduced to the American West in the mid-1990s, they’ve been the object of fierce controversy ever since.

In 2003 the U.S. declared that some populations had recovered to the point that wolves could be considered threatened rather than endangered. This meant states would be permitted to trap and shoot wolves when they threatened humans or livestock.

But with disagreements continuing about their recovery status, the issue has bounced in and out of court. Today the species is considered endangered in most states, but in Montana and Idaho wolves can be culled and hunted. And other states can cull them in certain cases.

Does Culling Conserve a Species?

Between 1995 and 2012, wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin experienced six periods of legal culls and six stages of protection, making these states ripe for testing whether cullings help conserve large carnivores.

To test the theory, researchers Chapron and Treves used a complex algorithm to measure population growth over time, taking into account the number of wolves culled. They found that during years when culling was allowed, there was an overwhelming probability that the wolf growth rate would drop.

The researchers concluded that poaching was the only plausible explanation for the decline. They ruled out other potential factors such as wolves migrating out of state and a slowdown in reproductive rates.

So why would people get poaching fever during years that the government OKs wolf culling? It could be that people didn’t think wolves had much value or they felt the government wouldn’t enforce the law during years culling was allowed, the researchers say. Their findings corroborate a 2013 study showing that legal culls don’t reduce the inclination to poach.

Chapron and Treves hope their study will show wildlife management agencies that they need to produce evidence before justifying “leniency in environmental protections,” as they put it. Fisher agrees. “The paper showed very clearly that wolf populations are experiencing added deaths” he says. “Governments all over need a lot more and a lot better information than they currently have about wildlife populations.”

Yellowstone’s Smith says the results are disappointing in that they throw into question long-held beliefs about wolf management. “But I’m not convinced,” he says.

Smith doesn’t think the results should apply to all wolf territories, as attitudes toward wolves might be different in areas where people have always lived alongside the animals, such as Alaska and Canada. Nor is he fully persuaded that poaching accounted for the population growth decline, though he doesn’t question the researchers’ data. Indeed, another study found that less government involvement resulted in decreased poaching.

But the current study could provide more grist for pro-wolf groups who have criticized wildlife management agencies for basing decisions on politics rather than science. Wildlife Services, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that specializes in killing predators that put livestock at risk, in particular has faced criticism that its lethal control programs are not based on sound science.

And research from 2014 found that killing wolves to protect sheep and cattle actually caused the predators to kill even more livestock, contrary to a common justification for culling some large carnivores.

Chapron and Treves think their research should help guide management decisions for many large carnivores, such as grizzly bears, which could soon lose protections under U.S. law. In the meantime, the debate swirling around wolves will likely continue. “The study is going to be hugely controversial,” Fisher says.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation, and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to


Posted in: gray wolves,  Wolf Wars, Wolf Poaching

Photo: Courtesy Tim Fitzharris, Minden Pictures/National Geographic

Tags: evils of wolf hunting, killing wolves, poaching, culling  National Geographic, blood does not buy goodwill

Who Killed The Weneha Wolf?


This post was written in August 2010, then updated when it was confirmed he was dead. So incredibly sad.

Beautiful Boy! UPDATE: It’s Confirmed, He’s Been Shot Dead!

October 6, 2010

Posted in: Oregon wolves, Wolf Wars, Howling For Justice

Tags: Wenaha wolf, poaching, reward, wolf persecution, Oregon wolf

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 3:34 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

Livestock Owners Pro-Active in KENYA!!

“7 lions spotted along the road in the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya.”

Big cats are losing ground in Africa. Lion numbers have plummeted to just 25,000 animals in the wild,  from a high of 450,000 lions thirty years ago. Poaching, habitat loss and conflicts with humans have decimated not only lions but the entire range of big cats.

Lions  in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, in south-western Kenya, are in conflict with livestock owners. When lions kill cattle the pastoralists have retaliated by killing lions,  resulting in more downward pressure on the already beleaguered  lion population.

Human encroachment around the reserve has contributed to huge losses of hoofed animals the big cats prey on. Hence the cats may turn to cattle.

“A study funded by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and conducted by ILRI between 1989 and 2003 monitored hoofed species in the Maasai Mara on a monthly basis, and found that that losses were as high as 95 percent for giraffes, 80 percent for warthogs, 76 percent for hartebeest, and 67 percent for impala.

The study blames the loss of animals on increased human settlement in and around the reserve. The article claims, “The study provides the most detailed evidence to date on the declines in the ungulate (hoofed animals) populations in The Mara and how this phenomenon is linked to the rapid expansion of human populations near the boundaries of the reserve.”

But National Geographic has stepped in to help:

Big Cats Initiative Grant
Grantee: Anne Kent Taylor
Project: Construction of predator proof livestock enclosures in prime big cat habitats in Kenya’s Maasai Mara region
Geographical Area Served: Africa\Kenya\Maasai Mara National Reserve
Field Work: 7/14/2010 – 7/11/2011

Project Description:

Big cat populations in East Africa are crashing due to retaliatory killings by pastoralists. In the Maasai Mara, the problem threatens one of Africa’s most famous and important lion populations as pastoralists are increasingly intolerant of livestock predation. This project expands an existing successful project in the Mara that has effectively reduced human/lion conflict by preventing predation through securing livestock enclosures.

Maasai elder building his boma  (photo by Mark Goss)

From Anne Kent Taylor (grantee):

 “For those who are unfamiliar with this project, we fortify existing Maasai livestock enclosures (bomas) with chain-link to prevent predation, which has been 100 percent successful to date.”

There are now about 200 fenced enclosures protecting the Maasai livestock, with more to come. It’s amazing what people can do when they work together. The fencing project has been a giant success with no reports of lions killing even a single cow protected by the enclosures.

Yet in America many  ranchers are reluctant to perform even minimal pro-active animal husbandry. They would rather blame wolves and other predators, calling  Wildlife (Dis)Services demanding wolves be removed, as if somehow they own them. But on the other side of the world, in Kenya, something entirely different is going on. Kenya values its wildlife and is  finding ways to resolve conflicts and reduce poaching. Kenya is setting an example for the world.  Ecotourism and the dollars it brings to Kenya’s economy, is a driving force in that country. Literally, the Kenyans have realized their animals are worth more alive than dead and have adopted strong measures to protect them. Poachers can be shot and killed. They take it that seriously.

I salute National Geographic for their efforts to  save “big cats” and for finding real solutions to help lions in the Maasai Mara.

Please visit “Cause An Uproar”and do whatever you can for these vital apex predators. Can you imagine a world without the “Big Cats”?


Cause An Uproar


Kenya Fencing Project Stops Lion Attacks on Livestock

Continuing her blogging from the field, in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee Anne Kent Taylor reports that to date some two hundred livestock enclosures have been fenced against predators–and thus far there has not been a single report of a protected animal taken by a big cat.

“This is so exciting for me to report, as the lions are now so much safer from revenge killings and the livestock owners are not suffering from their terrible losses to predation, which are financially and emotionally devastating,” she writes.

Read on:


Apathy, Cowardice, and Ignorance are the Deadliest Weapons of All

Edwin Wollert / Wolf Song of Alaska / Education Coordinator


Photos Big Cats: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Biodiversity

Tags: Maasai Mara National Reserve, poaching, Human big-cat conflicts, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, Kenya fencing project, Saving the Big Cats, Kenya, pro-active animal husbandry

Slob Hunters…..

Deer bust on St. Martin Island
DNR raid on St. Martin’s Island off the Michigan U.P., Nov. 19th, 2009.  31 Bucks and 9 Does on the pole, nothing smaller than a 7-point. Approximately 10 more deer, antlers, and heads found around the ground in the camp. There were a smaller mix of bucks and does. 10 deer without tags, another 10 with wives/girlfriends tags.

Finally people are speaking out about slob hunting. It’s a dirty little secret that doesn’t get much play in the press. It takes many forms from poaching to shooting into a herd of ungulates, not caring who or what you hit,  just to “get your elk”, shooting animals from your rig drunk or sober. Basically it’s unethical behavior by some hunters, who don’t follow the rules and think they can do whatever they want to our wildlife.

Matt Skoglund, a wildlife advocate, who blogs for the NRDC,  wrote a great article posted on New West called Wolves, Elk and Slob Hunting..What’s a bigger threat to elk: wolves or slob hunting? 

It’s time someone talks about this. I’m sick and tired of wolves being blamed for elk declines. The subject of bad hunting practices doesn’t get enough press. Thanks Matt for speaking out and shedding light on this disgusting practice.

Wolves hunt to live, they don’t have the luxury of going to Safeway to pick up a snack. Yet the anti-wolf crowd loves to throw out their wolf hating rhetoric, blaming wolves for everything from the bad economy to high divorce rates. 

Look in your own backyard wolf haters, before you blame innocent animals. Take a gander at these slob hunters and the damage they do to elk, deer and other wildlife. Who’s the cruel one? Yeah, uh-huh!

Matt states “he writes because two recent news stories made me want to throw my computer out the window” Me too Matt, me too.

I included the links below to the two heartbreaking stories Matt mentioned, plus Matt’s article. 

What a waste of our precious wildlife, these people have no empathy and no redeeming qualities. None!

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


Wolves, Elk and Slob Hunting

What’s a bigger threat to elk: wolves or slob hunters?

by Matt Skoglund, Guest Writer, 12-17-10

 “If you live in the Northern Rockies, you have either read or heard someone claim that wolves have decimated elk populations and thus ruined elk-hunting in the region.  The wolves are killing all the elk has become the battle cry against wolves these days, and you hear it or see it everywhere. For a minute, let’s forget that more than 350,000 elk currently inhabit Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.  And let’s forget that there are only about 1,700 wolves. “



(Slob) Hunters play wolf blame game

by Nick Gevock | Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2010 7:00 am


Bloody November

December 02, 2010 By: Blake Maxwell

Photo: Courtesy  Tony

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Slob hunters

Tags: Slob hunters, poaching, unethical hunting practices, cruelty, scapegoating wolves

Where is Washington’s Lookout Pack Alpha Female?

Lookout Pack Yearling Wolf 2008

Washington state is missing the mother of the first wolf pack in the state in seventy years. Apparently the Lookout pack alpha female has been missing since May, why are we just hearing about it now? This will be the fifth wolf  missing or dead in the last three months in four states, four of them alphas (parents of the pack). 

New Mexico and Arizona have been the hardest hit, losing three highly endangered Mexican gray wolves.  Two members of the Hawks Nest pack, who have seven pups, are dead. The alpha male or father was found shot to death in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Soon after a yearling Hawks Nest male was also found shot to death,  leaving the alpha female and a yearling female to raise seven puppies.  The San Mateo pack alpha male, was found dead under suspicious circumstances.

(update)The Paradise pack alpha male, who roams the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation, has been missing since April. He just turned up alive with a dead collar. Thank  you Jean for passing along the good news! 

(UPDATE) In Oregon, the Imnaha pack alpha male has been missing since May 31 but he was recently sighted. 

Now the Lookout Pack alpha female is missing in Washington.  

This has to be a concerted effort among wolf hating poachers to eliminate the leaders of each one of these packs. When is the federal government going to get serious about poaching? The reason these wolves are dead is because poachers know they can get away with it.  Clamp down on these people USFWS!!!  Is this 1910 or 2010?

This video is last years Lookout Pack pups howling in the Methow Valley. 

Here are  Lookout pups romping, caught on remote camera.

Lookout Pack Pups 2008


Mother wolf missing from state’s 1st pack in decades

Jul 29, 2010 at 4:44 PM PDT

Photo: Photos Courtesy Washington Department of  Fish and Wildlife

Posted in: Washington wolves

Tags: Lookout Pack, alpha female, wolf intolerance, poaching, USFWS


Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm  Comments (13)  
Tags: , , , ,

Poachers Beneath Contempt: ANOTHER Mexican Gray Wolf Found DEAD!!

Jul 16, 2010

Poachers have declared war on Mexican gray wolves.  Another male  from the Hawks Nest Pack was found shot dead, making  that two males from this pack that were killed, plus the alpha male of the San Mateo pack was found dead recently.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley called the latest death “very troubling.” He says that leaves the Hawks Nest Pack with an alpha female and a yearling female to hunt for seven pups.“‘

There’s a $52,000 reward for killing a Mexican gray wolf,  if it leads to the arrest and capture of these disgusting person or persons.


APNewsBreak: Third Mexican gray wolf found dead

Associated Press – July 16, 2010 5:55 PM ET

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Federal authorities confirmed Friday they are investigating the death of another endangered Mexican gray wolf that was found shot along the New Mexico-Arizona border.

The male wolf is the third to be found dead within the past month. It was a member of the Hawks Nest Pack.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley called the latest death “very troubling.” He says that leaves the Hawks Nest Pack with an alpha female and a yearling female to hunt for seven pups.

The pack’s alpha male was found shot to death last month on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Another alpha male, a member of the San Mateo Pack, was found dead of unknown causes a week later.

Buckley says there was a cow found shot to death near where the latest wolf shooting death occurred.

Photo: Courtesy USFWS

Posted in: Mexican gray wolf, Wolf Wars

Tags: poaching, Mexican gray wolf,  reward, wolf wars

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm  Comments (15)  
Tags: , , ,

Tragedy….Two Male Mexican Gray Alpha Wolves DEAD and a Third Alpha Male Missing!!

This is truly a tragedy.  Two Mexican gray alpha males have been found dead. The alpha male of the Hawks Nest Pack in Arizona was shot to death, his body found June 18. Now the alpha male of the San Mateo Pack in New Mexico has been found dead under a  cloud of suspicion.  A third alpha male from the Paradise pack, who called the Fort Apache Indian Reservation home, in Arizona, has been missing since mid-april.  I have no words at this moment to comprehend this tragedy. I’ll be posting more on this in the next day. Please keep these beleaguered wolves in your thoughts.  The Mexican gray wolves are the most endangered mammals in North America and the most endangered wolf sub-species in the world.

Two  Alpha Males Mexican Gray Wolves Dead

By Rene Romo
Friday, 02 July 2010 18:56

Agencies investigate the suspicious deaths of the two endangered wolves

LAS CRUCES — Federal law enforcement officials are investigating the suspicious deaths of two endangered Mexican gray wolves, both the alpha males of their packs, found in the past two weeks in Arizona and New Mexico.

The collared alpha male of a third pack, the Paradise pack that roamed the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona, also has been missing since mid-April.

The alpha male of the Hawks Nest Pack, one of only two packs to have produced a pup in 2009 that survived until the end of the year, was found shot to death June 18 in eastern Arizona, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week. On Friday, the agency confirmed that another wolf, the alpha male of the San Mateo Pack, was found dead under suspicious circumstances last week in New Mexico.

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Charna Lefton would not say whether the San Mateo Pack wolf was shot because a necropsy to determine the official cause of death is pending, but she noted the case has been referred to law enforcement for investigation.

The San Mateo Pack, which consisted of an alpha male and female, had been observed traveling in the north-central portion of the Gila National Forest.

The effort to recover Mexican gray wolves in a swath of federal forests straddling the Arizona-New Mexico border has been beset by challenges since the first lobos were released in Arizona in 1998. Federal officials had expected the wild wolf population would grow to 100 wolves by the end of 2006, but the 2009 count totaled 42 wolves, down from 52 in the previous year.

A report issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service in May called illegal shootings the “single greatest source of wolf mortality in the reintroduced population.” Between 1998 and June 2009, 31 of 68 deaths of wild-roaming wolves were caused by illegal shooting, according to the report.

The Hawks Nest’s alpha female appears to have whelped seven pups this spring. The San Mateo and Paradise alpha females, the only surviving adults from those packs, have been observed denning, though the number of pups being raised is unknown, Lefton said.

The loss of an alpha male puts added pressure on surviving adult members of a pack to provide attention and food to pups at a critical time of year. The agency is providing supplemental food to the San Mateo and Paradise packs.

Federal and state agencies, along with conservation groups, have offered rewards totaling $52,000 for information leading to the apprehension of anyone responsible for the shooting death of a Mexican wolf.

The Fish and Wildlife Service described the Hawks Nest Pack, which traditionally roamed an area east of Big Lake in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for its spring-summer breeding territory, as having “a proven record of avoiding domestic livestock in favor of native prey animals like elk and deer.”

The person and/or persons MUST be found and brought to justice!!!  Spread the word wolf warriors. They have to pay with looooooooong  jail sentences and huge fines!!


$50,000 REWARD

For information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally killing a Mexican Gray Wolf.

Or transporting Mexican wolf hides or parts.

Contact U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

at any of the following numbers:

(480) 967-7900 [Mesa AZ]

(928) 339-4232 [Alpine, AZ]

(505) 346-7828 [Albuquerque, NM]

Or call your local state Game and Fish office:

Arizona (800) 352-0700 New Mexico (800) 862-9310



Upper Photo: Courtesy National Geographic

Lower Photo: USFWS

Posted in: Mexican Gray Wolf, gray wolves, Wolf  Wars

Tags: $50,000 reward,  alpha males dead, poaching, Mexican gray wolves on brink, USFWS


Man Found Guilty Of Killing A Wolf In Michigan

With all the wolf killing the feds and states do, it seems surreal when someone is actually convicted of illegally killing a wolf.  It’s almost hypocritical. No way do I think the agencies that manage wolves in the Northern Rockies give one whit about one wolves life but in Michigan they are still listed. There are approx. 600 wolves in Michigan, more then the huge state of Montana.  It’s still a crime to kill a wolf in Michigan. If Judge Molloy relists wolves in the Northern Rockies, it will be illegal here once again.

Well finally a little retribution for one wolf, out of the hundreds of gray wolves that were slaughtered in the name of livestock and blood lust in the Northern Rockies, even though the arrest happened in Michigan. 

This could be you wolf haters if wolves in the Northern Rockies are relisted.


Gladwin Man Found Guilty of Illegally Killing Wolf

Posted: 06.29.2010 at 2:49 PM

A Gladwin man is sentenced for illegally killing a gray wolf in the Upper Peninsula.

Michael Greaves, 47, was found guilty and ordered to pay $500 in fines and costs, along with $1,500 in restitution. His hunting privileges were also suspended for one year.

Greaves was sentenced June 15 in St. Ignace.

The charges were the result of a joint investigation between the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Law Enforcement Division conservation officers and detectives and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s special agents.

DNRE Wildlife Division Personnel received a mortality signal during the Upper Peninsula’s 2009 muzzleloading deer season from the collar that was attached to the wolf. The wolf was recovered by DNRE Wildlife Division and Law Enforcement Division personnel, and the forensic examination was subsequently conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon.

A conviction for the illegal killing of a gray wolf could result in a maximum of 90 days in jail, a fine of $1000, and reimbursement of $1500.

Conservation officers remind the public to report any information regarding the illegal killing of a wolf to the Report All Poaching Hotline at 1-800-292-7800.

Photo: Courtesy Ron Niebragg

Posted in: graywolf/canis lupus, wolf poaching, Wolf Wars

Tags: crime, wolf killing, poaching

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm  Comments (10)  
Tags: , ,
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