Archive for October 2016
October 22, 2016 By Steve Tool – Wallowa County Chieftain
On Oct. 13, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed a wolf depredation on a calf in the Grouse Creek drainage area on public land southeast of Joseph. According to the report, a rancher moving cattle in the area noted wounds on the back legs of a 500-pound calf on Oct. 12. The rancher trailed the calf and other cattle to a private pasture. On the following morning, the ODFW examined the calf and determined its wounds were about a month old.
The department noted bite wounds on both hind legs above the hocks with the wounds mostly healed but with evident scarring, though some flesh remained exposed. No physical evidence of wolf presence was found since the exact location of the calf at the time of injury was unknown.
Previously, ODFW confirmed a wolf depredation in an adjacent pasture on July 15 and also confirmed a pair of wolf depredations on Sept. 28 and Oct. 6 approximately 8 miles to the north.
Also on Oct. 13, the ODFW confirmed a separate wolf depredation it investigated Sept. 6 in the Devils Run Creek drainage area. During the morning of Sept. 4 an archery hunter heard a bawling sound and walked toward it. Shortly afterward, at about 7:15 a.m., the hunter observed six wolves jumping around an object on the ground.
Returning to the site with a camera at about 7:30 a.m., the man found a dead, 1‐month‐old calf where the wolves had been. The livestock owner and ODFW were contacted two days later and ODFW immediately investigated the site. Although lacking a carcass, drag marks suggested the calf had been moved to another location and consumed.
ODFW didn’t receive the hunter’s photographs until early October. Those photos show a gray wolf walking near a group of bunched‐up cows and close‐ups of the dead calf with minimal feeding in the flank area. ODFW confirmed the location of the photographs.
As evidence of wolf depredation, ODFW cited wolf tracks observed at both the struggle and carcass sites. Seven separate blood stains also were found on the ground 8‐15 yards east of where the hunter found the carcass. That indicates a struggle site where the calf bled prior to death, and matches the hunter’s testimony.
The photographs show blood stains in the calf’s jaw and throat area with no apparent open wound or feeding activity, which indicate a premortem injury, ODFW said.
Additionally, GPS radio collar data for wolf OR-42 showed its location as approximately 600 yards east of the carcass site at 3 a.m. Sept. 4, approximately 350 yards northwest of site at 6 a.m. and approximately 600 yards east of the site at 9 a.m.
OR-42 is a member of the Chesnimnus Pack.
October 21, 2016
A ODFW worker studies an immobilized wolf from the Imnaha Pack in February 2015. Photo: ODFW
SALEM, Oregon – Wallowa County wolves are behind two new acts of depredation. Both attacks were against calves, and one was caught on film by a hunter in the Devil’s Run Creek drainage.
The hunter spotted six wolves clustered around an object that proved to be the body of a calf. He sent pictures of a wolf near a group of cattle and of the corpse of the calf. It’s a good thing he did. By the time investigators arrived there was no carcass.
What they found instead was blood, wolf tracks and drag marks where the carcass had been. The Chesnimnus Pack is charged with the kill which was reported in September, but the result wasn’t announced until this week.
The second depredation, which was found last week in the Grouse Creek drainage area, is also thought to have occurred a month earlier. A 500-pound calf was found to be suffering from injuries that are consistent with a wolf attack. Investigators say that an unnamed group of wolves in that area are responsible. That group of wolves is also credited with two other acts of depredation since late September.
OLYMPIA, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has decided to stop killing wolves in the Profanity Peak Pack. Lethal action against that pack in northeastern Washington was ordered after numerous attacks on cattle occurred.
As a result of the kill order, seven members of the pack were shot dead. WDFW also reports a pup from that pack died of natural causes. That means only four wolves remain in the pack and the state has decided they will cease hunting them since most of the cattle have left that area.
Profanity Peak is one of 19 packs documented in the state. Of those, 16 are located on the east side. Those wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2009 and are managed solely by the state of Washington.
October 21, 2016 by Nora G. Hertel , USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
(Photo: Photo courtesy of the Timber Wolf Alliance)
WAUSAU – Wisconsin has more than 200 wolf packs and 28 lone wolves and you can help track them this winter.
The state Department of Natural Resources will hold 15 workshops or classes on tracking and wolf ecology from now to February and is recruiting volunteers to help monitor the state’s wild canines.
Gray wolf numbers have increased in the Great Lakes region especially since a federal judge returned the animals to the endangered species list in 2014. Gray wolves are also known as timber wolves.
One of three wolves at Wildwood Zoo in Marshfield lopes along one of the fences of its enclosure. (Photo: Dan Young/News-Herald Media)
Some farmers, hunters and Republican politicians want the wolves off that list and subject to hunting, because wolves can be a menace to small ranchers. But advocates for the canines say the animals play an important role in the ecosystem.
Wolves in western states have preyed on elk, which in turn helped the growth of aspen and willow trees and decreased erosion along streams where the trees take root, said Adrian Wydeven, the coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance, at the private Northland College in Ashland. In Wisconsin, wolves have decreased the beaver population to the benefit of trout streams previously plugged up by beaver dams, Wydeven said.
In 1990 the Timber Wolf Alliance started Wolf Awareness Week, an educational effort which runs through Saturday. There’s a wolf ecology workshop in Ashland Saturday as part of the week.
In honor of wolf awareness, here are some fast facts about wolves in the Great Lakes.
- Wisconsin has nearly 900 wolves this year. That’s up 16 percent from 2015, according to the Timber Wolf Alliance.
- Encountering a wild wolf at close range is still a rare occurrence, according to the DNR’s “Living with wolves” page. People with pets should keep them in earshot or on a leash while in “wolf country” — Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
- In 2014 more Wisconsin residents surveyed by the DNR viewed wolves in a favorable light compared to those with unfavorable feelings toward wolves. About 26 percent of people in areas with wolf habitats wanted the population to stay steady, and 29 percent of people outside of wolf range wanted wolf numbers to stay the same in 2014. About 750 wolves made Wisconsin home in 2014-15.
- Minnesota has the largest wolf population among Great Lakes states with more than 400 packs and roughly 2,200 wolves total, according to the Timber Wolf Alliance. Michigan’s wolf population estimate is just over 600 and declined slightly from 2014 to 2016
- You can help track wolves and other Wisconsin carnivores. Volunteers have to take a wolf ecology course from the DNR, Timber Wolf Alliance or Timber Wolf Information Network as well as a DNR tracking course and a mammal track test. Volunteers complete three wildlife surveys and submit their findings to the state.
Information on courses and the tracking program is available online at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/training.html.
Wolves detected in Wisconsin in winter 2015-16 by location in the state. (Photo: Mao courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
October 21, 2016
HOUSTON (KTRK) —
A gray wolf that was seized two months ago in Harris County is now on its way to a wolf sanctuary in Washington state. The flight carrying him to a cooler climate and a recognized rescue that specializes in wolves left this morning.
He was part of a seizure of more than a dozen animals from a feed store in the Aldine area. It wasn’t aggressive, it would just stand at a distance,” said Sgt Christine Hendrick, who also said it wasn’t being fed an appropriate diet for a wolf, and its enclosure was inadequate.
One of the store’s owners said a man gave them the animal several years ago, because he was moving. “He told us it was a wolf hybrid.” The SPCA’s DNA test showed that it was almost pure grey wolf.
By law, wolves, and wolf hybrids are not allowed to be kept in Harris County. Until recently, gray wolves were on the federal endangered species list.
Since the seizure, the wolf was kept in the exotic animal area of the Houston SPCA. He has put on some weight, but human contact is kept to a minimum. “We didn’t want him to imprint on any more people,” said Brian Latham of the Houston SPCA. “We want him to be a wolf.”
Because of that, he was put in a covered kennel in preparation for the long flight to Washington state, so he wouldn’t react to the activity around him.
Wolf Haven International is regarded as one of the top sanctuaries to care for rescued wolves. Its newest resident, who was neutered several years ago, will be paired with a female wolf. It will likely be the first time he will be with one of his kind.
The wolf was not given a name by the SPCA. “We don’t name wildlife, because that’s what they are — wildlife,” said Latham.
October 21, 2016
A gray wolf rests in the snow. National Park Service photo
A former state wildlife biologist contends Wisconsin’s high wolf numbers may not be the driving factor behind a record 40 hunting dogs killed by wolves during the bear season that ended Oct. 11.
Timber Wolf Alliance Coordinator Adrian Wydeven, a former wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said the state saw fewer dogs killed by wolves the last time Wisconsin’s wolf population was this high.
“The previous high count of 815 (wolves) in 2012 had only seven dogs killed that year, and that was the lowest wolf depredation on dogs in about 10 years,” Wydeven said.
The number of wolves in Wisconsin grew about 16 percent this year with a minimum estimate of 867. Dave MacFarland, the state’s large carnivore specialist, said a number of things could have played a role in the number of dogs killed this bear-hunting season.
“Wolf population levels are one of them, but we don’t have hard information that we can point to and don’t want to speculate on what may have caused this change,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see if this repeats itself.”
Wydeven said a possible increase in hunting activities due to permitting changes last year may also be driving a rise in conflicts. Last year, lawmakers eliminated Class B bear licenses for those who wanted to assist hunters with setting baits or training.
“If we’re allowing much more open policy, allowing a lot more people to participate in that activity, that could account for the increases of hound depredations in Wisconsin,” Wydeven said.
But MacFarland said it’s not known what impact the permitting change may have had on hunter activity this year.
Wildlife officials have said wolves may also be more protective of their pups during bear season and the training of hunting dogs beforehand. Research also suggests the length of Wisconsin’s bear baiting season may play a role in higher numbers of attacks on hunting dogs than neighboring states. Bear hunters can set baits as early as mid-April in Wisconsin, whereas states such as Michigan don’t allow baiting until two weeks before the beginning of the season.
Wydeven said the longer baits are used, the more likely they’ll attract wolves.
“When hunters release their dogs at the bear baits to go chase bears, there’s a chance if wolves have recently visited the site, they could be sending their dogs after wolves,” Wydeven said.
Joseph Bump, an associate professor with Michigan Technological University, was lead author of a 2013 study that found hunting dogs were up to seven times more likely to be killed by wolves in Wisconsin than in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“If stakeholders are sincerely interested in decreasing wolves killing hunting dogs, then there’s good wildlife science to suggest that both the timing and length of the bear baiting season is a factor that should be on the table for discussion and potential adjustment,” Bump said.
Bump is continuing research in Michigan on how frequently species other than bears visit bait sites. He expects those findings will become available next year.
Bear hunters in Minnesota are not allowed to use dogs while hunting.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard in the Twin Ports at 91.3 FM or online at wpr.org/news.
October 18,2016 By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Federal wildlife officials are now under a court order to update a decades-old recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf, a predator that has struggled to regain a foothold in the American Southwest despite millions of dollars of investment in reintroduction efforts.
An Arizona judge on Tuesday dismissed the concerns of ranchers and others and signed off on a settlement between environmental groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Under the agreement, the federal agency must update the recovery plan by November 2017 while providing the court and other parties in the case with regular updates on the planning process.
Environmentalists have long argued that the agency had a legal obligation to adopt a recovery plan that spells out specific goals and milestones for returning the wolves to their historic range.
There are currently about 100 wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.
“This is official,” said Bryan Bird of the group Defenders of Wildlife. “We’ll have the best available science, and hopefully the Fish and Wildlife Service will move toward increasing the number of wolves in the wild.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that the new plan will be published by the deadline. “Recovery of the Mexican wolf remains our goal. We aim to support natural wild wolf population growth and improve population genetics, eventually leading to species recovery and state management of the species,” the agency said in a statement.
Blair Dunn, an attorney for opponents of the settlement, said he was disappointed with the ruling and accused the federal government of catering to special interest groups.
The wolf recovery program, which spans parts of New Mexico and Arizona, has been hampered over the years by legal battles, politics and other issues. Environmentalists have pushed for the release of more captive wolves into the wild, but ranchers and local leaders have protested over concerns about livestock losses and public safety in rural communities.
Federal investigators concluded earlier this year that the Fish and Wildlife Service mishandled the recovery program, backing up claims by one New Mexico county that the agency was not cooperating with ranchers and protected wolves even after they preyed on cattle.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Zipps wrote in her order that the settlement was the product of fair and careful negotiations and that it did not set forth any specific provisions for recovering the species but only established a deadline for when the plan will be completed.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity said he doubts a recovery plan would have been formalized without legal pressure. He pointed to a handful of cases in which efforts to update the initial plan from 1982 stalled and ultimately failed.
“It’s clear that without court enforcement, the plan would have kept being right around the corner until the Mexican gray wolf went extinct,” he said.
The ruling could also affect an appeal that involves New Mexico’s denial of a permit to the federal government to release more wolves. The legal action was spurred by state concerns about the direction of the reintroduction program and the failure of the federal agency to revamp the outdated recovery plan.