Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Image of the Day

wolves 6 by Jamrl
wolves 6, a photo by Jamrl on Flickr.

Wolves no longer protected in Utah? Guess again


First published May 30 2011

Wolves are advised not to linger in far northern Utah now that Congress has removed Endangered Species Act protection for the predators in their Northern Rockies recovery zone.
They are legally welcome everywhere else in Utah, though, if they can get here and breed — regardless of what state officials want.
The status shift, approved in a budget bill last month, allows Utah to kill any wolves that pair up to create a pack in its federally designated recovery zone — the mountainous corner of the state east of Interstate 15 and north of Interstates 80 and 84 — as the Legislature directed last winter.
“It kind of becomes our marching orders,” said Kevin Bunnell, a wildlife biologist and mammals program coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “State law at this point is that we remove those.”
He said the state likely would enlist expert trappers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services when necessary.
That doesn’t mean wolves cannot breed and thrive elsewhere in Utah. Federal protection remains everywhere else, in the places where they aren’t considered legally recovered or even present.
Those spots include the forests around the UintaMountains and a wild swath along eastern Utah’s Book Cliffs. Wolves are off the endangered list only in the Northern Rockies recovery zone, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says transplants to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho helped grow the population to more than 1,600 animals occupying nearly all suitable habitat in the region.
Previously, Utah could seek a wolf’s killing only when it threatened livestock.

Reports of wandering lone wolves in Utah, including some confirmations and a couple of cases of livestock predation last year in Rich County, have become steadier since the 1990s reintroductions 200-plus miles to the north. Experts say the wolf’s newly vulnerable status in the recovery zone scarcely affects the odds — slim but plausible for the near future, by some accounts —that compatible male and female wanderers will hook up in eastern Utah and start a pack in still-protected territory.
Idahoans and Montanans will resume legal hunting to thin the packs this year. Wyoming cannot because it lacks a state plan that federal authorities say is sufficient to maintain the species. That leaves southwest Wyoming as a possible back door into eastern Utah. State wildlife managers have said it’s only a matter of time, and wolf advocates agree.
“I’m fairly optimistic that wolves will come into Utah and make it beyond I-80 to the Uintas,” said Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy in Salt Lake City. “So I don’t think much has changed in that regard.”
He supports wolf recovery in Utah as a component of healthy ecosystems and says it should be encouraged in places such as the Book Cliffs, well away from all but a few ranches.
It’s not likely to happen soon, said Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who has managed Northern Rockies wolf recovery for nearly a quarter century before retiring this week. He likens lone wolf dispersers to spokes on a wheel, each one spaced farther apart the farther they get from the center.
The remote, forested patches of Utah don’t compare to central Idaho, where there are 13 million acres of contiguous public forests with little fragmentation. Still, wolves have strayed from Montana and central Idaho to take up residence in smaller enclaves of eastern Washington and Oregon.
“They’re not going to naturally colonize Utah in the near future,” Bangs said. “That doesn’t mean they can’t get a foothold,” though reintroduction would work better if Utah wanted wolves. That way, he said, they could go where there’s the least conflict.
No political appetite exists for such a program, with legislators seeking to kill packs before they grow. Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike Styler told a legislative committee last session that wolves are indiscriminate killing machines akin to a “modern T. rex.” Last week, he modified that slightly with a nod to the predator’s stealth, intelligence and cooperative hunting.

“I misspoke. They’re more like velociraptors,” he said in reference to the coldblooded killers of “Jurassic Park.”
A state wolf plan adopted in 2005 included survey results indicating 57 percent of urban Utahns and 42 percent of rural Utahns would like to see wolves in the state.
It’s a frightening prospect to Styler, a former farmer and rural Millard County commissioner, if it happens while Endangered Species Act protections still limit state control in most of Utah.
“We have had wolves wander through [Utah] without causing a lot of damage,” Styler said. “If we started getting packs established without management control, there is not enough wilderness-type area here to support packs of wolves without immediately moving on to livestock.”
The state plan calls for no more than two packs in Utah, though that was written with the expectation that federal protections would be removed statewide.
The reality now is that if wolves can quietly pass through the state’s legal no-wolf zone in the north and start packs south of I-80 in any numbers, they are home free.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Government Report: Less Than 1% of Cattle Killed by Native Carnivores and Domestic Dogs

Posted: 05/18/11 

Less than a quarter of one percent, 0.23%, of the American cattle inventory was lost to native carnivores and dogs in 2010, according to a Department of Agricultural report released last week. These findings call into question the tens of millions per year taxpayers and livestock growers spend on lethal control of native carnivores.
The government's own data show that the real killers of cattle are not a few endangered wolves or other wildlife -- they're illness and weather. Yet, the predation myth has directly contributed to a federal, 100-year, paramilitary assault on millions of native animals and birds in America. Despite governmental evidence about miniscule livestock losses, ongoing covert federal wildlife-killing operations are conducted each year on our most treasured wildlands and forests.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an arm of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), compiled the newest cattle inventory and loss numbers. In 2010, cattle inventory dipped to 94 million head, down from 104.5 million in 2005 -- the last time NASS issued its Cattle Death Loss report. According to the report:
  • The top five killers of cattle are respiratory problems (over one million); digestive problems (505,000); complications while calving (494,000); weather (489,000); and "unknown" non-predator causes (435,000). Non-predator cattle losses totaled nearly four million cattle. Respiratory, digestive, and calving problems and weather issued caused 64% of all cattle mortality.
  • In comparison, only 220,000 cattle losses stemmed from livestock predators or 0.23% of the total cattle production over the year. Cattle predators counted by NASS included: coyotes, cougars, bobcats, lynx, dogs, wolves, vultures, bears and "others." Predation by native carnivores really only amounted to 170,800. That is because dogs killed more livestock (21,800) than any other species except coyotes (116,700). "Unknown" predators killed 27,300 cattle. Wolves reportedly killed 8,100 cattle, while felids (pumas, bobcats, and lynx) killed 18,900 cattle.
Meanwhile, federal agents associated with the USDA's Wildlife Services program killed 114,522 mammalian carnivores (including 480 wolves; 82,097 coyotes; and 477 domestic dogs) in 2009. It spent $121 million that year.
Ironically, the USDA houses both Wildlife Services (federal wildlife killing agency) and NASS (the statistics bureau).
Wildlife Services' unending arsenal of poisons, aerial-gunning crafts, and hidden explosive booby traps not only assault native wildlife -- including a terrible toll on wolves, but also people and their pets. American taxpayers unwittingly foot a portion of this $120 million annual bill -- while its sister agency shows that few wildlife kill livestock.
According to NASS, ranchers and farmers reported that they spent $185 million on non-lethal forms of wildlife control such as guard animals, exclusion fences, and removing calf carcasses.

The livestock predation myth is a big lie imposed on the American public. While lethal predator control doesn't even help the fat cats of agribusiness, it does ensure that the USDA-Wildlife Services stays in business. While the feds assault millions of our native wolves, bears, cougars, and coyotes, the true cattle killers are illness and weather. The Wildlife Services' lethal predator control program must end, and the taxpayers, wildlife, and wildlands will reap the benefits.


Image of the Day

Yellowstone Wolves and the Grizzlies

Saturday, May 28, 2011

USDA setting traps after wolves kill horse in Darby

Posted: May 28, 2011 
by Irina Cates (KPAX News)
     USDA setting traps after wolves kill horse in Darby
  • USDA setting traps after wolves kill horse in Darby
DARBY- A Darby rancher is mourning the loss of his horse Jack, after wolves chased him down and killed him.
"It's hard to believe that two days ago I was giving Jack treats and now he looks like that. Because somebody thought we had to have wolves around here," says Paul Shirley who owns the Two Feathers Ranch.
Shirley tears up when he talks about his horse Jack. He says he's heart broken over losing his pet.
"They ran Jack right through the fence and killed him over on the other side," Shirley said. "The day he was killed was his 13th birthday."

Shirley says he is seeing a difference in the behavior of his animals out in the pasture. Not all the horses come up to him when he's petting them and giving out treats, but after the wolf attack on Jack, their behavior changed.
"Every single horse came up and just nuzzled me and wanted to be petted a little bit. They knew what had happened and I guess that they wanted to let me know that they knew," Shirley said.
He also says the cattle stay close to the house, which they almost never do.
"Fish, Wildlife and Parks has gave us permission to set the traps and we have the government trapper here doing it.," says Jeff Rennaker, Two Feathers Ranch Manager. "We're setting foot-hold traps. The wolves are coming through the fence in a spot up here over to the horse. They've got to step in the right spot."
"We're going to do what we can do to eliminate any wolves that come anywhere near any of our animals," added Shirley.
The USDA trapper says he saw two distinctly different wolf paw prints after setting the first set of traps and at least one of the wolves missed the trap by inches. The dead horse is being used as bait with traps set up around it to catch the predator.
And when it comes to the wolf population, Shirley says he thinks it probably helps to thin them out.
"The problem with de-listing is that it's a political issue. It's not a nature issue and anytime you have politics, you're going to have compromises. Sometimes those compromises are decent and work out, sometimes they don't, but we're going to do what we need to do here-and that's kill as many wolves as we can," Shirley said.
Since Friday night, the USDA increased the number of traps on Shirley's ranch, hoping to catch a wolf on the second try.


Image of the Day

Wolf 6 by Dan Newcomb Photography
Wolf 6, a photo by Dan Newcomb Photography on Flickr.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wolves & Humans in Yellowstone

A lone wolf takes a stroll along the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone Park. JON JACOBS--all photos.

May 26, 2011

Yellowstone National Park's gray wolf population became instinct some 80 years ago when park managers killed them to "save" the species wolves prey upon, notably elk.
In the 1970's, the Defenders of Wildlife, other animal rights organizations, and some scientists, campaigned to bring wolves back to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. They believed removing predators like wolves from the food chain created unacceptable imbalances in the natural order.
Wolves were brought back to the park in 1995, and now there are around 100 of them in 13 packs in the park, and hundreds more in the three states surrounding Yellowstone.
Although most wolves avoid humans, a few do approach people and some people have responded by encouraging their "friendliness" and feeding them.
In 2003, Yellowstone wolf managers published "Management of Habituated Wolves in Yellowstone National Park," to guide park rangers dealing with wolf-human interactions. The document notes, "tremendous attention and exposure to humans has caused some wolves to lose their natural fear of humans."
It lists these points park rangers should stress when educating people about how to keep wolves wild:
  1. Maintain a safe viewing distance from wolves at all times. Wolf viewing situations will sometimes involve humans and wolves in close proximity. Visitors should not encourage or allow wolves to get close to them. Anticipating wolf travel and retreating or getting into a vehicle are ways to prevent encounters and avoid blocking wolf travel routes. Encounters may also occur during backcountry outings, even in well-established human use areas. As with road or near-road wolf encounters, visitors in the backcountry should not approach wolves, or allow wolves to get close to them. Allowing wolves to move through the area or hiking around or away from them will help reduce encounters. Visitors should not allow wolves to approach them within 50 meters. Should a wolf move within this distance, humans should respond as described below. Closure to visitor access may be necessary if a certain situation becomes unmanageable.
  2. If a wolf does approach. If avoiding a wolf is unsuccessful, or a safe retreat is unavailable, visitors should not run from the wolf. Visitors should group together to give the appearance of a bigger threat, and should raise their hands, clap their hands, throw rocks, flare any loose clothing such as a jacket, yell, and stand their ground, as running may elicit a response by the wolf to chase. If the wolf approaches, the visitors should continue to stand their ground and strike at the wolf with a stick or pole should one be available. Small children can be susceptible, as they are less threatening; do not leave them alone. Many of the same precautions for a close bear or mountain lion encounter apply for a wolf as well. This message will be proactively disseminated to the public when a habituated wolf situation has been reported or is ongoing.
  3. Do not feed wolves. Education must reinforce to the public that feeding wildlife can lead to the death of an animal and human injury. As with bears and some other wildlife, wolves that learn how to get human foods even once may attempt to do so again. Visitors will be reminded that both actively feeding wolves, as well as indirectly providing food through careless food handling in designated picnic areas, campsites, pullouts, or backcountry sites, is strictly prohibited and punishable by law.
  4. Dogs may attract wolves. In YNP, dogs are not allowed in the backcountry, and are restricted to developed areas and roadsides, provided they are on a leash. The public will be informed that dogs may attract wolves, unprotected dogs may be attacked, and interfering in a dog—wolf interaction may result in injury. Walking a dog may be an attractant to a wolf; small children should not walk dogs alone. If a wolf approaches, follow the same steps under #2 above, although expect greater difficulty in deterring the wolves.

Image of the Day

The Wolves

IN PICTURES: Rescued from hunter's trap, she-wolf returns to the wild

(This is an older article, but it's message to us is that we can see how humane other countries are towards wolves; the question is, why can't our country be the same?)
(Thanks to White Wolf (blog here: http://www.whitewolfpack.com/  ) for the heads up. Btw, if you can, please follow this blog. It is the bet online blog, ever. 

Soldiers near West Bank fence found wolf seriously hurt, rushed her to safari veterinary hospital.

By Zafrir Rinat
After hesitating a few seconds in front of the people who came to watch, Ahinoam the female wolf scampered out of her cage. She had been brought from the Ramat Gan safari park to the wide-open spaces of the Gilboa Mountains in the north, chalking up a success for a project devoted to returning wolves to the wild. 

(Scroll down to see Ahinoam's return to the wild)
Ahinoam had been seriously injured when her leg was caught in a hunter's trap on the Palestinian side of the separation fence. Soldiers of the Israeli armored corps spotted her and alerted Roi Ben-Yosef, an inspector from the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, who rushed the wolf to the safari's veterinary hospital. 

Dr. Yigal Horowitz of the animal hospital said the wolf's leg had now healed completely, but Ahinoam's contact with humans could affect her behavior in the wild. 

However, "from the way the wolf resisted getting into the cage, it was clear we were witnessing the behavior of a wild animal," he said. 

Ahinoam was released to the wild Tuesday in the presence of the soldiers who had saved her life. She has been fitted with a transponder around her neck to allow her movements to be traced. Dr. Horowitz noted that two wolf packs are known to make their home in the Gilboa Mountains. 

"We hope she joins one of them," he said. 

In addition to hunter's traps, the wolves in the area must contend with another danger. One of the main staples of the wolves' diet is sheep and cows, and in recent months two wolves in the Gilboa region have been shot dead after finding their way into a farm's cow shed. The killing of the wolves was authorized by the the parks authority to safeguard the livelihoods of the livestock owners. 

(Photos: Tomer Neuberg / Jini)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Image of the Day

wolves-speedwell forge_0366 by dfbphotos
wolves-speedwell forge_0366, a photo by dfbphotos on Flickr.

Trio of Mexican gray wolves arrives at the Seneca Park Zoo

By Linda Quinlan, staff writer
Messenger Post
Posted May 25, 2011

Mexican gray wolves have arrived at Monroe County’s Seneca Park Zoo.
County Executive Maggie Brooks was joined by officials from the zoo, the Seneca Park Zoo Society, and the County Parks Department Tuesday morning, May 24, to announce the arrival of three Mexican gray wolves from Julian, Calif.

The wolves were born in April 2007 and arrived at the local zoo last Friday from the California Wolf Center.

Area residents will have the chance to name the wolves. The zoo is holding a naming contest for all three wolves. Names may be submitted to wolves@senecazoo.org and more details about the naming contest may be found at www.senecaparkzoo.org as well as on the zoo’s Facebook page.

As a way of enhancing the experience for visitors to the Seneca Park Zoo, and as a way of welcoming the new wolf brothers, “Wolf Day” is being celebrated all day at the zoo. Students from the Rochester City School District’s World of Inquiry School No. 58 were in attendance to celebrate the day and to tell zoo patrons more about the life of the interesting creatures.

“The students at World of Inquiry learn through the Expeditionary Learning Process, an inquiry-based education system that promotes learning by doing,” said Bart Roselli, Director of Education and Interpretation for the Seneca Park Zoo Society. “The students have created education stations that will be on display all day here at the zoo. The stations focus on everything from wolf social interactions and communication to wolf myths and facts and the role zoos play in the lives of wolves.”

After 33 years of protection under the Endangered Species Act, less than 50 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild today.

“In the short-term, it’s not our plan to breed these animals, but we are committed to telling the community their story,” said Larry Sorel, County Zoo Director. “These specific wolves haven’t spent much time in the public so they might be shy in the beginning, but our zoo keepers will work hard to make them feel at home.”

The zoo is located at 2222 St. Paul St., in Seneca Park, Rochester.


Second Imnaha Wolf Killed

by Susan Allen 

Program: Open Range 

Date: May 26, 11

Download Report: 052611 Another Wolf Kill.mp3

My son and husband were surprised to see two uncollared wolves while hunting in the Imnaha area this Saturday especially after learning that a second wolf had been killed by wildlife officials earlier that week.   Were these part of the same pack? I'm Susan Allen  stay tuned for Open Range. 

After the death of two more calves this month and following the their state wolf management plan The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed a second wolf as a result of a livestock attacks and has issued permits for eight ranchers to kill  any wolves caught in the act of maiming  livestock. Last week biologists killed another young wolf bringing the total to two euthanized from a pack in Eastern Oregon that officials  believe are responsible for at least 10 livestock deaths since 2010, (two this month alone. ) 

The decision to cull the Imnaha pack was implemented after attempts to keep wolves away from baby calves failed. Ranchers in the Joseph area have been working closely state  Fish and Wildlife officials  and have  implemented a variety of non-lethal scare tactics to protect their herds. They have installed electric fences, hired range riders and diligently removed  bone piles that attract wolves.  Yet the same ranch that reported the death of  cattle  in April  lost another calf earlier this month. 

Despite a lawsuit from four conservation groups Oregon  biologists went ahead with their plans to reduce the pack of fourteen wolves  hoping a smaller number would  mean less competition for food without harming a breeding pair. Our ultimate goal is wolf conservation, but we need to respond when chronic livestock losses occur," Craig Ely, the department's northeastern regional manager, said in a  written statement. "Wolves need to rely on their natural prey, not livestock." Watching the wolves move through the pines my son commented on what easy prey baby calves are when you compare  the mothering  instincts of a domestic cow with a wild elk, both abundant in the area they spotted and heard wolves. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Experts weigh in on wolf hunting, biological recovery

Express Staff Writer

In this Express file photo, wolf expert Carter Niemayer lets out a wolf howl in the mountains near Clayton, in Custer County. Photo by Mountain Express
Want to become informed on wolf issues? Don't turn to the Internet, say wolf experts.
"If you really want to get misinformed, go on the blogs," Carter Niemeyer, former wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told a group of Idaho Conservation League members during the group's annual conference at Redfish Lake Lodge last weekend. "It's bullisome, it's hostile, it's intimidating. There's a real attempt to misinform, and so people are totally confused about wolves."
Niemeyer was joined by John Rachel, Idaho Department of Fish and Game big game manager, and John Robison, Idaho Conservation League public lands director, in a discussion on the myths and realities of wolves and wolf management.
One of the major obstacles to understanding wolves is the emotion involved, Robison said in his introduction.
"When you talk about wolves, you're not really talking about wolves," he said, adding that activists on both sides of the issue tend to focus on concepts such as traditions and freedom, even the right to property, rather than treating wolves as another game species.
"Wolves are fairly simple, but people are complex," he said.
Niemeyer agreed, saying that people tend to treat wolves as angels or devils rather than animals. While he said wolf talk on both sides is prone to "sensationalism," all three men focused on dispelling anti-wolf rhetoric.
"When you read the paper this fall, as whenever we have a hunting season, you'll be reading about a 250-pound wolf," he said.
In reality, the largest wolf trapped in Idaho was 143 pounds, and Niemeyer said most wolves range from 70 to 120 pounds.
"A 120-pound wolf is a pretty big guy," he said.
While wolves that feed on larger ungulates such as bison tend to be bigger, Niemeyer said, the largest wolf he has ever seen tipped the scales at 141 pounds.
Niemeyer also strove to dispel myths regarding wolves and livestock. According to a report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 588 Idaho cattle have been confirmed killed by wolves since 1987. As an estimated 5.5 million head of cattle roam Idaho pastures each year, Niemeyer said that statistically, wolf depredation is not as large a problem as some make it out to be.
"[Wolves] do kill livestock," he said. "Certainly they kill livestock. But it's not a huge, huge loss for the livestock industry."
Much of Niemeyer's 25-year career working with wolves centered on livestock depredation and determining the cause of death in cows, sheep and other animals suspected of having been killed by wolves. Niemeyer said wolves have a distinct hunting style, grabbing the animal between the front legs and inflicting huge amounts of trauma in order to bring it down. The key to accurate depredation data is accurate documentation that supports the animal's cause of death, he said.
"I wanted to be a forensic expert," he said. "I wanted to treat [a depredation] like a human homicide. We need to keep doing that."
Despite Niemeyer's obvious disdain for "anti-wolfers," he said he is not opposed to state management or even a hunting season, especially since he considers wolves to be biologically recovered.
"Seventeen hundred wolves is a viable wolf population," he said, referring to the number of wolves found in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Niemeyer said that wolves are recovered enough in Idaho that most territory is already occupied by packs, and when a pack loses a breeding male or female, there are enough other wolves to fill in the gaps. As a result, he said, a hunting season would likely do more good that harm.
"Maybe a hunting season will lower blood pressure and calm folks down," he said.
Fight To Survive
<< Rachel, who helped develop the environmental impact statement for wolf reintroduction in 1994, said a hunting season was always in the cards for wolf management.
"Success [in reintroduction] would be measured by recovery, and recovery means treating wolves like any other species," Rachel said.
Such species include mountain lions or black bears, both of which are subject to public hunts in Idaho.
However, Rachel said hunters may not be entirely successful in helping to manage the wolf population through a traditional hunt alone. He said that in areas of dense vegetation or especially remote areas, wolves can be extraordinarily difficult to shoot. This difficulty may necessitate a trapping season to manage populations, he said.
"Trapping was a tool identified years ago," he said. "Hunting alone won't do it."
But traps set for wolves can also catch domestic dogs, including hunting hounds, as well as ungulates and other unintended prey. Both Niemeyer and Rachel said trappers would be required to take a course.
"There's going to have to be some kind of education involved," Niemeyer said.
Rachel said there would be a public hunt for wolves this fall, which would be used to manage wolves to the goal set forth in the state's 2002 wolf management plan. When asked why the state is choosing to use the 2002 plan rather than the 2008 plan, which calls for a population of about 700 wolves rather than 150, Rachel responded that the 2002 plan is the only one approved by the Legislature.
The Legislature also sets the fee schedule, he said, which is why the price for wolf tags—$11.75 for residents—is "way below par."
But even though a hunting season will placate some, neither Rachel nor Niemeyer expressed hope for an end to wolf conflict any time soon.
"I still find myself in the naïve position of thinking I'll never hear anything new or more extreme about wolves," Rachel said, adding with a laugh, "People really have some interesting thoughts about wolves."
"There's wolf wars going on," Niemeyer said. "I always kind of enjoy the turmoil, but I'm still just looking for good wolf management."
Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

2011 Wolf Management

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission laid out its direction for wolf management last week, setting the stage for a public hunting season this fall. During its meeting last Thursday, the commission directed the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to manage wolves in a way consistent with other big game species such as mountain lions and black bears, as well as to carry out control actions when wolves threaten livestock or human safety.
The commission's framework calls for managing wolves to a level that would prevent relisting—a minimum of 150 wolves or 15 breeding pairs, according to the Legislature-approved 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management plan.
The strategy directs the department to develop hunting season recommendations, including recommendations for a trapping season, for consideration at the commission's meeting on July 28.


Cat feeds life into baby wolf in Siberia

Image of the Day

Hierarchy by Robert Keet
Hierarchy, a photo by Robert Keet on Flickr.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Imnaha alpha male wolf re-collared

Imnaha pack alpha male
Imnaha pack alpha male
The Imnaha wolf pack’s alpha male after being refitted with a working GPS collar on May 19, 2011. Photo courtesy of ODFW.

May 19, 2011

SALEM, Ore.—The Imnaha wolf pack’s alpha male was fitted with a new working GPS collar today.

Its GPS collar stopped working back in May 2010.
The alpha male was found in good condition in a trap set by ODFW on private land in Wallowa County, east of Joseph, Ore. He was tranquilized, fitted with a new collar, and released.

The trap was set as part of efforts to catch and kill two uncollared wolves from the Imnaha pack, to reduce livestock losses by wolves in the area.

As the two uncollared wolves have been killed, ODFW has now removed traps from Wallowa County.
“We hope the experience discourages the alpha male from returning to this area, which is private land with livestock operations,” noted Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator.

Source ODFW

A Request for the Quileute Tribe

Twilight's Quileute Tribe Requests Land at Higher Ground to Avoid Flooding

Twilight's Quileute Tribe Requests Land at Higher Ground to Avoid Flooding

 by: Katie Waldeck
The Quileute Nation sits on one square mile of land on Washington State's sleepy Olympic Peninsula. Surrounded by the Olympic National Forest and the Pacific Ocean, the landscape is certainly picturesque. But it's also in the middle of a tsunami zone.

That's why the Quileute are asking the federal government to give them land on higher ground, something only an act of Congress can achieve. And, luckily, they have considerable support in both houses. In mid-April, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA) introduced legislation that would give the Quileute the land they want. The proposed legislation would also protect thousands of acres of the Olympic National Park from development, and guarantee public access to beaches along the coast.

The Tribe has gotten substantial international press for their effort, due in no small part to their prominent role as a tribe of shapeshifting werewolves in the mega-hit Twilight franchise. But there's an important aspect of the Quileutes' request for land at higher ground that isn't told in the various media reports -- the reason the Quileutes' village is only one square mile in the first place.


For centuries, the Quileutes' land "stretched along the shores of the Pacific from the glaciers of Mount Olympus to the rivers of rain forests."  They were masters at boat building, weaving, whaling and sealing. In 1855, they had their first official contact with Europeans, signing a treaty with the then-territory of Washington, where they agreed to move to their first reservation.

It was in 1889 that President Benjamin Harrison mandated that the Quileute Tribe trade their 800,000 acres of land for the 1 square mile reservation that they still call home today.  1889 was also the year that a white settler who wanted their land burned the entire reservation to the ground and with it the all of the pre-contact artifacts that had not been relocated to museums or private collections.

In 2005, after the decades-long decline of the fishing and logging industries, the Tribe had an unemployment rate of 70%. Twilight-related tourism, however, added a much-needed boost to the local economy, with business on the reservation increasing by 30%.

While the Twilight franchise has certainly helped business in the community, the Quileute Tribe still has mixed feelings about their portrayal in the books and films. Tribal member Ann Penn-Charles told the Seattle Times that,

"A lot of elders are hurt because we were portrayed as werewolves, and they didn't want us portrayed as these wild Indians, they want people to know we are not these crazy Indians that change into werewolves when we get mad. We settle our differences peacefully."

Last summer, the Tribe worked with curators on an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum to set the record straight on their real history and culture. It was the first exhibit of its kind. Indeed, in many ways the Quileute Tribe is benefiting from their turn in the spotlight.


In ancient times, as the tribes' creation story goes, the Quileutes were transformed from wolves into humans. In the Twilight franchise, some of the fictionalized Quileutes are shapeshifting werewolves. And therein lies the problem -- Twilight made the Tribe internationally famous, but it wasn't on the terms of the Tribal members themselves. Their history and culture are fictionalized and glossed over by their wider culture. While Twilight does give them more of a means to define their history and culture by their terms on a scale they would never have been able to before, the Quileute are still fighting against a far more dominant narrative.

It's crucial to recognize the historical and political contexts that led the Quileute Tribe to ask the federal government for land on higher ground. After all, the contemporary size and population of its reservation is not something that happened in a vacuum. It's not the result of innocuous circumstances; rather, it's part of a larger pattern of brutal colonization and institutionalized discrimination of Native tribes across the Americas. 

With that in mind, it's crucial that we support the Quileute Tribe's request for more land. Sign the petition here!

Wolves killing fewer cattle in Wyoming than in Montana, Idaho

Kevin Luoma A lone female wolf pauses with its tongue hanging out after hearing a nearby pack howl.
  • Wolves
As Wyoming fights to join Montana and Idaho in getting its gray wolves removed from the endangered species list, a new report indicates that its cattle have fared better with the predator.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week reported that the number of cattle killed in Wyoming by wolves was actually decreasing while kills in neighboring Montana and Idaho had risen sharply.
Wolf-killed cattle have angered ranchers in all three states. In 2010, wolves killed 570 adult cows and 1990 calves in Idaho, according to the USDA Cattle Death Loss report issued last week. Wolves in Montana killed 440 adult cows and 852 calves. Wyoming fared better with 74 adult cows killed and 511 calves.
Five years earlier, Montana and Idaho's losses were in line with Wyoming's, but as wolf populations in those states grew, so did the wolf toll on cattle. Wyoming saw a slight decline.
Fewer kills shouldn't matter, said Jim Magagna of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
"I don't think it weakens the argument for delisting. To me, it's a recovered species and the Endangered Species Act says that recovered populations should be delisted," Magagna said. "The strongest argument for delisting in Wyoming, in my view, is the impact on wildlife."
Outfitters have complained that elk populations around Yellowstone National Park have been dramatically thinned by wolves.
However, wolf advocates say attention to livestock kills in all three states is misguided. Weather, infection and other causes were the biggest killers of cattle in all three states, with wolves accounting for a very small percentage of the deaths. Nationwide, the carnivore predators of all species, including dogs, accounted for less than 1 percent of the cattle kills.
"Wolves are really way down the list as an insignificant factor killing livestock," said Michael Robinson, of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Robinson argues that not only are wolves a small source of cattle kills, but they're also a source for which ranchers are fully compensated. Ranchers are paid for cattle killed by wolves, even when cattle have been put out to pasture on public land where wolves are known to exist.
Payments for wolf-killed cattle don't begin to cover the losses ranchers face, said Jay Bodner, the Montana Stockgrowers Association's director of natural resources. Cattle under stress of wolf attacks lose weight and become more vulnerable to stress-related illness, Bodner said. Also, the costs of moving livestock to safer pastures aren't cheap and aren't reimbursed.
Bodner said wolves have killed more cattle in Montana and Idaho because in those states there are more cattle occupying areas where wolves are located.
Wolf populations in Montana and Idaho could decline this year as those states begin managing wolves no longer listed as endangered. Montana and Idaho succeeded in getting wolves delisted last month after Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, inserted the wolf delisting language into the 2011 appropriations bill.
It was a bill Congress had to pass in order to avoid a government shutdown. The inserted language didn't include Wyoming, which now seeks its own congressional fix.
Once hunted to extinction in the West, wolves were reintroduced to the region in the 1990s. An estimated 1,200 wolves now live in Montana and Idaho. Wyoming's population is believed to be 343, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.
Both Montana and Idaho plan wolf hunts this year. Montana would like hunters to kill 220 gray wolves. Idaho could set its quota by August. Meantime, Idaho has already sanctioned two wolf kills to curb wildlife and pet deaths associated with wolves. Sheriff's deputies around the mountain community of Elk City, have been authorized to kill wolves under disaster emergency rules.
Wolves weren't the only predator cause listed in the USDA report issued last week. Coyotes were credited for roughly 5 percent of Montana's adult cattle lost to predators. Coyotes accounted for nearly 47 percent of the state's calves killed by predators.
John Steuber, director of U.S. Wildlife Services for Montana said coyotes have benefited by living in areas occupied by gray wolves on the endangered species list. That's because poisoned bait and snares cannot be used against coyotes wherever endangered species, like wolves or grizzly bears, might be killed by mistake.
When ranchers want to know which predator killed their livestock, they call Steuber's Billings office. His staff will investigate predator damage scenes to determine the culprit.
The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife fingered black bears for 245 destroyed bee colonies last year. Ravens for pecking the eyes out of 19 kid goats. Grizzly bears for killing 10 cows, six calves, 24 sheep and a llama.
Wolves were the suspect in the deaths of 61 cows, 378 calves, three guard dogs and two herd dogs investigated by U.S. Wildlife, Steuber said. But coyotes were a force.
"Coyotes killed five adult cattle, 449 calves, 228 adult sheep, 3004 lambs, 35 goats and 18 chickens," he said.
But Mother Nature was unsurpassed: 22,000 cattle and 52,800 calves in Montana alone.


Image of the Day

Wolf In Yellowstone by C.R. Courson
Wolf In Yellowstone, a photo by C.R. Courson on Flickr.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Image of the Day

Torak by FurLined
Torak, a photo by FurLined on Flickr.

Three Montana Wolves Killed for Attacking Livestock

BUTTE – A Montana wildlife official says a federal trapper has shot and killed three wolves from the Table Mountain pack near Silver Star in southwestern Montana blamed for killing a calf on a ranch earlier in May.

Pat Flowers of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks tells The Montana Standard that the wolves were killed Tuesday on private land.

Flowers says one of the wolves was an adult fitted with a radio collar after a previous attack on livestock.

Flowers says the pack is still viable though it's unclear how many members the pack contains.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

New York State Museum Scientist, Dr. Roland Kays, Co-Authors Study on Wolves, Coyotes

File photo of Wolves strolling inside their new enclosure at an animal park. EPA/FRISOGENTSCH.

ALBANY, NY.- A State Museum scientist has co-authored a new research article, representing the most detailed genomic study of its kind, which shows that wolves and coyotes in the eastern United States are hybrids between gray wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs.

Dr. Roland Kays, the Museum’s curator of mammals, was one of 15 other national and international scientists who collaborated on the study that used unprecedented genetic technology, developed from the dog genome, to survey the global genetic diversity in dogs, wolves and coyotes. The study used over 48,000 genetic markers, making it the most detailed genomic study of any wild vertebrate species.

The research results are especially relevant to wolves and coyotes in the Northeast. The study shows a gradient of hybridization in wolves, with pure wolves in western states and increasing hybridization as you move east. Wolves in the western Great Lakes area averaged a genetic makeup of 85 percent wolf and 15 percent coyote, while wolves in Algonquin Park in eastern Ontario averaged 58 percent wolf, and the ‘red wolf’ in North Carolina was only 24 percent wolf and 76 percent coyote. Populations of eastern coyotes, which only colonized the region in the last 60 years, were also minor hybrids, with some introgression of genetic material from wolves and domestic dogs. For example, Northeastern coyotes, including those in New York State, had genetic material primarily from coyotes (82 percent), with a minor contribution from dogs (9 percent) and wolves (9 percent). Midwestern and southeastern coyotes were genetically 90 percent coyote, with an average of 7.5 percent dog and 2.5 percent wolf.

The advanced genetic techniques used in this study also allowed the scientists to estimate when the hybridization initially occurred. Kays said “In most cases this breeding across species lines seems to have happened at times when humans were hunting eastern wolves to extinction, and the few remaininganimals could find no proper mates, so took the best option they could get.” Kays continues, “The exceptions were an older hybridization between coyotes and wolves in the western Great Lakes dating from 600-900 years ago, and a coyote-dog hybridization in the eastern U.S. about 50 years ago, when coyote were first colonizing eastern forests.”

This study also provides fresh data on the controversy over the species status of the Red Wolf in North Carolina, and the Eastern Canadian Wolf in Ontario. Both are medium-sized wolves that some have argued represent unique species. However, this new detailed genetic data shows both are the result of hybridizations between coyotes and wolves over the last few hundred years, and do not share a common origin in a unique eastern wolf species.

This research is also relevant to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposal to remove the western Great Lakes wolves from the Endangered Species Act by showing that those wolves are only marginally hybridized with coyotes, should be considered a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, and have no genetic ties to a more endangered form of eastern wolf.

The research is published online in Genome Research, an international, peer-reviewed journal that publishes outstanding original research that provides novel insights into the genome biology of all organisms, including advances in genomic medicine.

This study follows another research paper co-authored by Kays last year in the journal Biology Letters, which used museum specimens and genetic samples to show that eastern coyotes hybridized with wolves to rapidly evolve into a larger form over the last 90 years, dramatically expanding their geographic range and becoming the top predator in the Northeast. This hybridization contributed to the evolution of coyotes from mousers of western grasslands to deer hunters of eastern forests. The resulting coy-wolf hybrids are larger, with wider skulls that are better adapted for hunting deer.

In the past, Kays has also studied coyote diet and distribution in Albany’s Pine Bush and in the Adirondack Mountains. His research indicated that deer accounted for approximately one-third of the coyote’s diet and that they made extensive use of forested areas. Kays also writes a blog about his research for the New York Times “Scientist at Work” feature. This blog is the modern version of a field journal, a place for reports on the daily progress of scientific expeditions — adventures, misadventures and discoveries. Kays’ posts can be found at http://scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com/author/roland-kays/

Image of the Day

Friday, May 20, 2011

Image of the Day

Call of the Pack by Tristan Findley
Call of the Pack, a photo by Tristan Findley on Flickr.

ODFW Officials Kill Second Wolf In Wallowa County

Oregon wildlife officials have killed two wolves in the last two days. Rob Manning reports that the idea is to keep wolves from killing eastern Oregon livestock.
The state protects wolves as a threatened species. But Oregon Fish and Wildlife officials say wolves have repeatedly killed livestock in eastern Oregon – including a calf, on Monday.
Spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says wildlife officials have tried non-lethal measures against the wolves.
Dennehy says officials don’t know if the wolves they’ve killed were the ones attacking livestock.
Michelle Dennehy: “However the way we’ve set up these operations is we were doing the trapping on private land with livestock operations, so we could target the wolves that are showing an interest in livestock.”
Dennehy says officials aren’t planning to kill more than the two wolves they’ve already killed.
Biologists have also issued a number of what they call “caught-in-the-act” permits. Those allow ranchers to kill wolves, if they catch them biting or killing livestock.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Image of the Day

Soy un Lobo Mexicano by soyrwoo
Soy un Lobo Mexicano, a photo by soyrwoo on Flickr.

Future Of Wolves Subject Of Fed Hearing In Ashland

How two species of Great Lakes wolves, rather than one, would affect plans for removing the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list was a topic of discussion and of public comment at a hearing Wednesday night at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center.
The hearing was the only Midwestern opportunity for the public to give oral comments about a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to delist the gray wolf.

Prior to public comments being accepted, Laura Ragan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained the history of the endangered status of the gray wolf and described the last 10 years, during which efforts have been made to remove the wolf from the endangered species list, only to be deterred by multiple court cases.

Given the difficulty the federal agency has had in removing the wolf from the endangered species list, one attendee on Wednesday asked what the odds are of the most recent delisting proposal being successful.

“When you're sued and the judge is examining the evidence, you never know,” said Tony Sullins of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We are trying very, very hard to get it right.”
The newest delisting proposal was published in the Federal Register earlier this month and calls for the gray wolf to no longer be considered endangered or threatened in the Western Great Lakes region. The region includes a core area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and a dispersal zone of parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
Research shows there are now two species of wolves in the Western Great Lakes, rather than one: Canis lupus (the gray wolf) and Canis lycaon (the Eastern wolf). The proposed delisting plan would involve delisting the gray wolf and reviewing the status of the new-found species, Canis lycaon, in its entire U.S. range and Canada to determine if Endangered Species Act protections are needed for the newly-labeled species.

Canis lupus and Canis lycaon can only be told apart from one another genetically.
Bob Krumenaker of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore asked what that would mean for the status of the wolf, were one species to be found endangered, but not the other.

“They act as one entity here,” Ragan said, later adding that if the Eastern wolf would require protection in a particular area of the Great Lakes states, then that protection would end up affecting both species of wolves in the area, given the lack of visual clues one is able to use to tell Canis lupus from Canis lycaon.

Ragan said that dual listings would not be allowed under the proposal, so either both species would continue to be protected or both species would be unprotected.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources questions the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determination that two wolf species exist in the Western Great Lakes.

“We disagree with the Service that a newly discovered wolf, the Eastern wolf, exists in our region,” said John Godzdialski of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Northern Region. This opinion comes about due to the gray wolf and Eastern wolf being indistinguishable, that the two species interbreed, occupy the same range, and have been treated as the same wolf, he said.

Even with that disagreement, however, the DNR fully supports the delisting of the wolf in the Great Lakes states, Godzdialski said.

The proposal to remove Western Great Lakes wolves from the endangered species list is a result of threats to wolves having been minimized over time, Ragan said, such as unregulated killing of wolves. A reduced number of threats to wolves have contributed to a population increase and indicate that wolves are not in danger of extinction and are not likely to be endangered in the foreseeable future, Ragan said.

However, if the wolves were removed from the endangered species list, biologists would monitor disease, overall population numbers, and management plans to ensure that the recovery of wolf populations would remain stable and that wolves are not being threatened.
“We want to make sure the population is maintained,” Ragan said.

A question posed by a meeting participant asked if federal penalties for illegally shooting wolves would be changed if wolves were removed from the endangered species list.
“After delisting there would be no federal penalty,” Sullins said. “Any fines that would apply would be in accordance with state or tribal law.”

Later in the evening, Jason Suckow of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services read a prepared statement saying that his employer concurs with the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service proposal. Suckow said he is concerned that public frustration with wolves is contributing to illegal takes of wolves in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Other individuals speaking Wednesday included Chuck Matyska, the president of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, who said the group supports the delisting. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress also showed support for the proposal, according to Allan Brown, a representative of the 360-member congress. The Wisconsin Bearhunters Association supports the proposal as well, said Mike Sogge.

Disagreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisting proposal was expressed by Wisconsin residents Amy Wilson, Jan Conley, Christopher LaForge, and Dave Conley, among others.

“Top predators are needed for a viable ecosystem,” Wilson said, while others pointed out their opinions about the delisting proposal being driven more by politics than science.
“Politics should not take the place of science,” said Jan Conley. “I oppose the plan to delist the gray wolf.”

Additional comments were shared by livestock and pet owners, or those who knew livestock owners, and hailed from areas of Wisconsin and from Ironwood, Mich., Bessemer, Mich. These individuals expressed support for delisting.

Those interested in commenting on the proposal to delist the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes may still do so, though comments must be received by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by July 5.

Comments may be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov and then entering FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029 in the keyword or ID box. Comments may also be mailed to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS, 2042-PDM, Arlington, VA 22203.

Another formal public hearing will be held on June 8 in Augusta, Maine, and then two public informational sessions are planned for June 14 in Grand Rapids, Minn. and on June 16 in Marquette, Mich.


Stop Federal Wolf Killing in Idaho

Wolf in Meadow (National Geographic Stock)

In one of its first moves since retaking the reins of wolf management, Idaho officials called in the Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services -- the federal government's chief wildlife-killing agency -- to kill wolves in the central part of the state.
Using radio collars to track down wolf packs in the area, the airborne marksmen only managed to kill five wolves. The mission was quickly abandoned, described as both inefficient and expensive by the Wildlife Services agents themselves.

But Wildlife Services could continue gunning from the skies and trapping on the ground to artificially boost game populations in the region.

Take action now: Urge Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to abandon aerial wolf-killing in Idaho by Wildlife Services.

Please go here and make your voice count! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Idaho authorizies sheriffs deputies to kill wolves

A gray wolf and its nursing pups are pictured in Yellowstone National Park in this undated photograph obtained on May 4, 2011. REUTERS/National Park Service/Handout 
May 18, 2011 
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - The state of Idaho has authorized sheriff's deputies in a tiny mountain town to kill wolves blamed for preying on pets and elk, a spokesman for the state fish and game department said on Tuesday.
The move marks the second of two wolf kills sanctioned by Idaho less than two weeks after federal protections were lifted from most wolves in the Northern Rockies and states, including Idaho and Montana, resumed management of the animals.
For the first time since wolves were reintroduced to the region in the mid-1990s, the state is permitting sheriff's deputies to kill a pack of about seven wolves near Elk City, a community of 200 residents in north central Idaho.
Wildlife officials say the wolves are in close proximity to people and appear to have no fear of human communities.
"We want wolves to be wild, not hanging around town," said Mike Keckler, Idaho Fish and Game spokesman.
Although a newly passed law in Idaho declared wolves a "disaster emergency" akin to a flood or a wildfire, Fish and Game needed no additional authority to enlist the aid of local law enforcement.
The agency has permitted outfitters to kill problem predators, just as it has licensed ranchers to shoot wolves or mountain lions attacking livestock.
For the first time in the history of the Endangered Species Act, wolves in the Northern Rockies in April were removed from the endangered species list by Congressional action rather than scientific review.
Federal safeguards were officially lifted from the estimated 1,200 wolves in Idaho and Montana on May 5, the same day Idaho began selling permits for wolf hunts.
The two states are seeking to kill hundreds of wolves, mostly through licensed hunting. Montana last week set its quota at 220 out of 550 wolves and Idaho is considering the same quota for its 700 wolves.
The region's ranchers and hunters have taken aim at wolves for preying on livestock and elk. Wildlife advocates said it would be open season on wolves when federal oversight ended.
Idaho last week launched an aerial attack on wolves in a hunting zone where they are accused of reducing elk herds.
Gunners killed five wolves before the helicopter was grounded because of costs and because of difficulty targeting radio-collared wolves under the cover of trees.
The state has recruited outfitters to kill another 55 wolves in the area.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)


Oregon wolf killed--What Do YOU Think?

'This action is not something that we take lightly'

Story Published: May 17, 2011 
Oregon wolf killed: 'This action is not something that we take lightly'
A trail camera set up by USFWS and ODFW captured this photo of wolves at the site of a depredation of sheep in Baker County on April 13 at 3:05 a.m. Photo courtesy ODFW.

From the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

An uncollared young male wolf from the Imnaha pack was trapped and euthanized Tuesday morning by ODFW staff. The action occurred on private property with livestock operations, where wolves had killed livestock in late April 2011.

ODFW killed the wolf in an effort to reduce livestock depredation in the area. Despite non-lethal methods in place to prevent wolf-livestock conflict, wolves from the Imnaha pack have killed at least four domestic animals this year. The pack was also involved in livestock losses in the same area at about the same time last year.

“This action is not something that we take lightly, but it is consistent with the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “This will reduce the food requirements of the pack and discourage further use of this area [livestock operations on private lands].”

Efforts to remove a second uncollared wolf from the pack will continue.

ODFW has also issued 12 “caught in the act” permits to livestock producers in the area of the Imnaha pack. With the permits, the livestock producers may shoot a wolf they “see in the act of biting, wounding or killing livestock.” All of the permit holders are using non-lethal methods to prevent wolf-livestock conflict.

The purpose of these permits is to provide livestock producers with additional tools to protect their property. Morgan noted that the opportunity to use these permits is rare. “Wolves tend to avoid humans, so seeing one in the act is unlikely. None of the livestock producers that have lost animals to wolves so far have seen a wolf actually attacking their livestock,” he said.

“However, we want to give ranchers the ability to protect their private property should they see a wolf biting, wounding or killing their livestock.”

Yellowstone Wolves Worth $35 Million a Year

by Jake Richardson May 17, 2011

Yellowstone Wolves Worth $35 Million a Year

A study was conducted by University of Montana researchers which found the presence of wolves in Yellowstone contributes many millions of dollars each year to the local economy, from tourists who visit the park to see wildlife.

This information is from a study conducted over five years ago on the economic contribution from Yellowstone wolves, but it is still very relevant due to the recent controversy surrounding the management of wild wolves in the United States.

They surveyed park visitors for about one year, and found wolves were the second most-desired animal that visitors wanted to see. Their first-choice animal to see was the grizzly bear. Previous data showed visitors wanted to see wolves even when wolves were not present in the park, as they had been all killed off. After they were reintroduced, visitors then began indicating wolves were one of their top picks of wildlife to see. (It should be pointed out that livestock losses due to wolf predation were stated to be only about $60,000 per year at the high point.)

Within the park, it has been estimated that there are only about 94-100 wild wolves, but the entire region including Idaho, Wyoming and Montana may have approximately 1,700. In 2008, there were about 124 wild wolves in Yellowstone, but disease reduced that number by over twenty percent.

Wolves provide an additional value to the smaller meat-eating animals in their habitat as well. A different study showed they tend to not finish eating their prey at times, which leaves free meat for coyotes, golden eagles, and other small creatures, and the distribution of the food occurs somewhat evenly throughout the year, which means there is a fairly steady supply of left over food for the smaller animals.

The controversy around how the wild wolves should be protected from human society is especially remarkable because it is obscuring the fact that the reintroduction of wild wolves to Yellowstone and the whole region has been a very successful venture.
It seems now what is taking place is paranoia and hysteria about the wolves, due to a lack of self-awareness on the part of some people. For example, Don Peay, who founded a hunting organization published some misinformation claiming that big game herds, “….can sustain tens of thousands of jobs…” (Source: Defenders of Wildlife) Really, herds of elk, and deer sustain tens of thousands of jobs? Which jobs?

It sounds like he is just making up nonsense, and has no idea what he is talking about. Of course, this misinformation is just his way of trying to claim that hunting contributes more economically than having even a small number of wolves scattered across several states. People like Mr. Peay, rather conveniently never cite any credible sources of information or research studies, however.

Image Credit: Doug Smith, National Park Service