Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Takepart.com

“To the dismay of wildlife advocates who hoped it might mark a new era of compromise between conservation groups and cattle ranchers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied a petition to grant fewer protections to the gray wolf in the United States.

Confused as to why 22 environmental groups would want to reduce federal protections for one of America’s most iconic species? Don’t feel bad—when it comes to managing wolves, complexity is par for the course. ? When it comes to gray wolves in America, confusion.

The petition to move wolves from the “endangered” list to the “threatened” list was supposed to be a compromise. Authored by the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, and a number of other conservation groups, the petition was an attempt to bring back federal oversight for the entire gray wolf population across the contiguous U.S.—while lessening restrictions so as to allow ranchers to protect their livestock against “trouble” wolves.

In a short statement, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the groups’ petition “does not present substantial information indicating that reclassification may be warranted.” A USFWS representative was not immediately available for comment.

The move would have brought back protections to wolf-unfriendly states such as Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, which have succeeded in removing protections for the species, allowing ranchers and hunters to kill wolves.

In states where wolves continue to receive the full protections of “endangered” status under the Endangered Species Act, the change to a “threatened” listing would allow individual states more leeway to control nuisance wolves and handle wolf/livestock conflicts, while retaining  federal oversight of the species.

Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the petition was the one option that made the most sense.

“The gray wolf is still listed as endangered, even though it has made somewhat of a recovery,” Hartl said. “But it’s not all of the way recovered. The options don’t have to be all or nothing; this was a third option that could have provided more flexibility for wolf management everywhere.”

Wolves have been on the recovery road in the Lower 48 since reintroduction efforts started in the Northern Rockies, Yellowstone, and the Great Lakes region in 1995. Today, there area around 6,000 gray wolves in the wild, but they roam in just five percent of their historical range.

“We know we’ll probably never see wolves in Peoria, Illinois anytime soon, but still, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s job for a wolf recovery is nowhere near complete,” said Ralph Henry, senior attorney at the Humane Society.

So, Why Should You Care? As a species, gray wolves are now in a gray area, with some populations receiving full federal protections, while others are at the mercy of hunters and trappers. It’s estimated that more than third of the 1,600 wolves thought to be living in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho when those packs lost protections in 2012 have already been exterminated.

The real problem, according to Henry, is that while FWS initiated a strong reintroduction program from the gray wolf, it never finalized a comprehensive recovery plan.

“Without set goals of what constitutes a full recovery, ranchers have a fear of the unknown—they don’t know how many more wolves are coming, so they just want all of them gone, and wolf advocates don’t have any idea what constitutes a healthy population, so they just want protections for all of them,” Henry said.”

**Special thanks to T


camping wolf

The Teanaway Valley is a popular hiking destination, and it’s also home to one of Washington’s wolf packs. Photo: Western Transportation Institute

Posted by Chase Gunnell at Aug 01, 2014

“Washington’s wild canines pose no serious threat to humans on the trail

The Pacific Northwest is hiker central, with hundreds of trails from the Olympic coast to the Cascades and Columbia Highlands. With thousands of people hitting the hills each year, information abounds for coexisting safely in the backcountry with our region’s regular cast of wildlife; from hungry black bears to curious cougars and salt-craved mountains goats.

But what about Washington’s recovering wolves?

Though still incredibly rare, gray wolves migrating from British Columbia and Idaho have made a natural resurgence in recent years. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife now estimates there are at least 52 wolves in the state across 13 packs; from the Diamond, Smackout and Salmo packs of remote Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, to the Lookout, Teanaway and Wenatchee packs in the Cascades, and the Wenaha and Walla Walla packs ranging over the border from northeast Oregon.

But as wolves continue to recolonize their native range in the Pacific Northwest, hikers, campers and backpackers should take comfort that while usual wildlife precautions are recommended, these wild canines pose no serious threat to humans.

Larger and broader than the much more common coyote, wolves are intelligent, wary and have a substantial fear of people. They can often hear or smell us coming from miles away, making close encounters on the trail extremely rare.

Even in areas like Alaska and Minnesota with much healthier wolf populations, dangerous encounters with humans are almost nonexistent.

In the past 100 years in North America, there have been only two fatal wolf attacks on humans; one in remote western Alaska and one in northern Canada. The one confirmed wolf attack in the Lower 48 in recent decades, a nonlethal (for the human) incident in Minnesota, involved a lone wolf with a badly deformed jaw that would have prevented it from hunting natural prey.

With their limited numbers and cautious nature, the chance of encountering one of Washington’s wolves is very low. The chance for a dangerous encounter is even lower. But when recreating in the Cascades, Blue Mountains or Columbia Highlands, hikers should stay alert and take similar precautions to hiking in bear or cougar country.

If you see a wolf

If you do encounter a wolf or a pack on the trail or in an open meadow, stay calm, use caution and keep children and pets close. Wolves have been known to react to dogs as competition or unwelcome visitors in their territory, so the last point is especially important.

Like any large or potentially dangerous animal, make sure the wolf has an escape route. More than likely it will quickly exit the scene. 

Wolves, especially pups and yearlings, are known to be very curious. Just like cougars sometimes follow hikers, wolves have been documented briefly following or circling hikers or other recreationists. But experts say this behavior is almost always based on curiosity, not predatory interest or aggression.

If the wolf or wolves do not immediately depart, stand tall and DO NOT RUN. If you feel threatened, shout, wave and clap your hands, and slowly back away if possible.  If a wolf or wolves approaches, throw branches or other objects close at hand, ideally without bending down, and prepare to deploy bear spray if needed.

With more than 25,000 black bears and a handful of grizzly bears in Washington, hikers, hunters and other recreationists in all parts of our state should be traveling with this powerful pepper spray at easy reach in a belt holster or outside pocket. Products like Counter Assault spray are an effective deterrent for any large mammal at close range, from bears to wolves and aggressive bull elk.

And don’t forget, knowing how to properly use bear spray is just as important as carrying it!

The author on range riding, tracking and howling with Washington’s wolves

Keeping a clean camp

Campers in wolf country should always keep a clean camp, particularly as wolf country is almost always black bear country as well. Food, trash and other fragrant items should be hung or stored in bear safe canisters at least 100 yards from sleeping areas, and campers should cook and eat a fair distance from where they’ll be pitching tents.

The greatest risk from wolves comes from wolf-dog hybrids or wild wolves that have become habituated to feeding from garbage or otherwise lost their fear of humans. But once again, these instances are exceedingly rare, with few confrontations in North America compared to the hundreds of thousands of hospital visits every year from domestic dogs.

Native gray wolves are a key component of our region’s natural landscape, a predator that flourished in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years until organized trapping, hunting and poisoning campaigns drove them to the brink.

We should be proud that the wildness of our state has allowed wolves to recover naturally here. Instead of recreating in fear, hikers, backpackers, climbers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts should be well informed and excited to share the mountains with these native canines, and enjoy a landscape made wilder by their presence.

And be sure to keep that camera ready for the fleeting chance you see a wolf crossing a far off meadow and disappearing into the timber, or hear the mournful call of the wild as a pack howls at sunset.

Any wolf sightings or encounters in Washington should be reported to WDFW using the following form to help the management of wolves in our state: http://1.usa.gov/1uS1sTI.

Photos of wolves, wolf tracks or scat are helpful evidence to verify such sightings.”


By Shelby Sebens

“PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – A gray wolf who signaled the comeback of his species in Oregon and California might be welcoming some new pups to his pack, wildlife biologists said on Wednesday.

The wolf, known as OR-7 because he was the seventh of his species ever collared in Oregon with a tracking device, is showing signs he may have more offspring after siring three pups last year, two of which officials know to have survived.

“We think they’re denning again. Just the behavior we’re seeing,” said John Stephenson, wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in Oregon. “OR-7 is returning to a same area repeatedly.”

OR-7 made headlines in late 2011 when he turned up in northern California, becoming the first wild specimen confirmed in the Golden state for 87 years.

He was known to have been wandering between California and Oregon until last year when he met a mate and sired puppies.

Wildlife officials said trail camera photos show he could be mating with the same black female wolf.

“It’s not surprising,” Stephenson said. “Wolves do tend to attempt to reproduce each year. We expected them to den again.”

Although the wolf’s collar lost its GPS signal, it still produces a radio signal which can be tracked, said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, adding that the state plans to try and re-collar OR-7.

Dennehy confirmed the wolves appear to be denning, but said officials will not know for certain until they can safely check later this summer.

The potential for new pups comes as the number of Oregon wolves rises. At the end of 2014, when officials last counted, there were 77 wolves in the state.

“So far the trend in Oregon is the population has been growing steadily and rapidly,” Stephenson said.

Gray wolves, native to Oregon but wiped out in the state by an eradication campaign during the early 20th century, first returned in 2008.

The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering easing state Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves in central and eastern Oregon, where most wolves live.

Federal law would continue to restrict hunting of the wolves in western Oregon.

Many of OR-7’s fans will be waiting eagerly to know if he has in fact become a father again.

“OR-7 is a legend,” Stephenson said.”

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)


CRY WOLF

“Wolves in British Columbia are running out of places to hide.  There are now plans to kill up to 184 wolves living in British Columbia before the snow melts.  Wolves will be chased by helicopters until they are exhausted, and then shot under the guise of helping to recover dwindling caribou herds in the South Selkirk and South Peace areas.

A sad reality is that caribou are on their way out because of what people have already done.  Caribou are in this situation because of us, not because of wolves.  We have allowed the province and industry to destroy the habitat that caribou require.  We have been watching this discussion take place for the past 50 years and allowing activities to continue in critical habitat.  This conservation dilemma we are in is certainly difficult and problematic, yet it is a consequence of our neglect.

With the announcements to kill more wolves in the name of caribou recovery , there are several critical flaws that fly in the face of reason and scream to be heard.   In recent decades we have learned more about the true nature of wolves as emotional and intelligent beings, and just how important they are in maintaining balance and biodiversity .  So why has BC has just announced a new death sentence for wolves?

 We the public deserve to become informed on how our tax dollars are being spent, to what end, and for how long.  We deserve to know how BC’s iconic apex predators are treated and how our wildlife and wild places are being cared for.  We deserve to have our input listened to and considered.

 The decision to kill more wolves is scientifically unsound.  Killing wolves to increase ungulate populations is an outdated management practice that has failed to increase ungulate populations long-term wherever it has been tried in the past.  Wolf populations rebound quickly and dispersing wolves fill in the vacant space created where resident wolves have been killed.  All evidence to date shows that killing wolves will not work to reduce predator numbers long term.  This is not the first time wolf helicopter killing and sterilization has occurred in BC.  All past efforts where wolves have been killed have failed to increase caribou numbers.  So why would this be attempted again?

This is also a question of animal welfare.  Are we as a society prepared to spend the next thirty years shooting wolves from helicopters (if not indefinitely)?   Causing harm to hundreds of intelligent and sensitive animals for any reason should  be questioned for its moral ground.  As new wolves migrate into the area and populations rebound,  killing hundreds of wolves would have to be continued in order to maintain the small herds of caribou.  Some areas that have been protected for caribou are not only small, but they are isolated, (eg.  South Selkirks),  so ongoing wolf killing would likely continue to keep the small herds in existence without newcomers migrating in.  Aerial shooting is not an approved method under Canada’s current guidelines on Approved Animal Care.   Shooting wolves from helicopters violates animal care standards and is unjustifiable.

 There are major ecological repercussions when wolves  are disturbed, either by “removing” (AKA killing)  or exploiting them.  The ripple effects are detrimental to the behaviour and diversity of many other species and natural processes.  Watch this video and learn more about the critical  ecological role of wolves as a keystone species.

 Tragically, the same scenario is playing itself out in Alberta and demands just as much attention and participation.

Over 7 years, more than 800 wolves were killed under the guise of protecting the Little Smokey Caribou herd, and there are plans to kill more.  Read this article by Marc Beckoff  about compassionate conservation and research, and what it means to kill this many wolves.   The original “experiment” that killed so many Albertan animals can be read HERE.

 Conservation, ecology, wolf social dynamics, animal welfare and ethical considerations were left out of this part of the caribou recovery plan and an apparent pre-determined agenda which encourages killing wolves has been exposed. 

Please become informed and involved.  This is a defining time for the values of Canadians. 

Ecosystem DOES NOT EQUAL Egosystem.”

People who may be interested in hearing your thoughts:

The Honourable Christy Clark

BC Premier

PO Box 9041,  Stn Prov Govt 

Victoria, BC  V8W 9E1

Premier@gov.bc.ca    

The Honourable Steve Thomson

Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

PO Box 9049, Stn Prov Govt

Victoria, BC  V8W 9E2

FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca    

The Honourable Shirley Bond

Minister of Jobs, TOURISM, and Skills Training

PO Box 9071
STN PROV GOV
Victoria, BC
V8W 9E2

JTST.Minister@gov.bc.ca

cc:

NDP FLNR Critic and Harry Baines

harry.baines.mla@leg.bc.ca

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

 AND IN ALBERTA

The Honourable Jim Prentice, Premier              

Executive Branch
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5K 2B6                                        

Phone: 780 427-2251
Fax: 780 427-1349
premier@gov.ab.ca 

The Honourable Kyle Fawcett, Minister

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

Main Floor, Great West Life Building

9920 108 Street

Edmonton, AB  T5K 2M4

Phone:  877 944-0313

Fax:  780 427-4407

ESRD.Minister@gov.ab.ca

 Alberta Minister of Tourism and Culture

Honourable Maureen Kubinec

229 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 422-3559
Fax: (780) 427-7729

barrhead.morinville.westlock@assembly.ab.ca

**Special thanks to “Wolf Awareness,” http://www.wolfawarenessinc.org/, for providing this information!


Geographic Wolf

© MARC MORITSCH/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE/CORBIS

By

“Scientists who study canine origins seem to fight about everything: where dogs arose, when this happened, and even the best way to find these answers. But there’s one thing most of them agree on: how dogs became domesticated. Still, it’s taken almost a century to get here, and the details are still emerging.

In 1907, the English scientist Francis Galton suggested that dogs first entered our lives when our ancestors nabbed some wolf pups, brought them back to camp, and raised them as pets. If you’ve ever seen a baby wolf, with its big eyes and oversized ears, the idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched—and, indeed, Galton’s hypothesis reigned for decades. But scientists eventually realized that domestication is a long, messy process that can take hundreds or even thousands of years. These early humans may have started with a cute pup, but they would have ended up with a wild animal.

So what did happen? Most experts now think dogs domesticated themselves. Early humans left piles of discarded carcasses at the edges of their campsites—a veritable feast, the thinking goes, for wolves that dared get close to people. Those wolves survived longer and produced more pups—a process that, generation by generation, yielded ever-bolder animals, until finally a wolf was eating out of a person’s hand. Once our ancestors realized the utility of these animals, they initiated a second, more active phase of domestication, breeding early canines to be better hunters, herders, and guardians.

A massive collaboration that’s trying to figure out where and when dogs emerged (see “Feature: Solving the mystery of dog domestication“) has found some intriguing insights into the second phase of dog domestication. A comparison of thousands of ancient dog and wolf skeletons, for example, has revealed flattening of the dorsal tips of ancient dog vertebrae, suggesting that the animals hauled heavy packs on their backs. The team has also spotted missing pairs of molars near the rear of the jaw in ancient dogs, which may indicate that the animals wore some sort of bridle to pull carts. These services, in addition to dogs’ hunting prowess, may have proved critical for human survival, potentially allowing modern humans to out compete our Neanderthal rivals and even eventually settle down and become farmers.

Now, a study in this week’s issue of Science helps explains how man and dog took the next step to become best friends. Takefumi Kikusui, an animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, and his colleagues have found that when dogs and humans gaze into each others eyes, both experience a rise in oxytocin—a hormone that has been linked to trust and maternal bonding. The same rise in oxytocin occurs when human mothers and infants stare at each other, suggesting that early dogs may have hijacked this response to better bond with their new human family.

The oxytocin study and the skeletal data from the new collaboration go beyond clarifying the origin of the family pet, says collaboration leader Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. “The more that we know about the process of how dogs became associated with people, the more we learn about the origins of civilization.”

**Special thanks to David Grimm, Online News Editor of Science, for providing this information! (http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-animals/2015/04/how-wolf-became-dog)


10:11 a.m. PDT April 15, 2015

“An effort to remove gray wolves from the state endangered species list is moving forward on multiple fronts.

State biologists said Tuesday that wolf numbers are high enough to justify removing them the state list, while Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill to prohibit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife commission from listing wolves as threatened or endangered.

With four breeding pairs in eastern Oregon for three consecutive years and 77 known wolves statewide, ODFW biologists said there is little probability of wolves declining or going extinct.

“Factors related to wolf health all indicate a healthy and growing population,” ODFW wrote in a report released Tuesday. “Significant information exists to justify initiating rulemaking to remove the gray wolf from the Oregon List of Endangered Species.”

The department will present its report to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on April 24 in Bend. The commission will decide whether to start the process of delisting wolves.

“If the Commission does go forward (with rulemaking to delist wolves), then it would go to a full public process,” ODFW communications coordinator Michelle Dennehy said. “They wouldn’t be delisted, if it happened, until later this year.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are seeking a more direct route to getting wolves off the list. Legislation authored by Rep.Greg Barreto (R-Cove), Rep. Jodi Hack (R-Salem) and Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) seeks to prohibit ODFW from ever including wolves on the list endangered species list.A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Groups including the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association have advocated for delisting wolves to make it easier for ranchers to use lethal action to protect livestock. Conversation groups have said that 77 wolves is too small a population to consider them recovered.

Wolves being removed from the state list wouldn’t mean a huge change, Dennehy said.

Wolves in western Oregon are still protected by the federal Endangered Species Act. And even with the delisting, wolves in Oregon would still be managed under the state’s Oregon Wolf Plan, which emphasizes non-lethal control to manage wolves and only allows lethal control in certain circumstances.

“Even with the delisting, we still have a comprehensive wolf plan and still would have protections in place,” Dennehy said.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for seven years. He is the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon” and can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Facebook at Zach’s Oregon Outdoors or @ZachsORoutdoors on Twitter.


Eric MortensonCapital Press

Published: April 10, 2015 2:09PM
“A renowned animal sciences professor says wolves and coyotes shouldn’t be killed without reason, and ranchers should rekindle a cattle herd’s natural predator defense instincts.
Indiscriminate shooting or trapping of wolves and coyotes is a bad idea, and producers should strive for balance in the rangeland ecosystem, says Temple Grandin, the Colorado State University livestock handling and animal welfare expert.

“You may take out the wolf that is leaving the cattle alone,” Grandin said.

“The sensible thing to do is probably in between the rancher who says get rid of all the wolves and the environmentalist who says never take any wolves out,” Grandin said. “You want to take out the animal that’s developed a taste for lamb or beef.”

Grandin, whose insights on animal behavior caused livestock slaughterhouses to adopt calmer and more humane handling methods, expanded on points she made in a February article for Beef Magazine,

Among other things, Grandin believes ranchers can help cattle re-learn predator defense instincts such as bunching up instead of running.

The technique worked for the great bison herds that once roamed the plains, Grandin said. She credited the idea to two presenters at the Society for Range Management’s annual meeting in Sacramento this winter.

“Rekindling the natural herding instinct is not forcing the cattle together,” Grandin wrote in the magazine article. “The principle is to move back and forth in a straight line on the edge of the collective pressure zone” while not entering the herd’s “flight zone.”

Dealing with predators calls for a site-specific approach, Grandin said. “Something that works in one part of the country won’t work somewhere else.”

Grandin said wolves and coyotes usually avoid areas where people are present, and that employing range riders — as many Northeastern Oregon cattle ranchers do — is an effective deterrent. Removing livestock carcasses from grazing areas, a practice called for in Oregon’s wolf management plan, is critical to avoid attracting predators and giving them a taste for livestock, she said.

Individual packs favor specific prey, and “momma wolves” pass that on to their pups, she said.

A wolf pack that eats elk and leaves cattle alone should be tolerated, because it will protect its territory from packs that have other tastes, Grandin said.

“With coyotes, the one eating ground squirrels, you can shoot him – but he’s not the one bothering your livestock,” she said.

A better approach is to remove individual problem animals or a male and female pair that are caught in the act, she said.

“In managing these things, you have to look at the whole system,” Grandin said. “I do go on the premise that cattle are part of the system.”

People have impacted and managed rangeland for eons, dating back to when Native Americans burned grasslands, Grandin said. Critics of grazing don’t understand how human use of the range can be beneficial, she said.

“Responsible family ranchers are part of that system,” she said.

Grandin, who is autistic and has become an activist on that issue in addition to livestock management practices, is one of the few experts cited by both producers and conservation groups.

Her summary of the range management meeting was carried on the Defenders of Wildlife website. The American Farm Bureau Federation presented her the bureau’s Distinguished Service Award at its national convention in January.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 340 other followers

%d bloggers like this: