Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New World Wolves and Coyotes Owe Debt to Dogs

Daniel Stahler/Associated Press
Researchers have determined that black-coated wolves, like these in Yellowstone National Park, got their distinctive color from dogs.
Published: February 5, 2009
In a bit of genetic sleuthing, a team of researchers has determined that black wolves and coyotes in North America got their distinctive color from dogs that carried a gene mutation to the New World.
The finding presents a rare instance in which a genetic mutation from a domesticated animal has benefited wild animals by enriching their “genetic legacy,” the scientists write in Thursday’s Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science. Because black wolves are more common in forested areas than on the tundra, the researchers concluded that melanism — the pigmentation that resulted from the mutation — must give those animals an adaptive advantage.

Although common in many species, melanism in dogs follows a unique genetic pathway, said Dr. Gregory S. Barsh, a professor of genetics and pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the senior author of the paper.

Last year, Dr. Barsh and his laboratory identified a gene mutation responsible for the protein beta-defensin 3, which regulates melanism in dogs. After finding that the same mutation was responsible for black wolves and black coyotes in North America, and for black wolves from the Italian Apennines where wolves have recently hybridized with free-ranging dogs, the researchers set out to discover where and when the mutation evolved.

Comparing large sections of wolf, dog and coyote genomes, Dr. Barsh and his colleagues concluded that the mutation arose in dogs 12,779 to 121,182 years ago, with a preferred date of 46,886 years ago. Because the first domesticated dogs are estimated to date back just 15,000 to 40,000 years ago in East Asia, the researchers said that they could not determine with certainty whether the mutation arose first in wolves that predate that time, or in dogs at an early date in their domestication.

Robert K. Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies canine evolution and is a co-author on the Science paper, said in an interview that he believed the mutation occurred first in dogs. But even if it arose first in wolves, he said, it was passed on to dogs who brought it to the New World and then passed it to wolves and coyotes soon after their arrival.

Dr. Wayne and his colleagues have dated the presence of dogs in Alaska to about 14,000 years ago and are now checking ancient dog remains from across the Americas for the mutation.

The researchers concluded that the mutation is subject to positive selection, meaning that it serves some adaptive purpose. Cross-breeding produces offspring with one set of genes from each parent, in this case a dog and a wolf. If all subsequent breeding takes place among wolves, the dog genes eventually vanish, unless one or more of them helps the organism survive.

Scientists have not yet identified the mutation’s purpose, but they suggested that its association with forested habitats meant the prevalence of melanism should increase as forests expand northward.

In an interview, Dr. Barsh observed that beta-defensin is involved in providing immunity to viral and bacterial skin infections, which might be more common in forested, warmer environments.

Marc Bekoff, a behavioral ethologist from the University of Colorado.


Image of the Day

IMG_1325 by chiarabenelli73
IMG_1325, a photo by chiarabenelli73 on Flickr.

A Fine looking wolf

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Barbarism continues in Montana

Sportsmen's group aims to encourage wolf hunting in southwestern Montana by giving away rifle

HAMILTON, Mont. — A southwestern Montana sportsmen's group is hoping to encourage wolf hunting in the Bitterroot Valley by holding a drawing for a rifle from among the names of those who successfully bag a wolf in December.
The drawing is an effort to fill quotas set for wolves in two areas where elk populations have been declining, Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association President Tony Jones told the Ravalli Republic ( ).
"It's been a long, hard-fought battle to get a wolf season in this state," Jones said. "We have a legal quota set by (Fish, Wildlife and Parks), and now our next step is to make sure that we fill it."

Read more of this wanton slaughter here


99 wolves killed so far in Montana less than half of quota

PERRY BACKUS/Ravalli Republic
(Wonder how this jerk would feel if HE was the one being hunted?--wiinterrr's comment)
  Dustin Nielson of Darby's Big Bear Taxidermy examines a wolf pelt from Alaska. Nielson hopes that this year's wolf hunting season will mean more work for the Darby shop where local business has dropped with the recent decline in elk numbers.
BUTTE - Hunters across Montana had killed less than half the quota of wolves set by state biologists as of Sunday, the end of rifle season for deer and elk.
The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks had recorded that hunters had shot 99 wolves by Sunday across 14 management units. The quota was reached in only one wolf district, the large unit that stretches from just east of Butte to the North Dakota state line.
But the total wolf kill lags well behind the 220 statewide quota state biologists set this year. The target wolf kill is the number needed to reduce predation on game animals and cut down on attacks on livestock, state biologists said.
With many hunters packing away their rifles for the season, state biologists are waiting to see how many keep going into the field, said Quentin Kujala, FWP wildlife section chief.


Wandering wolf inspires hope and dread

This Oct. 25, 2011 photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows OR-11, a male pup from the Walla Walla pack, waking up from anesthesia after being fitted with a radio tracking collar in northeastern Oregon. Another wolf, OR-7, from the Imnaha pack, has become a celebrity by trekking 730 miles on a zigzag course from near the Idaho border tot he southern Cascade Range. His GPS tracking collar has traced his trail across the state. (AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

 This July 9, 2011 trail camera image provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows wolves from the Imnaha pack on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in northeastern Oregon. A 2-year-old wolf from this pack has become a celebrity since blazing a trail across Oregon in search of a mate and a new territory. Meanwhile, the alpha male and a young wolf left behind are under a death warrant for killing cattle.(AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

This Feb. 13, 2010 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows wolf coordinator Russ Morgan with a female wolf pup just fitted with a radio collar in northeastern Oregon. Another Oregon wolf, known as OR-7, has become a celebrity since zigzagging 730 miles across the state, his journey tracked by GPS transmissions, looking for a mate and a new territory. (AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

This map image provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows the journey of a young wolf known as OR-7, which has become a celebrity by trekking 730 miles on a zigzag course across the state trying to find a mate and a new home. Meanwhile, back at home, his father and a sibling are under a death warrant for killing cattle. (AP Photo/Oregon 
This June 19, 2010 trail camera image provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a wolf from the Imnaha pack in northestern Oregon. A young male from this pack fitted with a collar transmitting GPS locations has become a celebrity while traveling some 730 miles across the state searching for a mate. (AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Wandering wolf inspires hope and dread
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A young wolf from Oregon has become a media celebrity while looking for love, tracing a zigzag path that has carried him hundreds of miles nearly to California, while his alpha male sire and a sibling that stayed home near the Idaho border are under a death warrant for killing cattle.

Backcountry lodge owner Liz Parrish thinks she locked eyes with the wolf called OR-7 on the edge of the meadow in front of her Crystalwood Lodge, on the western shore of Upper Klamath Lake, and hopes someday she will hear his howls coming out of the tall timber.

"I was stunned — it was such a huge animal," said Parrish, who has seen her share of wolves while racing dog sleds in Alaska and Minnesota. "He just stopped and stared. I stopped and stared. We had a stare-down that seemed like a long time, but was probably just a few seconds.

"He just evaporated into the trees. I stayed there awhile, hoping he might come back. He didn't."
Cattle rancher Nathan Jackson has not seen or heard the wolf, and hopes he never does.

"In this country, we worked really hard to exterminate wolves 50 years ago or so, and there was a reason," said Jackson, who ranches on the other side of Upper Klamath Lake from Parrish's lodge.

"A lot of people who don't have a direct tie to the agricultural community tend to view wolves as majestic, beautiful creatures. They don't seem so majestic and beautiful when they are ripping apart calves and colts."
Last February, OR-7 was in a snowy canyon in northeastern Oregon, when a state biologist shot him with a tranquilizer dart from a helicopter, then fitted him with a tracking collar and blue ear tags. State biologists have been able to chart his journey from GPS positions transmitted from the collar. They show he has traveled 730 miles on his meandering route, getting as far as 320 miles from home. And each time he crosses a county line, OR-7 makes it into the newspapers and on TV news.

The conservation group Oregon Wild has begun a contest to give OR-7 a different name, hoping to make him too famous to be shot, either by a poacher, rancher or government hunter. One entry came from as far away as Finland. The first came from a little girl in OR-7's home territory of Wallowa County, who suggested "Whoseafraida."

OR-7 set out on his trek on Sept. 10, just before state wildlife officials issued a death warrant for members of his Imnaha pack for killing cattle. The kill order specifically mentions OR-7's father, the alpha male, and one younger wolf with no collar. Since OR-7 and two siblings took off, that would leave his mother and one pup.

The department reports a government hunter had a shot but missed, and did not get another before conservation groups won a stay of the kill order while their legal challenge is settled by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Wolves started moving into Oregon from Idaho in the late 1990s, from packs introduced into the Northern Rockies as part of a federal endangered species restoration program. From trail cameras, radio tracking collar data, and sightings, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife figures the state has at least 23 wolves. All four packs are in the northeastern corner of the state. Two produced pups this year.

Federal protection for wolves was lifted in Eastern Oregon, but they remain under state protection. West of Interstate 97 they are back under federal protection.

When wolves reach about 2 years old, they typically strike out on their own, looking for a mate and an empty territory they can call their own. And that's what OR-7 has done.

He's trekked across mountains, deserts and major highways from his pack's turf.

Once in the Cascade Range, OR-7 meandered through the Rogue-Umpqua Divide, where Oregon's last known wolf was shot by a bounty hunter in 1946. He skirted Crater Lake National Park, and dropped down to the flatlands near Upper Klamath Lake, climbed back up in the Cascades, and crossed over the crest south of Mount McLaughlin, a snow-capped volcano visible from Interstate 5.

So far there have been no reports of cattle killing along his path.

Russ Morgan, the wolf coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been surprised by the way the public has embraced the wandering wolf. Much of Morgan's time is spent on a more difficult task, trying to build acceptance among ranchers.

"With all that's going on right now with management of wolves in Oregon, this is kind of a different side that people across the state have taken a shine to," Morgan said.

OR-7's travels are not unusual, said Ed Bangs, the retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf coordinator for the Northern Rockies. A female from Montana headed south through Wyoming, crossed southeastern Idaho, dropped down to Utah, crossed northern Colorado, and headed back up to Wyoming, where she ate poison and died.

"If you connect all the dots, she walked something like 3,000 miles," said Bangs. "Wolves are amazing travelers.'"

And patient. One male hung out four years in Idaho, howling and leaving scent markers, before a female found him, Bangs said. They established a pack, and the male lived to the near-record age of 13 before lying down and dying next to a dead elk.

Bangs said most of the wanderers become biological dead ends, but even if OR-7 dies alone, the trail of scent posts he has left will be followed by others.

And OR-7 already may have company. Tracks and sightings from last winter indicated other wolves made it to the Cascades. Parrish spotted a track last May in a muddy area of her meadow.


Image of the Day

This Aug. 4, 2010 photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a male wolf from the Wenaha pack after being fitted with a radio collar in northeastern Oregon. A young male from the Imnaha pack has become a celebrity since striking out for a new territory in search of a mate in September. His position has been tracked by GPS transmissions from his collar, showing he zigzagged 730 miles to end up 320 miles from home. Lately he has been in the southern Cascade Range. (AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Image of the Day

First Wolves Tagged for Satellite Tracking in Turkey

Jennifer Hattam
November 27, 2011

© KuzeyDoğa

The wolf looms large in the folklore of Turkey, where a gray wolf is believed to have led the Turks' ancestors out of their legendary homeland and into Anatolia, conquering along the way. But hunting and habitat destruction, especially road-building, have left the elusive animal a rare sight indeed.

This fall, two wolves were tagged with satellite transmitters for the first time in Turkey, a step that conservationists hope will help provide better information about the animals' behavior and range and what is needed to protect them.

The tagging was carried out in the mountainous Sarıkamış area of eastern Turkey in early October by the environmental group KuzeyDoğa, in collaboration with government officials and the mobile carrier Turkcell, whose network can continuously transmit the wolves' GPS coordinates through SMS messages.

Reducing Human-Wolf Conflicts

"With the wolf tracking project, it will be possible to determine the size of the wolves' habitat and their seasonal-use areas and how closely they live with people," said KuzeyDoğa founder Cağan Şekercioğlu. "By observing wolves' movements, which parts of the [Sarıkamış] national park they use and the frequency of their visits to settled areas, human-wolf conflicts in the area can be reduced."

As of Nov. 24, one of the wolves has already been tracked walking 300 kilometers and covering 575 square kilometers of ground, an area 2.5 times bigger than Sarıkamış-Allahuekber National Park.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Life without Bob


Saddle pack is doing well and adjusting to life without Dad since the passing of their legendary alpha male, Bob. Bob was a strong leader and taught his pack well. The pack is enjoying the cooler weather (thank goodness there are no more 100oF days! Imagine wearing a fur coat in that heat!) and have been seen running through the very colorful leaf fall! Their winter coats are starting to come in very full and beautiful! Wolves have two type of fur; guard hairs that are 2" long and repel water and an undercoat that insolates them from the cold. When it starts to get warm the wolves will "blow their coats" to shed that extra fluffy insolation. When they do this, they look much smaller and skinnier. Shedding this fur makes the local wildlife, like birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. very happy because they often use this fur to build nests.

Image of the Day

Friday, November 25, 2011

Image of the Day

Give Thanks For Wolves

Despite continued conflict, wolves are expanding to new areas across the Rockies. A wolf in Oregon known as OR-7 has dispersed from the northeast corner of the state, over the Cascades, and within 50 miles of California.

While the news this last year regarding wolves has often been worrisome, it has also been a year of important achievements and good transitions.  Top among those is the westward expansion of wolves in Oregon and Washington.

A single pioneering wolf has made his way through the Cascades and is within potential range of the northern Californian border.  If he reaches the state, he’ll be the first documented wild wolf in California since 1924, when the last known native California wolf was trapped and killed.

In Washington state, wolves have been dispersing westward as well. The Teanaway wolf pack is the state’s fourth documented wolf pack that lives less than 100 miles southeast of Seattle.  Only a month after this pack was found, a fifth pack was documented in the northeastern corner of the state and named the Smack Out pack after a nearby mountain.

Even in the heart of wolf country there is plenty to be thankful for. Our Wood River Wolf Project in central Idaho keeps picking up steam and gaining crucial support from local stakeholders. In a recent feature story that ran in the ag-friendly Capital Press, ranchers and county officials alike spoke favorably about the effectiveness of nonlethal deterrents:
Commissioner Larry Schoen believes such demonstrations help in understanding the economics of nonlethal options. He said lethal controls can never be taken off the table but should be the option of last resort.
“The goal here is to avoid the losses up front and not wait until livestock are killed and try to find the offending animal,” Schoen said.
Lava Lake ranch supports expansion of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s wolf radio collaring program to better track packs. They’ve found that nonlethal deterrents work best in combination.
“The nonlethal program has been very effective, and we’ve learned a lot working with all of the partners involved,” said Lava Lake official Tess O’Sullivan. “We intend to continue using nonlethal methods to protect our sheep.”
Participant John Faulkner found the turbo fladry worked better for neighbors with flat land than on his steep terrain. He’ll continue using spotlights to ward off wolves.
“They’ve done us some good, there’s no question about that,” Faulkner said. “The main thing that helped was (Defenders) had people out there who stayed up there all night.”
Hopefully, the idea of “coexistence” will continue to catch on across the region and help reduce the animosity that has stifled wolf recovery for far too long. Thanks to all our partners who have helped transform this idealistic dream into a practical reality.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Help Save Wyoming Wolves From Slaughter -- Take Action

When Congress stripped Endangered Species Act protection from gray wolves last spring, wolves in Wyoming were lucky enough not to be affected. But their luck seems to be running out.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that Wyoming's wolves will lose their federal protected status and management will be turned over to the state wildlife agency, completing the destructive delisting of all northern Rockies wolves. This will drastically reduce the state's population and allow wholesale persecution of wolves across 83 percent of the state.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been at the forefront of efforts to protect our country's wolves. We need your help to ensure these wolves get the lifesaving protection they deserve. Under Wyoming's "wolf-management plan," wolves would be declared predatory animals, legal targets for anyone to shoot on sight. Only 100 animals in the entire state will be protected outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
Please take action now to help save Wyoming's wolves and then learn about the Center's ambitious campaign to restore gray wolves to the lower 48 states

Montana’s FWP proposes extending wolf season

Posted: Wed Nov 23, 2011

Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Commission is seeking comments on proposals that would extend the wolf hunting season and allow hunters to participate in wolf depredation removals.

If the season extension is approved, the current wolf hunting season would run through Jan. 31, 2012, or until the specific wolf management unit quotas are met, whichever is first.

The wolf hunting season is currently set to end Dec. 31. Montana’s statewide harvest quota is 220 wolves and so far 76 have been taken by hunters.

If approved in December, an additional proposal to allow hunters to participate in wolf depredation removals would go into effect in 2012 and 2013. Officials say the use of hunters may enhance depredation response times and that livestock producers would have the ability to identify the hunters authorized to participate. Livestock producers would be expected to allow a reasonable amount of public wolf hunting access during the wolf hunting season.

All lethal removals by livestock producers, federal Wildlife Services, or hunters would be consistent with FWP rules and regulations.

Comments can be submitted through 5 pm., Nov. 28. For more information, or to comment on online, visit Click “Hunting.” Submit comments by mail to FWP Wildlife Bureau, Attn: Public Comment, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.


Wolves were domesticated in southeast Asia

Wednesday, November 23, 2011  |

A new study confirms that an Asian region south of the Yangtze River in China, was the principal and probably sole area where wolves were domesticated by humans.
Grey wolves. Image: Silvain de Munck, Flickr
Grey wolves. Image: Silvain de Munck, Flickr
Data on genetics, morphology and behaviour show clearly that dogs are descended from wolves, but there’s never been scientific consensus on where in the world the domestication process began. “Our analysis of Y-chromosomal DNA now confirms that wolves were first domesticated in Asia south of Yangtze River — we call it the ASY region — in southern China or Southeast Asia”, says Dr Peter Savolainen, KTH researcher in evolutionary genetics.
The Y data supports previous evidence from mitochondrial DNA. “Taken together, the two studies provide very strong evidence that dogs originated in the ASY region”, Savolainen says.
Archaeological data and a genetic study recently published in Nature suggest that dogs originate from the Middle East. But Savolainen rejects that view. “Because none of these studies included samples from the ASY region, evidence from ASY has been overlooked,” he says.
Peter Savolainen and PhD student Mattias Oskarsson worked with Chinese colleagues to analyse DNA from male dogs around the world. Their study was published in the scientific journal Heredity.
Approximately half of the gene pool was universally shared everywhere in the world, while only the ASY region had the entire range of genetic diversity. “This shows that gene pools in all other regions of the world most probably originate from the ASY region”, Savolainen says.
Our results confirm that Asia south of the Yangtze River was the most important — and probably the only — region for wolf domestication
Our results confirm that Asia south of the Yangtze River was the most important — and probably the only — region for wolf domestication, and that a large number of wolves were domesticated”, says Savolainen.
In separate research published recently in Ecology and Evolution, Savolainen, PhD student Arman Ardalan and Iranian and Turkish scientists conducted a comprehensive study of mitochondrial DNA, with a particular focus on the Middle East. Because mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother in most species, it is especially useful in studying evolutionary relationships.
Since other studies have indicated that wolves were domesticated in the Middle East, we wanted to be sure nothing had been missed. We find no signs whatsoever that dogs originated there”, says Savolainen.
In their studies, the researchers also found minor genetic contributions from cross-breeding between dogs and wolves in other geographic regions, including the Middle East.
This subsequent dog/wolf hybridisation contributed only modestly to the dog gene pool”, Savolainen explains.
KTH researchers Peter Savolainen, Mattias Oskarsson och Arman Ardalan work at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab ), a collaboration involving KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University.
Source: KTH Royal Institute of Technology press release


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Image of the Day

Timber Wolf by dlberek
Timber Wolf, a photo by dlberek on Flickr.

Redneck Sheriff No Match for Wolves

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CANYON CITY - For a brief time, it looked as if Sheriff Glenn Palmer had found a strategy for keeping wolves out of Grant County: a 2003 county ordinance that termed them exotic animals.
Palmer told the Grant County Court at its Nov. 9 meeting he wanted to explore how the ordinance, which prohibited keeping exotic animals, might be used to convince state and federal wildlife agencies to remove wolves from the county.
"I see wolves as a huge public safety issue, and a huge economic issue," Palmer said.
He said a citizen recently reminded him of the ordinance, prompting him to revisit it.
The Court in 2003 adopted the ordinance, which defines exotic animals as including wolves not native to Oregon. The ordinance is based on the Court's findings that Oregon's indigenous wolf families are extinct, while the gray wolf that has moved from Idaho into Oregon is non-native.
However, commissioners recalled the state taking some action about that time to change how wolves are defined, blunting the impact of the county ordinance.
Last week, after talking with the county counsel, Commissioner Boyd Britton said that action did take place, "neutering" the county's ordinance.
He said legislators revisited the law defining "exotic" and it no longer applies to wolves.
Britton and Commissioner Scott Myers, along with then-County Judge Dennis Reynolds, signed the county ordinance in 2003.
Palmer said the intent was to protect the public, livestock, wildlife and also the economic interests of the county.
It defined "keeping" of a wolf as releasing it into the wild, not restraining it, or preventing the removal of a wolf from the county. Palmer felt that would apply to actions of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which are monitoring the reintroduction of wolves into the western states.
In Oregon, wolves are protected by the state Endangered Species Act. West of Highways 395, 78 and 95, wolves also are protected by the federal ESA. The state adopted a wolf management plan in 2005.
Palmer wanted to use the ordinance to approach state and federal wildlife officials to ask them to remove any wolves that enter the county. If they refused, he said, the county could remove the wolves at the agencies' expense as "an abatement situation."


Image of the Day

Monday, November 21, 2011

Swedish Political Party Wants to Eliminate Wolves

November 20, 2011

© Tambako the Jaguar

A brand new party has sprouted up in the Swedish political scene with just one goal in mind. You might not guess from the name, but the newly founded Nature Democrat party is committed to the complete elimination of wolves in the country. The move has reignited the ongoing debate over how Sweden deals with an animal that, just a few decades ago, was driven to the brink of extinction.

Humans and wolves have had a long and generally rocky relationship in Scandinavia throughout much of the region's history. For years, farmers were so quick to kill wolves to prevent attacks on livestock, and other to hunt them for their fur, that wolves were nearly made extinct by the mid-20th century. In 1960, the killing of wolves was banned in Sweden and the species saw a slow but steady recovery.

Last year, with an estimated wolf population of only 237 wolves in Sweden, that ban was lifted, but with quotas. Now, the Nature Democrat party wants to see all the wolves eliminated. In fact, that's the only issue on their platform.

Leaders from the new political party have eased back a bit on the rhetoric of their anti-wolf philosophy following some public backlash, adding that they aren't necessarily trying to promote shooting wovles -- just getting rid of them somehow.
[A]ccording to the Nature Democratic head, hunter Marcus Werjefeldt, the original party line hasn't changed.
"We don't want to eradicate wolves. We just don't want them in Sweden," he said to TT.
Werjefeldt doesn't have a clear idea on how to best get the wolves out of the country, but maintains that policies need to change.
Regardless of where you stand on issues such as hunting and animal rights, mustn't there be something troubling about the rise of a party whose only goal is to see the elimination of another being.


Image of the Day

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

Mongolian wolf of the zoo of Zurich

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nonlethal measures protect sheep from wolves

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Content ImageContent Image
Photo submitted by Lava Lake Ranch
A Lava Lake ranch sheepherder sets up turbo fladry to protect sheep from predators. The colorful barrier emits a shock to wolves and other predators.
Dogs, firecracker shells, other methods keep four-year losses under 20
Capital Press

Fewer than 20 of 40,000 sheep that grazed at the heart of Blaine County's wolf country were lost to predators throughout a four-year demonstration project that concluded in late October, according to organizers.
That compares to 20 killed by wolves in the year prior to the start of the project.
The demonstration, spearheaded by Defenders of Wildlife with support from Blaine County and several agencies, utilized nonlethal measures to protect livestock from predation throughout a 500,000-acre area.
Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative with the wildlife group, said the project's steering committee has opted to conduct the demonstration for a fifth year to include cattle.
Three of the state's largest sheep ranches participated: Lava Lake, Plateau Farms and Faulkner Land and Livestock. Stone said the ranchers initially doubted their losses would be curbed.
"There's been years with zero losses," Stone said. "We've been able to prove you can have wolves and sheep on the same public land if you use the right tools, and our tools are cost-effective."
Protections in the demonstration included adding guard dogs, firecracker shells to startle predators, shining spotlights, removing dead livestock, range riders, predator tracking, radio collars and turbo fladry -- a portable barrier that emits a shock.
The only losses reported took place when poor communication left the animals unprotected, Stone said.
The project costs $30,000 a year. Defenders of Wildlife have contributed $25,000 annually, with the remainder coming from the county and the producers.
Blaine County has allocated $1,800 annually for the demonstration since its inception and has budgeted the same funding for the fifth year.
Commissioner Larry Schoen believes such demonstrations help in understanding the economics of nonlethal options. He said lethal controls can never be taken off the table but should be the option of last resort.
"The goal here is to avoid the losses up front and not wait until livestock are killed and try to find the offending animal," Schoen said.
Lava Lake ranch supports expansion of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's wolf radio collaring program to better track packs. They've found that nonlethal deterrents work best in combination.
"The nonlethal program has been very effective, and we've learned a lot working with all of the partners involved," said Lava Lake official Tess O'Sullivan. "We intend to continue using nonlethal methods to protect our sheep."
Participant John Faulkner found the turbo fladry worked better for neighbors with flat land than on his steep terrain. He'll continue using spotlights to ward off wolves.
"They've done us some good, there's no question about that," Faulkner said. "The main thing that helped was (Defenders) had people out there who stayed up there all night."
The group offers training for ranchers in nonlethal tools and has started an outreach effort to popularize them throughout Blaine County.
John Peavey, owner of Flat Top Ranch in Carey, will furnish cattle for the next demonstration but remains skeptical.
He's had the government shoot wolves among his sheep in the past and has lost as many as 30 animals in a single attack.
Defenders plans to provide additional range riders to watch over Peavey's cattle.
"They're scattered over big, big areas. It's very difficult to protect the cattle part of it," Peavey said.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Image of the Day

Funny lying wolf by Tambako the Jaguar
Funny lying wolf, a photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

18 Nov 2011

Sparse attendance at Wyoming wolf meeting

Just 45 people showed up for the one and only public meeting to discuss the proposed delisting rule for wolves in Wyoming. At least a dozen of the attendees were with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who hosted the meeting on Nov. 15 in Riverton. Defenders’ Wyoming wolf expert Susannah Woodruff was one of 10 people who offered testimony, which was pretty evenly split between wolf supporters and wolf advocates. Wildlife advocates reiterated their concerns that the aggressive Wyoming wolf management plan puts the long-term recovery of the species at risk. Wolf opponents continue to cite lost revenue from diminished elk hunting opportunities, even though the majority of herds in the state are still over their objective population size. The deadline for public comments is Jan. 13, and the Wyoming legislature is expected to vote on the state plan in February. A final decision is likely to follow soon thereafter. Read full coverage in the Casper Star-Tribune

Phantom wolf pack on the big screen

Student filmmaker Desiree Fawn presented her film “Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley” to a packed theater in Boise, Idaho last night.  The film focused on central Idaho residents and their wide ranging beliefs regarding wolves. Many of our project partners were interviewed including Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen, sheep rancher John Faulkner and others.  It is a powerful documentary with an honest depiction of the controversy, fears, passion, politics and confusion that shrouds the wolf conservation issue in the state. Kudos to Desiree for demonstrating that students can make a big difference even with their first projects.
Check out the trailer:

Carter Niemeyer draws huge crowd in Jackson

Former wolf trapper-turned-advocate Carter Niemeyer never disappoints when it comes to addressing the ongoing conflict over wolves. He drew a near-capacity crowd recently of some 160+ people to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming to share his experiences and answer questions about the West’s most controversial animal. In his usual shoot-from-the-hip style, Niemeyer made quips about “Canis lupus irregardless”—his term for the sub-species of gray wolf that has been idolized and demonized by folks on both side of the debate. Carter said while wolves do eat livestock, it’s essential to base any claims on solid data rather than anecdotal information. He has been a big proponent of nonlethal deterrents, which he says, though not 100 percent effective all the time, are a much better alternative to killing wolves in response to depredations. Thanks to Carter for dispelling myths and helping us spread the word about better ways for wolves and people to coexist!
Wolves hunt two bull elk in Yellowstone. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service.

See wolves in Yellowstone

There’s no better way to show your support for wolves (besides supporting Defenders!) than going to see them in Yellowstone. Our friends at the Yellowstone Association are offering guided tours and special classes to introduce visitors to wolves as well as other animals that make the park one of the best places in the world for wildlife-watching. Check out the list of upcoming events, starting with “Lamar Valley Wolf Week” right after Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Image of the Day

Alaska officials postpone decision on wolf kills

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Wed Nov 16, 2011 

(Reuters) - Alaska wildlife managers have postponed a decision on a controversial proposal to kill wolves in a region south of Anchorage, a state spokesman said on Wednesday.
The Alaska Board of Game postponed its decision on a wolf-control program for the Kenai Peninsula until mid-January, said Scott Crass, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The board had considered the proposal at a meeting that ended this week, but board members opted against making a decision to obtain more information, Crass said.
The proposal would authorize shooting of wolves from aircraft to thin out packs, with the intention of boosting the moose population in the region.
The program would be the first authorized by the state to kill wolves by aerial shooting on the Kenai Peninsula.
Compared to remote parts of Alaska where state-ordered wolf kills have been conducted, the Kenai Peninsula is more densely populated, with numerous cities, towns and connecting highways. It is also a major tourist and recreation destination.
(Reporting by Yereth Rosen: Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)


Wolf hunt: Montana FWP seeks comment on extending season

Image by MacNEILL LYONS/Yellowstone National Park
  Wildlife advocates were back in federal court Tuesday on seeking an injunction to block gray wolf hunts that are already under way in Montana and Idaho.

With wolf harvest numbers still lower than anticipated for the 2011 hunting season, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is seeking comments on a proposal to extend the current wolf hunting season by an extra month.
If the season extension is approved, the current wolf hunting season would run through Jan. 31, 2012, or until the specific wolf management unit quotas are met, whichever comes first. Montana's wolf hunting season is currently set to end Dec. 31.

According to latest tallies, the statewide harvest for the 2011 season stands at 76 wolves, out of an overall quota of 220. Mike Thompson, regional 2 wildlife manager with FWP, said that the simple point of the proposed extension is to achieve the quota set prior to this year's hunting season.

"We're not talking about killing more wolves than the original quota," he said.

That said, comments are also being accepted on a proposal to allow hunters to participate in wolf depredation removals in 2012 and 2013. Such removals would serve as an additional response, alongside ongoing efforts by federal Wildlife Services personnel and livestock owners, aimed at protecting livestock. That move would not fall under the restrictions of hunting season quotas.

"Those efforts would be dedicated to a piece of private land or a particular land area," said Thompson, noting that such individual responses would still be managed consistently with FWP rules and regulations. "We definitely don't want to get in the way of the professional response by Wildlife Services, but we want to respond absolutely as quickly as possible to a confirmed depredation. In those cases, hunting might be one extra tool in the toolbox that we might use under circumstances when Wildlife Services has completed its response."

Thompson said that his agency hopes to hear from anyone with a perspective on either or both proposals. The deadline to comment is 5 p.m. on Nov. 28.

"We really welcome in particular those responses that get down to specifics," he noted. "Things that people can tell us about particular interests they have in participating in an extended season or particular conflicts they see in January or things they know about from personal experience and how they personally would be affected, those are the kinds of things that can really help us."

Comments can be submitted via mail to FWP-Wildlife Bureau, attention: public comment, P.O. Box 200701, Helena MT, 59620-0701. Comments may also be submitted online at Click on "Hunting."


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Image of the Day

Lakota Wolves-Arctic Wolf by gunnarkelly
Lakota Wolves-Arctic Wolf, a photo by gunnarkelly on Flickr.

Rare Mexican gray wolves transferred to Scottsdale

Rare Mexican gray wolves transferred to Scottsdale

by Stacey Delikat
Posted on November 15, 2011 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Valley has two new and extremely rare residents.
On Monday two Mexican gray wolves were flown to Scottsdale and taken to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center where they will live and possibly reproduce in the future.
One of the wolves is 6 years old and came from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio, and had reportedly been outcast from her pack.
The other, 14 years old, was flown from the Oklahoma City Zoo after her mate died.
The addition of the two Mexican grays, both females, brings the SWCC's total population of the rare species to 19, one of the largest collections in the country.
"The Mexican gray wolf is an endangered species, so this is a big deal," said Linda Moore, assistant director at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
There are roughly 350 Mexican gray wolves left in the world after the now-endangered species was hunted to near-extinction decades ago. Very few are actually in the wild right now.
Moore accompanied the two wolves on their private flight cross-country.
The flight was furnished by a California woman, Joy Covey, who is a volunteer with the organization LightHawk, a nonprofit environmental group that provides transport for endangered wildlife.
Covey became involved with LightHawk because her young son, Tyler, has a passion for animals.
"This was an opportunity to do something very hands on to help one of the most endangered species in the world," Covey said.
At SWCC the two new wolves will be paired up with wolves who were already living in the facility.
Moore says the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums may eventually harvest eggs from the wolves in order to preserve their genetic material and use for possible reproduction in the future.
For more information on the Mexican gray wolf visit the SWCC's website here.


Court: State plan to kill wolves still on hold

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
The Imnaha wolf pack alpha male is one of two wolves sentenced to die to reduce wolf attacks on livestock in northeast Oregon.

The Oregon Court of Appeals decided today to keep a temporary ban on killing the two trouble-making wolves in the Imnaha pack.
The court also required conservation groups to provide $5,000 in security to repay ranchers for wolf depredations while the court considers whether the state’s plan to kill the wolves is legal.
Wolves in the Imnaha pack have been tied to numerous livestock losses in Oregon’s Wallowa County. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to kill two wolves to shrink the size of the pack and reduce the likelihood of more depredations.

Conservation groups have challenged the state’s plan in court and have asked for the plan to be halted while the court considers their case. The court agreed to stop the state from killing the wolves temporarily while the case was deliberated.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association asked the court to reconsider, but the group’s motion was denied. So, the state’s plan to kill the wolves is still on hold.
A bit more intriguing is that the court wants a $5,000 security deposit to cover potential livestock losses (you can read more details in the court document here) caused by the two wolves that would have been dead if the state’s plan had gone forward. Of course there are several conditions on how that money might be spent.
Here’s the meaty part:

Alberta’s ‘big bad wolves’ mere scapegoats

November 15, 2011

 Dick Dekker

Albertans love their dogs. They are becoming more and more part of the family, and mistreatment of pets is severely frowned upon. The shooting of surplus sleigh dogs after the Vancouver Winter Olympics created an international scandal. Recently, an Ottawa woman who allowed her dog to starve to death was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

So why the apparent lack of reaction after local news media repeatedly reported that more than 500 wolves had been shotgunned from the air in the foothills northwest of Hinton? When the remaining wolves became too shy, government biologists resorted to the use of poison baits, which are non-selective and known to kill many non-target carnivores and scavengers, birds as well as mammals.

Can our silence perhaps be explained by relentless media exposure to graphic footage of distant wars, which has inured us to the killing of innocent creatures, including humans, as long as we are assured that the murderous air strikes are in our own interest?
The purported reason for the Alberta wolf cull is that another animal — the woodland caribou — has been declining, mainly because their formerly closed forest habitat has been carved up by industrial activity and opened up to hunters and poachers, while clearcuts have improved foraging for deer and moose, which in turn attract more predators.

So what has Alberta’s Department of Sustainable Resource Development done to rectify the problem? Has it restricted industrial activity in the forests? Has it blocked unused oil roads and seismic cutlines to all-terrain vehicles? Hardly. Instead, provincial biologists have zeroed in on a scapegoat of old: the big, bad wolf.
In actual fact, the government has aggravated the ecological crisis of habitat destruction by seriously disrupting the dynamic balance between prey and predators.

In a Journal article article back in June about the wolf kill, entitled Senseless Slaughter, journalist Ed Struzik included interviews with several university biologists, who were unanimous in their belief that the wolf cull alone would not be effective in halting the caribou decline.
This view was underlined by retired Yukon biologist Bob Hayes, who had personally killed 851 wolves with the objective of protecting caribou. Killing wolves was “morally and biologically wrong,” he said. Dr. John Elliott, who had shotgunned 996 wolves from helicopters in north-eastern B.C., later considered it “a waste of time.”

Dr. Gordon Haber, an independent wolf scientist who read 70 official documents and interviewed more than 35 guide-outfitters and native hunters, compared the B.C. wolf cull to a bad Alfred Hitchcock movie. As fast at the Wildlife Branch would clean them out, more wolves came flooding in.

The caribou crisis is far from new. Already in 1986, the Alberta Restoration Plan for Woodland Caribou warned of major declines and included a proposal for a large-scale wolf cull. Leaked to the news media, it sparked an immediate reaction. Organized by the local affiliate of the Sierra Club, a public protest meeting in the Calgary Auditorium attracted a capacity crowd of 1,200 people. They were addressed by hard-hitting Canadian author Farley Mowat, world-famous for his book Never Cry Wolf.

In May of 1988, the University of British Columbia, in co-operation with the B.C. Wildlife Branch and several environmental groups, hosted a scientific symposium on wolf predation. In the meantime, Greenpeace activist Paul Watson had succeeded in calling international media attention to the province’s aerial kills.
Assaulted from all sides, B.C.’s environment minister soon capitulated, declaring that he had received 12,000 letters on the issue, more than on any other subject.

On March 29, the University of Alberta invited Paul Watson to explain his views. His courageous stance in the face of a two-hour grilling was a catalyst in bringing the controversy home to Albertans.
Understandably, the province’s hunters and outfitters were of a different opinion and became increasingly irritated by government inaction on the wolves.

In March 1989, on behalf of local big game hunters, the Alberta Fish and Game Association took matters in its own hands and issued a press release offering a bounty of $150 for any wolf killed. On average, the province’s trappers caught about 500 wolves annually out of an estimated provincial total population of 3,500 to 5,000 animals. The hunting group wanted to boost the trapper “harvest” to 1,200.

The announcement elicited a passionate response from the Canadian Wolf Defenders, headquartered in Edmonton. On Feb. 8, 1990, they organized a public forum on the wolf issue in the provincial museum. Hosted by its curator of mammals, the panel of invited experts included the deputy minister of wildlife and the dean of the university’s department of zoology, as well as executive members of the local hunting and conservation groups.

The meeting drew the largest crowd ever to the museum. The 400-seat auditorium was filled to capacity and an additional 140 people followed the proceedings via closed-circuit television in the foyer. The parking lot filled up early and long lines of cars had to be turned back at the gate.
Attended by a diverse crowd of wolf lovers, hunters and trappers, the debates were lively and often hilariously entertaining. Remarkably, nobody, not even a single big game hunter, declared themselves to be in favour of large-scale, government-sponsored wolf kills.

So how to explain today’s deafening silence?

Dick Dekker is an independent wildlife researcher who lives in Edmonton. He has published several books and research papers on wolves and other wildlife in Jasper National Park based on 45 years of first-hand field observation.

Hunters Have Killed More than 180 Wolves in the Northern Rockies

by James William Gibson – November 14, 2011

Without Federal Protection, Bloodbath is Underway

A bloodbath is underway in the northern Rocky Mountains as hunters there relentlessly target wolf packs in the region.

Wolf hunts are grinding away in the northern Rockies, fueled by government bureaucracies and state politicians that employ bizarre

language ranging from technocratic euphemisms to bad-boy naughtiness and vicious joy at the killings. This is a small selection of hunted wolf images from the region floating around on the Internet

In April, Congress removed gray wolves in the northern Rockies from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. Since then, Idaho and Montana have sold nearly 37,000 wolf tags for fall hunts. As of November 11, some 114 wolves had been shot in Idaho, and 67 in Montana. Idaho plans to continue hunting through the winter of 2012, and will allow the state’s estimated 700 to 1,000 wolves to be reduced to no more than 150. If hunters and trappers fail to destroy enough, state officials promise to launch airborne search and destroy operations. Montana officials recently extended wolf season from the end of December to January 31, 2012 in hopes of killing 220 of their estimated 556 to 645 wolves. In Wyoming, Governor Matt Mead recently signed an agreement with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that will protect a remnant population of 100 to 150 to survive near Yellowstone National Park, but allow wolves to be classified as vermin and shot-on-sight in 80 percent of the state; hunts could begin there next spring.

The recent anti-wolf campaign represents an extraordinary cultural and political victory by the far-right wing in the Rocky Mountains. A loose coalition of some ranchers, hunters, and anti-government zealots demonized the gray wolves reintroduced to Montana and Idaho from Canada in the mid 1990s by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They cast the animals as huge, aggressive, disease-ridden monsters bent on ravaging livestock, elk, deer, and even people. Wolves became symbolic representations of the hated federal government (see my story, "Cry, Wolf" in the Summer 2011 issue of EIJ ). In time, both the mainstream Republican and Democratic Parties came to accept this vision of demonic wolves invading from Canada.   
In April, 2011, Senator John Tester, Democrat of Montana, facing a tough 2012 reelection challenge from Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg, led a campaign among fellow Democrats to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act using a federal budget bill rider, while Idaho’s Congressman Mike Simpson did the same among House Republicans. The rider passed with little dissent, marking the first time a species has been removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act by Congress.

Almost immediately several national and regional conservation groups — the Alliance for a Wild Rockies, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Animals, and WildEarth Guardians — filed suit in federal court. Their attorneys charge that because the 2011 budget rider did not change the language of the Endangered Species Act, Congress unconstitutionally intervened in the judiciary. The rider overturned a 2010 decision by federal judge Donald Molloy in Missoula that the original 2009 delisting of wolves by the US Wildlife Service violated the ESA by illegally subdividing Idaho and Montana from Wyoming. In Judge Molloy’s ruling, all three states — with some 1,600 wolves — comprise what the law calls a “distinct population segment.”  

Wolf advocates brought their new case to Judge Molloy’s court in July, 2011. He ruled against them, saying that the Ninth Circuit had restrained him with a binding precedent concerning Congressional powers. At the same time, he encouraged his decision to be appealed. On November 8, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals began hearings in Pasadena, California.  Proceedings and a subsequent legal ruling are expected to take months. Plaintiffs have asked three times for the court to issue a temporary injunction stopping the wolf hunts while the case is being heard. The court has twice declined, and is currently considering the third request.
Back in the Rockies, the hunts grind away, fueled by government bureaucracies and state politicians that employ bizarre language ranging from technocratic euphemisms to bad-boy naughtiness and vicious joy at the killings. In Idaho, the wolves aren’t being hunted but are instead “harvested,” with a new body count posted each day on the state’s official “Wolf Harvest” website. “It’s as if wolves aren’t sentient, intelligent animals, but are instead potatoes,” one wolf advocate notes. Another Idaho activist’s research analyzing the state’s “Big Game Mortality Reports” shows that 29 percent of the wolves killed so far are juveniles and puppies.

In Montana,  Ravalli County Republicans staged a “SSS raffle” that awarded the winner a rifle characterized as a “home defense weapon,” camouflage backpack, folding shovel, roll of duck tape, and the “first ever Wolf Cookbook.” Their website explains that SSS refers to “Security, Safety and Survival,” but “shhhh, don’t tell anyone, it’s really Shoot, Shovel, and Shutup.” Also, no one eats wolves. In fact, Montana passed a law saying hunters don’t even need to touch the wolves they kill, but can instead leave them there to rot, because they’re thought to be too disease ridden with tapeworms. Previous legislation required hunters to bring in the pelt and head.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus, thrilled at the testing of a new pilotless drone aircraft manufactured in Montana, issued a statement in early November declaring, “ Our troops rely on this type of technology every day and there is an enormous future potential in border security, agriculture, and wildlife and predator management.” A manufacturer’s representative claimed his company’s drone “can tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote.”  

One can only hope that the war against wolves is so outrageous that it becomes obvious it’s not wolves that have become demonic, but rather people. Until that understanding occurs, and policies change, at least the slain animals can be remembered.


Alaska considers aerial wolf kills in tourist area

Plan is designed to protect moose population

File (GNU Image)

Alaska state officials on Friday were considering a controversial plan to shoot wolves in an effort to boost moose populations in one of the state's top tourist and recreation areas.
An estimated 90 to 135 wolves range across the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, where under the proposal hunters would shoot the animals from aircraft.
Officials have not settled on the number of wolves they might kill under the plan, which was on the agenda for discussion at a meeting on Friday of the Alaska Board of Game.
By decreasing attacks on moose from a major predator, the proposal would allow for a rebound in the moose population, which now stands at about 5,000 and is well below targets, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Ted Spraker, an Alaska Board of Game member from the region, said on a statewide public radio program recently that the public is "disgusted" with the low number of moose.
"They want the board to start doing something," he added.
But the practice of killing wolves to boost moose populations, especially through aerial shooting, has long been hotly debated in Alaska.
Supporters say it is necessary to give hunters opportunities to get moose meat; detractors say it is an inhumane and biologically unsound practice.
Any state-authorized aerial wolf kills will have to exclude the peninsula's federal lands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, has not given permission for wolf control on its property, which covers much of the peninsula.
The Alaska Board of Game is expected to make a decision on whether to pursue a moose hunt by Monday, when its meeting lasting several days will end.


Idaho wolf trapping season begins

Idaho wolf trapping season begins
In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, a table full of wolf trapping supplies laid out at southwestern Idaho's Rocky Mountain Fireworks and Fur shop in in Caldwell, Idaho. Idaho's wolf trapping season begins Tuesday, Nov. 15, and shop manager Jessi Heck says she's seen revenue from trapping supplies rise 15 percent this year in anticipation. (AP Photo/John Miller)
CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's first wolf trapping season since the predators lost federal protections this year starts Tuesday, and a trapping supply shop says it's already boosted revenue.
Jessi Heck, whose family owns Rocky Mountain Fireworks and Fur in a yellow cinderblock building just off U.S. Interstate 84 in Caldwell, says trapping-related sales are up 15 percent this year, as enthusiasts stock up on leg-hold traps and snares capable of capturing a 120-pound wolf.
Meanwhile, the addition of wolf urine to her vast stock of scents inside Rocky Mountain's "stink room" has brought other, more subtle changes. The dark liquid meant to lure these territorial canines smells so awful, Heck's employees wait until just before closing to transfer the stuff from gallon jugs into pint bottles that retail for $8.95.
"It's terrible," Heck said Friday. "We usually will do it right when we know we have to leave for the day."
This past week, wildlife advocates went to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., aiming to stop gray wolf hunts that began in Idaho on Aug. 31 and Sept. 3 in Montana.
There's too much killing, they argue, putting the species' survival at risk.
But the modern-day mountain men and women who aim to set their trap lines in Idaho's wintry mountains from Nov. 15 to March 31 contend hunts are hardly putting a dent in a wolf population that many in the state believe is eating too many elk, moose and domestic livestock.
Idaho doesn't have a quota for hunting and trapping this season, but its Department of Fish and Game says it wants to reduce the roughly 1,000 wolves in the state far closer to the 150-wolf, 15-breeding-pair threshold where the federal government could consider restoring Endangered Species Act protects.
Since Aug. 31, Idaho hunters have shot 114 wolves.
"I don't think Fish and Game is going to be effective without trapping," said Dan Davis, a former government trapper and Idaho Trappers Association director. "After the hunt goes on for a while, the wolves are going to get smart and stay out of people's way."
In Montana, where no trapping season is planned, hunters have killed about 60 wolves, well shy of the 220 quota.
Only about a quarter of Idaho territory will be open to trapping, primarily in the northcentral and northern mountains near the Montana and Canadian borders. Davis' group is already lobbying the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to open more of the state in January.
Jon Rachael, Idaho's wolf manager, didn't immediately return a phone call Friday.
In Alaska, where wolves can also be legally harvested, trappers account for more than half of the roughly 1,500 wolves killed annually, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game statistics.
But trapping wolves in Idaho will differ significantly from Alaskan and Canadian methods, experts say. In those colder climates, trappers can bury leg-hold traps in the snow, then lure wolves with scents like wolf urine or even skunk paste.
With Idaho's rain-and-snow cycle, however, such traps can freeze shut just hours after they're placed.
Davis, whose company manufactures trapping gear in St. Anthony, located west of Yellowstone National Park, recommends Idaho trappers use snares, setting a line of these steel loops along a known wolf trail leading to bait of beaver carcass.
"You can set snares up to kill the animals quite rapidly," Davis said. "In about five to seven minutes, they'll be dead."
Trappers aren't going to win popularity contests with animal-rights activists, concedes Pat Carney, Idaho Trappers Association president. That's one reason he lobbied for Idaho to require an eight-hour class for would-be wolf trappers, regardless of whether they have 40 years of trapping experience, like Carney does, or is a newcomer.
"Wolves are a hot topic and there's lot of controversy," Carney said. "We wanted to make sure anybody who was going to be handling wolves with traps or snares, that they were knowledgeable and doing it correctly."
State law requires trappers to check their lines every 72 hours, to avoid prolonging the suffering of injured animals. Snares must break away, so elk or moose caught unintentionally can escape. There's no live bait allowed, and trappers also must set snares and leg holds far enough from official roads and trails, to keep dogs or hunters from stumbling in.
But neither Davis nor Carney expects a huge 2011-2012 harvest. Wolves travel in remote areas, the snows are likely to be deep and they're among the smartest animals in the backcountry. Even when trappers think they've found a sure-fire wolf trail, they may come up empty handed.
"Those wolves make big loops," Carney said. "They may come back every two weeks, every thirty days or in some places, one time in the fall. They may never come back."