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Wolf News Around the World, October 2009 - by Chris Kirby

wolf pictureAlaska

We have lost one of the pack leaders in the war to defend the wolf on the same land where he mapped their lives.  Noted wolf biologist Gordon Haber was killed in a plane crash.  The pilot, Daniel McGregor, who survived with severe burns, confirmed his death.  We bow our heads in respect.  Dr. Haber, 67, loved wolves and, most of all, the wolves of the Toklat pack in Denali National Park.  Continuing the work of Adolph Murie, Dr. Haber studied Denali's wolves since 1966 in the same intimate and thorough manner.  He spent thousands of hours watching them; in courts fighting for them and routinely flew to observe them leaving remarkable photographic and narrative records of his observations.  A tenacious advocate for wolves, he was a fervent and dedicated voice that fought for stronger protection of wolves.  Undeterred by anyone, his life's work was appreciated by those he crossed swords with and wolf enthusiasts but his real mission was to call attention to what he saw as mistaken policies and to convey the state of wonder in which he found himself even after 40 years of watching wolves.

"I am still in awe at what I see out there," he wrote.  "Wolves enliven the northern mountains, forests and tundra like no other creature, helping to enrich our own stay on the planet simply by their presence as other highly advanced societies in our midst."--Gordon Haber

To Haber, those were reasons enough to protect wolves from human hunting. 


Wolf hunting expanded in Idaho this month to cover the entire state when the remaining 8 of the 12 wolf hunting zones opened October 1.  To date 81 wolves have been killed, legally and illegally.  Officials were taken back at the ease of killing the wolves after claiming that it would be a tough challenge to reach even near the 220 quota.  Worries for the wolves were answered with grim reality beginning with the Phantom Hill Wolf Pack of Wood River Valley when a radio-collared 2-year-old member of the pack was the first to be shot and killed in the region's opening day of wolf hunting.  The Phantom Hill Pack was heard howling in sorrow for B445 known as "Jewel" a young beta female who was nanny-wolf to her younger brothers and sisters that make up this year's pups.  The local all-black pack was an educational model for successfully co-existing with livestock that used non-lethal proactive measures.  Serious genetic losses and quick-rising wolf kills continued from central Idaho to northern Idaho where wolves were killed from one of the oldest packs in Idaho; the Culver Mountain Pack estimated to date back to the 1990s and the Marble Mountain Pack established 10 years ago.  The southern Idaho zone is the only zone in which no wolves have been killed.  Speculation is that there may in fact not be any wolves there at all.  In the Lolo Zone where IDF&G and hunters claimed there are huge numbers of wolves having a big impact on elk.  3 wolves have been killed from a quota of 27.

A man cited by IDFG last month for poaching a wolf outside of an open hunting zone from the road pled not guilty.  Witnesses, however, reported he shot and killed the wolf pup from the back of his pickup truck.  He was arraigned on misdemeanor charges of taking a game animal illegally and shooting from a public highway.

An Idaho sheep rancher wielding a shotgun from his aircraft illegally shot at 4 wolves after he saw them leaving a 160-acre sheep pen on June 5.  He believes one wolf outfitted with a radio collar crawled under brush and died cause he shot the wolf two times.  The state agency opted to drop the case in part because no dead wolf was ever found.


A Rottweiler adopted an 8-week old wolf cub at a preserve in Mt. Desert after being rejected by her parents.


Royale Isle's moose population is nearing a 50-year low and what's bad for the moose is worse for the wolves that depend on them.  Dr. Peterson can see the day when the wolves die out and scientists must confront the far-reaching question, should man intervene?  Video


The longest-running designed field experiment ever conducted on deer has helped wildlife biologists learn about deer survival and reproduction according to the DNR statement in Gustave Axelson's article.  Also found was that wolf predation, which tended to focus on older and weaker deer, had little impact on the resurgence.  The study took place in an area saturated with wolves, high hunter access and historically severe winters and yet white-tailed deer thrived.  These findings will be useful in explaining wolf-deer interactions in Wisconsin as well.  Wisconsin's DNR's leading deer biologist said upwards of 80% of annual buck mortality is due to legal hunting.


Montana's inaugural wolf hunting season's large kill in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness adjacent to Yellowstone National Park has surprised Montana's wolf manager and exasperated wolf advocates.  Wolves sought in the wilderness area are the same wolves seen in the Park or on PBS and the Discovery Channel.  The state allowed wolf hunting this fall in four backcountry districts that coincide with early deer and elk hunting seasons.  Park wolves often stalk elk outside the park and are attracted by entrails the hunters leave behind.  Wolves freely wander in and out of the Park.  They cannot read maps and many are accustomed to seeing humans staring at them with cameras' spotting scopes inside the Park and now rifles outside.  Intentions by the state's FWP agency to encourage wolves to remain in the backcountry backfired just as wolf advocates predicted.  It was unfeasible that FWP expected wilderness and Yellowstone wolves not to have been the only wolves killed when they opened the backcountry wilderness to wolf-hunting before the front country.  As a result, nine wolves were killed by hunters in the area along the northern border of Yellowstone Park.  At least four were from Yellowstone's Cottonwood pack.  Park officials believe the four killed including the breeding alpha female were gunned down during those first weeks, effectively ending research into one of the park's most important study groups.  One of Yellowstone's best-known wolves; the graying-black seven-year old alpha female known as 527F was born into Yellowstone's Druid peak pack, featured in a PBS documentary entitled "In the Valley of the Wolves."  Before she, her mate -- the pack's alpha male -- and her daughter, 716F were shot this month.  "We were studying one of the very few unexploited wolf populations in North America," wildlife biologist Douglas Smith, leader of Yellowstone's wolf project, told the Journal of Science after news of the Cottonwood pack was reported.  "We can no longer make that claim."  About Wolf 527F

Critics to the poorly planned hunt say the shootings are apt to choke off the flow of young wolves leaving Yellowstone to establish packs outside the park if they get blown away right at the boundary.  To date, 31 wolves have been destroyed in Montana.  Hunters were successful enough in southern Montana that wolf hunting is over there and surpasses the quota by one.

Montana Wildlife Service's state director said, "It's not that wolf depredations are extraordinarily high in the big picture - ranchers typically lose only a small percent of their livestock to Canis lupus - but they take up a lot of time and money.  ...suspected wolf depredations are taking up about 50 percent of his staff's time."  An analysis from Montana's 2003 wolf management plan puts the state's annual cost for wolves in the $907,000 to $948,000 range.  Only $40,000 to $81,000 of that is estimated to be needed to pay for livestock compensation.

Aerial sharpshooters with the USDA have killed the last four wolves of the Sage Creek pack after the wolves had been targeted for preying on sheep in the 100,000+ acre USDA Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) west of Yellowstone National Park.  The initial cause for the destruction of the eight-member pack was its predation on a single sheep.  The Sage Creek pack roamed the Centennial Mountains between Yellowstone and central Idaho precisely in the area that could alleviate genetic isolation thru the influx of wolves from Idaho and the possibility (for now, lost with the pack's demise) of yearlings making their way into Yellowstone.

Montana Wolf Weekly Report dated October 3 - October 9, reveals that twenty-three wolves in the Livermore Pack on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation were killed by Wildlife Services this year.  Fifteen killed in September alone.  These wolves were said to be responsible for an unstated number of livestock losses.  Past wolf weeklies offered no information why 23 wolves had to die.

A Big Hole Valley rancher has pulled his property out of a popular public hunting program in protest of Montana's wolf management policies.  Not in support of wolves but Instead he supports classifying wolves as predators that can be shot on sight and having federal trappers kill more from the air.  The rancher was fed up with Montana allowing too many wolves to roam and wants the predator’s numbers dramatically brought down.  He said after years of inaction by FWP following attacks on his cattle, he saw no other option.  Cancellation of his contract with the state will cost him $12,000 this year.

FWP authorized the remaining members of the Centennial pack be killed following additional livestock conflict.  After August control actions removed several members of the pack, this time they have seen 3 adults and 3 pups, one of which was killed.  WS will give their best efforts to kill the remaining wolves in the pack by the beginning of the big game season referring to opening of deer and elk rifle hunting.

A Columbia Falls man was cited and pleaded guilty of poaching two wolves in the North Fork Flathead River during a closed season in northwestern Montana.  Authorities were notified by a concerned citizen.  He was assessed fines and restitution totaling $1,135.00.  Wardens are seeking information about the illegal shooting of another wolf found dead in the same October 25 in the North Fork's Red Meadow area.  Anyone with information about the poaching is urged to call 1-800-TIPMONT.  Note:  The wolves could be Glacier wolves because of the park's proximity.

Northern Rocky Mountains

To date 134 wolves have been killed in the hunts conducted by Idaho and Montana.  Humans and government agents could gun down some 40% of all the wolves in Idaho and Montana.

Wolf advocates (Plaintiffs) have filed a Memorandum In Support of Summary Judgment to overturn the Federal Government's Delisting of NRM wolves on October 26.  The brief was required by the schedule for the pending lawsuit.

The fact that wolves have been so easily hunted and killed during the legal hunt is testimony to the fact that wolves need increased and continuing protection.  So that their deaths will not be in vain, we, as wolf advocates, must ask what we can do to further to protect the species we have worked so hard to bring back from the brink.  Please follow our Wolf Howl Forum for daily updates and information.


Federal officials and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have signed an agreement that establishes a trust fund to help ranchers deal with the impacts of endangered wolves that have been reintroduced in the Southwest.  The USFWS says the Mexican Wolf Interdiction Trust Fund aims to reduce the wolves' impact on livestock while increasing tolerance for the species' recovery.  Note:  the area is unable to reach the Mexican gray wolf to recovery goals thus less than 50 Mexican gray wolves are in the wild since recovery started 11 years ago.


A draft management and conservation plan released this week for gray wolves in Washington lays the blueprint for how the predators could eventually be delisted from state endangered species protection.  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is opening a three-month public comment period on the proposed plan with a dozen meetings around the state.  A final environmental impact statement on wolf recovery and management will be prepared after the public comment period ends January 8.

Western Great Lakes

The federal program that traps and kills problem wolves in Minnesota, and traps and moves them in Wisconsin and Michigan, will continue in 2010 under a provision in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that passed the U.S. House.  The bill, which includes $727,000 for the trapping service and allows for reimbursement of farmers who lose livestock, will now go on to the Senate.  So far this year, 186 wolves were trapped and killed from Minnesota's estimated 4,000 wolf population and 23 wolves were trapped and moved in Wisconsin.


The Department of Natural Resources confirms a gray wolf has been spotted in northern Manitowoc County when it received pictures taken by a resident earlier this month.  This is the first wolf to be spotted in that county.

The Department of Natural Resources is planning training sessions in November and December for volunteers willing to locate and count gray wolves and other carnivores.  More information is available on the DNR's volunteer tracking web site.


Wildlife advocates in Canada and Britain are expressing outrage over a planned publicity stunt in which a Canadian timber wolf is scheduled to race an English rugby star to promote a new line of running shoes.

The conservation service has issued a plea to the public for information leading to information regarding a shot wolf left dead on the side of a logging road highlighting the issue of proper hunting practices.  Anyone with information is invited to phone the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP)  24-hour phone line at 1-877-952-7277.


In a new paper entitled, "Wolf Depredation on Livestock in Central Greece," researchers studied wolf-livestock conflict by investigating patterns of 267 conflicts for 21 months.  One of the most important results indicated that wolf attacks on strayed, or kept inside non predator-proof enclosures, sheep and goats, were on average two to four times respectively more destructive than those when livestock was guarded by a shepherd and/or sheepdog.


A picture of a hunting wolf has won the prestigious Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 award.  The artist, Jose Luis Rodriquez, hopes his picture "showing the wolf's great agility and strength" will become an image that can be used to show just how beautiful the Iberian wolf is and how the Spanish can be proud to have such an emblematic animal.


Parliament voted through the new rules for predator management.  They will include licensed hunting of wolves already in the winter.  At the same time 20 wolves implanted in the country to reduce inbreeding.

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