Wolf Headlines; March 2016

Conservationists Challenge Federal Allowance for Wildlife Killing in Grand Teton National Park
EARTH JUSTICE March 23; 2016

State, feds pursuing better coordination after wolf kill in national preserve
ALASKA PUBLIC MEDIA March 17; 2016

State wolf control in the vicinity of Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve has prompted agencies to pursue better cooperation. A wolf was killed by the state inside the Preserve earlier this month.

Washington wolf population continues to grow
WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE March 14; 2016

OLYMPIA – Washington state’s wolf population continued to grow last year and added at least four new packs, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) annual survey. By the end of 2015, the state was home to at least 90 wolves, 18 packs, and eight breeding pairs….

Conflict Misleads Large Carnivore Management and Conservation: Brown Bears and Wolves in Spain
PLOS ONE March 14; 2016

Large carnivores inhabiting human-dominated landscapes often interact with people and their properties, leading to conflict scenarios that can mislead carnivore management and, ultimately, jeopardize conservation.

Lawsuit Challenges End to Federal Monitoring for Northern Rocky Wolves
Aggressive State-sanctioned Hunting, Trapping Should Trigger
Ongoing Federal Oversight of Idaho, Montana Wolves
CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY March 9; 2016

Make Public Comment On Fate of Isle Royale Wolves

The following are four alternatives that the Park Service is putting out for public comment on the fate of wolves on Isle Royale as only two wolves remain on the island. Public comment is being accepted on the National Park Service website until May 16. Please make a comment.

Alternative A (No-Action Alternative) The NPS would not intervene and would continue current management. Wolves may come and go through natural migration, although the current population of wolves may die out.  

Alternative B The NPS would bring wolves to Isle Royale as a one-time event over a defined period of time (e.g. over a 36-month period) to increase the longevity of the wolf population on the island. This action would occur as soon as possible following a signed record of decision.  

Alternative C The NPS would bring wolves to Isle Royale as often as needed in order to maintain a population of wolves on the island for at least the next 20 years, which is the anticipated life of the plan. The wolf population range and number of breeding pairs to be maintained on the island would be determined based on best available science and professional judgment. This action would occur as soon as possible following a signed record of decision.  

Alternative D The NPS would not take immediate action and would continue current management, allowing natural processes to continue. One or more resource indicators and thresholds would be developed to evaluate the condition of key resources, which could include moose or vegetation-based parameters. If a threshold is met, wolves would be brought to Isle Royale as a one-time event (per alternative B) or through multiple introductions (per alternative C).  

Federal Officials Looking At Bringing In More Wolves to Isle Royale

Isle Royale is a 45 mile long 9 mile wide,143.000 acre island situated in complex of 450 smaller surrounding islands located in the northwest of Lake Superior, making up Isle Royale National Park. It is part of the US state of Michigan and the second largest island in the Great Lakes with a primarily boreal forest habitat.

Wolves initially crossed the ice from the neighboring mainland of Ontario to Isle Royale in 1949 to find a thriving moose population inhabiting the island. The moose, who also did not inhabit the island initially, swam over to it from Minnesota in the early 1900’s.

Since 1958, scientists have conducted the longest research study of it’s kind on the predator-prey relationship between the wolves and moose on the island. The wolf – moose populations since the onset of the study have risen and fallen in drastic fluctuations, with no real stabilization. Wolf numbers have ranged from 2 currently to 50 in 1980. Moose populations have ranged from 385 in 2007 to 2,422 in 1995.

Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich, scientists from Michigan Technological University who lead the Isle Royale study support the genetic intervention of additional wolves to the island. Phyllis Green, the park’s superintendent, said that her staff will make a final decision by fall of 2017 as to whether or not wolves would be brought in and if so, whether to bring them in before the current population dies off.

Dublin Zoo welcomes eight gray wolves from Osnabrück Zoo, Germany

Dublin Zoo's new wolves get settled in to their new environment. Photo: Patrick Bolger.

According to the Dublin Zoo website,  the wolf pack consists of a bonded male and female pair and their offspring. The wolves range in age from two to ten years old.

Team leader Ciarán McMahon said, “We are very pleased with these wonderful additions to Dublin Zoo. The pack arrived from Germany just two weeks ago and the wolves are showing clear signs of settling in.

“They are comfortable and confident in their new surroundings and remain close at all times.”

The new pack of eight will be introduced to the existing wolves at the Zoo in the coming weeks.

Wild Wolves once roamed the forests of Ireland, but due to habitat destruction and hunting; the last wild wolf seen was a female shot in County Carlow in 1786.

With over one million visitors last year, the Dublin Zoo will hopefully educate the people of Ireland about the status, plight and ecological importance of wolves around the world.

Protected Wolf Status Upheld by Swiss Parliament

The Senate. (Switzerland) Courtesy of Swissinfo.ch

The motion from Senator René Imoberdorf of the centrist Christian Democrats failed by 26 to 17 votes, meaning it will not continue to the House of Representatives, and wolves will continue to be a protected species in Switzerland. Imoberdorf hails from canton Valais, which has had ongoing issues with wolves threatening livestock herds.

If the motion had passed in both houses of parliament, wolves would have lost their protected status and Switzerland would have had to withdraw as a signatory to the Bern Convention on animal protection.

No Charges Filed Against Hunters Who Shot Two Protected Iowa Wolves

DNA tests confirmed that two Gray Wolves were killed this past winter, separately in Osceola (northwest) and VanBuren (southeast) counties in Iowa by hunters who mistook them for Coyotes. The Department of Natural Resources reports an increase in the number of wolves dispersing from the neighboring Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan into Iowa. Although wolves are considered endangered in Iowa and protected under state and federal law, the DNR has chosen not to press charges against the hunters.

In Iowa, coyotes are hunted year round and the usual take is well over 10,000. Hunting and trapping are considered the only useful means to manage coyote populations. However, in a study conducted by TM Newsmen and WJ Ripple that analyzed fur trap data over eight jurisdictions across North America, in areas of wolf density the fox population outnumbered coyotes. In a wolf-coyote-fox trophic cascade, wolves exert some population control over their mesopredator coyote canid counterparts by direct and indirect effects of interspecific competitive killing. Therefore, the fox population in these areas of greater wolf density, notably in the centers of wolf territory, increased. On the edges of wolf territory and lower wolf density, predatorial pressure on coyotes is less resulting in more coyotes – less fox. Due to this uneven distribution of wolves and the resulting flux in the wolf-coyote-fox cascade, the authors of the study concluded that wolves “may need to occupy large continuous areas” to potentially shift coyote populations. Meaning, the more wolves and wolf dispersal and distribution; the less need to “manage”, trap, kill and hunt coyotes.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has Information on their website “Occasional Wildlife Visitors to Iowa” to help hunters learn to discern the difference between wolves and coyotes.

The “Judas Wolf”; British Columbia

In the practice of wolf culling a “Judas Wolf” is a wolf that is radio collared and kept alive year after year in order to lead helicopter snipers to the collared wolves newly formed packs for the purpose of killing the rest of the pack.

The Wildlife Defense League believes that the British Columbia government is using a “Judas Wolf” in their yearly wolf cull that they deem necessary to protect Canada’s caribou population. Conservationists contend that the reported decline in Caribou is attributed to human encroachment on the habitat in the form of logging, industry and recreational use.

The government of British Columbia will spend over two million dollars of tax payer funds to kill several hundred wolves in the South Peace and South Selkirk regions of BC. A spokesperson for the BC Forests, Lands and Natural Resources confirmed the use and tracking of collared wolves but denied the use of a “Judas Wolf.“ Bighorn Helicopters carries out the cull and in the last decade in responsible for the deaths of over a thousand wolves.