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Wolf News Around the World, April 2011 - by Chris Kirby


ohoyo_easter11-1.jpgArizona

Eastern Arizona's White Mountain Apache Tribe will offer week-long eco-tours starting in June, featuring opportunities for people to view wildlife while learning about tribal history and culture.  Howling with the wolves and learning traditional campfire cooking will be included.  The tour emphasizes the sacred connections that Apaches see among the human soul, the land and all living things - with special reverence for the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf.  Proceeds from the wilderness journeys benefit the tribe's wolf management program.  The tribal lands are situated right between the current Blue Range wolf-recovery area - where wolves live in Arizona and New Mexico - and the future of wolf recovery, which is through the Grand Canyon eco-region.  The word "wolf" in White Mountain Apache language is "ba'cho"  More info here

In 2007, after agreeing to accompany an Arizona biologist to a workshop led by wolf-management experts, where ranchers and wolf defenders had begun working together, a rancher learned to his surprise that killing wolves that attack livestock doesn't solve the problem.  He and his wife began herding their livestock daily, and installed electric fencing to keep wolves out.  With the new strategy, he has not had a single sheep kill, and only one calf has been taken.  Hopes are that federal authorities will take note and improve programs to help ranchers give the humane methods a try.  Ranches With Wolves

Montana

Ed Bangs, who for 23 years led the effort to reintroduce and recover healthy wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains, is retiring from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June.  "My upbringing was to complete your job; when we started there were 10 wolves near Glacier.  Now there's 1,700 in six states and they're being delisted.  That's pretty rewarding."  As he prepares to walk away from his life's work, Bangs knows that he'll always carry it with him, in a sense.  In an e-mail, he explained a statement posted on his office wall from someone saying how wolf scars are sexy--which, in his classic self-deprecating manner, the bachelor noted that apparently they aren't.  One canine tooth went through his wrist and he had a few crush marks, but luckily it didn't break his arm.  He finished the day's work before getting it checked out in the emergency room.  "I did learn a valuable lesson (that) next time someone asks you to hold a wolf down for them ask if it is immobilized," Bangs wrote.  "But I am an especially fun date during a full moon!  The face of the polarizing wolf reintroduction

Monitoring wolf populations has gotten more difficult in recent years due to an expanding wolf population but now there's interest in putting a new method to work, possibly as soon as this year.  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have been working with the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Montana for the last few years to develop a "patch occupancy modeling" for wolves, a method that relies heavily on an annual hunter survey.  Occupancy modeling involves estimating the probability of detection and compensating for animals that may be missed by field observations.  "Wolves are helpful because they are highly territorial," said Mike Mitchell, leader of the cooperative research unit.  Pack territories of about 250 square miles have been applied as patches in the model.  One wolf, two wolf, three wolf, etc.

New Mexico

USFWS are investigating the shooting death of a Mexican Gray Wolf found in the El Malpais National Conservation Area.  The dead male was part of a litter born only about a year ago into the Hawks Nest Pack in 2010.  Wildlife officials say a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the wolf's death.  More here

North Carolina

Any day now, the red wolf population could gain two to nine new members.  For a population that totals only about 300, that's a pretty big deal.  The Museum of Life and Science announced that Red Wolf 1287 (wolves in the recovery program get a number instead of a name) is showing signs of motherhood-to-be and has lately been seen digging more often than usual and burying food.  She has removed the hair around her belly, something wolves do to prepare for nursing.  Although there is a possibility that she may be going through a pseudopregnancy, everyone is waiting and still hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  Will Red Wolves 1287 and 1369 become parents soon?  See for yourself

Northern Rocky Mountains

More than 1,300 Gray Wolves in most of the Northern Rocky Mountains will be removed from Endangered Species Act protections within 60 days and the issue is banned from any future judicial review.  A rider on the budget bill signed by President Obama on April 15 resulted in unprecedented congressional action that stripped federal protections from gray wolves in five western states.  Under the legislation, the Department of the Interior will reissue its wolf delisting rule first published in April 2009.  That rule took wolves off the endangered species list in Montana, Idaho and the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon and a small part of north-central Utah.  Wyoming wolves were kept on the Endangered Species List due to the state's plan including a shoot-on-sight provision.  The USFWS, however, is required to re-examine Wyoming's wolf management plan.  The rider's language could make it easier to pass approval merely by slightly decreasing the "dual trophy-predator zone" and providing dispersion routes each year from November to March; the time of year sub-adult wolves disperse looking for new territory and possible mates.  The federal government isn't expected to take comment on the matter and will return wolf management over to the two states with federally approved plans.  Idaho and Montana are eagerly planning for public wolf hunts this fall.  State officials expect the 2011 season to be similar to the proposed 2010 harvest levels, which would reduce the wolf population by about 13%.  Wolf populations are too small in Oregon, Washington and nonexistent in Utah for a wolf hunting season.  In the 37-year history of the Endangered Species Act, no species has ever been delisted for purely political reasons.  Prior to this, science guided such decisions.  Environmentalists call it a political maneuver designed to circumvent the Endangered Species Act, worry about the precedent that it will set and vow to watch wolf delisting.  Both Montana and Idaho must monitor the wolf population and submit population status reports to the USFWS annually for the next five years.  Environmental groups also will be monitoring the states' activities.  "If the states don't get it right, we will blow the whistle," the Greater Yellowstone Coalition said in a press release.  There is about 1,651 wolves in 244 packs with 111 breeding pairs that are scattered across the five states known as the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment.  Questions and answers

Western Great Lakes Region

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made formal their pledge to remove federal protections for wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan -- this time claiming those wolves are a distinct species from their eastern cousins.  The agency said the delisting plan has been submitted to the Federal Register and is asking for public comments over the next two months.  The WGL area included in the DPS boundary includes the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.  April 15th News Release

The federal program that controls wolf depredation in Minnesota is operating "day by day" in the wake of April 15th budget agreement in the U.S. Congress.  That agreement effectively eliminated money for the USDA's Wildlife Services program.  But the program has been ordered by its regional director to keep investigating wolf complaints and killing problem wolves while alternative sources of money are sought.  Budget chops funds for wolves

Wisconsin

The official wolf population range was listed as 801 to 858 wolves.  The estimate was tallied at the annual Wisconsin Stakeholder Committee meeting in Wausau.  Notable in the latest assessment:  Several packs of 10 or more wolves were recorded, including a pack of 12 in Douglas County.  The increase from 2009-10 to 2010-11 is the largest on record.  Details

The Midwest Wolf Stewards, a group that has met annually since the late 1980's to discuss wolf conservation in the Great Lakes region, will have its annual meeting April 28 and 29 in Cable.  Wolf status, management and ongoing research within the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada will be discussed at the meeting.  The highlight of this year's meeting will include a workshop on genetics and taxonomy of wolves in the Great Lakes Region.  The conference is open to the public.  Registration required

Yellowstone

For over thirty years, Douglas Smith has been studying wolves, and has worked on the wolf restoration project in Yellowstone since it's inception.  But this year during his annual winter research, he was taken aback by the sight of a remarkable wolf his team captured for study, 760M, now the largest wolf ever recorded in Yellowstone.  At 147 pounds, 760M replaces the previous record holder for the largest wolf in Yellowstone.  "not just another wolf--a wolf who truly has secrets"

"There she was--the wildest thing I ever saw, loping back and forth between us and her pups, her tongue hanging out a full six inches, her eyes glowing as though a candle shone behind each dark pupil.  (Wolf No. 9.)  The Wolf I Remember

Wolves and bears in Yellowstone National Park squabble over elk carcasses, but the two species have little impact on each other's overall population.  During confrontations between wolves and bears, especially over food, bears in Yellowstone win roughly 80% of the time.  In other places such as Banff National Park in Canada, bears win a carcass about 50% of the time.  The reason for the discrepancy is unclear, said Doug Smith, Park Wolf Biologist.  See Bears Butting in on Wolves

Canada

In the early 1990's, Swiss-born photographer Peter Dettling became enraptured with the nature and wildlife of Banff National Park.  He moved to Canmore and spent years photographing it, in the process capturing images of the park's elusive wolves, which had returned to Banff in the mid 1980's.  He became to know the Bow Valley Wolf Pack and began passionately advocating on their behalf.  Today, the pack is gone.  In his new book "The Will of the Land," Dettling captures the beauty of Banff while fiercely arguing against failed wildlife management.  In this excerpt, he recalls the grim final chapter of the Bow Valley Wolf Pack.  'Last Stand'

Germany

Since 2006, after he immigrated from the Laustiz, the wolf in North Hesse Reinhard forest has caused a stir.  Now his remains have been found.  It is unknown yet how the wolf died.  Signs of external trauma were not detected.  A detailed veterinarian examination is scheduled.  It was the first wolf that was seen for over 150 years in Hessen.  Details

Spain

Asturias Ministry of Environment, through the Wolf Management Plan, Proceedings 2011, intended to kill 47 wolves and kill 4 litters to abate damages.  It is known that less than 100 farmers claim half or more of the damage occurring in the region.  According to conservation groups, in Asturias, less than 10% of damaged farming is by wolf (which means that 90% is not), and those with damage, 25% (ie, a minimum ratio among all holdings) accumulate the vast majority of cases in cattle.  Around 2 dozen are between 10 and 30 damage per year, several cases between 40 and 50 and one with special merit that claimed more than 60 throughout the year.  Professional Farmers rarely have conflicts with wolves because they accompany the cattle, sheep dogs and have to act with ultrasound equipment and fences.  We all know that when you drastically reduce a family group of individuals who survive, unable to make the hunt as a team, they feed on easy prey:  cows, calves, horses, goats, and sheep.  But, we are at the election time...  Is something wrong with all Wolf Management Plans?

Sweden

Five of the nineteen wolves killed in this year's criticized licensed hunting showed malformations.  The wolves had congenital anomalies, including the bite and vertebrae as shown in a survey by the National Veterinary Institute.  Eleven males and eight females were killed.  None of the wolves had been infected with tapeworm.  Two of the wolves had healed gunshot wounds.  As reported by the Echo


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