Archive for the ‘animals’ Tag
January 10, 2017
A gray wolf moves through forested country in winter. Credit: MacNeil Lyons, National Park Service
The new Congress wasted little time in efforts to once again remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list.
A bill introduced Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota; Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin; and Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, would overrule a federal court action and remove federal protections from wolves in the Great Lakes and mountain west.
That already happened once, but a judge’s decision in late 2014 restored federal protections after wolves spent about three years under state control.
The members of Congress, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, say wolves have recovered enough in those areas to remove protections. But wolf supporters say the wolf hasn’t recovered over enough of its original range to remove protections in the few states where it is thriving, like Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wolf supporters say state hunting and trapping allowed before the 2014 court order threatened to put the animals back on the brink of extinction.
Similar bills have passed the House in recent years but failed to clear the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and soon the White House, the bill’s chances are considered much better.
“In Wisconsin, we cherish our wildlife and work diligently to conserve our natural resources, but the Endangered Species Act has allowed courts to misuse judicial oversight to stop science-based wildlife management from moving forward to delist the gray wolf,” Duffy said in a statement. “Wisconsin farmers deserve to be able to protect their livestock from gray wolves, and we will protect Wisconsin farmers from activist judges.”
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 5, 2016 Source
Unexpected move reverses a trend that has seen increasing numbers of large carnivores shot by hunters each year since Romania’s accession to the European Union.
In 2016, the largest hunting quotas yet gave hunters the mandate to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months. Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
Romania has banned all trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats in a surprise decision that gives Europe’s largest population of large carnivores a reprieve from its most severe and immediate threat.
The move on Tuesday reverses a trend which has seen the number of large carnivores being shot by hunters grow year on year since Romania’s accession into the European Union in 2007. In 2016, the largest hunting quotas yet gave hunters the mandate to shoot 550 bears, 600 wolves and 500 big cats over 12 months.
Over the last decade, hunting has grown into a multimillion-euro industry in Romania, with hunters from all over the world paying up to €10,000 (£8,800) to claim a ‘trophy’ – hunting parlance for the carcass of a hunted animal – from the Carpathian mountains.
The government has claimed that in order to exist, the industry relies on a loophole in European law which allows for the culling of wild animals that have been proven to be a danger to humans. Under the habitats directive, all large carnivores are protected in European Union member states, yet the state can order the killing of specific animals if shown to have attacked a person or damaged private property.
“Hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway,” environment minster, Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, told the Guardian. ‘The damages [clause in the habitats directive] acted as a cover for trophy hunting.”
Each year, hundreds of hunting associations across the country would submit two numbers; the total population of each large carnivore species, and the total number which they believed to be likely to cause damages. The second number would then act as a basis for a government-issued hunting quota for each species. These quotas were then carved up between hunting companies and sold as hunting rights to the public.
“This method raised some questions,” says Pasca-Palmer. “How can hunting associations count how many animals are causing damages a priori – before the damages have happened? By introducing the ban, what we are doing is simply putting things back on the right track, as the habitats directive originally intended.”
Wildlife NGOs claim that the methodology also tended to dramatically overestimate the populations of large carnivores. The official figure for the number of bears in Romania is over 6,000, and for wolves is 4,000. Yet with hundreds of hunting associations each responsible for monitoring a small area of land, and animals prone to wandering, it is understood that individual animals were often counted multiple times, potentially pushing the total population statistics up by thousands.
Announced late on Tuesday evening, the ban is expected to divide Romania’s population, pitching rural and urban dwellers against each other. The government’s decision has strong support in the larger cities, which have seen a growing movement against hunting in recent months. But in much of Romania’s remote countryside large carnivores are a daily threat to villagers and a persistent nuisance to livestock farmers, and many see hunting as the only solution.
Csaba Domokos, a bear specialist with wildlife protection NGO Milvus group, is convinced that the success or failure of the hunting ban rides on the government’s ability to address the rural population’s fears.
“Damages caused by large carnivores are a very real concern in the countryside,” he said. “The system up until now did not work; hunting does not reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans; in fact many studies show that with wolves and large cats, it can actually increase the problem.
“But the rural population believe that hunting is the answer, and unless they can be convinced otherwise, people may well start to take the problem into their own hands. The ban is a great step, but we don’t want hunting to be replaced by poaching.”
Domokos points out that hunters also have a vested interested in the protection of their quarry. “To some extent, hunting acts as a financial incentive for wildlife management, from preventing poaching to conserving habitats. There is some concern that once you take that away, the government will not invest enough to replace it.”
Hunters pay up to €10,000 to trophy hunt in the Carpathian mountains. Photograph: Nick Turner/Alamy
The government’s response is to take management into its own hands. A special unit is to be set up within the paramilitary police force that will assess any reports of damages by large carnivores and deal with the culprit animal directly. The ministry of environment have discussed the possibility of relocating the target animals abroad to countries interested in ‘rewilding’.
The ban comes amid a growing push for the protection of Romania’s wild mountains that has seen anti-corruption officers convict dozens of foresters, hunters and local officials in recent years.
Gabriel Paun, an activist and conservationist behind a petition that collected 11,000 signatures in the weeks before the hunting ban, sees the government’s decision as a step towards a safer future for Europe’s wild spaces: “The Carpathian mountains are home to more biodiversity than anywhere else in Europe, but for too long they have been ruthlessly exploited for forestry and hunting. Let’s hope the government’s decision is a sign of things to come.”
August 30, 2015 by Seamus Sweeney
Going through my writings, I realise how little deals with something of great personal importance to me; nature and the natural world. Of course, semantic quibbling teaches us that “nature” and “natural” are weasel words. Talk about “the sounds of nature”, say, and you leave yourself open to all sorts of critiques and special pleadings. But talk about “the sounds of nature”, and special pleading aside, people know what you mean.
Other pieces about “nature” are no doubt in my oeuvre, but this is the one that springs to mind – a 2013 review of Kieran Hickey’s book on Wolves in Ireland. This is an academic text, and this review is something academic in bent. It was also my first piece to appear on the TLS website . This is the published text.
A burthensome beast
WOLVES IN IRELAND
A natural and cultural history
155pp. Four Courts. ¤26.95.
978 1 84682 306 0
Published: 23 April 2012
At the Westminster Parliament in 1657, Major Morgan, representing Wicklow, enumerated the “three beasts to destroy that lay burthensome upon us. The first is the wolf, on whom we lay five pounds a head if a dog, and ten pounds if a bitch; the second beast is a priest, on whose head we lay ten pounds, and if he is eminent more. The third beast is the Tory, and on his head, if he be a public Tory, we lay ten pounds, and if he is a private Tory, we pay 40 shillings”.
Wolves and “wood kernes” (rebels living in forests) were often lumped together in English discourse on Ireland during the early seventeenth century, and Kieran Hickey provides much evidence that the authorities held an exterminationist approach to both creatures. The wolf is commonly supposed to have been eliminated in England and Wales during the reign of Charles II; in Ireland it persisted until the eighteenth century. Before the Cromwellian Wars the local population generally tolerated wolves; thereafter a combination of deforestation, a bounty system, a rising population, and a determination to tame “Wolf Land” all combined to doom the Irish wolf. The most commonly given date and place for the death of the last wild Irish wolf is 1786 in County Carlow.
The tallest breed of dog ever
Hickey, a lecturer in Geography at National University of Ireland, Galway, has written a history with abundant material on the zoology, folklore, history and cultural legacy of the wolf in Ireland. The Irish wolf-hound, the tallest breed of dog ever, and extinct in its original form (today’s wolf-hounds are reconstituted) is also discussed. There is, for a self-styled “cultural history”, little on literature. No mention of The Citizen’s wolfhound, Garryowen in Ulysses, and while we are told twice that W. B. Yeats was photographed posing in a wolfskin, we do not read of the wolves of “The Madness of King Goll” or “Three Marching Songs”.
Hickey is clearly more comfortable on the natural historical and the geographical (particularly wolf-related place names) than the cultural and historical elements. There are some striking solecisms. How different the history of these islands would have been if the Earl of Tyrone had indeed met “Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, John Harington” in 1599. And Hickey refers to the parliament which Major Morgan addressed as “the first united parliament of the three kingdoms”, which would have been a surprise to Oliver Cromwell.
Often the chapters on history and folklore read as an accumulation of somewhat random observations, a not atypical section reading: “The Greeks referred to the volcanic gases that came out of the ground as wolves, and the temple of Apollo in Athens was called the Lyceum, which means wolfskin. The wolf also features in Chinese mythology associated with astrology. Wolves feature heavily in the mythology of the indigenous tribes of North America”. Yet these cavils seems churlish, since Hickey himself cheerfully admits that the range of topics covered brings him outside his academic comfort zone. Indeed, he rather charmingly invites the reader to join in his research on the wolf in Ireland, estimating that many lifetimes would be required to fully work through the material he has gathered.
Hickey uses data such as the records of wolfskin exports from ports in the South-east to Bristol and historical references to wolves in various literary sources to try to extrapolate a population estimate. Of course, both of these methods have limitations that he openly acknowledges (it is very surprising that there are no references to wolves at all for County Donegal, the closest county to wilderness even now), but the natural historical detective work is impressive.
An area of about half the size of Ireland would be needed to support a viable breeding populationHickey also posits an intriguing counterfactual – that if wolves had managed to survive in Ireland up until the Famine, they possibly would have experienced a revival with the massive rural depopulation opening up much potential territory. A reintroduction is not feasible; using pack ranges from the United States (although European wolves tend to roam less), an area of about half the size of Ireland would be needed to support a viable breeding population.
Wolves have roamed Ireland in the last decade; but as escapees from captivity. There is no restriction on keeping wolves as pets, and Hickey cites recent escapes in Counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Wexford as evidence of somewhat reckless atttitudes. The Welsh philosopher Mark Rowlands, when lecturing at University College Cork, ran daily by the Lee with his wolf Brenin, to the apparent indifference of farmers and passers-by. Perhaps modern Irish attitudes to wolves have returned to their pre-Morgan state.
From treehugger on July 31, 2015 by Melissa Breyer
© D. Gordon E. Robertson
Named the African golden wolf, the discovery increases the overall biodiversity of the Canidae family from 35 living species to 36.
What lurks in the DNA of East Africa’s golden jackal? Researchers took a look and discovered that in fact, although it looks remarkably similar to the Eurasian golden jackal, the African golden jackal isn’t a jackal at all.
Inspired by reports that the African animal was actually a cryptic subspecies of gray wolf, a new study was hatched by Klaus-Peter Koepfli of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles.
To further explore the DNA evidence in the new study, they relied on frozen DNA samples of golden jackals from Kenya as well as samples from golden jackals in other parts of Africa and Eurasia. From all of the DNA evidence they collected, a different story of the canids’ evolutionary past emerged.
“To our surprise, the small, golden-like jackal from eastern African was actually a small variety of a new species, distinct from the gray wolf, that has a distribution across North and East Africa,” Wayne says. They named the newly recognized species the African golden wolf, bringing the overall biodiversity of the Canidae family (which includes dogs, wolves, foxes, and jackals) from 35 living species to 36.
“This represents the first discovery of a ‘new’ canid species in Africa in over 150 years,” says Koepfli.
The researchers think that earlier zoologists had mistaken African and Eurasian golden jackals for the same species because of the close similarity in their skull and tooth shape. But the genetic data suggests that the two separate lineages have actually been evolving independently for at least a million years – so much so that they aren’t even closely related. The African species is more closely linked to gray wolves and coyotes than jackals.
Koepfli says that the discovery is a good reminder that, “even among well-known and widespread species such as golden jackals, there is the potential to discover hidden biodiversity.”
From nomadruss on July 28, 2015
Yellowstone is full of wonders. There are of course the geysers, the splendor of the morning light, and the ancient forests. There is the primeval wonder of what the forest holds. Once in a while, for a short time, the life hidden in the forests reveals itself. I learned one evening of a wolf that had taken down an elk cow and decided to catch a glimpse of such life revealed.
When I arrived on the scene, a grizzly bear had chased a wolf away from its kill. Grizzlies can smell meat from over 2 miles away. The grizzly had sprinted across the meadow, stealing the female elk away. It was enjoying fruits of the wolf’s labor. The wolf was lying in the grass, waiting, hoping to retrieve its kill.
The wolf attempted to get the carcass back, but the grizzly is much too powerful. The wolf was time and again chased away.
As the bear stood over the carcass, the wolf watched.
The bear finally said, I’m going to drag the carcass over here, and bury it. That way others won’t be able to smell it. The wolf could only watch dejectedly. Finally at dusk, the wolf wandered the six miles back to its den.
The following morning a coyote wandered onto the scene.
It too was chased away when it approached too close.
The coyote was wily indeed. Many times it circled close, and was chased away. It kept circling the area in front of the kill, and finally it found a piece it could steal. The angry bear could only watch in disgust.
For some reason the grizzly wandered up the hill for several minutes. It was the coyote’s chance to get a meal. It had the carcass all to itself for a short time.
The grizzly then returned, feeding on the carcass for a second day. By the end of this day the grizzly was blissfully full. It laid on its back, on the buried carcass, paws in the air.
On the third day a younger grizzly appeared on the scene. It too was chased away. Indulging in a carcass seems to require a lot of work.
The younger grizzly wandered across the meadow, but would eventually return.
The big grizzly, having had its fill, wandered up the hill, never to return. The younger grizzly then fed on the remnants of the carcass. The cycle of life was once more complete, and the forest would soon grow dark and secret once again.