Monday, April 30, 2012

Image of the Day

Idaho's War on Wolves (video)

Wolf sightings trigger speculation in Atlantic Canada

The Canadian Press
The sightings of two animals believed to be wolves in Atlantic Canada has left experts wondering why they may be in a region where they have not been seen for decades.
An 82-pound canine was shot in Newfoundland in early March. At the beginning of April, a 90-pound animal was shot in New Brunswick.

As the first kill of his coyote hunting season, New Brunswick hunter Jacques Mallet couldn’t believe the size of the animal.

“When I killed it, we were a bit nervous weighing it,” Mr. Mallet said.
Mr. Mallet called New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Department, which took samples for DNA testing.
“If it is a coyote, I think it would be a record for North America,” he said.
Biologists at Natural Resources believe wolves were hunted to extinction in New Brunswick by 1860, two years after legislation was enacted by the government to “encourage the destruction of wolves in this province.”

Fred Harrington, an animal psychologist, has studied wolves and coyotes for more than 30 years, and says he believes the animals are likely wolves based on their size.
Mr. Harrington says the average male wolves he encountered while working in Minnesota were between 75 and 90 pounds, with females being 10 to 15 pounds lighter.
He says both animals could have made it to Newfoundland and New Brunswick on ice floes, at which point they would look for territory and mates.

“Finding a territory would be kind of easy because there are no territories as far as I know staked by wolves south of the St. Lawrence River,” he said.
“Wolves can move hundreds of kilometres in search of suitable territory and in search of a suitable mate.”

Mr. Harrington says it’s also possible that the animals were kept as household pets and escaped, or they could’ve been deliberately released in a “misguided attempt to bring the animal back to their neck of the woods.”

“There is that sentiment,” he said. “There are people in New England who would love to have wolves back and of course the governments are not in the business of wanting to do that.”
It’s illegal to own wolves in both provinces, so Mr. Harrington says he doubts anyone would come forward to claim the animals if they owned them.
Simon Gadbois, a researcher at Dalhousie University’s canid research laboratory, says wolves and coyotes are known to have interbred, pointing to a study published last year that found the eastern coyote had eight per cent wolf ancestry and eight per cent dog ancestry in its DNA.
He said that could explain the animals in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
“To be of that size, they would have to be recent hybrids,” said Mr. Gadbois. “They would have interbred with wolves or coyotes, depending which one is the first, some time probably one or two generations ago.”

Mr. Gadbois said if the animals turn out to be wolves, there is little cause for public concern.
“If anything, if there is wolf genes in those coyotes, I would think they would be less dangerous,” said Mr. Gadbois.
“Wolves … keep to themselves typically. They are much less likely to stick around humans.”
DNA results for both animals are expected in the next several weeks.

The Canadian Press

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 27 Apr 2012

Wyoming approves fall wolf hunt – Wyoming’s Fish and Game Commission continued its preparations to hunt wolves this fall by adopting hunting regulations
that will allow up to 52 wolves to be killed in the trophy game area surrounding Yellowstone National Park in the northwest part of the state.

The last official count from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were at least 328 wolves in Wyoming at the end of 2011 with about 100 of those within Yellowstone National Park. However, state wildlife managers have been saying there are now about 270 wolves outside the park, the majority of which are in the trophy game management area. About 30 wolves are in the predator zone where they can be shot on sight without a hunting license. That means about 30 percent of the wolves outside of Yellowstone are likely to be killed later this year if delisting of wolves in Wyoming moves forward. Until then, the fate of these wolves still rests in the hands of the Obama administration.

A herder and his dog round up a flock of sheep in central Idaho's Wood River Valley.
Wood River Wolf Project turns five – Defenders hosted a project planning meeting last week to finalize plans for our fifth project year in central Idaho. Wolf advocates, ranchers, scientists and county officials are collaborating to implement nonlethal deterrent strategies to prevent losses of wolves and livestock. Five years later, documented sheep losses to wolves in our project area are 90% lower than Idaho average. Additionally, no wolves within the project area have yet been lethally removed for livestock losses, while regionally over 1,600 wolves have been killed in attempt to address losses of more than 3,000 sheep and 1,500 cattle over the last quarter century. Recent research indicates lethal wolf control alone achieves short-term effects but fails to prevent future livestock losses and increases social conflicts concerning wolf losses.  The Wood River Wolf Project demonstrates that nonlethal methods help reduce management costs and social conflict while maintaining the wolf’s important ecological functionality.  At the request of participants, we are working to expand the Wood River Wolf Project to a county-wide scope.  Blaine County has publicly expressed support for wolves and other local wildlife and respects their community members’ diverse interests in agriculture as well as the environment.  The project training workshop kicks off the season on June 20 -21, 2012.  Contact Suzanne Stone, our regional wolf coexistence expert, for more information about these methods and our projects.

Week of wolf action – Stay tuned next week as we look back on the first year of wolf management in the Northern Rockies since federal protections were removed. The inauspicious anniversary on May 5 is a good chance to reflect on aggressive actions taken to limit wolf numbers and an opportunity to reflect on what changes need to be made. Defenders is launching a Week of Wolf Action to share our concerns. We hope you will participate to make sure your voice is heard as well!


Image of the Day

Friday, April 27, 2012

Defenders Offers Reward for Information on Lobo Shooting

Defenders Offers Reward for Information on Lobo Shooting
Posted: 25 Apr 2012
Mexican Gray Wolf, (c) Scott S. Warren / National Geographic Stock
Forty-four Mexican gray wolves have been illegally killed since 1998.
Another endangered Mexican gray wolf has been gunned down in southeastern Arizona, the 44th known illegal killing since the wolves were reintroduced in the region in 1998.

Although illegal killings rank as the leading cause of death for the most endangered wolf subspecies in the world, few people have ever been prosecuted for killing a Mexican wolf.

Wildlife officials confirmed in April that the young female – a member of the Hawks Nest Pack, which has a good reputation for avoiding cattle – died from a single gunshot wound, according to the Associated Press.
. Defenders of Wildlife has contributed $10,000 to a reward fund of almost $60,000 for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for the shooting.
With only some 58 Mexican wolves in the wild, it is crucial that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service release more wolves to keep the population from backsliding toward extinction.


Wolf regulations pass in Wyoming, move to feds

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One of the most contentious animals in Wyoming moved one step closer to being hunted, with very little fanfare.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on Wednesday approved a hunting season for wolves that would begin Oct. 1, if the animals are removed from the endangered species list. It also approved rules on how to manage the wolves in and outside of the hunt areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could decide on the listing by Oct. 1.

The plan would allow 52 wolves to be harvested this fall in northwest Wyoming. It also would create three types of management areas:

A trophy game management area that would be most of northwest Wyoming outside of federal lands such as Yellowstone National Park. Here wolves could only be hunted according to hunting regulations.

A seasonal trophy game management area in northern Lincoln and Sublette counties where wolves would be trophy animals from Oct. 15 to the end of February. The rest of the year they would be predators similar to the rest of the state.

A predator area, which would be all of the state outside of northwest Wyoming and the Wind River Indian Reservation where wolves would be classified like coyotes.

Rick Kahn, a wildlife biologist with the National Park Service, wants the commission to consider creating smaller hunt areas around Grand Teton National Park if the packs that live in the park are facing too much hunting pressure. It’s not something the commission needs to change right now, but something it can consider in the future, he said.

Some questioned the requirement to report a wolf kill in the hunting area within 24 hours to the statewide hotline instead of the standard 72 hours for other trophy carnivores.

Officials chose 24 hours because they were not sure how many and how early wolves would be killed, said Mark Bruscino, large carnivore management section supervisor with the Game and Fish Department. That time frame could be changed in the future.

Representatives from some groups, including the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said they supported the plan.

The management plan now rests with the Interior Department.
Gov. Matt Mead said he expects the department to publish a final rule by Oct. 1, in time for the fall hunting season.

The biggest threat to the wolf plan now is likely the prospect of lawsuits by environmental groups claiming the deal would decimate Wyoming’s wolf population to the point that it’s no longer viable.
U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., tried in vain last year to insert a clause in an Interior appropriations bill to ban any legal challenges to the wolf deal. Congress passed a similar clause in a budget bill last year to prohibit lawsuits against wolf delistings in five other Western states.

Mead said Wednesday at a media conference in Cheyenne that he and Wyoming’s congressional delegation are working to try again for a Wyoming no-sue clause, though he said he wasn’t yet sure if they would draw up another budget clause or introduce stand-alone legislation.

Mead urged environmental groups to think twice about suing, saying they should recognize that the plan is scientifically sound, has been agreed to by top Interior officials, and has been worked on for more than a year with input from a wide variety of groups.

“It is not just something that we came up with that is just good for Wyoming,” Mead said. “It’s an agreement by a lot of parties who have worked on it.”


Image of the Day

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wolves Return to California: The Journey Ahead

Ken White

2012-04-24-Wolfhead.jpg On December 28, 2011, California's first wild wolf in over 87 years was confirmed. While many of us shouted for joy, recognizing the most significant conservation event for this species in this state in decades, others went to grab for their guns. (Remember Sarah Palin's endorsement of killing Alaska's wolves by high powered rifles fired from hovering helicopters?)

What will it take for wolves to thrive here? Where will they do well? What do wolves need to prosper? How will politics, agencies, ranchers, hunters and trappers, environmental activists and urban and suburban citizens affect whether wolves will flourish here? What role will they play in allowing wolves to reestablish themselves in California? Is there a meaningful chance for consensus?

Please join us next Tuesday, May 8, from 7-9 p.m. at Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA's new Center For Compassion (1450 Rollins Road, Burlingame) for a talk by Carter Niemeyer, one of the most well-known figures in wolf recovery in the United States. The former Idaho U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator and Montana USDA/APHIS wolf specialist, and now the author of an award-winning book, Wolfer, Mr. Niemeyer will talk about his decades-long experience working with wild wolves and dealing with the accompanying social and political controversy. Representatives of the California Wolf Center will also be with us that evening.

Please RSVP by May 1 to the California Wolf Center, (619)234-9653.


Wyoming plans wolf hunts this fall while still hoping Congress will block legal challenges

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted Wednesday to allow hunters to kill up to 52 wolves in the state this fall even as Gov. Matt Mead said he remains hopeful that Congress will act to exempt the state's wolf management plan from legal challenges he expects from environmental groups.

Game commission approval is the latest in a predictable series of state actions since Mead reached a deal last summer with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to end federal protections for wolves in the state. Mead said he hopes final federal approval of wolf delisting in the state by early fall.

The agreement would require Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone.
Under Wyoming's plan, the state would allow trophy hunting for wolves in a flexible zone around Yellowstone National Park, beginning in October. The hunting would last until 52 were killed or until the end of the year.

Wolves in the rest of the state would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight year-round.
Mead said 90 percent of Wyoming's wolves live in the trophy hunting area. Although he said he's heard criticism that the limit of 52 wolves this year is too low, he said he believes it's appropriate.
"This was a complex deal that we reached and we don't want to break the deal," Mead said. "And we don't want to get down to that bare minimum, where disease, or an accident out on the freeway where five wolves are wiped out, and we go below those minimums."

Mead said he's hopeful Congress will act to exempt the state's wolf management plan from any legal challenges from environmental groups. Congress earlier extended such protection to earlier wolf delisting actions in Idaho and Montana.
Gov. Matt Mead told reporters on Wednesday that he's hopeful Congress will act to exempt the state's wolf management plan from any legal challenges from environmental groups.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, had pushed to exempt Wyoming's wolf plan from legal challenges last year but the provision was removed from an Interior Department spending bill.
Christine S. D'Amico, spokeswoman for Lummis in Washington, said Wednesday that Lummis continues to explore all options for how to protect the state's wolf plan.

Many ranchers and hunters in Wyoming believe the state's wolf population has grown unacceptably high since wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. The state has fought for years to try to get state control of the animals, repeatedly and unsuccessfully suing the federal government.
The federal government accepted a similar delisting agreement from Wyoming in 2007 only to repudiate it as soon as a federal judge criticized it in response to a legal challenge from environmental groups.

Mead said he's heard environmental groups are intent on suing to try to block Wyoming's new wolf plan.

"Anything we have done on wolves, or that other states have done on wolves, is just a hot-button for litigation," Mead said. "But I would ask all those groups, number one, recognize that we're approaching this very conservatively, that we worked hard over a year on this plan, that I think it is scientifically sound.

"It has been signed off on by the Secretary of Interior," Mead said of the plan. "It has been repeatedly signed off on by the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. So it's not just something that we came up with as just good for Wyoming. It's an agreement by a lot of parties that worked on this."
Jenny Harbine is a lawyer with Earthjustice in Bozeman, Mont. The group has mounted legal challenges to wolf delisting efforts before.

Harbine said Wednesday it's too early to say whether her group or its clients will challenge Wyoming's wolf plan until the plan receives final federal approval this fall.

"I'll just say that the (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service should only delist wolves in Wyoming if the agency feels like doing so would comply with the Endangered Species Act and has a sound scientific basis at this time," Harbine said. "If delisting rule in Wyoming is legal, then there's no reason to seek indemnification from Congress for such a rule."


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Image of the Day

The rock by Arctic Wolf Pictures
The rock, a photo by Arctic Wolf Pictures on Flickr.

Brookfield Zoo's wolves go into lab for nasal cancer study

Brookfield Zoo's wolves go into lab for nasal cancer study

It is not a scene you expect to witness: a wolf, out cold, immobilized, its feral snout inside the giant doughnut ring of a high-tech medical device.
It's also striking purely on the level of language: a canine in a CAT scan.

But the CAT acronym, of course, has nothing to do with animals. It stands for computerized axial tomography, and on this day late last week at Brookfield Zoo, the institution was using the internal imaging technology common in human medicine to check the third, fourth and fifth members of its Mexican gray wolf population for nose cancer. Two others have already completed the process, and the scene will repeat Wednesday, when the last three of the zoo's eight wolves are scheduled to get the high-end treatment.

One thing was clear: Whatever else is going on in American health care, these patients have a pretty good coverage plan. Minimal wait times. Attentive, abundant staff. No discernible co-pay, unless an hour or so of unconsciousness counts.

They were separated from the pack temporarily, true, but they might have felt at home nonetheless. Around them in the west suburban zoo's medical rooms swarmed print and television reporters, cameramen and photographers, a different kind of pack.

Brookfield is leading, and publicizing, a study of the Mexican wolves — a smaller, endangered subspecies of the North American gray wolf — in hopes of determining potential causes of a higher-than-expected incidence of nasal carcinomas in the animals.
The rare peek into the zoo's backstage area not only showcased a magnetic animal in extraordinary circumstances. It highlighted the kind of work that goes on regularly as zoos, beyond the display function that the public usually thinks about, further their roles as wildlife conservators and research institutions.

The Mexican wolf situation illustrates some of the potential complications of captive breeding plans. Their subspecies nearly extinct in 1980, seven captured animals have yielded a captive population now numbering 258, plus another five dozen living in the wild, in the Southwest. Such a small starting point has raised concerns about whether the genetic diversity is adequate.

"We are trying to understand what is the role the genetic links play, if any, in the nasal tumors," said Dr. Carlos Sanchez, an associate veterinarian at Brookfield and a leader of the study. "Are we seeing more cancer in this animal because they are inbred, or not really?"
Four-year-old female siblings who came to Brookfield in 2010, the wolves enter the study rooms one at a time, about an hour apart, carried, unconscious, in a big sling. A sign at their exhibit, on one end of the park, explains that 10 a.m. is usually among their most active times. Not this morning.

Carefully transferred to an examining table, they get more than just the CAT scan. In the normal course of things, such animals would be examined every two or three years, more frequently only if the need arose.

So taking the trouble to put them under means staff seize the opportunity to give them all full physicals, including blood work and heart and lungX-rays, plus a grooming treatment similar to what the wolves' domestic cousins receive: nails clipped, ears and teeth cleaned — everything but the cute haircut and jaunty bandana tied around the neck at the end.
And before the CAT scan, there's another research project to contribute to. The USDA in Arizona, where other Mexican gray wolves have been released into the wild, wants to know the distance between the upper and lower canines. The veterinary staff open the jaws and, with a calipers, make the measurements.

The data, in conjunction with close examination of bite marks on downed farm animals, will help determine which predator is responsible and whether the agriculture department will compensate farmers for their losses.
"They can say, 'This is not a wolf. It was a puma,'" Sanchez explains, information that could keep the wolves safer. Coyotes, of course, are also present in their habitat, and "feral dogs are the No. 1 cause of problems," he said, but wolves, given their popular reputation, are often first to be blamed.

The reality of these Brookfield wolves, which zoo staff have given names such as Francena and and Nancia, is of course milder than the great vengeful beasts and savage, slobbering were-creatures of fiction.
It is a dangerous notion to have, but, laid out on a table, their blond and salt-and-pepper coats gently heaving, they really do look, and smell, like dogs. The similarities are perhaps more pronounced with the Mexican wolves, which, smaller than their gray wolf brethren, top out at about 80 pounds.

After the X-rays, they are wheeled down the hall to the CAT machine, one of only two, Brookfield staff believe, on site at a U.S. zoo.
The study began because some 14 nasal tumors have been found in Mexican gray wolves, said Peter Siminski, director of conservation and education at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., who directs the wolves' Species Survival Plan for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

In addition to looking at the live animals, the study will see Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Randi Drees, a veterinarian from the University of Wisconsin, put the preserved skulls of 175 Mexican gray wolves under the CAT scan as they are shipped to Brookfield in coming months.
This will give a better picture of the history of the tumors in the known population. If a genetic link is ruled out, scientists will have to look more closely at other potential causes for the cancers, including environmental and viral.

As the animal is in the machine, Drs. Sanchez and Drees are just outside in the hallway, taking a preliminary look at the results on monitors. (They'll look more closely later, including with the aid of new software that creates a 3D image of the skull.)
The encouraging results will be similar for the first five Brookfield Mexican grays, Sanchez will later say, although one animal will be found to have a slightly deviated sceptum, a normal biological variation.

"They can't tell us they have something in their nose which is bothering them, so for us, this is the perfect way to look into their nose," says Drees, looking at the monitor. "This is absolutely how we want to see it … The white structure, those are the bones. They're normal. They're intact. And then in the middle here we have mainly air."
"This," Sanchez adds, "is now a normal nasal cavity is supposed to look."
 Video available here at source

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Image of the Day

Feeling tired... by majordalemajor
Feeling tired..., a photo by majordalemajor on Flickr.

Concerns over possible wolf hunt in MN

Concerns over possible wolf hunt in Minn.

Apr 21, 2012   |  

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The possibility of a Minnesota wolf hunt this year is stirring up controversy that's been hitting the airwaves recently.
Farm and hunting groups support the proposed November hunt but animal rights groups and others say it could just cause bigger problems.

A group called Howling for Wolves, is running an anti-hunt ad campaign.  Some members of the state's Ojibwe tribes are also speaking up.
Robert Shimek, a tribal activist and member of the Red Lake tribe, said, "We've got many tribes who are opposing wolf hunting and trapping regionally."

Wolves were de-listed from the Endangered Species Act in January.
In the late 1990's, the Department of Natural Resources held a Wolf Management Roundtable, which included participants on all sides of the issue.  It decided that when the grey wolf was removed from the Endangered Species List, there would be a five year moratorium on hunting.

But the legislature has now decided wolves may be hunted this year, just months after being de-listed, to help control a population that at its lowest was three to six hundred and is now at about 3,000.
DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said, "There are people that are very passionate on the other side that suffer the loss of cattle, sheep or pets to wolf depredation."

Shimek wants the five year moratorium on hunting back.  He says in the American Indian creation story, the wolf is a brother so wolves and humans are spiritually bound.
He said, "It's our feeling that if we do everything we can to take care of the wolves, and the wolf does well, we will do well."

He said through history when the wolf has not done well, neither have American Indians.
Lawmakers have a bill that could create a wolf hunting season this November.
Landwehr said, "Even with the hunting and trapping season we will have a great population of wolves in this state."

He said a wolf hunt would take 400 wolves which he said is not much more than the 200 problematic wolves that were already being killed every year by the feds.
Still, Shimek fears the bill is more about hunting as a sport.
He said he is not against controlling problem wolves.  He said, "We've always dealt with that, it doesn't matter if its wolves or other animals or other people."

Shimek's concern is that wolves have highly social family units, so he said, "One of my greatest concerns is if we start taking out the alpha male and alpha female from these packs, essentially what we're doing is leaving pack management up to a bunch of juveniles."
He thinks that could actually make wolves more problematic.

The wolf hunt bill was tabled this week due to a separate issue, possible increases in hunting and fishing license fees.  But if lawmakers do create a wolf hunt, the DNR will then work on the details.
Landwehr said the DNR will welcome input from concerned members of Minnesota's tribes.
He said, "It's our job as the DNR to sort of balance that situation."

But Shimek and Howling for Wolves want the five year moratorium back so that wolves can be closely monitored and all sides can come together to decide what steps to take next.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

DNR counting wolves to determine hunting permit numbers

 Posted: Apr 20, 2012
Wausau (WAOW) - The DNR says there are more than 800 wolves roaming Wisconsin and it's still counting.  That number will determine how many permits will be given out for the state's first-ever public wolf hunt.
Hunters, trackers, DNR wolf specialists and concerned citizens met Friday morning in Wausau to determine the number of wolves in Wisconsin.  Laurie Groskopf of Tomahawk says the wolf population is getting out of hand.  "We need to get the population down not just for the fact that the livestock producers are suffering, pet owners are suffering, there's been some human safety concerns... but also the fact that the wolves themselves are suffering because the people in wolf territory are very angry about the program," said Groskopf.
The wolf hunt is scheduled to begin in October and end in February.
The DNR says wolf permits will be issued in a lottery system.

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Posted: 20 Apr 2012
Jackson wolf put down over safety concerns – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it euthanized one of two female wolves that had settled near Jackson Hole, Wyoming in recent months. While it’s sad to hear the large white wolf was killed, ultimately a suburban environment like Jackson is not a great place for wolves to be. The longer they stick around, the more likely they are to get into trouble.

Wild wolves tend to keep their distance from people and generally are not a threat. Not a single person has been injured by wolves in the Rockies since they were reintroduced more than 15 years ago. But accidents can happen once wolves become habituated and lose their fear of people.

This incident is a good reminder that people living in wolf country can help protect wolves by scaring them away. Nonlethal hazing, such as yelling, or banging pots and pans, blowing airhorns, and shining lights, is a good way to make sure wild wolves maintain a healthy fear of humans and don’t come around again. Wolves are curious creatures but will usually head for the hills if they feel threatened, especially by humans.

RMEF pays feds to kill more wolvesThe Missoulian reported this week that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation gave $51,000 to Wildlife Services to target more wolves in response to livestock depredations. It’s strange that a wildlife organization is offering money to a federal agency to kill a native species in order to benefit the livestock industry. But the bigger issue is that killing wolves only perpetuates Wildlife Services outdated predator control strategies without addressing any of the underlying problems.

A better alternative is taking proactive steps to prevent conflict before problems arise. Using nonlethal deterrents and innovative husbandry practices is a much better long-term solution. Groups like Defenders of Wildlife and others have been investing in these types of projects for years with impressive results. For the last few years, federal legislation sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester has also made $1 million available annually to support wolf coexistence and livestock compensation in 10 western states. This funding goes a long way to helping ranchers purchase and implement the tools they need to coexist with all our native wildlife.

Three must-see wolf videos – In case you missed the premiere this week on PBS, you can now watch the full episode of River of No Return online (below). The stunning documentary follows Isaac and Bjornen Babcock on their year-long honeymoon tracking wolves through the central Idaho wilderness.

Watch River of No Return on PBS. See more from Nature.
Another fantastic feature-length documentary will be coming to theaters this summer, starting with the world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 31. True Wolf tells the story of a couple that adopted a wolf and spent 16 years touring the country and educating people about wolves. Their story has never been more relevant for addressing the conflicted relationship of man and wolf.

Last but not least, here’s a heartwarming story about a wolf that was rescued in Italy after falling into freezing water. It’s hard to ignore the stark contrast between valiant efforts to keep this one wolf alive and aggressive efforts to eliminate wolves in the Northern Rockies.


Image of the Day

 The Sentinel by mcvette69
The Sentinel, a photo by mcvette69 on Flickr.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Image of the Day

Endangered Mexican wolves screened for rare cancer research at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo's eight Mexican gray wolves are spending lots of time in the doctor's office these days -- getting checked out for a mysterious type of cancer. 

The big bad wolf never had medical care like this, but then again -- this is no nursery rhyme. It's the real thing and the Brookfield Zoo Animal Hospital has rarely been this busy before. The zoo's Mexican gray wolves are all getting physicals: heartbeats and blood tests and all that, and then a special emphasis on mouth exams. They are looking for cancer in the nose.

"We are very conscious they can have this problem so we are examining the mouth to see if there is any chance of a tumor coming out of the nose," Dr. Carlos Sanchez, associate vet at Brookfield Zoo, said.

The rare cancer that isn't found much in dogs and other wolves. However, in the last 12 years, 14 cases of the cancer have been found in zoos in Mexico and the United States. So that's why modern technology is now involved to look inside the Mexican gray wolf.

"Right now part of the preventive medicine program is to run our animals through the scan and do a cat scan of the head and this is just to look for any evident of nasal tumors," Dr. Sanchez said. "We're calling it a wolf scan this time. That's a very good one."

Brookfield zoo has eight Mexican gray wolves and this week and next all of them will see the doctor and meet the wolf scan. It's necessary preventive medicine. The animal is endangered.

"Mexican Gray Wolves are critically endangered. There were only seven of them left back in the 1960's in the wild," Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals, said.

Now there are almost 300 of the animals in zoos -- and 58 counted in the wild. It's hoped this research will determine the cause of the cancer and possibly a cure.

"We have done four animals including yesterday and today. We have not seen any evidence of the tumors in the wolves so far," Dr. Sanchez.

The sleepy wolves are now awake and already back on exhibit.

Wolf killers in Methow get off with probation

Three members of a Methow Valley family who decimated the Lookout Pack, the first  re-population of wolves discovered in Washington, will get off with probation, fines and restitution in a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

They have pleaded guilty to various charges including conspiracy to kill an endangered species, conspiracy to export an endangered species, as well as state charges involving using dogs to hunt a bear and killing a trophy deer out of season.

This photo helped confirm the Teanaway wolf pack in the Cascade Mountains. (Photo courtesy of Conservation Northwest).

“Criminal wildlife violations are serious federal crimes that will be investigated and prosecuted vigorously in the Eastern District of Washington,” Mike Ormsby, U.S. Attorney in Spokane, was quoted as saying in the Methow Valley News.

But the vigorous prosecution has yielded not a day in jail.

William White, 62, pleaded guilty to three felony charges involving the killing of two wolves from the Lookout Pack in 2008.  He will be put on probation for three years, pay fines totaling $38,500 and lose his right to own a gun.

His son Tom White, 37, and wife Erin White, 37, have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges involving the killing of wolves. Tom White will pay $30,000 in fines and restitution, Erin White a $5,000 criminal fine, and both will be put on probation for three years.  Tom White will forfeit the gun he used to kill the wolves.

William and Tom White have also pleaded guilty in local court to violating state hunting regulations.  Tom White will lose his hunting privileges for five years.

The wolf kill came to light late in 2008, when a woman identifying herself as “Alison” — and giving a false phone number — tried to ship a parcel out of the FexEx office in Omak.  Blood seeped from the parcel, which was found to contain a wolf pelt.

“Alison” was later identified as Erin White.

The Lookout Pack now consists of three remaining wolves.  In addition to the two kills to which the Whites confessed, a female wolf was shot in 2010.

While the remaining wolves were thought to be males, “one has been showing female-type behavior,” said Mitch Friedman of Conservation Northwest, indicating there may be hope for the pack’s survival.

Friedman confessed to a “certain outrage” about the soft penalty to the White family.  But wolves appear to be repopulating the Evergreen State.  A pack has been confirmed in the Teanaway River valley of the Central Cascades, north and east of Cle Elum.

The other center of wolf activity is far northeast Washington, in and around the small Salmo Priest Wilderness Area.  The region was once nicknamed the “state zoo” by Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Neil Modie.  It has populations of grizzly bears, woodland caribou and moose.

Wolf packs have also been identified elsewhere in the southern Selkirk Mountains and the Kettle Range of northeast Washington, in highlands proposed for wilderness protection.

Rare, elusive wolverines have also been spotted in such places as Harts Pass in the North Cascades.
Wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington.
Congress has ended federal protection of wolves in portions of the Mountain West — at the behest of Montana politicians and Idaho’s wolf-hating Gov. Butch Otter.  The northeast Washington wolves still enjoy state protection.

The Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife provides information on wolf recovery at


Thriving wolf population threatens northern Russia

Moscow, April 20 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A growing population of gray wolves in northern Russia has put people's livelihood in danger after the predators killed over 1,700 domestic reindeer, more than 100 horses and a few cows this year.

A spokesman for the veterinary department in Yakutia region confirmed this report.
"Usually, wolves attack reindeer grazing on pastures," he said.

As many as 1,760 reindeer, more than one hundred horses and five cows have been killed by wolves since the beginning of 2012, the official said.

The size of the wolf population in Yakutia, currently about 4,000, exceeds the target level by at least threefold. The population is increasing by about 500 new wolves each year.

The annual damage the wolves inflict on Yakutia's livestock is approximately 147 million rubles (around $5 million). Local authorities have allocated over 17 million rubles ($600,000) this year to control the wolf population.

--IANS/RIA Novosti


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Image of the Day

Fond Memories by Max Waugh Photography
Fond Memories, a photo by Max Waugh Photography on Flickr.

Wolf season getting started in Wisconsin

April 19, 2012

DULUTH, Minn. — Wisconsin hunters will see a wolf season starting Oct. 15 and continuing through the last day of February, according to a bill passed in the Wisconsin Legislature. Department of Natural Resources officials are now developing rules, harvest levels and an application process for the hunt.

By: Sam Cook, The Dickinson Press
DULUTH, Minn. — Wisconsin hunters will see a wolf season starting Oct. 15 and continuing through the last day of February, according to a bill passed in the Wisconsin Legislature. Department of Natural Resources officials are now developing rules, harvest levels and an application process for the hunt.

As in Minnesota, wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in January, and the state assumed management of the species. DNR officials estimate the state’s wolf population at about 800.

Here are some details of the hunt, as outlined in state law:

- The DNR may limit the number of licenses issued and the number of wolves to be harvested.
- License fee is $100 for residents and $500 for non-residents. A license authorizes both hunting and trapping.
- Season: Oct. 15 to last day of February for both hunting and trapping.
- Each license will come with one carcass tag.
- The DNR may close the season early if it feels that is necessary for wolf management.
- A person may hunt wolves using dogs and with the aid of bait beginning with the first Monday that follows the last day of the regular season that is open to hunting deer with firearms and ending when the (wolf) season closes. No more than six dogs in a single pack may be used.
- A rifle, a muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun that fires slugs or shotshells, and any other firearm that is loaded with a single slug or ball is legal for hunting wolves. Hunting wolves with shot that is larger than size BB, such as buck shot, is legal.
- A person may hunt wolves without hunting hour restrictions, but only during the period beginning on the first Monday after the last day of the regular gun deer season and ending when wolf season closes.
- The DNR is required to administer a program under which payments may be made to persons for death or injury caused by wolves to livestock, to hunting dogs other than those being used in the hunting of wolves and to pets.
- A restitution fee, charged to people who kill wolves illegally, is $87.50.
- Cable restraints, or snares, will be legal for trapping wolves.

Minnesota proposed wolf season

As reported earlier, the Minnesota House on April 3 approved a wolf season that would begin this fall. The Senate is considering a bill that has similar language and may act on that bill this week.
Under the House bill, the wolf license fee would be $26 for residents and $250 for non-residents. The hunting and trapping season would begin the first day of the firearms deer season.

The DNR may limit the number of hunters and trappers and establish a lottery system to select them. Under the House bill, the DNR also may set a harvest quota and close the season when the quota is reached. Snares would be legal for trapping.

The restitution fee for illegally taken wolves would be set at $500.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had proposed a wolf season beginning after the firearms deer season when pelts are prime. DNR officials prefer to treat the wolf as a big game animal to be taken in a season separate from the deer season, rather than being taken as an incidental kill during the deer season.


Wild Matters: Mexican Wolves Gain Ground and More

Mexican Gray Wolves Gain Ground

by Heidi Ridgley
Mexican wolf, © Ted Bobosh (captive)
Mexican Wolf (captive), © Ted Bobosh
When it comes to endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest every one counts—and so do partnerships. This year’s boost in numbers—from 50 wolves and two breeding pairs in 2010 to 58 wolves and six breeding pairs in 2011—signals that helping ranchers with portable fencing, guard dogs and range riders is working to protect livestock and the lobos.

The increase comes as good news for these highly endangered animals, but the small population of 58 wolves is still extremely vulnerable,” says Eva Sargent, Defenders’ Southwest program director and Mexican gray wolf expert. “Wolves are smart, adaptable animals, but they can’t make it alone. New releases of wolves in Arizona and New Mexico are urgently needed to strengthen the gene pool and ensure a healthy population.”

Wild and Wonderful Wolf

Wolves can captivate, thrill and enchant us. But their true power lies in the way their presence can restore an ecosystem.
Wolves returned to Yellowstone National Park 15 years ago, after a predator-control program in the early 20th century killed the last wolf in 1926. In their absence, elk populations exploded beyond the park’s carrying capacity. Elk so heavily browsed the landscape that the growth of their favorite food—aspen—ground to a halt by the mid- to late-1900s.
Today, with wolves bringing elk numbers back to sustainable levels, aspen, cottonwood and willow grow taller and thicker in many areas of the park, according to a new report by two Oregon State University scientists, William Ripple and Robert Beschta.
Among their findings:
  • By 2010, some aspen and cottonwood had grown tall enough that they were no longer susceptible to browsing, and willow was also growing taller in places. More willow is providing habitat for a greater diversity and abundance of songbirds, such as the common yellowthroat, warbling vireo and song sparrow.
  • Beaver colonies have grown, improving habitat for birds and fish. 
  • Coyote numbers have dropped, leaving more small mammals as prey for others such as red foxes, bald eagles and badgers. 
“These are the early stages of recovery, and some of this may still take decades,” says Ripple, the study’s lead author and a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.
Whether a similar recovery can be expected in other areas, especially on public lands outside national parks, is less clear. “To be ecologically effective, wolves most likely need to be present in relatively large numbers,” he says. “To make that possible outside the park, we need to improve the way we deal with human and wolf conflicts.”

Enter Defenders of Wildlife, a leader of predator coexistence projects in the West. “Figuring out how to live with wildlife is the only way to achieve full and long-term species recovery, and it is a top priority for Defenders,” says Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ Northern Rockies representative.  “We work with ranchers, showing them it’s possible to deter wolves without killing them.”

Techniques include guard dogs and range riders, erecting electric fencing and temporary night corrals for grazing animals on the move and practicing better animal husbandry, such as removing carcass piles and ensuring calving grounds are far from known wolf dens.

“The health of ecosystems depends on large predators, and they need our help—and acceptance—to survive,” says Stone.

California Dreamin’ Come True

After leaving the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon, this lone 2 1/2-year-old male wolf wandered more than 1,000 miles and crossed into California on Dec. 28. Called OR7, he is a direct descendant of the 66 wolves released in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s, and the first wild wolf in the Golden State since the last wolves were shot and trapped out of existence in the early 1920s. His brother, OR9, also left the pack but traveled east to Idaho, where he was killed by a hunter with an expired license in February.

As in other states in the West, Defenders stepped up to help California wildlife agencies welcome the wolf home by sharing tried-and-true tactics that allow people and wolves to share the landscape.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WA couple plead guilty in wolf killing case

Updated 09:18 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, 2012
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A Twisp, Wash., couple have pleaded guilty to federal charges in the killing of a protected gray wolf and an attempt to ship its bloody pelt to Canada.
Tom White, 37, pleaded guilty to killing two endangered gray wolves, in May and December 2008. His wife, Erin White, also 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export an endangered species, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors are expected to recommend that the couple be sentenced July 11 to three years' probation. Tom White agreed to pay fines and restitution of $30,000, with his wife paying $5,000.

The case stemmed from a 2008 report of a bloody package that had been left with a private shipping company in Omak. A suspicious employee called police, and an officer opened the package and discovered a fresh wolf hide.

Prosecutors said Tom White admitted killing that wolf and another. His wife admitted trying to ship the pelt.

Earlier this month, Tom White's father, Twisp rancher William D. White, 62, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to take an endangered species, conspiracy to transport endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife.

The latter charge stemmed from a moose William White brought back to the Methow Valley from Alberta, Canada, where he hunted illegally on a local man's tag.

As part of the federal plea, William White also agreed to plead guilty to two state charges, including hunting bears with a dog.

Prosecutors say Erin White was sending the wolf pelt back to the hunting buddy in Canada who had helped William White get the moose.

The wolves were from the Methow Valley's Lookout Pack, the first documented wolf pack in Washington in several decades.

Wolves were removed from the Endangered Species list in the eastern one-third of Washington state last year, but they remain a federally protected species in the rest of the state.


Image of the Day

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hunters shoot more wolves

: Thursday, April 12, 2012

Content ImageContent Image
Wolf howls

Official credits mild weather, relaxed tag rules for success
Capital Press

Idaho and Montana sportsmen bought thousands more wolf tags and have killed more animals in their second season of hunting the controversial predators.
Idaho sold 43,300 tags for its 2011-12 hunt, which began Aug. 30. That includes 3,600 tags sold to nonresidents taking advantage of lower fees.
With all but the Lolo and Selway zones closed effective March 31 -- those two zones remain open through June 30 -- Idaho hunters and trappers have harvested 375 wolves. Another 27 wolves have been killed by other government control actions.

During the 2009-10 season, Idaho hunters harvested fewer than 200 wolves and bought 32,000 tags. That year, nonresidents purchased only 684 tags.
The state's official wolf population estimate was 746 at the start of 2012 but the population ranges upward to more than 1,000, depending on the time of year, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department website.
Tags for the season concluding this summer sold for $11.50 to residents and $31.75 for out-of-staters. It appears the top zone will be the Panhandle, where 74 wolves were killed. Niels Nokkentved, of the department, said hunters had their best luck in October. Trappers, who had a shorter season that covered just five zones, fared best in February.

Nokkentved suspects increased tag sales, a change allowing hunters to hold two wolf tags and mild winter weather contributed to improved hunting results.
Montana sold 18,689 tags, including 158 to nonresidents, and 166 wolves were harvested during a hunt that began in early September 2011 and ended on Feb. 15. That compares with a 2009-10 hunt in which 15,500 tags were sold and 72 animals were harvested.
Wolf hunting was suspended for a season based on a federal court ruling finding fault with Wyoming's wolf management plan. It was restored in Montana and Idaho by an amendment to a federal budget bill by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. In mid-March, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Congress had the right to intervene.

Idaho will release new wolf hunt rules in mid-April, and Montana will set its season in July.
"We're optimistic hunting is going to help as a management tool," said Ron Aasheim, spokesman with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. Other options will be discussed to "get closer to a balance."
Idaho rancher Phil Davis would like to see trapping expanded to the Cascade area to protect his operation.
Davis, who lost five yearlings to suspected wolf kills last season, suspects the state's wolf population estimate is low and doubts depredations will decrease when he brings his livestock back for grazing in May.

Tag sale numbers demonstrate to Davis that "a lot of people have figured out that wolves are an obstruction to game animals. Out-of-staters used to come here and hunt elk. They don't any more," he said.
Wyatt Prescott, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association, has no doubt the hunt helps the industry but considers it just one tool among many to control wolves. He noted depredations decreased following the 2009-10 hunt.
"Hunts definitely are going to have a positive impact, but there's still so many challenges, and the depredation is way out of control," Prescott said. "We need to keep reducing the number of wolves."


More wolves spotted north of Oslo

April 16, 2012  

Police in Akershus County received several more calls during the night and early Monday from residents who claimed they’d seen wolves from Lillestrøm to Skedsmokorset and Gjerdrum, northeast of Oslo. Wolf tracks were confirmed by state officials on Monday.

The new w0lf-sightings are believed to involve a different animal than the wolf confirmed to have been roaming on the Nesodden peninsula located south of Oslo. That wolf is being monitored with tracking devices, and it was confirmed at a location south of Ås on Saturday afternoon. Conservationists think it’s heading in an easterly direction back towards the Swedish border area where it came from.

Wolves have also been seen in Oslo’s eastern forest known as Østmarka, with one spotted not far from where the first of last night’s reports came from. That’s when a man called the Romerike Police District at 11:26pm to report seeing a wolf near the Lillestrøm bridge. At 2:25am on Monday came a second report of a wolf observed on Nygårdsveien in nearby Strømmen, east-northeast of Oslo.

At 6:40am came a report of a wolf between Frogner and Gjellbo, farther to the north. Two more reports came just a few minutes later, from motorists driving on the main E6 motorway that runs northeast from Oslo towards the airport at Gardermoen. Wolves were observed near the major Skedsmokorset intersection and along the highway towards Sørum.

It snowed in the area during the night and Jan Wilberg of the state wildlife agency Statens Naturoppsyn told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that wolf tracks were found near the E6 highway. “If it’s the same animal, then it’s moving northwest from some fields near Leirelva in Gjerdrum,” Wilberg told NRK.

One of the sightings came from a taxidermist named Ole Martin Lislevand. He has no doubt he saw a wolf, after stuffing one once. “I know what they look like,” Lislevand told NRK.


Image of the Day


Monday, April 16, 2012

Mexican wolf pups excited to be reunited

Image of the Day

Could you shoot this little one? Could you take his mother away from him?

G&F targets 98 wolves

By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily
April 12, 2012

Hunting and other causes of death should reduce Wyoming’s wolf population outside Yellowstone National Park to roughly 170 wolves and 15 breeding pairs by next December, officials said Tuesday.

That computation assumes the predator is removed from Endangered Species Act protection in the state next fall as planned. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves and more than 19 breeding pairs in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone.

Wyoming Game and Fish officials made the comments before a crowd of about 100 people at a meeting about proposed wolf hunting regulations.

Hunters would be allowed to kill 52 wolves in Wyoming’s trophy game area next fall under hunting regulations proposed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Other mortality, including management removals, poaching and vehicle collisions, would bring the total to 98 dead wolves.

About 10 percent of Wyoming’s wolf population lives in the state’s predator zone where they could be killed at any time without a license.

Harvesting 52 wolves is a conservative approach that ensures the state will keep its commitment to managing for a minimum of 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone, biologist Ken Mills said.

“Our objective is to manage for wolves with a buffer,” Mills said. “What we’re are doing is managing the population high enough over the minimum recovery level so that we can account for unanticipated mortality. There are very serious implications for us falling below 10 [breeding pairs] and 100 [wolves].”

Population data show that the requirement to maintain 10 breeding pairs likely will require more than 100 wolves.

“We’re not going to be able to manage for 105 wolves and have 10 breeding pairs,” Mills said. “We have start conservative because we know that 100 wolves does not always equal 10 breeding pairs.”

Some members of the audience said the state should kill more wolves in the 12 hunt areas clustered in the northwest corner of the state, especially in hunt areas north of Jackson where some blame wolves for a declining ratio of elk calves. But most said they supported Wyoming’s wolf management plan and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“I do have concerns about that quota,” said Jesse Rodenbough, an outfitter and ranch manager based out of Moran. “I have great confidence in you, the red shirt team, managing these wolves and I support you 100 percent.”

Other outfitters said the wolf’s return is hurting the local economy.

“Since the gray wolf has arrived, it’s been going downhill,” Gros Ventre outfitter Glenn Taylor said. “The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is check to see if my dog is still alive. Game and Fish, they’re the best neighbors we have and we need to get behind them and move forward.”

However, conservation groups raised a number of issues with the hunting regulations and Wyoming’s wolf management plan.

Language in both documents that seems to give the state jurisdiction over wolf hunting in the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway — a National Park Service unit — is likely illegal, said Sharon Mader, Grand Teton program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. Game and Fish officials included the parkway as part of a hunt area, but said hunting would not be allowed on the 24,000-acre park unit in 2012.

“It appears that the state of Wyoming and the Game and Fish Commission has acted beyond their authority in terms of including the JDR specifically in the trophy game management area,” Mader said. “The National Park Service has management authority for wolves within the parkway.”

Grand Teton National Park and the parkway “should be removed from the trophy game management area,” Mader said.

Wolves that reside in Grand Teton National Park for part of the year also could be killed, said Chris Colligan, a wildlife advocate for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

“It would be a good addition to this wolf management plan to have a subunit with a minimum number of wolves that helps protect some of those park wolves that would leave the park and would be subject to hunting,” Colligan said.

Visit to see the draft regulations. Public comments will be accepted until April 23. Comments can be submitted to Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Wolf Regulation Comments, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY 82604.


Idaho agency determines wolf trapped legally

Monday, April 16, 2012 

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials say no laws were broken involving a northern Idaho trapper who posed for a photo in front of a live wolf caught in a leg-hold trap surrounded by blood-splattered snow.

But the report released Thursday says the March 18 photo of trapper Josh Bransford with the wolf standing in the background is contrary to the ethics and humane responsibility the agency teaches.

The agency also says investigators found no evidence the wolf trapped near Elk City was shot by someone else before Bransford killed it after the photo.

Bransford told officials nicks on the wolf's legs indicated someone else shot and injured the wolf before he arrived. But Fish and Game Officer George Fischer says the nicks weren't caused by a bullet.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Image of the Day

Wolf Profile. Inception by jbtello2
Wolf Profile. Inception, a photo by jbtello2 on Flickr.

Top 10 Little-Known Facts About Wolves

by Mike Devlin
Arguably no other animal on earth has been as important to humans as the wolf. They were gods in the Norse mythologies and nursed Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Most importantly, the wolf was the first animal to ever be domesticated by man, a process still shrouded in mystery that took place well over 10,000 years ago. They have been our dearest friends and direst enemies, and yet there is still so much we don’t know about them.

Black Wolves
Black Wolf
Fact: Black wolves don’t occur naturally.
A 2008 study at Stanford University found that the mutation responsible for black fur occurs only in dogs, so black wolves are the result of gray wolves breeding back with domestic canines. The mutation is a dominant trait, like dark hair in humans, and is passed down to the majority of offspring. It is not entirely clear what benefit black fur has for the animals; they do not seem to be more successful hunters, but do show a marked improvement in immunity to certain infections. Black wolves are far more common in North America than they are in the rest of the world.

Hybrid Wolf
Coyote-Glancing 510 600X450
Fact: A large percentage of coyotes are actually wolf hybrids.
In areas where wolves have been largely eliminated, coyotes have thrived. Over the last few years, large populations have moved east, into suburban areas and even major cities like New York and Chicago. Genetic testing on 100 coyotes caught in Maine revealed that 22 had some wolf ancestry. Coywolves are generally bigger than regular coyotes, but smaller than wolves, and are said to be extremely cunning. They exhibit a fearlessness of human civilization as seen in coyotes, but seem to maintain the wolf’s pack hunting instinct and high level of aggression.

Fact: Cannibalism is common amongst wolves.
Wolves are extremely opportunistic carnivores, and they will not miss a chance at a meal. Living in some of the most unforgiving terrain on the planet, they are sometimes forced to eat sick or injured members of the pack, and any wolf that has died is generally fair game. Wolves caught in snare traps must be very quickly attended to by hunters or they will be torn apart by other wolves. When two packs come into contact, very often they will engage in a fatal battle, with the alpha males most often being killed. Sometimes they are even eaten by their own offspring.

Extreme Weight
Fact: The heaviest wolves can approach 200lbs.
Wolves increase exponentially in size the further they are from the equator. Wolves of the tropics are often no larger than medium sized dogs, but those of the far north (Alaska, Canada, and Russia) can be in excess of 120lbs. The largest wolf ever killed in North America was taken in Alaska in 1939 and tipped the scales at 175lbs. In the former Ukraine SSR, a still more massive wolf was killed that weighed 190lbs. There are unsubstantiated reports of 200lb+ specimens, presumably alpha males in areas that boast a steady food supply.

Rabid Wolves
Fact: Rabid wolves are extremely dangerous.
Although wolves are not a major vector of rabies, they can catch it from other species such as raccoons and fox. Unlike some animals, which display lethargy and disorientation, wolves fly almost immediately into a rage when they contract the disease. A significant number of attacks on humans are tied directly to rabies. Such incidents have dropped off precipitously over the years, but a few still occur every year. Although there are obviously treatments available for people bitten by rabid animals, the wolf’s propensity is to bite near the head and neck, and oftentimes the virus reaches the brain before medical help can be sought.

American Wolves
Fact: Wolves in the Americas are less likely to attack humans than elsewhere in the world.
There are very few verifiable records of wolf attacks in the US and Canada, but in Europe and Asia, wolves are far nastier. Historical accounts indicate over 3,000 people killed in France between 1580-1830. In the Middle Ages throughout Europe, special structures were built along highways for travelers to take refuge from roving packs. The wolves of India and Russia are also particularly well known to claim human victims. During World War I, soldiers from the Allied and Central Forces were occasionally forced to join forces fighting off starving wolves attracted by the scent of blood on the battlefield.

Dog Eaters
Tumblr Kw8Dlclbfs1Qz7Tiao1 400
Fact: Wolves find dogs delicious.
Although they are closely related (practically the same species) and can readily interbreed, many wolves consider dogs prey items. In a fight, the even large dogs are generally outmatched, as wolves of equal size have larger teeth and a more devastating bite. In Russia, where stray dogs have become a serious problem since the fall of the Soviet empire, they have become a staple in the diet of wolves. Often, a single wolf will solicit a dog to follow, and lead it into an ambush by the remainder of the pack. Only the largest and fiercest livestock guardians such as Caucasian Shepherds generally have a chance defending themselves

Humans on the Menu
Fact: The black plague put humans on the menu.
The Black Plague, which devastated Europe in the Middle Ages, may explain much of the strained dynamic between wolves and humans. With corpses stacking up way faster than they could be buried or burned, it was only natural that wolves would gather at the edges of cities to feast on the dead. In doing so, whole generations developed a taste for human flesh and likely began viewing us as prey items. No doubt horrified, the highly superstitious people began spinning tales, contributing to already prevalent beliefs of werewolves, vampires, and ghouls.

Fact: Smallpox did too.
Smallpox brought to the Americas by European settlers had a devastating effect on the natives. Having had no contact with the disease in the past, their immune systems were defenseless, and of those who contracted it, 80 to 90 percent died. Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm, sent to America in 1748, records that in the period preceding the Revolutionary War smallpox was at a particularly devastating point along the east coast. Sensing an easy meal, wolves invaded the Indian villages, devouring the bodies and helpless sick. Although many Native Americans revered wolves, they also exhibited a healthy fear, especially in wooded areas, where one could encounter them unexpectedly and at close range.

Eaten Alive
Fact: Wolves eat their prey alive.
As reported above, wolves will eat nearly anything to stay alive, but their preferred meal is large ungulates (such as deer, moose, and elk). Unlike bears or big cats, wolves do not have an anatomical weapon capable of quickly dispatching such large animals. They kill by attrition, the entire pack swarming and slashing at the haunches and perineum, ripping away at the legs and the gut, until their victim collapses from exhaustion. They begin eating immediately, even though the prey is often still alive for quite some time.