Sunday, March 31, 2013

Image of the Day

Wolf by ddimblickwinkel
Wolf, a photo by ddimblickwinkel on Flickr.

Savannah man plays with wolves, arrested

Saturday, March 30, 2013

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A 26-year-old Savannah man who police say climbed into the wolf pen at Oatland Island was charged with trespassing after leading police on a foot chase through the woods.

John Floyd  MNS
John Floyd
Savannah-Chatham police were called to the wildlife education center about noon after witnesses reported seeing a man inside the pen that houses the wolves, said Julian Miller, police spokesman.

Patrol officers had to chase down John Floyd, of an East Park Avenue address, with a borrowed utility vehicle after he fled the pen and ran through several other enclosures before running down a trail, Miller said.

Once police apprehended him they discovered a container of sugar cubes, an unidentified brown crystallized powder, an unidentified liquid, a nearly empty bottle of Kahlua, and an almost empty half-gallon carton of soy milk.

Miller said police are continuing to investigate the incident.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wolves in Plainfield, Illinois? Resident Reports Sighting

Since 2000, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has reported several confirmed sightings — but none in Will County.
A Plainfield reader took to Patch’s Facebook page this week to report an unusual sighting. Samantha Torres said she saw a large group of what she believed to be wolves on Indian Boundary Road between Renwick and County Line roads at around 6:15 p.m. Monday. While Plainfield has had its fill of coyote sightings in recent months, Torres said the animals she saw were much bigger than coyotes, which are typically 44 to 54 inches long, 15 to 17 inches tall and weigh between 22 and 42 pounds.

A representative from Will County Animal Control said the agency has not received any reports of wolf sightings. “There really aren’t any wolves in this area,” she said, “My first thought would be that it was a coyote.” Occasionally, residents mistake especially large coyotes for wolves, she noted, but added that in this case, “I can’t be positive of that.”

Because animal control does not handle reports of unusual wildlife, she referred Patch to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. An IDNR rep did not immediately reply to messages left by Patch, but the organization has confirmed numerous sightings of gray wolves in Illinois since 2000.
According to the IDNR, wolves were no longer living in Illinois by 1860. The organization is unaware of any self-sustaining wolf packs or populations in the state, but noted that for the last decade or so, there have been documented reports of wolves moving through or temporarily living in Illinois.

The following sightings have been confirmed by IDNR:
  • A female wolf that had been radio-collared in Wisconsin was tracked into Stephenson County in December 2012
  • Another female wolf was trapped and released in Whiteside County in December 2012
  • A male wolf and female wolf were killed about four miles apart from each other in Jo Daviess County in 2011
  • A male wolf was killed by a coyote hunter in Kane County in 2009
  • A male wolf was killed by a coyote hunter in Jo Daviess County in 2008
  • A male wolf was killed by a vehicle in Lake County in 2005
  • A male wolf was shot in Pike County in 2005
  • A male wolf was shot during a coyote hunt in Marshall County in 2002
“Six of the nine wolves were young males,” the IDNR report states. “Young wolves (3 years old or less) leave their native packs and may travel long distances to either try to establish a pack of their own or to join another pack. This is typical wolf behavior.”

Torres said she was too scared to attempt to get photos of the wolves — nine total — she believes she saw Monday night. But her account was backed up by another Patch Facebook fan, who said she saw a wolf near Argonne national lab nearly four years ago. “Then last spring I was certain there was a wolf waiting for traffic at the intersection of Book [Road] and 75th,” she wrote. “I was told I was crazy and these were just big coyotes because there are no wolves in IL. Not true. They are here.” 

How to report a sighting

Gray wolves resemble coyotes but are taller, heavier and live in packs, according to IDNR. They can live to be up to 13 years old. They are typically 4.5 to 6 feel long, and 27 to 33 inches tall. Weight typically ranges from 60 to 130 pounds for adult males and 45 to 80 pounds for females.

The animals are listed as a threatened species throughout Illinois; south of Interstate 80, they are classified as a federally endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Residents can report wolf sightings to IDNR by calling 217-782-6302 or submitting a report online by clicking here.

IDNR also asks residents to report sightings of other unusual wildlife, such as mountain lions, black bears, armadillos, American elk and non-native deer.


Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 29 Mar 2013

US Capitol, FWS
Politicians crying wolf – Anti-wolfers in Congress served up some dubious assertions this week in a letter sent to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, asking him to strip federal protection for gray wolves nationwide. For example, the letter claims that state governments are “…fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations…” If that were true, how do they explain killing more than 1,100 wolves within two years of delisting in the Northern Rockies, where populations in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are all steadily declining? Or how do they explain Wyoming allowing wolves to be treated like unwanted varmints across 85 percent of the state? And how do they explain the fact that Utah’s state policy is to prevent any wolves from ever returning at all? If that’s responsible management in the eyes of wolf opponents, I’d hate to see what irresponsible management would look like.
 Here’s another whopper from the letter: “Unmanaged wolves are devastating livestock and indigenous wildlife.” Maybe if you define devastation as losing less than one percent of livestock annually. But if that’s the case, then livestock are devastated way more by bad weather, disease, theft, and other predators than by wolves. (See USDA’s most recent 5-year cattle death loss report.) It’s also clear from scientific research that wolves are helping to restore balance to ecosystems that were sorely lacking a top predator and being heavily overbrowsed by abundant and sedentary elk and deer on the landscape.

But the anti-wolf contingent in Congress and across the country has never cared about facts or science, only politics and fear. Unfortunately, our nation’s endangered species don’t have checkbooks, nor do they get to vote. So it’s up to the rest of us to hold our elected leaders accountable for their half-truths and misinformation. If your congressmen signed the letter in support of delisting, be sure to contact them and ask them to stop perpetuating myths about wolves. For more information, see this press release from the House Natural Resources Committee and coverage in the Deseret News.

Wolf sign
Add another anti-wolf bill to the pile — Turns out we were overly optimistic about the Idaho legislature heading home last week. Apparently a few state legislators were happy to stick around so they could introduce a new bill that funnels money from the sale of wolf hunting tags to ranchers that lose livestock to wolves. If House Bill 336 becomes law, that money would go either be given to Wildlife Services to kill more wolves or be turned over to the Idaho Dept. of Agriculture. Even the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is opposing the bill so they don’t lose even more money for their conservation programs. Revenue from hunting tags is supposed to be invested back into wildlife management that benefits all residents, not handed over to individual ranchers for unconfirmed livestock losses. Further, the diversion will likely cost the state federal matching funds that support conservation. If the state is going to divert money anywhere it should be invested in nonlethal tools that will help ranchers coexist with wolves over the long run. Tell Idaho’s legislators to oppose this bill and support nonlethal management practices that promote coexistence.
 Meanwhile, Senate Bill 397 is still moving forward in Montana. The bill would expand hunting and trapping of predators, including snaring of wolves, in areas where elk populations are deemed below objective. The traps and predator baits and hound hunting authorized in this bill also threaten grizzly bears, wolverines, and lynx. Our Rocky Mountain Director Mike Leahy testified against the bill this week at a committee hearing as did many hunting conservation groups, but it still passed 6-4 on a party-line vote. There’s still hope that it will be defeated, if not in the state Senate then in the Montana House of Representatives.

A long history – There are few people who know wolves as well as biologist Dave Mech. He wrote the seminal book on wolf biology and behavior in 1970, and was one of the early proponents of restoring wolves to the West. In a commentary on The Wildlife Society News he lays out nearly four decades of wolf conservation efforts, which gave rise to today’s ongoing wolf wars. We don’t agree with everything he has to say – for example, the number of wolves in Canada really has no bearing on how many wolves should be restored to the lower 48 – if that were true, other species like the bald eagle and grizzly bear would never have been recovered in the U.S. But his commentary is a tour de force that should give us all much to think about as we plan for the next four decades of wolf recovery.
Mexican Gray Wolves 15th Anniversary
Posted: 29 Mar 2013
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO

Jamie Rappaport Clark
Defenders’ president and CEO, Jamie Rappaport Clark
Anniversaries are often a time for balloons and confetti. Sometimes, though, it takes an anniversary to remind us of a bigger picture and more important message. On March 29, we mark the 15th anniversary of the initial release of Mexican gray wolves from captivity into the wilds of the American southwest. Before you cheer this victory and marvel at how fast time goes by, realize that celebration may be a bit premature. Mexican gray wolves will be in a lot of trouble soon if things don’t change.

In 1998, while serving as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I was privileged to help release the first group of Mexican gray wolves back into the wild in Arizona. These wolves (lobos, as they are affectionately known) were on the brink of extinction in the mid-1970s. But thanks largely to the work of scientists overseeing captive breeding programs, we were able to release 11 lobos into the Apache National Forest of Arizona.

It was the first time in three decades that wolves roamed wild again in that state. Being there to see the wolves take their first steps into the wild was an unforgettable and moving experience, one that I will carry with me forever. Since then, Defenders of Wildlife and other organizations have worked closely with federal and state wildlife agencies, tribes and local communities to help people coexist with wolves and protect this most endangered creature.

Jamie (left) and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbit (right) carry a mexican wolf to the release site.  (©Hans Stuart)
Jamie (left) and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbit (right) carry a mexican wolf to the release site. (©Hans Stuart)
Thanks to these efforts, 75 Mexican gray wolves were recorded in the wild last year. A climb from 11 to 75 is clearly nothing to sneer at, but an underlying crisis warrants placing a big, bold asterisk next to that tally.
All of the Mexican gray wolves in the world today are descended from just seven wolves that began the captive breeding program. Such a limited genetic heritage leaves the lobos with smaller litters of pups, increased susceptibility to disease, and less adaptability to changing conditions. And only three breeding pairs remained in the wild in 2012, further hampering the likelihood of producing offspring. Over the long term, these wolves’ very survival is at risk.

All of this points to a perfect storm of trouble for the beleaguered Mexican gray wolves that will only get worse in the next few years. These wolves have remarkable resiliency, but they can’t do it all alone. They need our help, and this 15th anniversary marks the perfect time to help give them the ultimate anniversary present: a better chance of survival in the wild.
Defenders of Wildlife is calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a three-point emergency rescue plan for Mexican gray wolves in order to assure their long-term survival:
  • Release more wolves from captivity as the first step in a science-based genetic rescue plan.
  • Complete the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan, and implement it.
  • Move ahead as quickly as possible to establish at least two additional populations of Mexican gray wolves in the wild.
Captive Mexican gray wolf and pup (©Joel Sartore)
Captive Mexican gray wolf and pup (©Joel Sartore)
There’s a silver lining here. There are about 300 Mexican gray wolves in captivity at zoos and breeding centers, many of which have yet to breed. If we want to be able to celebrate many more anniversaries of the date of their original release, the Service needs to repeat its actions from 15 years ago by releasing more of these wolves from captivity into the wild.

Mexican gray wolves are an icon of the American southwest. They are near and dear to my heart as well as the heart of many who have invested time and energy into their recovery. The 15th anniversary is an important time to reflect on how far these wolves have come, to be sure. But let’s not just stand by and watch the inevitable decline start to happen. Now is the time to act.

This post also appeared on the Huffington Post.
Click here to take action and urge the USFWS to make Mexican gray wolf recovery a priority!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Image of the Day

Grey Wolf: Song of the Wild by MLGreenly
Grey Wolf: Song of the Wild, a photo by MLGreenly on Flickr.

House kills bid to create account to kill wolves

House kills bid to create account to kill wolves

House kills bid to create account to kill wolves
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — House lawmakers voted 35-33 against shifting money from hunting licenses to compensate ranchers for livestock losses and fund state efforts to kill wolves.

Thursday's narrow rejection came after the Idaho Department of Fish and Game raised objections along with hunters and outfitters.

Rep. Judy Boyle, a Midvale Republican and ardent wolf foe, sought to hike wolf hunting tags by to $15 for residents, up $5.25, and $188.25 for non-residents, up $4.

From each license, Boyle then wanted to shift $8 into a "Wolf Depredation Account."

Half its proceeds would have gone to wolf control, half to livestock owners who lost animals to wolf attacks.

But Rep. Marc Gibbs, a former Idaho Fish and Game commissioner, said hunters worried about the poor precedent set by using hunting-tag revenue to reimburse ranchers.

Wolves didn’t kill cow, state wildlife officials say

WENATCHEE — State wildlife experts have concluded that a pregnant cow found dead south of Wenatchee on Tuesday was not killed by a wolf. However they are still worried about the two gray wolves that appear to be establishing territory on or near a cattle ranch in Pitcher Canyon. “We’re just kind of on pins and needles hoping that this livestock operator doesn’t have any more issues with dead cows,” said Matt Monda, regional wildlife program manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Once wolves learn that livestock is a meal, then we will have to go in and take action.”
In extreme cases, the action may require killing wolves, which are protected under federal and state endangered species laws. “But that’s a very volatile path to take,” he added. 

Pictures of the wolves have been captured on remote camera feeding on elk carcasses on the ranch for the last week and a half, though wildlife experts also concluded that the wolves had not killed at least one of those elks.

Monda said if the wolves had just come across a dead elk, they could feed on it for a week or more. So the agency doesn’t know if the wolves are just lingering in the canyon right now because they’ve found dead animals to eat or whether they’ve established a territory that now includes the ranch.
“As long as they have something to eat, there’s no reason for them to go somewhere else,” he said.
State biologists and enforcement officers dissected the dead cow in Pitcher Canyon on Tuesday with the ranchers present. Monda said they did not find any puncture holes, crushing bruises or internal bleeding that are characteristic of wolves or other predators having killed an animal.“Something did eat the cow, but all evidence indicated that it was fed upon after it died,” he said. “But there was no sign of a scuffle, no torn-up ground, no blood. There was absolutely no sign that it was killed by a predator of any kind.” 

The agency hopes to trap one or both of the wolves this spring. Once the animals are outfitted with tracking collars, the agency can get a better idea of their territory and movement patterns.
Monda said the two closest wolf packs to Wenatchee — the Teanaway pack near Cle Elum and the Lookout pack in the Methow Valley — have very different territory patterns. The Teanaway pack tends to stay at lower elevations year round as it follows the deer and elk populations. The Lookout pack in the Methow Valley moves from lower, more populated elevations in the winter to higher, more backcountry locations in the summer, with the migration of the deer.. “So we don’t know if these (Wenatchee) wolves will move further and further away from Wenatchee as the summer progresses,” Monda said. 

Pitcher Canyon is on the fringe of the Colockum elk habitat, “in an area where we would expect a wolf pack to do well,” he said. Monda said the agency has no prediction on how large a pack could grow near Wenatchee. He said the Lookout pack to the north is “tenuous at best” with just two known wolves right now. “They are just barely hanging on up there,” he said, adding that while the territory in North Central Washington is prime for wolves, “They aren’t taking off (in numbers) here like they have in other areas.”

The state agency had expected wolves to have established themselves more by now in the area between Wenatchee and the Methow Valley, he said. If the two wolves spotted near Wenatchee are establishing a pack here, then Wenatchee would be the largest city in the state to have a wolf pack so close. However, many smaller communities do have wolves routinely nearby, including Winthrop and Twisp. 

If the wolves hang around, Monda said the agency will make a “concerted effort” to educate people in the area about them. The most likely interactions between people and wolves are either ranches or people who are hiking or working in wolf territory. But Monda said it’s no different than the expectation that you might encounter a black bear, coyote, cougar or bobcat in the same areas. “Is there any added risks with the wolves? I would say probably not,” he said.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

15 Years of Mexican Gray Wolves: Celebrate or Sob?

Posted: 26 Mar 2013
Eva Sargent, Southwest Program Director

A member of the first pack of wolves released into the Apache National Forest. (c) ADFG
A member of the first pack of wolves released into the Apache National Forest. (c) ADFG
This Friday will be the 15th anniversary of the day U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staffers braved a blizzard to release the first group of captive bred Mexican gray wolves– also called “lobos” – into the wild. The wolves had been waiting in pens in the Apache National Forest in Arizona, the first of their kind in the wilds of the Southwest in decades. Now, 15 years later, there are 75 wild Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, and a handful in Mexico. That’s something to celebrate – part miracle, part Endangered Species Act triumph. An animal that was completely extinct in the wild, with only seven “founder” wolves as breeding stock to save it, is back and howling and having pups and strengthening the natural systems that sustain everything, humans included.

If you live in the Southwest, we have opportunities to celebrate in Flagstaff and Pinetop, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Of course, some people will prefer to sob: there are not enough lobos in the wild; they need to overcome genetic problems; and they are confined to one population in one area of the Southwest. The slow turn of the Mexican gray wolf as it tries to step back from edge of extinction is agonizing to watch. Will the rarest wolf in the world teeter and fall? As someone who lives lobo recovery and politics every day, I can’t just sit around and sob. I need to act, and I need you with me.
Captive Mexican gray wolf
Captive Mexican gray wolf (c) Don Burkett
Saving the Mexican gray wolf is all about dedication and political will. There’s not much mystery left about what needs to be done. It has been spelled out in various published scientific papers, in the Service’s own program reviews and their Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment, and during previous attempts to update the recovery plan. The current recovery team’s scientists have worked it out again, and more rigorously than ever.
In honor of this 15th anniversary of lobos returning to the Southwest, Defenders is calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to do what needs to be done. In order to back the wolves away from the precipice of extinction and get them headed toward recovery, the Service must:
  1. Release more wolves from captivity as the first step in a science-based genetic rescue plan;
  2. Complete the recovery plan, and implement it; and
  3. Move ahead as quickly as possible to establish at least two additional populations of Mexican gray wolves.
Some of these steps are long and complex, and some are relatively easy. The Service has been promising and trying for years to release more wolves. They are stymied by their own out-of-date rule that prohibits wolves straight from captivity from being released in New Mexico, and by their continued deference to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, which has appointed itself gatekeeper over wolf releases while supporting removing all wolves, including our 75 Mexican gray wolves, from the Endangered Species List.

Mexican wolves like this one in a captive breeding facility await release into the wild.
(c) Jim Clark, USFWS
The Service needs to wait for no one to finish the recovery plan; not only is it entirely under their direction, it is also required by the Endangered Species Act. They are currently engaged in their third attempt to update the 1982 plan; the last two attempts were abandoned at about the point when it became clear that the best science said that Mexican wolves will not survive without many more wolves in several populations. The current recovery team has not met in over a year, although the scientists keep compiling ever stronger evidence that Mexican wolves need many more wolves in several populations in order to survive.

These new populations will take years to establish. Once the recovery plan is completed, the Service will need to consult with the state agencies (which are already represented on the recovery team), and the public, and there will be plenty of discussion about where exactly to reintroduce wolves, and where they might wander from there. There will be ample time for public input and fine tuning, but the time to start all of this is now. The Service must realize that those who are afraid of wolves are already mounting an opposition to the expansion of Mexican wolves anywhere, despite strong public support for wolf recovery in the region.

Mexican gray wolves have no time to waste. They need their stewards to overcome obstacles, ignore those whose entrenched opposition they will never overcome and do what needs to be done to assure their recovery. What the Service does or doesn’t do now will determine whether it is possible for the Mexican gray wolf to recover. That’s what makes this anniversary a cause for both celebration and action.

Help us tell the USFWS that now, as we come up on 15 years of lobos back in the wild, is the time to take action to ensure their future.  If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, sign up for our Thunderclap and you’ll be able to help us spread the word in a big way! Through the Thunderclap, we’ll all be able to send the exact same message at the exact same time: at noon on March 29th. Together, we’ll cut through all the noise and take a stand for Mexican gray wolves – before it’s too late.

Environmentalists band together to defend gray wolves

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife report last year proposed dropping wolves from the endangered list in most areas where they're known not to live, triggering an outcry.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Western environmental groups say they're alarmed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a plan to end federal protections for gray wolves in vast areas where the animals no longer exist.

The groups say ending federal protections would keep wolves from expanding their range back into states that could support them, including Colorado and California. "As a matter of principle, I just think it's wrong," said Jay Tutchton, a Colorado lawyer with the group WildEarth Guardians.
Tutchton's group has sued over recent action to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. Wolves in most of the "Cowboy State" are classified as unprotected predators and scores have been killed since federal protections ended last fall. "The Endangered Species Act was designed to protect species, including in places where they no longer reside," Tutchton said. "You were supposed to try to recover them, not throw in the towel."

The Fish and Wildlife Service could announce as soon as this spring whether it will propose a blanket delisting of wolves in most of the lower 48 states. Wolves in the Northern Rockies and around the Great Lakes, where reintroduced populations are well-established, are already off the Endangered Species List.

Chris Tollefson, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday that the agency hasn't made any decision yet whether it will propose the blanket delisting. An agency report last year proposed dropping wolves from the endangered list in most areas where they're known not to live.

Even if the Fish and Wildlife Service ends federal protections, Tollefson said states would be free to cultivate their own wolf populations. "It's fair to say that there wouldn't be a prohibition, it would simply be left to the states to determine how to manage wolves in their boundaries," he said.
Tollefson said his agency regards the wolf recovery efforts in the Great Lakes states and Northern Rockies as enormous successes. "Our view, and that of the biological community is that those populations are thriving and no longer require the protections of the Endangered Species Act," Tollefson said. "Obviously, we'll be discussing other areas as we move forward on that."

The prospect of the national delisting has prompted members of Congress on both sides of the issue to lobby the Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. Seventy-two members of Congress, most of the Republicans, signed the most recent letter to Ashe on Friday urging him to go through with the delisting. Another group of scores of congressmen wrote to Ashe earlier this month urging him to reject the delisting idea. "Unmanaged wolves are devastating to livestock and indigenous wildlife," the members of Congress, led by Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and others, wrote to Ashe last week. "Currently state wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved."

Lummis said Tuesday that the letter was intended to celebrate the successful recovery of wolves.
"I know some will wring their hands over a delisting, but for the life of me I don't understand why they don't throw a party instead," Lummis stated. "In most suitable habitat, and in states that strongly objected to their presence initially, the wolf is here to stay. For some that is a bitter pill to swallow, for others it's not enough, but the bottom line is there are wolves where there once were none, and everyone but the most litigious among us seem ready to move on."

Bob Brister, wildlife campaign coordinator for the Utah Environmental Congress in Salt Lake City, has been campaigning to restore wolves to Utah, where he said they were extirpated in the 1930s.
Brister said the effect of delisting wolves in Utah and elsewhere where they currently don't exist would be to preclude their ultimate recovery back into their historic range. He noted that wolves are hunted heavily in the Wyoming, Utah and Montana and that states can't be counted on to provide the protections new populations would need to survive. "It's especially dire here in Utah, because we depend on wolves migrating from Wyoming and Idaho to restore wolves here in Utah," Brister said. "And when they're being hunted so intensely in Wyoming and Idaho, it greatly decreases the possibility of wolves migrating into Utah."

Erik Molvar executive director of the Bioldiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, Wyo., also noted that Wyoming, Idaho and Montana allow substantial wolf hunting. He said delisting wolves across the rest of the contiguous United States "would seem to be a very unwise move, given the tenuous status of wolf populations in this area."

Molvar, whose group also is challenging the recent delisting of wolves in Wyoming, said it's clear there are other areas of the West that could support wolf populations. "It certainly is true that there are places in Colorado, particularly Rocky Mountain National Park, where elk are so overpopulated that they're becoming a nuisance, that wolves are one of the few options to restore the natural balance," Molvar said.

Tutchton said his group and others are likely to fight the sweeping delisting effort. "I'm very sure that if wolves were delisted in Colorado, we would want to sue. If wolves get delisted in Oklahoma, I don't know. That might be a different question," Tutchton said. "There are some places where wolves would be quite viable."


Thirty Wolves Suddenly Howling in Unison’s Haunting and Eerie

Wolf Creek Habitat & Rescue

The children of the night. What music they make! Except that these children of the night are impatient pooches who don’t wait for the night at all. So at some point during your day, you really could do worse than listen to a chorus of wolves sing in eerie unison. In this case, all 30 at the Wolf Creek Habitat & Rescue in Indiana channel the beast within.

Some are just a little barky, and some seem like maybe they’re pretending to join along until they give in to lupine peer pressure and join the fray. That’s how dogs are. It’s a chain reaction, where one of them — alpha or otherwise — decided to howl up the day, and all it takes is one or two more to hop on the bandwagon.

Either way, it’s a glorious, chilling listen.


State investigates whether wolves killed cow

March 27, 2013 

WENATCHEE (AP) — State wildlife biologists are investigating the death of a pregnant cow on a ranch south of Wenatchee — and they got a glimpse of a wolf while they were working.
The Wenatchee World reports it’s the same ranch where pictures of two wolves were captured on a remote camera on Sunday.

State wildlife officials named the wolves the Wenatchee Pack on Tuesday. Later that same day, they were at the Hurd family ranch investigating a dead cow.
Ross Hurd says he doesn’t want to create hysteria about the wolves, but wants people to know the wolves are in the area.
The state agency has not yet determined how the cow died. Meanwhile, the Hurd family plans to have more people patrolling their property and watching over their livestock.


Feds target mating of dogs, rare wolves

Associated Press Wed Mar 27, 2013
Federal wildlife managers have been working to return the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the American Southwest for the past 15 years. Every now and then, there’s a genetic hiccup.
It happens when a wolf breeds with a domestic dog and produces a litter of hybridized pups.
While it doesn’t happen often, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley said this week that hybridization is a concern. “The bottom line is it’s not a good thing, and we try not to allow that to happen,” he said.

Any mixing of Mexican gray wolves with dogs has the potential to throw a wrench in the federal government’s efforts to reintroduce the predators to Arizona and New Mexico. Having a genetically diverse — yet pure — population has been identified as one of the keys to making the effort a success, and biologists have gone to great lengths over the years to pair genetically valuable wolves and to collect semen and eggs from some of the animals for captive breeding and research.
When hybrid wolves are found in the wild, they are removed to protect the genetic pool. Wildlife managers in 2011 had to euthanize four wolf-dog pups that belonged to a female Mexican gray wolf that had been released into the Gila National Forest.

Only two other cases have been documented — in 2002 and in 2005.

But environmentalists say there’s a “genetic crisis” within the wild Mexican-wolf population and have been pushing the Fish and Wildlife Service to release some of the nearly 260 wolves in captivity. “The fact that there are hybrid animals indicates that the wolves are not finding each other and that there are not enough animals on the ground,” said Wendy Keefover of the group WildEarth Guardians.

Federal officials argued that releasing more captive wolves won’t solve the problem. They are focusing on those wolves that can diversify the genetic pool.

The Mexican-gray-wolf population stems from seven wolves that were trapped in Mexico in the late 1970s as part of the effort to save the species through captive breeding. The federal government released the first captive-bred wolves into the wild in 1998.

The most recent population count completed at the beginning of the year found at least 75 wolves in the wild. Out of the 13 packs identified, there were only a few breeding pairs.


Turning Things Around for Wolves

A Humane Nation --Wayne Pacelle's Blog

March 27, 2013

The HSUS has drawn a line in the sand – no trophy hunting of wolves in Michigan. 

Today, together with other members of a broad coalition of organizations, The HSUS submitted 253,705 signatures in support of a referendum to nullify the Michigan legislature’s December 2012 act to reclassify wolves as a game species, which is a pretext for setting up a trophy hunting and commercial trapping season. If the state certifies the petition – as it should, since petitioners collected well in excess of the 161,000 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot – it will suspend the wolf hunting law and block hunting seasons this year and next. There’ll be a statewide vote on the issue then, and if Michigan residents reject the idea of wolf hunting by casting “no” votes, then we can make that protection of wolves indefinite.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected
Volunteers and members of the Keep Michigan Wolves
Protected campaign at the state capital with the 253,705
signatures they collected in only 67 days.
I wrote earlier this year that 2012 was the worst year for wolves in the United States in decades – with ruthless sport hunting programs conducted in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, often involving hound hunting of wolves, steel-jawed leghold traps, and other inhumane and unsporting practices. We at The HSUS decided to implement a plan to turn it around with a series of lawsuits and our Michigan campaign, designed to show politicians everywhere that Americans value wolves and don’t think they should be killed for frivolous purposes.

In 2006, we blocked the shooting of mourning doves in Michigan, preserving their long-standing protected status in the state. Now we want to do that for wolves, who have not been hunted in Michigan in decades and are only beginning to recover from the brink of extinction. We and our coalition partners will have to conduct a sophisticated public-relations campaign to win that vote in a November 2014 vote, but we’ve taken a big and necessary step today by submitting these petitions, with so many Michigan voter signatures in support.

My thanks to the 2,000 Michigan volunteers who braved cold, ice and snow during these last 67 days to collect signatures from registered voters. We amassed signatures in every one of the state’s 83 counties, demonstrating support for wolf protection from every corner of the state, from Detroit to Iron Mountain. I am quite sure that every one of them had in mind the notion that killing wolves just for bragging rights or for the pelt or trophy is unacceptable and inhumane.


Image of the Day

Sweet wolf by Tambako the Jaguar
Sweet wolf, a photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.

Sweet Mongolian Wolf

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

APNewsBreak: No Pups Born to Isle Royale Wolves

The gray wolves in Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan are increasingly threatened, scientists said Monday, with no pups spotted during the past year and concern growing that the animals may have stopped reproducing.

The wolves have long been a symbol of the wilderness character of the island chain, one of the least-visited national parks because of its remote location in western Lake Superior.

Only eight remain, down from 24 just five years ago, according to a summary of a Michigan Technological University study obtained Monday by The Associated Press before the full report's public release. There were nine wolves last year, and scientists said the entire population could die out soon if the animals don't reproduce. Wolves usually live only four to five years.

The report comes as the gray wolf population elsewhere in the Great Lakes region has recovered enough for the animals to be taken off the federal endangered list and hunting allowed. Hunters and trappers in Minnesota and Wisconsin killed 530 wolves combined last winter, and Michigan could allow a hunt this fall.

The wolves on Isle Royale, however, have been struggling for years with inbreeding and may now be unwilling or unable to mate, said John Vucetich, who leads what the university and the National Park Service say is the world's longest study of predators and prey in a single ecosystem. University scientists who visited the island found no evidence that pups were born during the past year — the first time the wolves have failed to produce offspring since biologists began monitoring their reproduction in 1971. "Next year will be very telling," Vucetich said in a telephone interview. "If they don't reproduce two years in a row ... it would seem the end is imminent."

Inbreeding has been the wolves' biggest problem, causing spinal malformation, among other physical abnormalities, said Rolf Peterson, another researcher. It also could be making the wolves increasingly reluctant to mate. Most species have a strong taboo against inbreeding."
But disease and a lack of food also could be contributing to the wolves' decline, Vucetich and Peterson said. The wolves prey mostly on moose, whose population in the park fell to about 400 in 2007. Since then, they've rebounded — partly because so few wolves have been around to attack them — and now total about 975.

As the threat of wolf extinction grows, park officials are grappling with whether to intervene or let nature take its course. Managers could bring wolves from the mainland to breed with those struggling on the island. Another possibility would be waiting to see if the existing wolves recover on their own. If they don't, the park could start over with a new group of transplants or simply let the island go without wolves, although that could allow moose to balloon and potentially strip the forests on the 45-mile-long archipelago. "We've made no decisions at this point," said Phyllis Green, the park superintendent. "We need to approach this very thoughtfully before we start tinkering. ... We have to sort through what we can do and what we can learn through either taking action or taking no action."
Peterson said scientists observed what appeared to be "courtship behavior" within one of the packs this winter, raising hopes for another litter of pups next month. But without a fresh infusion of genes, the wolves' long-term prospects remain precarious.

Two panels of experts are studying the situation, one focusing on the wolves' genetic issues and the other on how climate change may affect wolves, moose and the broader environment. The park service expects to release a report with options for public comment this fall, Green said.

Scientists believe Isle Royale's first moose swam to the island from the Canadian mainland, about 15 miles away, in the early 20th century. They endured boom-and-bust cycles until a few wolves arrived around 1950, probably by wandering across an ice bridge. As the wolves' numbers grew, they formed packs and helped keep the moose in check.

The island is an ideal field laboratory to study interactions between a predator and prey. Because it's a federal wilderness area, human activities that would affect either species — especially hunting and trapping — are prohibited. There are no deer or other major prey animals that would complicate the food chain.

Peterson, Vucetich and other biologists collect bones and fit wolves with radio transmission collars in summer. For seven weeks each winter, they conduct aerial surveys.

The wolf population reached 50 in the early 1980s before a parvovirus outbreak reduced it to 12. But the hardy canines fought back, aided by the arrival around 1997 of a male from the mainland that reinvigorated the gene pool. Their numbers had averaged a couple dozen until the recent slump.
There are now just two small packs, each with three wolves, and two wandering loners.


Hatch leads effort to strip gray wolves of endangered status

Published: Monday, March 25 2013
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Deseret News that de-listing the gray wolf nationally from the Endangered Species Act is partly a matter of reducing federal bureaucracy.
Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Led by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, 72 senators and representatives formally asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act.
The request in a letter sent to the agency argues that the gray wolf is no longer an endangered species and that uncontrolled gray wolf population growth is a threat to other indigenous wildlife as well as the hunting and ranching industries.

Recovery efforts in the United States began in 1973 after the species nearly went extinct, and were so successful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has delisted the species in its Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions in recent years. “The full delisting of the species and the return of the management of wolf populations to state governments is long overdue,” the letter states. “State governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations and are able to meet both the needs of local communities and wildlife populations.”

Sixty-five Republicans and seven Democrats signed the request, including every congressman from Utah. Hatch told the Deseret News that de-listing the gray wolf nationally is partly a matter of reducing federal bureaucracy. “Having (gray wolves) listed under the Endangered Species Act ties the hands of ranchers and state wildlife managers across Utah and the West from the damage being done by wolves to livestock and local wildlife populations,” Hatch, R-Utah, said.

Wednesday’s official request was in response to a March 4 letter sent by 52 federal lawmakers requesting that gray wolves keep their protected status. Environmental groups say the government has its priorities wrong and some are even threatening to sue for a reversal if a delisting goes into effect. “We believe national delisting would be premature,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, a wildlife advocacy group. “When you have a species that varies greatly from region to region, it’s very dangerous to remove protection nationwide. It puts a bounty on wolves, including where there haven’t been healthy population levels. … Once there’s a market, wolves aren’t safe anywhere.”

Derek Goldman, a field representative for the Endangered Species Coalition, believes a nationwide delisting would be an unnecessary blanket solution. He said stable wolf populations are isolated to areas where their endangered status has already been lifted. “It seems really preposterous to delist wolves where they are barely making a comeback and where there are still great, natural habitats for them,” Goldman said. 


Oregon’s wolf program works

22 hours ago

Oregon is not getting enough press on their wildlife wolf policies, and we are doing better than anyone in the country.

Wildlife biologists will tell you there are studies that indicate elk populations flourish in areas where there are wolves.  Wolves instinctively prey on the weak; the lame, the infirm and keep the herds moving, so that trees along riverbanks grow instead of being browsed, which keeps streams cool, fish and birds healthy and the ecology diversified and strong. Oregon is doing all the right things so far.
Keeping our fledgling population of wolves safe, unlike Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Minnesota, where all the protections were lifted and shooting, trapping, gassing of dens and poisoning have destroyed over 1,000 wolves. Rampant wolf killing generates conflict, controversy and headlines. But Oregon is quietly writing a different story. Our total state population is around 45 and legislation introduced to try to hunt them here has stayed with a court injunction so far.

Responsible ranchers have stepped up and increased efforts to prevent conflict — good for them — and it worked.  In 2012 only four cows were lost to wolves in the whole state, and this where cattle are raised in public forests and BLM land. This may sound like a lot, but 50,000 died from other causes. These statistics can be found in the Department of Agriculture records.

This story has national coverage but was not repeated here in Oregon. It shows Oregon is doing things differently and successfully. It needs more attention just like Journey, the world’s most famous wolf, who returned from California on Tuesday night in his long search for a mate.

To be clear, a couple dozen wolves is a long way from recovery. Nearly half are pups less than 1-year-old. The killing of over 1,000 wolves in neighboring states means Oregon can no longer count on recovery there to help bolster numbers here.

And though most Oregonians value our native wildlife, for some old prejudices die hard. Wolves fear people. A vocal, but politically powerful, minority continues to push to go back to the days of killing all wolves in Oregon. Though lobbyists for the livestock industry and some misinformed hunters are pushing anti-conservative measures, we’re holding our ground in Oregon, as usual.

Nancy Shinn
Coos Bay


Image of the Day

Monday, March 25, 2013

Number of wolves in Montana down for first time since 2004

March 22, 2013 • 

HAMILTON – There were at least 625 wolves in 147 packs with 37 breeding pairs roaming Montana’s wild lands at the end of 2012, according to figures released Thursday.

That’s the number of wolves that state wildlife managers were able to verify for certain for the federally required annual wolf conservation and management report.

The state’s annual minimum wolf count dropped by 4 percent in 2012. It was the first time that has happened since 2004.

The count doesn’t include 95 wolves killed statewide by hunters and trappers from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 this year. While the overall wolf count dropped statewide, the number of packs and breeding pairs increased slightly.

That’s what FWP wolf specialist Liz Bradley documented this year in the Bitterroot area as well.
“The overall numbers are down slightly from last year in the Bitterroot, but we are seeing a few more packs,” she said. “The pack sizes are smaller, which is what you might expect with hunting and trapping.”

The numbers in this report are a minimum count and don’t take into account all the wolves on the landscape, Bradley said. “You should look at it for a trend,” she said. “It gives us an idea of what’s going on out there.”

Bradley documented 13 packs in the Bitterroot in 2012. That was up from 11 the year before.
At the same time, the annual minimum count dropped from 68 in 2011 to 59 in 2012.
Part of the decline in overall numbers could come from the loss of the Welcome Creek Pack in the northern reaches of the Bitterroot. “It’s no longer there,” she said. “It got old and died and dispersed.”
Wolf numbers continue to hold steady in the East and West Fork areas, Bradley said.
This was the first year that Montana allowed people to trap wolves, which increased the annual harvest. Hunters took 128 wolves statewide and trappers killed another 97. In Ravalli County, trappers took eight of the 14 wolves killed during the season that ended on Feb. 28. “We’re making some progress,” said FWP Director Jeff Hagener. “Confirmed livestock loss has been on a general downward trend since 2009, and we have more tools now for affecting wolf populations. In some areas, where hunting, trapping and livestock-depredation removals have been effective, it looks like the wolf population’s growth has been curbed this year,” he said. “In other areas, the population may be leveling off, but we have more work to do. There are still places where we need to manage for a better balance among other Montana wildlife and with Montana’s livestock populations.”

A total of 108 wolves were removed through agency control efforts in 2012 to prevent livestock loss. In 2011, 64 wolves were killed in similar actions. Cattle losses from wolves were the lowest they’ve been in six years. Confirmed livestock depredations due to wolves were 67 cattle, 37 sheep, one dog, two horses and one llama in 2012.

The minimum federal recovery goals for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains was set at a minimum of 30 breeding pairs and minimum of 300 wolves for three consecutive years. That goal was met in 2002.

The 2012 wolf population estimate for the Northern Rockies – which includes Wyoming, Idaho and Yellowstone Park – is expected to be available the second week of April from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ complete report will be online by April 12 at


Image of the Day


Saturday, March 23, 2013

WY Wolves under Attack

The Gray Wolf has been taken off the Endangered Species list in Wyoming, and animal rights groups are fighting back with a lawsuit.
In October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved Wyoming's plan to control their own gray wolf population, meaning the species, which nearly went extinct not long ago, was removed from the federal list of Endangered Species. That means that the more than 250 gray wolves living outside of Yellowstone National Park are fair game for trophy hunters. Since October, at least 50 gray wolves have been legally gunned down or trapped and killed.
Jane Velez-Mitchell speaks to Michael Markarian, Chief Program and Policy Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, about the lawsuit the Humane Society and The Fund for Animals have just filed to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's ruling.


See Endangered Wolves at the Lehigh Valley Zoo

The Lehigh Valley Zoo is putting the spotlight on its endangered Mexican gray wolves all week long, with keeper talks and live wolf feeds.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, March 23, through Saturday, March 30, there will Zoo Keeper Talks at the zoo's Mexican Gray Wolf Exhibit, where you can learn about the wolves and U.S. recovery efforts.
You also can watch wolves being fed at 1 p.m. on Saturday (March 23), Wednesday and Saturday (March 30.)
The Mexican gray wolf is protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The Lehigh Valley Zoo is one of the zoos chosen to be part of a Recovery Plan to help its population grow and ideally be delisted.
Cedar Crest College Professor Amy Faivre wrote a blog on Patch about the zoo's Mexican gray wolves. She wrote that the wolves at the Zoo in 2012 were 4 years old and are all brothers from the same litter. They came from The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY.


Image of the Day

Mongolian Wolf sitting in the snow

Friday, March 22, 2013

Image of the Day

Iberian-Wolf_Gaia_Park_I by picamountain
Iberian-Wolf_Gaia_Park_I, a photo by picamountain on Flickr.

Iberian wolf

Image of the Day

Grey Wolf: Song of the Wild by MLGreenly
Grey Wolf: Song of the Wild, a photo by MLGreenly on Flickr.

Wolf population decreases by more than 4 percent in 2012

Mar 21, 2013   |  
A gray wolf watches biologists in Yellowstone National Park after being captured and fitted with a radio collar.
A gray wolf watches biologists in Yellowstone National Park after being captured and fitted with a radio collar. / AP file photo
At least 625 wolves inhabited Montana at the end of 2012, according to state wildlife managers preparing the federally required annual wolf conservation and management report. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ complete report, which is expected to be available online at by April 12, will show the wolf count decreased more than 4 percent in 2012, compared to a 15 percent increase in 2011 and an 8 percent increase in 2010.

The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually verified by FWP wolf specialists.
The minimum numbers verified by FWP at the end of 2012 include 625 wolves, in 147 packs and 37 breeding pairs. “We’re making some progress,” FWP Director Jeff Hagener said. “Confirmed livestock loss has been on a general downward trend since 2009, and we have more tools now for affecting wolf populations.”

FWP is not yet sure what number of wolves will ultimately be considered the right number for Montana. “There are still places where we need to manage for a better balance among other Montana wildlife and with Montana’s livestock producers and their families,” Hagener said.
For the purpose of reporting minimum counts to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana is divided into three areas that reflect the former gray wolf federal recovery zones. The zones overlap and include more than one FWP region. Here’s a summary of the 2012 minimum counts verified for those areas:

• The “Northwest Montana” area is located north of U.S. Highway 12 and Interstate 90 from the Idaho border east to I-15 along the Rocky Mountain Front. In this part of the state, where packs tend to be more remote and hunter and trapper access is generally more limited, counts showed 400 wolves in 100 verified packs and 25 breeding pairs, compared to 372 wolves in 2011

• The Montana portion of the “Central Idaho” area includes the portion of western Montana that lies south of U.S. Highway 12 and I-90, and west of I-15. In these broad valleys and ranchlands, FWP verified 93 wolves in 23 packs, with four breeding pairs, down from 147 wolves in 2011.
• The Montana portion of the “Greater Yellowstone” area includes southern Montana, east of I-15 and south of the Missouri River. Verified wolf counts here have been stable over the past five years, with 132 wolves in 24 packs, and eight breeding pairs counted in 2012, compared to 134wolves in 2011.
Hunters and trappers took 175 wolves in the 2012 calendar year, compared to 121 taken by hunters in 2011.

A total of 108 wolves were removed through agency control efforts in 2012 to prevent further livestock loss and by private citizens who caught wolves chasing or attacking livestock, up from 64 in 2011.

Confirmed livestock depredations due to wolves included 67 cattle, 37 sheep, one dog, two horses and one llama in 2012. Cattle losses in 2012 were the lowest recorded in the past six years. “We’ve taken a more aggressive approach to wolf-related livestock loss in recent years and this combined with regulated hunting and trapping is lowering livestock conflicts in some areas,” Hagener said.
The minimum federal recovery goal for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains was set at a minimum of 30 breeding pairs and a minimum of 300 individual wolves for at least three consecutive years and well distributed throughout the recovery area of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Image of the Day

Mongolian Wolf pups

Arizona commission backs request to remove wolves from endangered list

The Republic | Wed Mar 20, 2013 
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Wednesday voted to back an effort by Western lawmakers to remove gray wolves from the endangered-species list.

The commission unanimously supported a letter by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to drop federal protections for wolves nationwide.

That would include Mexican gray wolves, which have struggled to find a foothold in the Southwest since reintroduction in 1998, though the commission reasserted its support for at least 100 “wolves on the ground.”

That’s a number that wolf supporters find unacceptable, and they don’t trust the state to nurse the animals to a fully recovered population.

But Hatch and Lummis, in their March 15 letter to Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, said that wolves are not endangered and that states don’t need federal meddling on the predators’ behalf.
“Unmanaged wolves are devastating to livestock and indigenous wildlife,” they wrote. “Currently, state wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved.”

Commission Chairman Jack Husted said wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains — reintroduced in the 1990s, just like Arizona’s — have thrived to the point that they are damaging prey populations such as elk. Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have hosted more than 1,000 wolves between them for years. “We’ve time and again voiced our support for wild wolves on the ground (in Arizona),” Husted said, “but not in unlimited numbers.”

When federal officials released Mexican gray wolves from captive breeding programs into the mountains of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, they discussed an initial goal of 100 animals.
They were unsure how many might actually be needed to support a perpetual population and left that prescription to be determined in a recovery plan that still has not been completed.

Although federal biologists this year reported a record number of wild Southwestern wolves — 75, split about evenly between the two states — wolf proponents say it’s nowhere near a safe number. They’re awaiting the recovery plan, which could designate new areas for reintroduction, such as the forests around the Grand Canyon.

Gray wolves’ legal status is complicated. Alaska’s plentiful packs have long been state-managed. Wolves brought from Canada to the northern Rockies, like those rebounding naturally in the upper Great Lakes states, have thrived to the point that federal officials have already dropped them from the endangered list.

But any that take up residence outside their official recovery zones — in eastern Utah, for instance — would enjoy full federal protection.

The Southwest’s wolves are physically the smallest North American subspecies and numerically the smallest population, and they remain legally protected from such actions as sport hunting.
Hatch and Lummis seek a blanket removal of federal oversight.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter, said the commission would have more credibility in backing that move if the state had ever seriously supported wolf recovery.
“There’s no demonstration of commitment,” she said. Seventy-five animals don’t add up to success, she added. “Common sense tells you these are endangered animals.”

Defenders of Wildlife also condemned the commission’s vote, saying it defies polls that have shown that most Arizonans support wolf recovery.


Battle to legally kill wolves heats up in Olympia, WA

Posted on March 20, 2013 

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A battle over whether to make it legal to kill wolves for protection is heating up in Olympia. At a hearing Wednesday, legislators heard from ranchers who say if the laws don’t change, they’ll take matters into their own hands.

The ranchers and rural county officials didn’t travel to Olympia to put things lightly.

“Under threat of being sued, I will make that choice to act,” said West McCart, Stevens County Commissioner.

Many spoke out in support of a bill allowing ranchers to kill attacking wolves. A separate bill would add wolves to the state’s list of game animals.

“The wolf is a predator,” said Ray Campbell, Okanogan County Commissioner. “It’s not a magnificent wonder of nature placed on earth for people to worship.”

Legislators from the wolf-rich east side of the state are making these bills a priority. They save wolves are increasingly dangerous to livestock and humans. Several agencies, including the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, support killing the wolf for protection, saying it would not affect wolf recovery.

But activists say the bill violates the state’s wolf protection plan. Some ranching families are still trying to find a way for cattle and wolves to co-exist.

“The cattlemen have to, in my opinion, be more willing to possibly change some of their practices even though that’s not going to be as easy as a lot of people think it should be,” said Dave Hendrick, Conservation Northwest board member.

Also in the audience was John Stevie and his dog, Shelby, the Siberian Husky attacked by wolves 10 days ago on the family’s back porch in Okanogan County.

“It had her by the head on the porch,” said Stevie. “They’re not even afraid of you. They will sit there and they will watch you, and they will pace back and forth and they will stand their ground.”

Okanogan County commissioners say it’s reason like these they want to declare a state of emergency if the bill doesn’t pass, so the ranchers can protect their livelihood and their life.

“I will protect my son,” said Stevie. “Whether this bill goes through or not, I’m not going to let this happen again.”

The bill has already passed through the Republican state Senate. KING 5 sources say it’s likely there will not be enough votes in the House to make it law.