Thursday, December 31, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

Hudson Bay Wolf 
Hudson Bay Wolf

(Canis lupus hudsonicus)

by Ellen van Yperen

New Paper: A Novel Complex-Valued Encoding Grey Wolf Optimization Algorithm

Algorithms 2016, 9(1), 4; doi:10.3390/a9010004 (registering DOI)

A Novel Complex-Valued Encoding Grey Wolf Optimization Algorithm

1 College of Information Science and Engineering, Guangxi University for Nationalities, Nanning 530006, China 2 Key Laboratory of Guangxi High Schools Complex System and Computational Intelligence, Nanning 530006, China
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 November 2015 / Revised: 8 December 2015 / Accepted: 10 December 2015 / Published: 30 December 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2014 KB, uploaded 30 December 2015]


Grey wolf optimization (GWO) is one of the recently proposed heuristic algorithms imitating the leadership hierarchy and hunting mechanism of grey wolves in nature. The aim of these algorithms is to perform global optimization. This paper presents a modified GWO algorithm based on complex-valued encoding; namely the complex-valued encoding grey wolf optimization (CGWO). We use CGWO to test 16 unconstrained benchmark functions with seven different scales and infinite impulse response (IIR) model identification. Compared to the real-valued GWO algorithm and other optimization algorithms; the CGWO performs significantly better in terms of accuracy; robustness; and convergence speed.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Environmental groups sue Oregon over wolf protections

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Three environmental groups are suing Oregon wildlife officials over their decision to remove the gray wolf from the state's Endangered Species Act list.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity and two other groups say it's premature to delist the animal with only about 80 adult wolves living in the state.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission stripped wolves of their endangered status in November, after state biologists said the species won't go extinct.

But some independent scientists disagree with that conclusion. According to wolf advocates, the Commission failed to follow the best available science and its population viability analysis for the wolves was flawed.

"The commission's decision to delist wolves is plain political kowtowing to the livestock industry. This decision was not based in science, it was not based on Oregon's conservation values," said Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Program director at the Center.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy declined to comment on the lawsuit. But she said "ODFW is confident the department followed statutory and legal requirements in its process and that the Commission acted legally when it delisted wolves form the state ESA."

Dennehy said the Commission's decision to delist wolves was based on their rapidly expanding range in Oregon, their growing population, the stability of their habitat and the fact that "over-utilization" of wolves isn't likely to occur.

Delisting the animal doesn't mean all protections are gone, Dennehy said. A state management plan continues to tightly regulate when a wolf can be killed.

But environmental groups worry that more lethal measures could be allowed in the future. An upcoming wolf plan review could also lead to changes in protections.

The decision to delist wolves statewide would have the biggest impact on wolves in eastern Oregon. They were taken off the federal endangered list four years ago after Congress used a budget rider attached to a spending bill, which also removed the animal from the list in the northern Rockies, eastern Washington and parts of Utah.

But the environmental groups said state protection is also needed for the western part of the state because federal officials are now proposing to strip wolves of federal protections in most of the lower 48, including in western Oregon.

Research shows Oregon could support approximately 1,450 wolves.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

wolves lakota-012 
Lakota by dfbphotos

New Image from ‘The Jungle Book’ Features Mowgli with the Wolves



As we enter the new year, we continue to learn more about the new live-action version of The Jungle Book. The Jon Favreau-directed film hits theaters in just a few months, and so far we have seen a motion poster as well as a teaser trailer. And as we get closer to that release date, should learn a lot more, especially when the February edition of Empire Magazine is released. It will feature new images from the film. And in anticipation of the magazine hitting shelves, Empire has shared a new image from the film.

Check it out below:

Image via Disney

The image captures Mowgli, played by newcomer Neel Sethi, and his wolf mother, who is voiced by Lupita Nyong’o. It helps showcase the balance Favreau and company tried to strike between realism and fantasy, as he previously talked about, in attempting to bring to life Rudyard Kipling’s original story while not overlooking the Disney version that has become the go-to version for most folks.
Along with the image, Empire shares Favreau’s casting focus for Mowgli, as Sethi was chosen from a casting call that featured over 2,000 children for the part:
“There was a certain quality we wanted, and we knew he was going to have to carry the film. So it was going to have to be somebody that had a certain charisma, a certain charm and certain qualities that I remember from the cartoon.”
Again, that desire to pay homage to the cartoon seems to have been on the filmmakers minds while also creating their own version that is set in a photo-real environment far away from the look of the cartoon.

Joining Nyong’o and Sethi are Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the snake; Idris Elba as Shere-Khan the tiger; Bill Murray as Baloo the bear; Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the panther; and Christopher Walken as Cousin Louie the orangutan. You can check out the full article in the February edition of Empire Magazine. The Jungle Book hits theaters April 15, 2016.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

Wolf by Arnaud camel

Wolf hunting ban agreed for parts of Sweden

Wolf hunting ban agreed for parts of SwedenA wolf at a Swedish wildlife park. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Published: 29 Dec 2015 

The administrative court decisions in the western city of Karlstad, and in Falun, in central Sweden, were a victory for environmental groups including the Swedish World Wildlife Federation, which has been fighting a decision to authorise the culling of 46 wolves.

Uncertainty remained on licenses to kill six more wolves, as a third decision was expected Tuesday by the administrative court in Uppsala.

The Karlstad and Falun courts ruled on Monday that the Supreme Administrative Court
must evaluate whether the hunting licences are in conformity with European directives.
As a result the next hunting season, which is set to begin on January 2nd and end on February 15th, is likely to be either shortened or cancelled.

Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the wolf population stands at just over 400, and recommends that the population be kept at that level by regulating hunting.

Hunters have complained that wolves have been decimating the stocks of other game and menacing hunting dogs in rural parts of the country.

The hunters also argue that many of the wolves they culled had been in good health, which shows that the species, considered extinct in the 1970s, has made a good recovery in Sweden.

"We have the decisions of parliament, the government, the regions and the Environmental Protection Agency to say that we must have a wolf hunt. I really do not know what more you can ask for," Torbjorn Lovbom, president of the Federation of Hunters, told the Swedish news agency TT.

The back-and-forth battle has seen Sweden resume wolf hunting in 2010 and 2011, leading to a protest by the European Commission over the country's hunting quota policy. Hunting resumed again early this year.


Feds, states, scientists push for new Mexican wolf recovery plan

Officials from the Four Corners states and Mexico, along with independent scientists, gathered in Arizona this month for a closed-door meeting with the U.S. government that could set the tone for the Mexican wolf recovery effort going forward.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tasked with reintroducing the Mexican wolf in New Mexico and Arizona, is embarking again on an effort to write a recovery plan that will serve as a road map to eventually removing the lobo from the endangered species list.

The four-day meeting on a ranch outside Tucson, confirmed to the Journal by Fish and Wildlife, capped a tense year between the service and New Mexico after the state Game Commission tried to block wolf releases and the service responded by saying it would use its federal authority to go forward with the recovery program anyway.

“The purpose of the workshop was to identify a way forward in our developing of a revised Mexican wolf recovery plan,” said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey in an emailed response to questions. “We didn’t focus on developing consensus; just gathering of scientific information and identifying where there is consensus and divergence among participants.”

Fish and Wildlife has convened recovery planning teams on three occasions since the original – now badly outdated – recovery plan was released in 1982, but all three efforts fell apart for one reason or another.

The December workshop brought together representatives from state game agencies, field biologists and representatives of Mexican federal natural resources agencies, Humphrey said.

The governors of the Four Corners states – New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah – sent an eight-page letter in November, obtained by the Journal, to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Director Daniel Ashe expressing “serious concerns” about how the service intends to develop a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf.

Chief among them are the extent of the range where wolves may roam and the number of wild wolves required before the species may be removed from the endangered list.

“The service does not have any predetermined outcomes for the revised recovery plan, and we are looking forward to working with participants in a collaborative fashion,” Humphrey said. “The issues raised in the governors’ letter will continue to be considered as we move forward with the revision of the Mexican wolf recovery plan.”

The governors also underscored their position that the majority of the recovery effort should occur in Mexico, not the southwestern U.S.

There were 110 Mexican wolves in the wild across parts of eastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, according to Fish and Wildlife’s last count. Wolf releases began in 1998.

Wolf advocates say the wild population, even as it has grown in numbers, is genetically frail due to inbreeding.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said the service should go back to the last draft recovery plan instead of starting the process over again. “The Fish and Wildlife Service should release the 2012 draft recovery plan for scientific peer review and public comment instead of holding closed-door meetings with states seeking to undermine the Mexican wolf recovery program,” he said.

The recovery program has detractors in the ranching and farming industries, and among residents in the rural recovery areas, as wolves – apex predators – have been known to prey on cattle and approach populated areas.

Humphrey said the service plans to develop a “revised recovery plan for the Mexican wolf that is legally sufficient and science-based by the end of 2017.”


Scientists urge states to set goals for wolf management


“One of the big issues in science-based management is to have clear goals,” said Scott Creel, a professor in the Department of Ecology at Montana State University in Bozeman and the lead author of the paper published in the December issue of Science magazine. “Avoiding being listed under the Endangered Species Act is one of the goals, but it’s not clear if that’s the only goal.”

Creel said the conservation policy paper is an “attempt to redefine what is a sustainable level” of wolf removal through hunting, trapping and those killed by stockmen.

Current state policies rely on an influx of animals from elsewhere to sustain populations, he said, but that doesn’t work well as states have different management policies and goals.

Montana’s wolf population was last estimated at a minimum of 554 in 134 packs, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Wolf numbers have been in a steady decline since peaking at 653 wolves in 130 packs in 2011.

“We know we probably miss 30 percent of them in our counts,” said John Vore, FWP’s Game Management Bureau chief, stressing that the actual number of wolves on the Montana landscape is probably significantly higher.

“When we had fewer wolves on the landscape it was easier to keep track of them,” he said.

Now, in places like the Kalispell region where the wolf populations have divided from 12 packs to 60, tracking those animals is much more difficult for the agency, Vore added.

Montana is in the sixth year of allowing hunting of wolves. After beginning conservatively, the state has bumped up the harvest quota and increased the number of licenses a hunter can buy to five. There’s also a lengthy trapping season for wolves.

Although last season more than 20,000 hunters bought a Montana wolf tag, only about 1 of every 100 actually killed a wolf. Last year’s harvest was 206 wolves. In the first year of hunting wolves in Montana in 2009, 72 wolves were killed.

Creel said the paper he co-wrote is not supposed to be a debate about whether wolves can be hunted sustainably; instead he and his co-authors would like to see officials manage wolves more sustainably.

The paper points out that the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, “classifies a population segment as endangered if it holds fewer than 2,500 individuals and has declined by more than 20 percent in less than five years. In Idaho, delisting and subsequent legal harvest produced a 22.4 percent decline in population counts from 2008 to 2013.”

Idaho estimated its wolf population at the end of 2014 at 700 animals with 360 documented wolf mortalities. Wyoming counted 333 wolves with 64 mortalities. Oregon said it had 77 wolves and Washington 68, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual report.

The agency estimates the population of gray wolves in the United States at more than 5,500 animals, calling them “robust, stable and self-sustaining” on its website.

Creel said he’s worried that if wolves aren’t managed in a more sustainable means, the millions of dollars invested in re-establishing the large canines in the Northern Rockies will have been a waste.
While Idaho and Wyoming’s game management agencies seem geared to allow hunting of wolves to the lowest allowable population levels, Vore said FWP officials are proud of its agency’s program.

“We manage them just like we do other wildlife,” he said. “We look at the estimated population, how many conflicts we’ve had, and harvest in the past. It’s a balancing act with the overarching goal of maintaining a viable, connected population. And we’re well above those recommended (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) goals.

“Overall, the wolf story here in Montana is a success story. And we have been successful in reducing the number of conflicts with stockgrowers.”

Creel said the scientists aren’t trying to tell wildlife agencies what their wolf population goals should be, just that they should set some.

“The agencies may be reluctant to define a target because they’ll get pressure from both sides and that’s not a pleasant place to be,” he said.


Monday, December 28, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

Gray Wolf 1282b 
Gray Wolf by blackhawk32

Montana wolf depredation down

Madison Dapcevich, Special to Agweek


Wolf livestock depredation is down in Montana because of the hunting and trapping season that continues to deter wolves from highly populated agricultural areas, experts say.  

In 2011, the federal government delisted wolves across western states after they were nearly decimated at the turn of the 20th century.
Under the federally approved Grey Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, wolf populations have been reestablished in northwest Montana — one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record. 

As a species in need of management, wolf conservation became the primary responsibility of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and in 2009, the state opened its first wolf hunting and trapping season. 


MFWP Wolf Management Specialist Nathan Lance says population growth and depredation rates have stabilized, and it is expected that will be the case for future years, because of management tools currently in place, including livestock removal and controlled mortality through hunting. “Wolf hunting has been a tool that has thinned out the wolf population in some problematic areas closer to populated areas,” says Steve Primm, conservation director for People and Carnivores. He thinks an ethically conducted hunt can be an effective management tool. In the face of budget threats, experts also think hunting licenses could help offset the costs of management programs.

Last year, 206 wolves were killed during the hunting season. The biggest challenge in wolf management to date will come this spring, when federal oversight shifts to the state at the end of the 2016 federal fiscal year. Lance says wolf management costs have the potential to be offset with hunting license fees in a program that operates similar to Montana Fish and Game. “Managing the risk of wolf conflicts costs money,” Primm says. “It’s a long-term goal that all of the sharers figure out an equitable way to share those financial burdens of trying to implement these tools. We’re trying to figure out how to increase funding and make it more sustainable year after year.”

Lance says, “Even though the state of Montana has been involved all this time, there has been funding from the federal government to manage the wolf conservation and management program.” Less-expensive techniques will likely take the place of costly radio collaring and aerial tracking.

2015 totals

In 2015, there were 28 confirmed wolf kills across Montana, with the Livestock Loss Board paying out $188,000 in total depredation costs. 

Montana Livestock Loss Board Executive Director George Edwards says 95 percent of ranchers turn in claims when suffering a loss, but it’s the unconfirmed kills that have the biggest impact. “The bigger loss isn’t necessarily the death loss but the reduced weight when wolves are present. It’s the ones you can’t find — the missing that are so hard to verify,” Edwards says. 

Lance credits the success of wolf programs to the collaboration between ranchers, governments, hunters and conservationists alike. “Wolves are a beautiful animal to see,” says Montana born-and-raised hunting guide Andrew Wicks. “They are also by far the sneakiest, hardest thing to find in the forest — and they’re smart, too. Without proper management they are absolutely destructive, killing machines.” 

Effective wolf management relies on reducing risk rather than giving a certain guarantee, Primm says. “Since delisting in Montana, I think the numbers show that wolf depredation seems to be declining, but it is still acute,” Primm says. “We’ll continue to see problems on remote rangelands where it’s difficult to keep an eye on livestock.” 

“I respect the connection people feel to wolves, and I do believe that an ethically conducted hunt can be an effective management tool,” he says. “The wolves that don’t get [hunted] are going to get smart and learn to avoid populated areas, or they’re going to get very clever and wary. Hunting is going to modify their behavior.”

Swedish courts temporarily ban wolf hunting

Published: December 28, 2015
Three wolves stand in a pen at the Kolmarden Wildlife Park in Norrkoping, Sweden, June 18, 2012. PHOTO: AFP
Three wolves stand in a pen at the Kolmarden Wildlife Park in Norrkoping, Sweden, June 18, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

STOCKHOLM: Swedish courts on Monday ordered a temporary ban on wolf hunting in parts of the country, favouring animal rights activists in one of Sweden’s most hotly disputed environmental issues.

The administrative court decisions in the western city of Karlstad, and in Falun, in central Sweden, were a victory for environmental groups including the Swedish World Wildlife Federation, which has been fighting a decision to authorise the culling of 46 wolves.

Uncertainty remained on licenses to kill six more wolves, as a third decision was expected Tuesday by the administrative court in Uppsala.

The Karlstad and Falun courts ruled that the Supreme Administrative Court must evaluate whether the hunting licences are in conformity with European directives.

As a result the next hunting season, which is set to begin on January 2 and end on February 15, is likely to be either shortened or cancelled.

Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the wolf population stands at just over 400, and recommends that the population be kept at that level by regulating hunting.

Hunters have complained that wolves have been decimating the stocks of other game and menacing hunting dogs in rural parts of the country.

The hunters also argue that many of the wolves they culled had been in good health, which shows that the species, considered extinct in the 1970s, has made a good recovery in Sweden.

“We have the decisions of parliament, the government, the regions and the Environmental Protection Agency to say that we must have a wolf hunt. I really do not know what more you can ask for,” Torbjorn Lovbom, president of the Federation of Hunters, told the Swedish news agency TT.

The back-and-forth battle has seen Sweden resume wolf hunting in 2010 and 2011, leading to a protest by the European Commission over the country’s hunting quota policy.

Hunting resumed again early this year.


Wolves and US military veterans help heal each others' post-traumatic stress

Warriors and Wolves
Mathew Simmons, co-founder of the Warriors and Wolves programme with a wolf
They've run in packs and suffered scarring life experiences, but a unique new programme matching military veterans with wolves is helping both man and animal to rebuild their lives. "Both misunderstood and disenfranchised" they find solace in each other, according to the Warriors and Wolves programme.

Around 40 wolves and wolf-dogs live at the Lockwood Animal Rescue Centre, a sprawling 20-acre estate around 70 miles north of Los Angeles, California. At least 29 of the animals were rescued from Alaska where they were held in horrific conditions, chained to fences, only able to move a few yards at a time, unable to touch one another except when breeding, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. Others were bought as pets.

After they began pairing the creatures with military veterans in 2009 US Navy veteran Mathew Simmons and clinical psychologist noticed the unique relationship was beneficial to both man and beast.

Warriors an Wolvers
A veteran smiles as a wolf leans towards his head
"We started to see these miracles happening that we weren't seeing in a traditional clinical setting," Dr Linder said in a recent interview with NBC Los Angeles.
Wild animals choosing to create a relationship with someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was "profoundly important" to them, she added in a separate interview with Sky News.

"One of the main symptoms of those disorders is the inability to trust, to build relationships, to feel like you're safe," she said. "These animals we are rescuing also have traumatic stress disorders, are also shy and have difficulty developing relationships and trusting again."

After spending 10-years in the US Navy Jim Minick told Sky News that he was "lost" and credited his relationship with a wolf, Kehei, with helping him.

He said: "It is hard to re-integrate back into normal society and trusting people, trusting society, how they are going to judge you… These guys really don't judge you, they really don't care what you did before, they just care who you are and it is a really special bond, a special relationship."

Another Navy veteran Drew Boli, told NBC Los Angeles that three extended tours led to a divorce and debilitating nightmares.

"The majority of my pay cheque was going into alcohol," he said, adding that the wolves had helped him shift his life away from drinking.

Co-founder Mathew Simmons had himself suffered from PTSD said the sanctuary becomes a "place of respite" for the men, in an interview published on the programme's website.
"When they first get to the programme they are very lethargic and not committed. They are five minutes late, they're leaving 20 minutes early," he said.

"I think the biggest change you see with some of the warriors in the programme is their willingness to be early, their willingness to say yes and they're willingness to just about anything when it comes to their wolf or the sanctuary."


The Wild Yellowstone Scavengers (full video)

Nat Geo: The Wild Yellowstone Scavengers by lin-kerns

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Arctic Wolf Treat (video)

Siskiyou County ranchers on edge over wolf encounters

December 26, 2015

Ranchers fear wolves attacking livestock after ‘probable’ calf kill
Ranching plays important role in Siskiyou County’s economy and culture
Some environmentalists say ranchers already were given too many concessions
The cattle were acting nervous and flighty in late October as David Cowley and his father, Jack, rounded them up to move the herd off the mountainous summer grazing land they lease in eastern Siskiyou County.

Ten yearling heifers, each worth potentially more than $2,000, had broken off from the herd. David Cowley rode off on horseback to bring them back.

He approached and saw a female wolf and three of her pups slowly tailing them.

The pups scattered when he closed in, but the female didn’t. Jack Cowley said his son recalled she stared him down – “challenged him” – before sauntering off to join her pups.

The encounter left the Cowleys shaken. Even more so when they learned that just a few days later, on Nov. 10, a group of ranchers on a similar cattle roundup nearby came upon a pack of wolves tearing apart the carcass of a calf.

Wildlife officials announced this month they had classified the November incident as a “probable” wolf kill. They said the calf may have died through other means, and the wolves may have merely scavenged the carcass. But ranchers in Siskiyou County have little doubt the wolves made the kill, in what would be the first documented attack on livestock by a wolf in California in a century.
The news has put ranchers on Siskiyou County on edge. More broadly, it highlights the deep divide between rural and urban California on the issue of wolves returning to the state after being exterminated almost a century ago.

Those living in California’s faraway cities seemed to respond positively this summer when state wildlife officials announced that a pair of gray wolves had moved into the woods of Siskiyou County, likely from Oregon, and had five black-furred pups. They welcomed the notion of majestic predators again howling in some distant corner of their state.

The reactions were different in Siskiyou County.

“I don’t really know what to do here,” said Jim Rickert, who ranches just a few miles from where Cowley encountered the wolves. “It’s one more thing on our plate. It’s a burden, as far as I’m concerned.”

State and federal officials and wolf advocates say that livestock predation is rare and attacks on people are even less likely. That hardly eases the fears among the 45,000 people who live here.
The fifth largest county by land mass in California, up on the Oregon border, can feel like a place out of time, thanks in large part to the county’s ranching culture. Drivers on rural roads commonly get stuck behind ranchers on horseback walking a herd of cattle. Herefords, Charolais and Angus cows still graze unattended in the same evergreen forests, mountain meadows and high desert plains that ranchers have used for more than 100 years.

Wildlife investigators photographed this wolf near where ranchers said they spotted a pack feeding on a calf carcass. State Department of Fish and Wildlife

Read more here:

Where howls are heard

Ranching also is an economic driver in this chronically impoverished county, where nearly one person in five was unemployed during the recession. Ranchers have a sense of dread that the wolves will continue to grow in numbers, and they’ll develop a taste for their livestock, harming a business model that’s already susceptible to sudden declines in cattle prices. They’re not just worried about wolves picking off calves from time to time. They say that even if wolves don’t directly prey on their herds, just having a pack nearby stresses cattle to the point where heifers have fewer or less healthy calves. Stressed beef steers, they say, also lose weight, fetching a lower price at the auction house.

The wolf resettlement in Siskiyou County also has added fuel to an already simmering sense of frustration with Sacramento and the federal government. Siskiyou County is home to the founders of the movement to carve a state of Jefferson out of staunchly Republican counties in Northern California and southern Oregon.
When it comes to wolves and other predators, the ranchers and Jefferson activists say California’s perceptions and management strategies amount to out-of-touch city dwellers making decisions without regard for those whose livestock investments are under increasing threat.

“I wonder how city people would feel if their life’s savings walked around on the street,” said Nadine Bailey, a longtime north state agricultural advocate and former state legislative staff member.
There’s little, the ranchers say, they can do about it. Because gray wolves are listed under both state and federal endangered species acts, one cannot legally be killed even if a rancher sees a calf in its jaws.

That hasn’t stopped some on social media from chiming in to say that Siskiyou County ranchers should take matters in their own hands. “SSS” is a common refrain, short for “Shoot. Shovel. Shut up.”

“Those poor little puppies are gonna get dirt naps,” one online commenter posted on Facebook in response to a recent Sacramento Bee story describing the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s investigation into the probable wolf kill.

The agency has no evidence that such threats are anything more than online bluster. Fish and Wildlife’s law enforcement chief, David Bess, said it has no plans to increase game warden patrols in the region to protect the wolves from human attack.

Ranchers told The Bee that while they would like to kill a wolf if it’s caught preying on their animals, it would be a bad idea to do so. They said that they know the animals are beloved by many in the state, and that anyone who killed one would receive little forgiveness in the legal system should he be caught. Killing a gray wolf is potentially punishable by hefty fines and years in prison.
“As far as ‘shoot, shovel and shut up,’ I don’t think anybody here would ever do that because we are – under this new agenda – guilty until proven innocent,” said Debbie Bacigalupi, whose family raises cattle in the Montague area of Siskiyou County.

Bacigalupi said she wishes those in urban areas understood the personal toll for ranching families when predators attack their livestock.

“My parents have been out in the middle of the night when it’s snowing and a cow is giving birth and a pack of coyotes is eating the calf out of the mother,” she said, her voice quavering with emotion. “The calf is now dead and my parents are up in the middle of the night, sewing that cow. There is investment of the heart in a place like this.”

Rickert said he’s had similar experiences with predation on his livestock. He said he has a fondness for his cattle similar to how others might love their dog or cat.

He said a few years ago, a mountain lion killed a number of sheep close to his ranch house. Wildlife officials were called to deal with the animal.

When they arrived, he said, he wryly told them he had the ideal place for the animal’s resettlement: a park in Los Gatos, a wealthy city in the Bay Area, a region in which voters supported a ballot initiative in 1990 that prohibited mountain lion hunting.

When a predator is nearby or attacking a rancher’s stock, Rickert said, “it’s very personal for us. But for them, it’s abstract. It’s very theoretical.”

The call to adapt

Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jordan Traverso said ranchers have not been left out of the discussions of how to manage wolves. She said they played an integral role in shaping the agency’s recently released draft wolf conservation plan. In addition to state management strategies, the plan outlines possible state funding for providing reimbursements for livestock killed by wolves, or for ranchers using nonlethal methods to scare the predators away from their herds.

The public has until mid-February to comment on the draft. Three meetings are scheduled around the state to solicit input, including one Jan. 21 in Yreka, Siskiyou County’s seat.

Everybody that has a business adapts to change, otherwise you go out of business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rancher or you own a dry cleaner in a city. That’s part of a successful business model. Amaroq Weiss, biologist who advocates for wolves for the Center for Biological Diversity
Amaroq Weiss, a biologist who advocates for wolves for the Center for Biological Diversity, said she was encouraged to see that the draft plan broadly explores nonlethal strategies to reduce conflicts between ranchers and wolves. She also liked that it sets goals for public education to promote coexistence with the predators.

But she said she’s troubled that the plan calls for the state to authorize killing wolves when the population reaches as few as 50 to 75 animals to keep their numbers in check.

She pointed to a recent Washington State University scientific study that showed that killing wolves actually leads to more predation on livestock. She said that when a pack is disrupted by a death, the rest of the pack targets easier prey. Often, that’s docile sheep and cows.

Weiss said ranchers will have to learn to adapt to wolves on their rangeland by changing their animal husbandry practices. She and other wolf advocates call for such measures as spending more time checking their herds, building wolf-proof fencing, corralling livestock when wolves are present, staking flags around grazing land to frighten the animals away, and employing technology such as alarms that go off when wolves that have been radio-collared by biologists are nearby. State officials said they hope to place collars on the Siskiyou pack to track the wolves’ movements, something that has been done in other states.

“Change is part of the world. Everybody adapts to change,” Weiss said. “Everybody that has a business adapts to change, otherwise you go out of business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rancher or you own a dry cleaner in a city. That’s part of a successful business model.”

But Siskiyou County ranchers said that many of the nonlethal methods wolf advocates suggest they use again show how out of touch they are about how ranching actually works. Many of the methods, they said, would be costly or impracticable. For instance, Rickert challenged the idea of placing flags around his grazing property. He said that if all of his grazing lands were put together they would be a mile wide and stretch on for nearly 60 miles.

Jack Cowley, the rancher whose son had the close encounter with the wolf, expressed similar sentiments.

“This crazy stuff they talk about putting the flags up and all that, that’s totally, completely impossible,” he said. “We can’t have a rider that spends his full life up there.”

David Cowley did change one habit after his wolf encounter. Even though many of his fellow ranchers carry handguns, Cowley had never purchased one. He said he did soon after his wolf encounter.

The Cowleys were troubled by how little fear the animal seemed to have of him. Wildlife agency officials noted in their investigation of the probable wolf-kill that the wolves got very close to them as well.

On Nov. 11, a day after the ranchers found the dead calf surrounded by the pack, the investigators visited the site and played recordings of a pair of wolves, wolf pups and a rabbit to see if there would be any response. Almost immediately, they heard multiple howls in return.
One wolf walked within 100 yards.

A photo later taken by an investigator shows one of the black wolves with its head back in a howl. Three other wolves also were photographed.

Jack Cowley said his family is considering not grazing their cattle in that area next year. And not just because of the threat – perceived or real – to their cows. The ranchers themselves are nervous to be in this newly reclaimed wolf country.

“You better believe we are. You better believe we are,” he said. “You don’t know what they’re going to do. You just don’t know.”


#Wolves of the Day

Attention by Kataaku

After nearly 100 years, wolves are back in CA

Ned Rozell

A trail camera image from summer 2015 shows the seven wolves known to be in California. California Department of Fish and Wildlife
A headline in the print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle catches the eye of a visiting Alaskan: "Wolves feed on calf."

In a Dec. 20 story, Chronicle reporter John King reported that wolves were likely responsible for killing and eating a young cow from a rancher's herd in Northern California. It is the first reported wolf kill on California livestock since the 1920s. That was the last time people saw wolves in California.

Biologists for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated the scene in Siskiyou County after a report from a rancheast month. They found "bloodied bone fragments at the spot where the wolves and carcass could be seen, as well as wolf scat containing cattle hair nearby," King reported. Biologists just released a 48-page report on the suspected wolf kill.

The wolves responsible are part of what biologists have named the Shasta Pack. The seven wolves — two adults and five pups — are the only ones known in California. About 38.8 million people live in the state.

Biologists first confirmed the wolves' appearance in August 2015 when a trail camera they set up captured a shot of the entire Shasta Pack. "This news is exciting for California," Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a press release that accompanied the photo in August. "We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time."

Gray wolves have endangered status in California, meaning people cannot kill them. "In every other state where wolves have become established, (livestock killing) events have become unfortunate and inevitable events," Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen's Association told Chronicle reporter King after the confirmation that wolves killed the calf. The state is now taking public comments on a draft wolf management plan.

There are only a few museum wolf specimens in California, but biologists think the animals were present in the state until the 1920s. After bounty programs that encouraged hunters and ranchers to kill wolves, most were gone from the Lower 48 by the 1930s. Wolf populations remained strong in Canada and Alaska.

From Canada, wolves started recolonizing northwestern Montana in the mid-1990s. At about the same time, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists released Canada wolves in Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The wolves have multiplied and expanded their ranges since then. Including California, six states in the Lower 48 now have wolves.

The animals seem to prefer public lands without many roads. There are at least 68 gray wolves in Washington and 81 in Oregon. The seven California wolves probably wandered over the border from Oregon.

Alaska has a wolf population of 7,000 to 11,000 animals, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The wolves are present throughout most of the state, less frequently near cities and towns. They are also absent from most large islands, including Kodiak, Chichagof, Baranof and the Aleutians.

Ned Rozell is a science writer for the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

#Wolf of the Day

2014 Wenaha pup, ODFW by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Support wolf restoration in Colorado

By Jeff Davis
Posted:   12/25/2015

Our Colorado Parks and Wildlife is attempting to push through a new resolution at its Jan. 14 meeting in Denver that will prevent wolf recovery and restoration in the state of Colorado. This is quite interesting based on the fact this public agency commissioned a study on wolf restoration back in 2005 and the results stated that based on the current and available science wolf restoration was a very good thing for our state. Additionally, surveys have shown that over 70 percent of Coloradans want to see wolf recovery in our state.

This is purely a move to "cow tow" to the livestock and hunting lobbies in Colorado. Further, this resolution completely goes against the study CPW commissioned and has supported for over 10 years now. It is now time Coloradans stand up for what they want and what correct science, not political agendas, confirm is best for our state now and in the future.

The Sierra Club is organizing a "pro wolf" rally to be held in Denver at the CPW offices either Jan. 13 or 14, and we ask the citizens of this state to join us in preventing this horrible resolution from being approved by a state public agency whose bylaws state they are to protect and nourish our wildlife here in Colorado. Please visit the Sierra Club website to get current info on the date and time of this very important public rally, Additionally, you can visit this website and go to the conservation tab and under "wolf restoration" you can sign a petition that will show the CPW your support.

We simply cannot allow money and power to rule in this country and in our state. Please speak up and do what is right! The livestock and hunting lobbies are doing horrible things to these amazing and worthy animals and we just cannot continue to allow this to happen in modern times. These resilient animals are trying their best to re-populate after years of genocide at the hands of us humans. I hope to see you at the rally.

Jeff Davis lives in Boulder.


Letter: Let science dictate whether Mexican wolves come to Utah

First Published
The Tribune deserves praise for its reasonable support for the restoration of Mexican gray wolves in the wild. It also rightfully highlighted the flaws of a misguided letter from the Four Corners governors, including Gov. Gary Herbert, who have attempted to interfere with the Fish and Wildlife Service's development of a plan — required by law — to recover this magnificent species.

El lobo has a tenuous toehold on survival, with only about 100 wolves in the wild. This is in part because since the wolf was listed in 1976, Fish and Wildlife has failed to provide a scientifically based plan to rebuild the population to sustainable levels. Herbert and the others should let the service do its job without interference.

If the science indicates that habitat in Utah is necessary for the species recovery, then, as the Tribune said, "we should let them in."

The Mexican gray wolf is an important part of our national wildlife heritage. Its survival is a matter of interest to all the people of the United States, not just to Herbert and the narrower interests he serves. Political efforts to influence the service's decisions and undermine the wolves' survival have no place in this process.

Heidi McIntosh
Managing attorney, Earthjustice Denver office

Watch out for wolves, Yukon government warns? Oh, come on!

Woman and dog stalked by three wolves in Porter Creek area 
CBC News Posted: Dec 24, 2015 
Conservation officers with Environment Yukon are warning Whitehorse residents to be on the lookout for wolves.
Conservation officers with Environment Yukon are warning Whitehorse residents to be on the lookout for wolves. (Meagan Deuling/CBC)Conservation officers killed a wolf Wednesday morning near the Whitehorse dump, after a woman was stalked by three of the animals Monday night.

Ken Knutson of Environment Yukon said one wolf was shot this morning, and another was seen at the dump. "What we do now is once we killed one animal we just wait and see if there are other incidents reported," he said.  "This may have created enough fear, kind of an aversive conditioning effect, if you will, on the other animals that it will be cautious around people. That would be the hope."

A woman in Porter Creek reported being stalked by what she believes were three wolves. The woman was walking in a greenbelt with her dog on leash. She screamed at the wolves but they continued to follow her to her backyard. The woman said that at one point they tried to encircle her.

Knutson said there is lots of wolf activity at the perimeter of the dump. The animals cross between the dump and the Porter Creek area. Officials say people should walk with animals on leashes and carry pepper spray. 

Knutson said the best way to prevent this would be a complete barrier around all landfills.


Outrage over B.C. helicopter company used to collar Banff wolves

Parks Canada picks controversial helicopter company to help with wolf collaring
CBC News Posted: Dec 26, 2015
The B.C. government will kill almost 200 grey wolves this winter using sharpshooters in helicopters.
The B.C. government will kill almost 200 grey wolves this winter using sharpshooters in helicopters. 

(Chris Corday/CBC)(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Parks Canada's decision to hire a contentious British Columbia helicopter company to help collar wolves with GPS trackers in Banff has sparked online outrage.
"They were hoping to slip this one under the rug," says wildlife photographer John Marriott.
Parks Canada hired Bighorn Helicopter to help collar wolves.
The Cranbrook-based private company helped with BC's controversial wolf cull earlier this year.
The company specializes in capturing wolves.

Online reaction

But Marriot — and many others online — are outraged by Bighorn Helicopter's involvement with efforts to track five wolves from three packs.
The Canmore man's Facebook post decrying Park's Canada's use of the company has received thousands of likes.
"Parks Canada needs to be leading the way and making ethical decisions like this when it comes to the management of their wolves and their wildlife," said Marriott from his cell phone, while travelling in the mountains.

Parks Canada defends its decision

In an e-mail statement to CBC News, the federal service says the company was chosen through a competitive contracting process.
Bighorn helicopters, the statement says, has the "specialised skills required to enable Parks Canada to successfully capture and collar wolves."
  • The B.C. government will kill almost 200 grey wolves this winter using sharpshooters in helicopters.
  • The B.C. government will kill almost 200 grey wolves this winter using sharpshooters in helicopters. (Chris Corday/CBC)
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"The purpose of this collaring is to protect wolves and reduce wildlife mortality in the park."
John Marriott rejects Parks Canada's justification, saying Bighorn Helicopters "may be the best in the business — but that doesn't mean you sell their soul to them."
Bighorn Helicopters did not respond to CBC News' request for an interview.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wyoming mum on its plan for wolves

Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 
By Mike Koshmrl