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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

 

Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.   5 comments

October 13, 2017

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Scientists aren’t entirely sure how wolves evolved into dogs, but new research into the genetic and social behavior of wolf pups may offer some clues. By MAE RYAN, JAMES GORMAN and SHANE O’NEILL on Publish Date October 13, 2017. Photo by Renaud Philippe for The New York Times.  Watch in Times Video »

NICOLET, Quebec — I’m sitting in an outdoor pen with four puppies chewing my fingers, biting my hat and hair, peeing all over me in their excitement.

At eight weeks old, they are two feet from nose to tail and must weigh seven or eight pounds. They growl and snap over possession of a much-chewed piece of deer skin. They lick my face like I’m a long-lost friend, or a newfound toy. They are just like dogs, but not quite. They are wolves.

When they are full-grown at around 100 pounds, their jaws will be strong enough to crack moose bones. But because these wolves have been around humans since they were blind, deaf and unable to stand, they will still allow people to be near them, to do veterinary exams, to scratch them behind the ears — if all goes well.

Yet even the humans who raised them must take precautions. If one of the people who has bottle-fed and mothered the wolves practically since birth is injured or feels sick, she won’t enter their pen to prevent a predatory reaction. No one will run to make one of these wolves chase him for fun. No one will pretend to chase the wolf. Every experienced wolf caretaker will stay alert. Because if there’s one thing all wolf and dog specialists I’ve talked to over the years agree on, it is this: No matter how you raise a wolf, you can’t turn it into a dog.

As close as wolf and dog are — some scientists classify them as the same species — there are differences. Physically, wolves’ jaws are more powerful. They breed only once a year, not twice, as dogs do. And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever “I-love-all-humans” level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

The scientific consensus is that dogs evolved from some kind of extinct wolf 15,000 or more years ago. Most researchers now think that it wasn’t a case of snatching a pup from a den, but of some wolves spending more time around people to feed on the hunters’ leftovers. Gradually some of these wolves became less afraid of people, and they could get closer and eat more and have more puppies, which carried whatever DNA made the wolves less fearful. That repeated itself generation after generation until the wolves evolved to be, in non-scientific terms, friendly. Those were the first dogs.

People must spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for weeks on end with wolf puppies just to assure them that humans are tolerable. Dog puppies will quickly attach to any human within reach. Even street dogs that have had some contact with people at the right time may still be friendly.

Despite all the similarities, something is deeply different in dog genes, or in how and when those genes become active, and scientists are trying to determine exactly what it is.

Wolf pups at Wolf Park, a 65-acre zoo and research facility in Battle Ground, Ind., in July. Though wolves and dogs are extremely similar genetically, their behaviors are very different — and scientists seek to find out why.

There are clues.

Some recent research has suggested that dog friendliness may be the result of something similar to Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder in humans that causes hyper-sociability, among other symptoms. People with the syndrome seem friendly to everyone, without the usual limits.

Another idea being studied is whether a delay in development during a critical socializing period in a dog’s early life could make the difference. That delay might be discovered in the DNA, more likely in the sections that control when and how strongly genes become active, rather than in the genes themselves.

This is research at its very beginning, a long shot in some ways. But this past spring and summer, two scientists traveled to Quebec to monitor the development of six wolf pups, do behavior tests and take genetic samples. I followed them.

I visited other captive wolves as well, young and adult, to get a glimpse of how a research project begins — and, I confess, to get a chance to play with wolf puppies.

I wanted to have some firsthand experience of the animals I write about, to look wolves in the eye, so to speak. But only metaphorically. As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

From left, Kathryn Lord, Michele Koltookian and Diane Genereux, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, at the Zoo Académie, a combination zoo and training facility in Nicolet, Quebec

Wolf pups at play at Zoo Académie. Researchers wonder whether a delay in social development in a dog’s early life could explain the difference between wolves and dogs, and they’re looking to DNA for the answer.

Sleeping With Wolves

Zoo Académie is a combination zoo and training facility here on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence River, about two hours from Montreal. Jacinthe Bouchard, the owner, has trained domestic and wild animals, including wolves, all over the world.

This past spring she bred two litters of wolf pups from two female wolves and one male she had already at the zoo. Both mothers gave birth in the same den around the same time at the beginning of June. Then unusually bad flooding of the St. Lawrence threatened the den, so Ms. Bouchard had to remove them at about seven days old instead of the usual two weeks.

Then began the arduous process of socializing the pups. Ms. Bouchard and her assistant stayed day and night with the animals for the first few weeks, gradually decreasing the time spent with them after that.

On June 30, Kathryn Lord and Elinor Karlsson showed up with several colleagues, including Diane Genereux, a research scientist in Dr. Karlsson’s lab who would do most of the hands-on genetics work.

Dr. Lord is part of Dr. Karlsson’s team, which splits time between the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and the Broad Institute in Cambridge. Their work combines behavior and genetic studies of wolf and dog pups.

An evolutionary biologist, Dr. Lord is an old hand at wolf mothering. She has hand-raised five litters.

“You have to be with them 24/7. That means sleeping with them, feeding them every four hours on the bottle, ” Dr. Lord said.

Also, as Ms. Bouchard noted, “we don’t shower” in the early days, to let the pups get a clear sense of who they are smelling.

Dr. Genereux, right, and Ms. Koltookian at the Zoo Académie.

Dr. Genereux, right, and Ms. Koltookian with the wolf pups. The researchers say the odds of being able to pin down genetically the critical shift from helplessness in infancy to being able to explore the world around them are long, but still worth pursuing.

That’s very important, because both wolves and dogs go through a critical period as puppies when they explore the world and learn who their friends and family are.

With wolves, that time is thought to start at about two weeks, when the wolves are deaf and blind. Scent is everything.

In dogs, it starts at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear. Dr. Lord thinks this shift in development, allowing dogs to use all their senses, might be key to their greater ability to connect with human beings.

Perhaps with more senses in action, they are more able to generalize from tolerating individual humans with a specific scent to tolerating humans in general with a scent, sight and sound profile.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.

The odds of being able to pin down genetically the shift in this crucial stage are still long, but both Dr. Lord and Dr. Karlsson think the idea is worth pursuing, as did the Broad Institute. It provided a small grant from a program designed to support scientists who take leaps into the unknown — what you might call what-if research.

There are two questions the scientists want to explore. One, said Dr. Karlsson: ”How did a wolf that was living in the forest become a dog that was living in our homes?”

The other is whether fear and sociability in dogs are related to the same emotions and behaviors in humans. If so, learning about dogs could provide insights into some human conditions in which social interaction is affected, like autism, or Williams syndrome, or schizophrenia.

The pups at Zoo Académie were only three weeks old when the group of researchers arrived. I showed up the next morning and walked into a room strewn with mattresses, researchers and puppies.

The humans were still groggy from a night with little sleep. Pups at that age wake up every few hours to whine and paw any warm body within reach.

Wolf mothers prompt their pups to urinate and defecate by licking their abdomens. The human handlers massaged the pups for the same reason, but often the urination was unpredictable, so the main subject of conversation when I arrived was wolf pup pee. How much, on whom, from which puppy.

As soon as I walked in, I was handed a puppy to cradle and bottle-feed. The puppy was like a furry larva, persistent, single-minded, with an absolute intensity of purpose.

Even with fur, teeth and claws, the pups were still hungry and helpless, and I couldn’t help but remember holding my own children when they took a bottle. I suspect that tiger kittens and the young of wolverines are equally irresistible. It’s a mammal thing.

A wolf pup, inside a pen, observing a borzoi outside at the Zoo Académie. The critical exploratory phase for wolves is thought to start at about two weeks, when wolf pups are still deaf and blind — scent is their primary sense. With dogs, that period begins at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear.

The first part of Dr. Lord’s testing was to confirm her observations that the critical period for wolves starts and ends earlier than that for dogs.

She set up a procedure for testing the pups by exposing them to something they could not possibly have encountered before — a jiggly buzzing contraption of bird-scare rods, a tripod and a baby’s mobile.

Each week she tested one pup, so that no pup got used to it. She would put the puppy in a small arena, with low barriers for walls and with the mobile turned on. She would hide, to avoid distracting the puppy. Video cameras recorded the action, showing how the pups stumbled and later walked around the strange object, or shied away from it, or went right up to sniff it.

At three weeks, the pups had been barely able to get around and were still sleeping almost every minute they weren’t nursing. By eight weeks, when I returned to have them gambol all over me, they were rambunctious and fully capable of exploration.

The researchers won’t publicize the results until observers who never saw the puppies view and analyze the videos. But Dr. Lord said that wolf experts considered eight-week-old wolf puppies past the critical period. They were so friendly to me and others because they had been successfully socialized already.

Before and after the test, she collected urine, to measure levels of a hormone called cortisol, which rises during times of stress. If the pup in the video would not approach the jiggly monster and cortisol levels were high, that would indicate that the pup had begun to experience a level of fear of new things that could stop exploration. That would confirm the timing of the critical period.

Dr. Lord letting an eight-week-old wolf pup investigate the jiggly monster testing contraption she devised.

She and Dr. Karlsson and others from the lab also collected saliva for DNA testing. They planned to use a new technique called ATAC-seq that uses an enzyme to mark active genes. Then when the wolf DNA is fed into one of the advanced machines that map genomes, only the active genes would be on the map.

Dr. Genereux, who was isolating and then reading DNA, said she thought it was “a long shot” that they would find what they wanted. She and the other researchers plan to refine their techniques to ask the questions successfully.

When They Grow Up

And what are socialized wolves like when they grow up, once the mysterious genetic machinery of the dog and wolf direct them on their separate ways?

I also visited Wolf Park, in Battle Ground, Ind., a 65-acre zoo and research facility where Dana Drenzek, the manager, and Pat Goodmann, the senior animal curator, took me around and introduced me not only to puppies they were socializing, but to some adult wolves.

Timber, a mother of some of the pups at Wolf Park in Indiana.

In the 1970s, Ms. Goodmann worked with Erich Klinghammer, the founder of Wolf Park, to develop the 24/7 model for socializing wolf puppies, exposing them to humans and then also to other wolves, so they could relate to their own kind but accept the presence and attention of humans, even intrusive ones like veterinarians.

The sprawling outdoor baby pen was filled with cots and hammocks for the volunteers, since the wolves were now nine and 11 weeks old and living outdoors all the time. There were plastic and plywood hiding places for the wolves and plenty of toys. It looked like a toddlers’ playground, except for the remnants of their meals — the odd deer clavicle or shin bone, and other assorted ribs, legs and shoulder bones, sometimes with skin and meat still attached.

The puppies were extremely friendly with the volunteers they knew and mildly friendly with me. The adult wolves I met were also courteous, but remote. Two older males, Wotan and Wolfgang, each licked me once and walked away. Timber, the mother of some of the pups, and tiny at 50 pounds, also investigated me and then retired to a platform nearby.

Only Renki, an older wolf who had suffered from bone cancer and now got around on three legs, let me scratch his head for a while. None was bothered by my presence. None was more than mildly interested. None seemed to realize or care about my own intense desire to see the wolves, be near them, learn about them, touch them.

Pat Goodmann, the senior animal curator at Wolf Park.

A mobile of animal bones hangs over the nursery where pups at Wolf Park live until aged 5-6 weeks.

I saw how powerfully a visit with wolves could affect how you feel about the animals. I wanted to come back and help raise pups, and keep visiting so that I could say an adult wolf knew me in some way.

But I also wondered whether it was right to keep wolves in this setting. In the wild, they travel large distances and kill their food. These wolves were all bred in captivity and that was never a possibility for them.

But was I simply indulging a fantasy of getting close to nature? Was this in the same category as wanting a selfie with a captive tiger? What was best for the wolves themselves?

I asked Ms. Goodmann about it. She said that park operated on the idea that getting to know the park’s wolves, which had never been deprived of an earlier life in the wild, would make visitors care more for wild wolves, for conservation, for preserving a life for wild carnivores that they could never be part of.

And she noted that Wolf Park operates as a combination zoo and research station. Students and others from around the world compete to work as interns, helping with everything from raising puppies to emptying the fly traps.

This is the rationale for all zoos, and it was a strong argument. Then she made it stronger. She pointed out that one of the interns, Doug Smith, worked on the reintroduction of wild wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

Dana Drenzek, manager of Wolf Park, with a pup.

Haley Gorenflo, a volunteer at Wolf Park, howling with adolescent wolves.

Dr. Smith has had a major role in the Wolf Restoration Project from the very beginning in 1995 and has been project leader since 1997. I reached him one morning at his office at park headquarters and asked him about his time as an intern at Wolf Park.

“I hand-reared four wolf pups, sleeping with them on a mattress for six weeks,” he said. “It had a profound effect. It was the first wolf job I ever got in my life. It turned into my career.”

From there he went on to study wild wolves on Isle Royale in Michigan, and then to work with L. David Mech, a pioneering wolf biologist who is a senior scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. Eventually, he went to Yellowstone to work on restoring wolves to the park.

He said ethical questions about keeping wild animals in captivity are difficult, even when every effort is made to enrich their lives. But places like Wolf Park provide great value, he said, if they can get people “to think about the plight of wolves across the world, and do something about it.”

In today’s environment, “with conservation on the run, nature on the run, you need them,” he added.

Then he said what all wolf specialists say: That even though wolf pups look like dogs, they are not, that keeping a wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid as a pet is a terrible idea.

“If you want a wolf,” he said, “get a dog.”

Dozing at Zoo Académie in Quebec.

 

CONGRESS CONTINUES ITS QUIET ATTACK ON WOLVES   9 comments

October 5, 2016 by Maggie Caldwell

The lame duck Congress looks to take a few last swings at wolves on its way out the door.

The lame duck Congress looks to take a few last swings at wolves on its way out the door.

HOLLY KUCHERA/SHUTTERSTOCK

As the upcoming presidential election consumes our attention, the most anti-wildlife Congress in U.S. history is entering its final stretch and quietly working to pass members’ last pet pieces of legislation. Much of the proposed legislation would have damaging and lasting impacts on America’s wildlife and wild lands. These include measures that could prove devastating to a variety of wolf populations.

Last week, Earthjustice went to court to defend a 2014 victory that ended the state of Wyoming’s extreme anti-wolf management plan. Wyoming had instituted a “kill-on-sight” policy for wolves in more than 80 percent of the state and allowed one wolf-killing loophole after another in the rest. Among the victims of this policy was of one of Yellowstone’s most famous animal celebrities, 832F, the alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack. The wolf had been hailed as a heroine in the dramatic success story of gray wolves’ return to Yellowstone. She was the subject of podcasts and was featured in a National Geographic TV documentary. When she was killed, The New York Timeswrote what amounted to an obituary for the wolf.

The life of 832F is documented in National Geographic’s Wild Yellowstone series.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC/YOUTUBE

 

Earthjustice took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court over the agency’s decision to hand over wolf management to a state with a history of extreme anti-wolf policies—and we won. We expect a decision in Wyoming’s appeal of our victory in the next three to six months. But while the judges deliberate, some members of Congress are trying to bypass the legal process by using legislative edict to remove wolves in Wyoming and three western Great Lakes states from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Measures like the Wyoming-western Great Lakes wolf delisting threat are appearing as legislative “riders” tacked onto must-pass government spending bills and other large pieces of legislation. Another rider would block the act’s protections for Mexican gray wolves, despite the fact that there are fewer than 100 of these highly imperiled animals left in the United States. And yet another rider would delist all gray wolves in the entire lower 48 states—despite the fact that wolves currently occupy just a small portion of their former U.S. range. These and other anti-environmental riders will be considered as part of negotiations between both political parties and the White House over how to keep the federal government funded beyond early December.

Earthjustice continues our fight in the courtroom on behalf of wolves, and you can helpgive this incredible species the chance it deserves by urging President Obama to reject any legislation that includes deadly provisions for wolves.

TAKE ACTION! Protect Wolves and the Endangered Species Act!

ABOUT THIS SERIES

2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the reintroduction of gray wolves to the northern Rockies, and since that time wolves have been under nearly constant threat of losing their protections. The Weekly Howl provides insights and education about the gray wolf and updates on the status of its protections while celeSourcebrating the iconic species as a vital part of a functioning, healthy ecosystem. Posts ran through the summer of 2015 and resumed in the fall of 2016.


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Thank you for submitting over 2900 comments in support of listing Canada’s rare wolves as a Threatened species! Learn more about why the wolves are unprotected in most of their range   Leave a comment

In June, when Ontario’s eastern wolves were renamed Algonquin wolves, their at-risk status deteriorated, changing from Special Concern to Threatened.

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As a Threatened species, they were automatically and immediately protected across Ontario.

3 months later, most of that protection was removed.

Overview

THE GOOD

Wolves and coyotes are now protected in 4 areas centred around provincial parks.  The largest of these areas is around Algonquin Provincial Park, the Algonquin wolf’s stronghold.

Killing has been banned there since 2001 and has been a conservation success.

 

THE BAD

Eastern coyotes and Algonquin wolves can’t be told apart without a genetic test.  To protect Algonquin wolves, coyotes must also be protected.  Instead of closing hunting and trapping of both species across the Algonquin wolf’s known range, Ontario announced that the new closures were being limited to 3 areas around parks where wolves have already been protected from hunting for years: Killarney Provincial Park, Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands and Kawartha Highlands Signature Site.

The government has attempted to disguise these changes as an improvement of wolf protection – between the 3 new areas, 40 townships will be off-limits to wolf and coyote killing.  40 townships sounds like a big area, but in reality they make up a very small part of the at-risk wolves’ provincial range.  The 3 new closure areas are far too small to recover the threatened population of Algonquin wolves.  Wolves require protected corridors between areas of prime habitat. Only 1 of the new closure areas is connected to Algonquin Park.  The other 2 are not islands of protection, but islands of extinction.

eo-and-new-closures-on-wmu-map

When added to the map showing the known distribution of Algonquin wolves, it is clear how small and disconnected the 3 new closures areas are.

I am not protected

Compared to grey wolves, eastern coyotes or hybrids, Algonquin wolves have the lowest survival in unprotected areas. Wolves travel hundreds of kilometres in their lifetimes, and disperse from their birth pack to find a mate and open territory where they can raise their own families.

What Next?

In Ontario, a Recovery Strategy will be due for the Algonquin wolf 2 years from their listing date, on June 15th 2018.  The government has 9 months to develop a Response Statement that will outline actions that will be taken to protect and recover the species.  We will continue to ask for increased protection based on scientific research about the effects of  the 3 new closure areas on the population, and robust monitoring to determine exactly how many wolves are killed each year by hunters and trappers now exempt from the Endangered Species Act protection provisions.

At the federal level, consultation is still underway to list them as a Threatened species across Canada.  Thank you to those who submitted comments in support of this listing – together, we submitted over 2900 comments!

Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), Threatened species require a Recovery Strategy that includes plans for all provinces where the species is found.  Algonquin wolves, or eastern wolves as they are known across Canada, live only in Ontario and Quebec.  However, the Quebec government does not have an active scientific committee assessing the status of species at risk and does not formally recognize the eastern wolf or have special regulations to protect it.  Federal listing of the wolves as Threatened will help kickstart this protection.

More Information

Regulation Changes

On July 22nd, the Ontario government proposed two plans that will hinder the recovery of this at-risk wolf population. On September 15th, After the shortest possible public consultation period brought in well over 15,000 comments, the provincial government announced that they are moving forward with their plans.  This announcement was made on the very same day that hunting and trapping seasons open across the majority of the threatened wolves’ range. Hunting and trapping are the known primary threats to the Algonquin wolf.

The 1st plan proposed was to limit new hunting and trapping bans, which are normally automatic for all threatened and endangered species in Ontario, to 3 small ‘island’-like closures around Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands and Killarney Provincial Parks and Kawartha Highlands Signature Site where hunting wolves has been banned for years.

wolfcoyoteclosuredetail

Disguising Regulation Amendments as Improved Wolf Protection

These closures are being peddled as imroved protection because most of the Algonquin wolf records (i.e. a single confirmed location for each Algonquin wolf) are included within these areas.  However, the reason more Algonquin wolves have not been found elsewhere is because their survival is dangerously low where hunting and trapping occur outside of these parks.

Moreover, a wolf is not a dot on a map. Wolves are capable of travelling hundreds of kilometres in their lifetimes, and almost always leave their birth packs to search for a new territory and a mate. Their inability to survive and reproduce in unprotected areas is the very reason why the wolves are rare enough to be deemed a Threatened species in the first place. It is appalling that this would be considered justification to continue ongoing killing where the wolves have been killed off before.

The 2nd proposal contained a regulation change that would make the 1st proposal legal – an exemption for all licensed hunters and trappers from being penalized for killing an Algonquin wolf anywhere outside of the 3 new islands or existing protection in and around Algonquin Provincial Park, the species’ stronghold.

How Ontario Justified the Regulation Changes

Ontario claims their decisions are justified due to confusion on the part of hunters and trappers targeting coyotes.  Indeed, without a genetic test, eastern coyotes and Algonquin wolves cannot be differentiated.  The government has not announced plans to track the number of Algonquin wolves killed; without a genetic test even those hunters and trappers who do comply with mandatory reporting requirements cannot accurately determine which species they have killed.  Hunters can kill up to 2 wolves annually if they purchase a game seal, the annual sales of which continue to increase since their inception in 2005. There is no limit on the number of wolves that can be trapped.

The Ontario government also cites concern from livestock farmers as a justifiable reason to allow more killing of Algonquin wolves.  However, allowing these animals to be killed does not prevent or solve livestock depredation – in fact, a growing body of research shows that hunting and trapping large carnivores can actually exacerbate the issue, increasing the number of livestock killed in future years.  These regulation changes fail both the Algonquin wolves and the farming community.

Public Concern Based on Wolf Research

Hunting and trapping were banned in the townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park beginning in 2001 due to overwhelming public concern for the park wolves being killed as they followed deer to winter yards outside of the park. Subsequent research funded by the Ontario government found that 80% of Algonquin wolves that left this protected area were killed in legally set strangling snares or shot by hunters before being able to establish new packs in unprotected areas.  Those wolves remaining inside the expanded protected area around the Park enjoyed several benefits – a stabilized population, a return to natural family-based pack structure and less need to hybridize with eastern coyotes.

This year, public concern has been ignored – the majority of the 17,301 comments submitted in response to the proposals asked for more stringent protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Ontario’s Wolves and Coyotes: All Essential

Scientists estimate that 65% of the world’s Algonquin wolf population inhabits Ontario, a mere 154 adult wolves.  These wolves are now patchily distributed amongst a population of eastern coyotes and their hybrids.

Eastern coyotes and Algonquin wolves are similar, but preliminary research results have begun to shine a light on how different their roles are within Ontario’s landscapes.  Eastern coyotes, Algonquin wolves, and grey wolves eat different kinds of prey and thrive in different habitats.  All three species are top predators, and all three play essential roles in our ecosystems. It is time we begin to value them for their inherent worth and the benefits they afford us, and stop trying (and failing) to eradicate, or ‘control’ them.  A commitment to recovering socially intact Algonquin wolf populations requires protection of eastern coyotes as well.

FACT: 1/3 of the threatened wolves that have been found outside of Algonquin Park’s protection will be open to hunting and trapping
FACT: Algonquin wolves are long-distance dispersers,  traveling 32km on average from their birth pack
FACT: 80% of young radio-tracked wolves that dispersed from Algonquin park were killed by trappers within 1 year

Source:  http://wolvesontario.org/algonquin-wolf/

Victory for Red Wolves!   11 comments

September 29, 2016 – Source

Red wolf (captive), © USFWS

Court Stops U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from capturing and killing wild red wolves

Defenders just scored a big victory in court that will provide needed protections for North Carolina’s dwindling population of wild red wolves. A federal judge in North Carolina has issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from removing native wolves from the wild unless they pose an imminent threat to human safety or property.

Red wolf (captive), © USFWS

In recent years, the Service had been removing wolves simply because some vocal landowners don’t want them there – a significant departure from years of prior practice. Lawyers for Defenders of Wildlife and our allies argued in a court hearing on September 14 that a preliminary injunction was needed to stop the agency from further harming the world’s only population of wild red wolves. Today, Judge Terrence Boyle of the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a ruling preventing the Service from unnecessarily trapping and killing any more wolves.

Defenders brought the federal agency to court because under the Service’s recent management, the red wolf population had declined from more than 100 animals to fewer than 45. Recently, the Service had not only stopped key conservation actions to protect and enhance the wild population, but even authorized private landowners to kill red wolves on their land. The Service has also been capturing wolves throughout the five-county red wolf recovery area in North Carolina, and holding them for weeks or months before releasing them into unfamiliar territory, separated from their mates and pack.

This victory could help stabilize the wild population while the Service continues to deliberate over the fate of what was once a model carnivore reintroduction program. Earlier this month, the agency announced a proposal to trap and remove most of North Carolina’s red wolves and put them into captivity, abandoning all protective efforts except in one federal wildlife refuge (and adjacent bombing range) in Dare County. Lately, that habitat has supported just a single pack of wild wolves.

Defenders and our allies have lots of work ahead to convince the Service to protect North Carolina’s wild red wolves, reinvigorate the red wolf reintroduction program, and find additional places for wolves to live in the Southeast. Today’s court victory gives us – and the red wolves – a fighting chance.

Budget Bill Won’t Have Wolf Management Returning To Minnesota   Leave a comment

December 16, 2015

(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal that would have taken gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list did not make it into a massive year-end congressional tax and spending package, an omission that surprised its backers but was welcomed Wednesday by groups that support maintaining federal protections for the predators.

U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, Reid Ribble, R-Wisconsin, and some other lawmakers had hoped to attach a rider to return management of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming to the states, which could have opened the door to a resumption of wolf hunting in those places. The provision would have undone federal court decisions that restored the animals’ protected status in the four states despite repeated efforts by the federal government to remove them from the list.

Peterson said budget negotiators dropped the provision from the final bill, which was unveiled late Tuesday, because the White House had threatened a veto if the bill contained any changes to the Endangered Species Act.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” Peterson said. “We thought it wasn’t going to be a problem because the Fish and Wildlife Service was supporting it.”

Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said supporters will have to regroup and decide on their next step. He said a stand-alone bill probably could pass the House but he’s not sure about the Senate. It’s also possible an appeals court could overturn the lower court decisions, he added.

While livestock interests supported removing federal protections for wolves, wildlife groups lobbied against it.

“It certainly was a pleasant surprise,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Backers of the rider were trying to use a tactic that succeeded in 2011 when Congress removed wolves in Idaho, Montana and sections of Utah, Washington and Oregon from the list.

“Cooler heads prevailed in Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He said a letter written by Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, and signed by 23 other senators including Gary Peters, D-Michigan, helped make the difference.

The combined wolf population in the western Great Lakes region is estimated at 3,700, including about 2,200 in Minnesota, while Wyoming has around 333.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled last December that the western Great Lakes states didn’t have suitable plans to safeguard wolves, and that the animals haven’t come close to repopulating their former range. Her decision prevented Minnesota and Wisconsin from holding sport wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall. Michigan hasn’t held a hunt since 2013. Another federal judge issued a similar decision in September 2014 in a Wyoming case.

The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal.

The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.”

A similar appeal is pending in the Wyoming case. Pacelle said his group, which filed the lawsuit in the Midwest case, will keep up the fight.

“This is not the end of the process, but it’s a good outcome because Congress is showing restraint and not trying to cherry-pick a species and remove it from the list of endangered animals,” Pacelle said.

Source / CBS Minnesota

 

 

How Anti-Wolf Propaganda Threatens the Survival of The Species   8 comments

2 Wolves

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Well the three little pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are certainly not fans … but apart from myths, legends and children’s fairy tales, why is this beautiful creature so demonized in the modern world?

If someone asks you what is more likely to kill you; a wolf or a cow? You would probably go with the wolf, right? I know that’s what my first thought was. But let’s have a reality check.

Cows are responsible for an average of twenty two human deaths in the U.S. each year. On average wolves are responsible for zero. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by an elevator than be killed by a wolf. In the 21st century, only two known deaths have been attributed to wild wolves in the entirety of North America.

The War on Wolves

So what’s with all the hysteria? Anti-wolf fanatics have been hard at it spreading myths and fairy tales, and sadly some people seem susceptible to this scaremongering and genuinely believe that the big bad wolf is going to enter their homes with fangs bared to gobble them up for dinner. You think I’m joking? I’m really not. But that’s not even the worst part. This anti-wolf rhetoric has made its way into the corridors of power.

Fairy tales are influencing legislation, regulations, public opinion and threatening the recovery of wolves and their vital contribution to our ecosystems.

I could give you countless examples of this war on wolves but let’s take a look at what’s going on in Washington state, where wolves are only just beginning to re-establish themselves after being very nearly wiped out by human persecution.

Anti-wolf fanatics have launched a campaign to demonise the wolf. In a crusade to win over the hearts and minds of Washingtonians a group by the name of Washington Residents Against Wolves (WARAW) have erected billboards carrying a warning of death and destruction to all by the big bad wolf. Snarling teeth, glaring vicious eyes … at first glance you could mistake it as an advertisement for a new horror flick. They even say that the wolf is going to kill your children! Reminds me a bit of a dingo stole my baby.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

So it is pretty clear that calm, fact based debate is not on the table for the anti-wolf fanatic’s. They are steadfast in their quest of fairy tale ideologies. They even seem to openly admit this. With a quick browse of their Facebook page I noticed they have a picture of Little Red Riding Hood brandishing a gun and the message, “looks like Little Red decided to join WARAW and fight back on the wolf issue.” Well at least they are honest about the fairy tales within their ranks.

The Casualties of War

The sad fact is that, as ridiculous as this anti-wolf hysteria is, wolves do suffer and will continue to suffer as a result of this demonization. Just look at Idaho.

Over 1,470 wolves have been killed in Idaho since 2009 when the state demanded the chance to control wolves within its territory. Wolves have been slaughtered by various methods including firearms, aerial gunning, trapping and snaring. And shockingly this is just the beginning of Idaho’s war on wolves as a wolf killing fund has been set up to kill hundreds more wolves. All of this despite the fact a recent scientific study shows that killing wolves actually increases livestock predation. What an absolute tragedy.

Could this be the future for Washington’s wolves? Reassuringly Washingtonians are not falling for the fairy tales. Billboards where erected by Defenders of Wildlife to counter the anti-wolf campaign and the bulk of the funding was actually initiated by locals who thought the anti-wolf bill boards needed a response. It is wonderful to see local people taking a stand for their natural heritage and rejecting the crusade of the fanatics. But we must also speak out for wolves.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

So What Can You do to Protect Wolves?

Wolves need you now more than ever to secure their full recovery.

As an apex predator, the wolf plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and thriving ecosystem. When the wolf population was removed from the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, we saw an increase in small, grazing animals who decimated the local verbiage, making tree roots less stable, leading to an increase in soil erosion. Soil erosion poses a threat to local waterways and can damage the health of aquatic life. The wolf is the stable peg that holds the entire ecosystem in balance and if we do not wish to see this same sort of degradation in Washington, or other regions of the U.S. it is up to us to protect the wolf species.

The greatest threat to wolves in the U.S. is the proposal to delist them from Endangered Species Act Protection. Demand that this reckless delisting proposal is abandoned and secure the full recovery of gray wolves.The wolves in Idaho desperately need your support. If you are sickened by the 1, 470 wolves already killed then please take part in this action.

Source/One Green Planet

By Mark McCormick

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