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Wolf News Around the World, December 2010 - by Chris Kirby


Washington D.C.

Anti-wolf Bill S3919 attempting to remove all gray wolves in the U.S. from endangered species protection failed December 21.  A race to beat the clock before the new Congress convenes January 3 motivated Senator Hatch, R-Utah along with Idaho cosponsors Republican Senators Crapo and Risch to bypass the committee process by requesting a unanimous consent agreement.  A single "no" vote was all it took to block the bill and one was provided by Senator Cardin D-Maryland.  Republicans for Environmental Protection issued a statement saying it was too soon to delist wolves or grizzly bears, which "face irrational animosity from officials in those (Rocky Mountain) states."  The remaining four anti-wolf bills did not pass to this session of Congress and expired.  Thank you to everyone who wrote their congressmen speaking up for wolves.  5 anti-wolf bills bite the dust 

The Center for Biological Diversity is calling for a national recovery plan to save wolves in the lower 48 states.  Currently, gray wolf populations are limited to the northern Rocky Mountains, western Great Lakes and Southwest, which makes up less than 5% of their historic range.  "Federal officials are eager to declare victory and turn over control to state wildlife agencies that can enact wolf hunts and be more aggressive in killing off individuals or packs.  But the job of restoring wolves is far from finished.  Restoring wolves across a wider swath of their historic range would not only boost the health of the species, it would enable wolves to reclaim their historic role helping to maintain rich, healthy ecosystems.  The CBD filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Interior Department for failing to develop a recovery plan for wolves in the lower 48 states.  Such a plan is required by the Endangered Species Act, and according to the notice should have been developed 30 years ago or more.  "Small, isolated wolf populations are a recipe for extinction," said the Center's Michael Robinson.   Far From Home

Western Great Lakes Region

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has pledged that the Eastern Timber Wolf will be removed from the endangered species list by the end of 2011.  The promise went to members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation and is the latest update in a decades-long saga over how wolves should be managed in the Western Great Lakes.  The proposal would return management of wolves to the states and tribal wildlife agencies and is the next step needed for states to allow trapping and hunting of wolves.  According to information released December 10; the USFWS is already working on a new delisting proposal by April 2011.  Following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register, stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide information to the Service during a public comment period.  After review of comments and other available scientific information, the Service plans to publish a final rule by the end of 2011.  The USFWS has made a New Year's resolution to remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list.  Heads Up

Northern Rocky Mountains Region

Negotiations to remove Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves from the endangered species list hit an impasse between Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and governors from three Northern Rockies states after Wyoming and Idaho refused to go along with an Interior Department proposal on the issue.  The administration was ready to back legislation to take wolves off the list in Montana and Idaho while giving Wyoming three years to craft an acceptable management plan for the predators.  "I was ready to go forward with a hunt in January of 170-something wolves," said Schweitzer.  But the governors couldn't come to a consensus with the Secretary of Interior about a possible legislative fix in 2010.  An Interior Department spokeswoman said talks are continuing but did not elaborate.  Read about it.

"In the cold, dawn light of Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, I watched the Crystal Creek wolf pack at play.  It was 1995, and these were the first wolves to return to Yellowstone in 60 years."  "Wild wolves in the northern Rockies should be protected.  Until science -- not politics -- proves that the species has fully recovered.  Why not let wolves help us keep our world green."  "Our children will thank us for this."  Why wolves matter:  The Green World Theory

Southwestern Region

Legendary Mexican Gray Wolf nicknamed Estrella aka AF521 was found shot to death in Catron County New Mexico.  The USFWS is investigating the case.  In this latest death, sixth this year, several people believed to have been involved in the shooting have been identified.  Authorities decline to disclose their names and are evaluating the case.  Estrella was born in captivity in 1997 as part of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.  She was released into the wild with her litter of pups in June 2002 and whelped litters every year after until 2007.  Spending almost nine years not only in the tough wilds of her territory but also the not so easy life of a wolf, She became a living legend for simply staying alive.  Run Free Sweet Shining Star

To date, 36 wolves have been criminally slaughtered, 151 have been removed by the very agency responsible for their recovery, and 46 have disappeared into thin air.  Now, a dozen years into on-the-ground recovery effort, the lobos' perilously generated genetic diversity is diminishing as key wolves are killed, and the deleterious effects of inbreeding are apparent in small litter sizes and low survival rates.  Barely over 3 dozen wild Mexican Gray Wolves exist.  Fate Unknown

The USFWS says the October death of the female wolf from New Mexico-based Morgart Pack appears to have been accidental.  A preliminary report says the female ingested a plastic ear tag commonly used on domestic cattle and that a rupture of the small intestines likely killed the wolf.  An analysis found no sign of cattle hair in the wolf's digestive tract and officials had no reports of wolf-related cattle depredations in the area.  The agency wasn't able to determine how the animal swallowed an ear tag.  Update

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has written to the state's congressional delegation, urging removal of the Mexican Gray Wolf from federal Endangered Species Act protection.  Removing federal endangered species protection from a species with maybe 42 individuals in the wild and only two breeding pairs will be a hard bid to win even politically, let alone scientifically.  Are you kidding?

Yellowstone National Park

Scientists will begin using the thermal imaging to shed light on how mange affects the survival, reproduction and social behavior of wolves in Yellowstone National Park.  About a quarter of the wolf packs in the park are affected with sarcoptic mange.  Sarcoptic mange was introduced into the Northern Rockies in 1909 by state wildlife veterinarians in an attempt to help eradicate local wolf and coyote populations.  The highly contagious canine skin disease caused by mites burrowing into the skin results in infections, hair loss, severe irritation and insatiable desire to scratch.  The resulting hair loss and depressed vigor of the wolves leave them vulnerable to hypothermia, malnutrition and dehydration, which can eventually lead to death.    Psychedelically colored wolves

We were alerted to the presentation of National Geographic's, "The Rise of Black Wolf."  Thank you, wildlifeman.  The documentary is about lovable Wolf #302, lovingly nicknamed Casanova.  He was famous for broadening the definition of "normal" wolf behavior by his unusual approach as a loner and a leader.    See trailer and details


There comes a time when every wolf fancies a change.  After watching bear after bear catching salmon from the local falls, this one decided he might like a piece of the action.  Experts believe he copied the grizzly technique of fishing, leaping in the water to net himself a tasty haul.  Images of a wolf catching salmon were captured by a wildlife photographer in Katmai National Park.  Incredible photo sequence and description

State wildlife biologists killed 12 wolves within 6 miles of Port Heiden and continue to assess the situation on December 10 according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.  Residents of the village have taken seven wolves in the areas since August, for a total of 19 wolves.  Three young wolves taken close to the community and nine additional animals were taken five miles to the north.  Biologists believe the wolves probably belonged to two separate packs.  Port Heiden residents take wolves on their own while state hunts from the air.  Problem wolves or problem guardianship?

Biologists say the Unimak Island caribou herd, the only island caribou herd in the country, is in danger of extinction.  The state says wolves are killing caribou calves at an alarming rate.  During the calving season in May, the state wanted to shoot wolves from the air, but the calving grounds lie on a national wildlife refuge.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said before any action could be taken, it needed to do its own study and then open it up to public comment.  The two squared off in court where a U.S. District court judge sided with the feds.  The four options the feds are seeking comment on range from not shooting wolves at all, to the state's preferred plan of killing wolves using helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.  Public comments are due by January 31


Idaho Fish and Game Commission suspended Idaho's 2008-2012 species management plan for wolves.  The 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, approved by the Idaho Legislature and the USFWS, remains in effect as the foundation for wolf management in the state.  The action follows Gov. Otter's October announcement that Idaho would no longer spend "sportsmen dollars" to manage wolves and relinquishes Idaho as a designated agent under the ESA if a public hunt is not a control option.  Wolves are now monitored and controlled by US Wildlife Services and the Nez Perce tribe under the oversight of the USFWS.  Wolf advocates are concerned that the significantly outdated 2002 plan may give the state flexibility in a management goal closer to the lower numbers set out in the 2002 plan which was 100 wolves and 15 breeding pairs.  FYI:  Out of the 1.7 million spent during that span by the state, 1.2 million came from taxpayers' pockets while $558,000 was covered by license fees ($309,000 of which paid for wolf predation of elk).  News Release

Wildlife Services has also revised its environmental assessment for wolves in Idaho in anticipation of a federal court hearing.  The assessment made waves when it was released in August, calling for gassing of pups in dens and sterilization of breeding pairs that had been involved in livestock depredations.  Those options were removed in the assessment released in early December but continues heavy handed killing of wolves.  Public comments were collected through January 3.  Update


The Lake Superior Zoo welcomes a bachelor group of three gray wolves from the Wildlife Science Center of Minnesota.  The Lake Superior Zoo completed its new gray wolf exhibit.  A grand opening and ribbon cutting is set for December 31.  See 3 brothers check out their enclosure


An update from the Missouri Department of Conservation announces that DNA test results show that the 104-pound animal shot to death in November was an abnormally large coyote.  Press Release and Photos raises more ?'s


A top official at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has warned Montana State University's president that the agency may have to end all cooperation with the university after an MSU scientist's study challenged the state's proposed wolf hunt.   those pesky wolf facts mar relationships

A report recently releasing statistics that show a huge increase in the number of livestock killed by all of Montana's major predators.  Montana's Wildlife Services director blames wolves for the across-the-board depredation increases.  But the report has drawn skeptics, including a former Wildlife Services supervisor, Carter Niemeyer, who says the numbers are misleading and come at a pivotal time in wolf politics, while several bills were circulating Congress to remove the animal's federal protection.  "The truth comes out"


Nevada wildlife commissioners are scheduled to discuss the possibility of adopting a regulation, at least temporarily that would change the gray wolf's official status from a protected game animal to an unprotected one, which can be shot at any time.  Nevada USFWS Supervisor argued that killing a federally protected species could result in fines of up to $100,000 not matter what Nevada does with its own classification.  the right to call them varmint


News articles about wolves over the past ten years including stories in Montana were examined by a research team at Ohio State University.  The team evaluated 30,000 expressions about wolves found in thousands of news stories.  "Attitudes Toward Wolves in the United States and Canada:  A Content Analysis of the Print News Media, 1999-2008" appears in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife.  In the December issue of the journal BioScience, scientists stress that research about societal values should be considered along with biological and ecological data in listing decisions.  In the case of the gray wolf, public opinion about wolves varies considerably but social science research about those opinions was essentially disregarded when the Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in the northern Rockies from ESA protections in 2009, scientists assert.  "We're allowing our fears about wolves to rule our decision-making and that's never a good reason to develop a wildlife management plan."  Wolf survival remains tenuous, the researchers say, because the factors that caused the animals' extirpation in the 1930's haven't gone away.  Getting past the Little Red Riding Hood mentality


Oregon Field Guide is featuring the ongoing controversy over managing wolves in Oregon this week.  The show features the perspectives of ranchers, wildlife managers, conservation groups and wolf tourists, as well as some great footage of wolves in action.  Oregon Field Guide steps back and explains how anti-wolf policies had nearly wiped out the NRM gray wolf by the 1940's, how wolves from Canada were reintroduced to YNP in the mid-1990's, and how they've been flourishing ever since.  Oregon's documented population is now around 20 wolves in two packs.  Where do you stand on wolves?  Watch the half-hour special

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Russ Morgan explains why and much more during a recent presentation about wolves.  The ODFW's wolf program coordinator sheds a light on many aspects of wolf behavior.  Learn, it just may save a wolf


State wildlife officials say there is new evidence of more gray wolves in eastern and northern Washington state.  The revelation makes Rep. Brian Blake think that the state needs to just let the wolves emerge naturally.  The state's draft wolf management plan, which authorizes "translocating" wolves that end up thriving in Washington state to the coastal areas, specifically Willapa Hills and Olympic National park.  The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is reviewing nearly 65,000 public comments related to the controversial wolf management plan, which is going through an internal review at the state agency and isn't set for approval by the Fish and Wildlife Commission until December of 2011.  Are two confirmed breeding pairs enough wolves?


At least 3 wolves were illegally killed in Jackson and Rusk counties during the gun deer season.  Two radio collared wolves are missing but both displayed dispersal behavior and may have moved out of range.  Report


On December 13, Canadian Wolf Coalition spokesperson Sadie Parr and Shelley Black had a meeting scheduled with British Columbia's new Environment Minister Murray Coell to speak against predator control in the province and share a vision for a better BC to become a part of the solution towards coexistence with predators and a healthy future for many generations to come.  A 1979 BC government document we recently came across states that even selective logging would lead to a decline in caribou in the future.  Now the government is saying that we need to kill more wolves, cougars, moose, deer and elk to help caribou recover.  2011:  "Year of the Forests"


A man who jumped into a wolf enclosure from an 8-meter-high bridge at a wildlife park injured himself in the fall rather than being attacked by wolves as anticipated; instead he frightened all seven of them away.  The deputy chief of the park explained the wolves were domesticated and afraid of strangers, calling it luck that he did not choose the tiger zone.  The man was sent to the hospital where doctors treated him.  Wolves 101


A wild wolf in the Bavarian-Tyrolean mountain forest was captured by a thermal imager.  Up until now only DNA tests done on deer carcasses and documented sheep depredations indicated the possible presence of a wolf.  It is speculated to be the wolf thought to have been roaming the area for over a year.  There haven't been wolves spotted in Upper Bavaria since they were exterminated in the mid-19th Century.  That DNA evaluation estimated the wolf to be a male (so does one of the photos), three years of age and originating from Italy.  The first photo evidence


A male Mexican Gray Wolf from the Living Desert Zoo & Garden State Park was flown to a facility in Mexico where it will be paired with a female of the same species.  The wolf, sent to Centro Encologico de Sonoro, is one of six Mexican Gray Wolf brothers housed at the park that came from the Wild Canid Research and Survival Center in Eureka, Missouri.  "For us, this is the first time we have sent one of our animals to another country."  The transfer of the wolf was a huge collaborative effort with a lot of people and agencies involved.  Species Survival Plan


Its fur was white with a streak of grey and it sat magnificently by the roadside, staring into the distance.  We had no doubt what it was...we fumbled for our cameras, but by the time we were ready it had ambled into the undergrowth.  Photo share from a travel article of a beautiful wolf from the Durmitor Mountains.


According to the country's environmental protection agency, Sweden has set a wolf hunt for 2011.  Hunters will be allowed to shoot 20 wolves in Sweden during the licensed wolf hunt beginning in January.  Meanwhile, Hunters Association in Varmland protest a demand for reconsideration to hunt more wolves as they believe the burden of the wolf population must be reduced and that there are more wolves in than projected.  The wolf hunt will continue despite EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik warning the government against letting the hunt begin before his agency receives answers.  Potocnik seriously questions several aspects of the Swedish wolf policy and the motive for the licensed hunt; namely that it would increase the local population's acceptance for the wolf population.  Both the licensed hunting of wolves and the set limit of the number of wolves in the country, as well as plans for the transfer of wolves from other countries, include elements that seem incompatible with EU rules for the conservation of predatory animals, Potocnik stressed.  If the hunt proceeds, Potocnik said that he would propose the commission formally complain to the government for failing to comply with EU environmental legislation.  when inbred and vulnerable, every wolf is important


For the second consecutive year, the wolf attacks have fallen sharply in the Alps, says a statement from the Government of Vaud.  The intensification of preventive measures with the appointment of a civilian aide shepherd and the presence of 21 guard dogs have contributed, he believes.  During the summer of 2010, 6,000 of some 7,600 sheep and goats summering in the Alps have been measures to prevent wolf attacks with 21 dogs protection by the Confederation.  In total, only 2 sheep were predated by wolves in 2010.

Group Swiss Wolf filed petition for the protection of wolves on Swiss territory.  The 25,000 signatures demand that Switzerland does not withdraw from the Berne Convention, which guarantees the conservation of wildlife in Europe.  President of Wolf Group says in Switzerland, where a wolf was killed almost every year, the canine is present 15 years without mating.  Therefore, there is currently no reason to repeal its protection.  [FYI: the number of wolves in Switzerland is undocumented but estimates are about 4 wolves under full legal protection but because of depredations on livestock, wolves are illegally killed as fast as they enter the country.]  VIVE LE GROUPE LOUP


Barcelona zoo welcomes a litter of 5 female Iberian wolves (Canis lupus signatus) from the Zoo of Montpelier (France).  Historically, Barcelona Zoo has shown interest in this species and has become the coordinator of the EEP (European captive breeding) of the Iberian wolf.  The objective of this breeding program is to maintain genetic variability of Iberian wolf populations to ensure future projects.  According to the IUCN Red List of Vertebrates in Spain, the Iberian wolf's status is "Vulnerable."  An estimated current population on the peninsula is 1500-2000 wolves.  Beautiful photo and more.

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