Archive for December 2017

Where is Oregon’s most famous wolf now? OR-7, famous for long journey, settles in as pack leader   3 comments

December 13, 2017 Source

In the approximately six years after his well-documented journey across Oregon, which included Deschutes County, the gray wolf best known as OR-7 has established new wolf populations in Southern Oregon and Northern California. As the nearly 9-year-old wolf settles into old age, he’s remembered as a patriarch, a grandfather and a pioneer for Oregon’s burgeoning wolf population.

“He’s been a great ambassador for the species,” said Rob Klavins, Northeast Oregon field coordinator for Oregon Wild, a Portland-based environmental nonprofit.

Today, OR-7 is the alpha male of the Rogue Pack, a group of 11 or 12 wolves that spends much of its time in the Rogue River National Forest in Southern Oregon. OR-7 and his long-time mate — who doesn’t have a radio collar or a designation — produced a litter of pups this spring, according to John Stephenson, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bend office.

“Most of the biologists thought he’d never find a mate,” Stephenson said.

Moreover, several of OR-7’s earlier pups have built upon his legacy, as one pup traveled to Northern California, establishing the beginnings of a wolf population there.

Gray wolves are native to Oregon, but as human populations increased in the state at the beginning of the 20th century, wolf populations decreased. For much of the second half of the century, there were no confirmed wolves in the state. However, wolves were reintroduced to Idaho in the 1990s and gradually made their way to Oregon. By the end of 2011, Oregon’s wolf population had grown to 29 known wolves, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, concentrated in the northeastern corner of the state.

OR-7 — nicknamed “Journey” following an online contest put together by Oregon Wild — was around 2 years old when he left the Imnaha Pack in far Northeastern Oregon in 2011. Stephenson said 2-year-old wolves often break away from their packs in order to find mates and start new families. While wolves require a lot of territory, Klavins said how far wolves travel while “looking for love and adventure” is very dependent on the individual.

OR-7’s travels, which spanned thousands of miles, took him from the Wallowa Mountains in Northeast Oregon toward Burns, through parts of Crook and Deschutes counties and eventually toward the spine of the Cascade Mountains. The gray wolf wandered into California in search of a mate, making him the first wolf confirmed in the Golden State in nearly a century. By crossing the Cascades, he also became the first confirmed wolf in Western Oregon in more than 60 years.

While Klavins said Southern and Eastern Oregon have plenty of good terrain where OR-7 could set up a territory, no other wolves lived in the area, so he kept wandering in search of a mate. Stephenson added that his travels took him across Interstate 5 in California near Yreka, not once but twice.

“That’s no small feat,” he said.

Stephenson said the combination of the wolf’s long, possibly unprecedented journey and a radio collar allowed viewers to track the wolf’s progress as it traveled across the state.

“It was the first time we could document that he made this incredible journey,” Stephenson said.

Like so many wanderers before him, OR-7 eventually found a mate and settled down. Stephenson said not much is known about OR-7’s mate, a black wolf believed to be slightly younger than he is, though she is believed to be part of the Oregon population of wolves. The state’s population numbered at least 112 wolves in 2016, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Stephenson added that the duo has had pups in April for each of the past four years, though their litter of six pups this April was the pair’s largest litter to date. Stephenson added that the snowy winter, which favors wolves over their prey, could have helped them produce a larger litter than normal.

One of OR-7’s pups from a prior litter arrived in Lassen County, in northeastern California, according to Kent Laudon, wolf specialist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Laudon said OR-7’s pup, along with a female wolf whose origins are unknown, are the first pair of wolves to establish territory in that portion of California in years.

The pair had pups in April, and Laudon said photos in June show the wolves accompanied by four pups. In California, where the known wolf population is under 10, a large litter could help the species develop a foothold, according to Laudon.

“Once you have a breeding unit on the land, that makes a big difference,” he said.

Still, OR-7’s legacy is marred somewhat by a couple of incidents. Last October, ODFW investigated an incident where Southern Oregon wolves killed two calves on private land and injured another. Michelle Dennehy, the wildlife communications coordinator for ODFW, confirmed that the Rogue Pack was responsible for the attacks.

Separately, Laudon said the pack in Lassen County was tied to two attacks — one confirmed as a wolf attack and one probable one — in a span of two weeks this fall.

The battery in OR-7’s radio collar died in 2015, leaving researchers without a consistent way to monitor the wolf. Still, a trail camera caught a photo of the famous wolf earlier this year, and Stephenson said there’s no reason to believe OR-7 isn’t still alive in Southern Oregon.

While stories inspire for different reasons, Klavins said one reason that OR-7’s story took off — spawning a website, attention from fans on every continent except Antarctica, and a documentary film — is that it came during a time when wolves were becoming increasingly politicized, but ultimately transcended those politics.

“What was nice about the story of OR-7 is that it was a story about a real wolf doing real-wolf things,” Klavins said.


 

 

Posted 16 December, 2017 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

Clear statement from the EU against legal wolf hunting   Leave a comment

December 6, 2017 SOURCE

Despite the continuing expansion of the wolf in Europe, in particular, Central Europe, the EU Commission does not want to change the wolf’s protective status. Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture, stated to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” that the wolf is still an endangered species in most parts of the EU. Therefore, a focused hunting of the animals to minimise their population in counterproductive and will be prohibited.

This clear statement of the EU Commission follows the request of the German Minister for Agriculture Christian Schmidt. He asked the EU Commission to change the strict protective status of the wolf to simplify its hunting. The Minister for Agriculture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Till Backhaus, supported this request.

EU supports herd management measures

According to Hogan, the EU Commission is aware that the spreading of the wolf causes problems. A survey of the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” in the federal states of Germany last year, revealed that since the return of the wolf, more than 3500 out of 1,800,000 livestock animals have been killed in Germany. In contrast, approximately 50.000 were killed by lightning, bad weather and infections like worms. Also, almost all of the livestock killed were unprotected.

Mr. Hogan stated that this is recognized by the EU and that a better protection of grazing livestock will be financially supported. Furthermore, the current regulation already allows the shooting of individual animals. But only if it serves the “population management” and does not jeopardize the survival of the species. This includes the shooting of so-called “problem wolves”, such as “Kurti”. The state government of Lower Saxony instructed to shoot him in April 2016 after he continuously came close to people and beg for food. It turned out that he most surely was fed by a soldier in his first years being part of the Wolfpack Leo based in the military training ground Munster in Lower Saxony.

Herd protection dogs

 

Decisions like this are backed up by homepages such as the Swiss homepage chwolf.org. There it says that the wolf is an integral part of a forest’s biodiversity. Studies prove that the wolf actively contributes to the natural balance of ecosystems. Furthermore, its presence can lead to more vital game populations. This is because the wolf has a regulating effect on game populations. Consequently, the behaviour of deer and roe deer changes. They wander around more and do not feed in the same places all the time. This also has positive effects on forest rejuvenation.
Another issue is that human hunters take a shot animal out of the forest. This way no one else can profit from it. Whereas the wolf does not eat the whole prey at once. These dispersed carcasses are essential food sources for scavengers. Additionally, they offer necessary ecological niches for many organisms of the forest.

All major NGOs demand right to exist of the wolf in Germany

In the beginning of 2017, the WWF demanded a clear commitment of Germany’s government for the wolf’s right to exist. The organization stated that it is necessary to work on solutions. In particular for the substantial problems of the extensive pasture grazing in Germany.

The German nature conservation organization NABU thinks that the possible hunting of wolves cannot be a solution to wolf attacks. Their federal chairman Leif Miller said, that in most cases of attacks mistakes in the herd protection measures have been determined. He continues that it would be wrong to lead the farmers to believe that the shooting of a single wolf would help them. The rest of the pack is still out there and still won’t be afraid of the livestock.

Even the professional German Shepherd Associations does not demand the general killing of wolves but more investments into herd management measures to protect the livestock.

In Austria, the NaturschutzBund Austria with the support of the European Wilderness Society and WWF started a Petition for the Wolf to return.

It is of major importance to support and reinforce the farmers in protecting their livestock. For instance with special fences and herding dogs as well as with the financing of such measures as already effectively practiced in Brandenburg and in Graubünden Switzerland. 

The federal office for environmental protection and the federal documentation and counseling center of the wolf (DBBW) recently published data that proves that there are about 60 documented wolf-packs in Germany at the moment. That is 13 more than a year ago.


By Verena Gruber

 

Anderson: Wolves known to stalk hunter’s kill scene for an easy meal   Leave a comment

Wolves likely can readily associate the sound of gunfire with an easy meal in the form of the gut pile that remains after hunters field-dress their quarry, says a wolf expert.

NOVEMBER 30, 2017  SOURCE

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Wolves are likely to associated hunters’ gunfire with an easy meal.

Some years ago, I hunted in northern British Columbia. A young man was my guide, and during a long first day, we climbed into high, rugged country on horseback, trailing two pack horses.

The area was rife with moose, elk, wolves, and grizzlies. Headquartering in an abandoned trapper’s shack, we hunted all day, saddling the horses before sunup and riding out in the dark. At night we hobbled the horses’ front feet and turned them out to graze, stringing cowbells around their necks so we could find them in the morning, and to keep bears away.

One day we spotted a moose from a distant ridge. We rode a while toward the animal from downwind before tying the horses and hiking. The moose wasn’t a trophy, but was a legal target, bearing the required brow tines. When the big animal showed itself while ambling through tall willows, I braced my .270 against a tree and collapsed him.

Soon the guide and I convened alongside the moose.

“I’ll take care of this,” the young man said, pulling a knife from his pack. “You keep an eye out for wolves. If you see one coming, shoot it.”

We had heard wolves howling, but hadn’t seen any.

I said, “Are we expecting wolves?”

“They heard the shot,” the guide said. “So maybe.”

Wolves likely can readily associate the sound of gunfire with an easy meal in the form of the gut pile that remains after hunters field-dress their quarry, said wolf expert Dave Mech, a senior scientist with the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota.

“There are lots of examples where wolves learn to associate food with people,” Mech said. “They can connect these kinds of things very easily.”

This fall, the International Wolf Center in Ely alerted Minnesota whitetail hunters that they may encounter one or more of the state’s nearly 3,000 wolves “staring” at them in their deer stands.

“While hunters don’t intend to feed wolves by leaving the gut piles behind,” the center said, “that’s exactly what is happening. Obviously, some wolves have figured out that seeing a hunter (cause) may lead to finding a free meal (effect.)”

 Hunters’ use of deer scent might also attract wolves, the center said.

As deer hunting winds down, some wolves in the northern portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin are ending their own special seasons of gut-pile indulging.

In most instances, consumption of these remains by wolves occurred unbeknown to the hunters who killed and field-dressed their animals, then left the woods.

But some deer hunters this fall did encounter wolves up close and personal, including Steve Patterson, 26, of Minneapolis, who arrowed a 208-pound buck in northern Wisconsin on Nov. 11.

Patterson killed the nontypical 10-pointer in late afternoon in an area where wolf sightings are common, with images of the animals showing up frequently on hunters’ trail cameras.

Using headlamps, Patterson and a friend field-dressed the buck in the dark of early evening. As they did, they noticed two sets of what they believed were wolf eyes about 40 yards away. The observers gave no ground while waiting to move in on the remains.

Scott Wudinich of Eveleth had a similar encounter some years ago while hunting near Lake Vermilion in northeast Minnesota. He shot a small buck from his stand, and shortly afterward climbed down and field-dressed the animal, before returning to his stand.

He had ridden to the stand on a four-wheeler, and couldn’t legally operate the machine until after shooting hours. So he bided his time until nightfall.

Soon, “four or five” wolves appeared near Wudinich, running, followed by three more wolves to his left and another three to his right. “I was stunned,” he said in a Star Tribune story of the incident. “I yelled and screamed, but they pretty much ignored me. They paced back and forth. They wanted my deer and the gut pile.”

Wudinich fired his rifle several times in an attempt to scare away the wolves. But they remained about 50 yards from his stand. Uncertain what to do, he called the local conservation officer, who told him to leave the deer — which Wudinich did when he climbed onto his ATV at sunset and sped to his cabin about a mile away.

Later, he returned with a nephew to retrieve the deer. “The gut pile was mostly gone and they (the wolves) bit into the hindquarters and neck and chewed on an ear,” he said.

Because deer provide the bulk of a wolf’s diet, it’s no surprise hunters and wolves will occasionally bump into one another while seeking the same quarry, Mech said. Wolves average between 5 and 10 pounds of food intake a day, and individual wolves can gorge themselves on as much as 22 pounds of deer meat in a single sitting.

While wolves usually present no danger to people, they’re constantly on the move, hunting. And if a wolf doesn’t totally consume an available meal in one sitting, he (or she) might bury the remains.

“I can’t prove it, but I have circumstantial evidence that wolves will dig up food they buried as long as a year before,” Mech said.

Wolves might prefer a fresh gut pile left by deer hunters, but if necessary they’ll eat rotted flesh.

“Some years ago on Isle Royale, I saw a pack of wolves eat a moose in the spring that had died the fall before,” Mech said. “The moose was like jelly. But the wolves ate it.”

In British Columbia, we saw no wolves. Not while my guide field-dressed the moose. Nor while we rode to the trapper’s shack to gather the pack horses, or when we cached the moose’s quarters outside the shack.

But that night, as I lay in bed, I heard wolves howling, plenty of them — thankful, perhaps, for an easy meal


By Dennis Anderson – StarTribune

 

 

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