April 2016 Wolf Headlines

Court Settlement Provides Hope for Mexican Gray Wolves
Earthjustice (April 26, 2016)

Critically endangered and ancient Himalayan wolf needs global conservation attention
Phys.org (April 25, 2016)

More Wolves, less politics in Colorado
The Denver Post (April 23, 2016)

Nine Wolves Killed (Dell Creek Wolf Pack)
Pindale Online (April 22, 2016)

Government probes shooting death of endangered Red Wolf
The Washington Times (April 22, 2016)

State says it will sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife over wolf release plan
Albuquerque Journal (April 20, 2016)

Nixed Changes to Wolf / Coyote Hunt Slammed
Fort Francis Times (April 13, 2016)

With End of Hunting Wyo. Wolf Numbers Hit a High
Jackson Hole News & Guide (April 13, 2016)

Red Wolves Need to be preserved
The News & Observer (April 9, 2016)

Livestock Producers Can Get Paid For Living In Gray Wolf Territory
kjzz.org (April 5, 2016)

The Truth About Wolf Surplus Killing: Survival, Not Sport
Outside, Live Bravely (April 5, 2016)

Wolf Counts Stable as Federal Oversight Set to Expire
Independent Record (April 1, 2016)

Wolves or Bears? Caribou mothers’ Catch -22 dilemma
New Scientist (April 1, 2016)

Court Settles to Provide Recovery Plan for Mexican Gray Wolves

By: EarthJustice

Mexican_wolf.jpg
Mexican wolf on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, NM. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo

Tucson, Ariz. April 27, 2016 – A coalition of wolf conservation groups, environmental organizations and a retired federal wolf biologist today announced a court settlement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) to prepare a long-delayed recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves by November 2017.

With only 97 individuals existing in the wild at the end of 2015, and fewer than 25 in Mexico, the Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered mammals in North America and faces a serious risk of extinction. Thanks to the courts, the Service is finally required to meet its legal obligation of completing a legally-sufficient recovery plan, with the ultimate goal of a healthy, sustainable population of Mexican gray wolves in the wild.

“The settlement announced today provides hope that the lobo can be a living, breathing part of the southwestern landscape instead of just a long-lost frontier legend,” said Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney. “But to realize that hope, federal officials must take up the challenge of developing a legitimate, science-based recovery plan for the Mexican wolf rather than yielding to political pressure.”

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in November 2014 to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s multi-decade delay in completing a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf. Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, retired Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator David R. Parsons, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center in the case. Today’s announcement of a settlement agreement follows a September 2015 ruling by a federal judge in Tucson that rejected the government’s effort to dismiss the case.

“Wolves love to follow paths,” said former Mexican wolf recovery leader David Parsons. “Now, finally, the path to recovery for the critically endangered lobos of the southwest will be blazed.”

“After four decades of delay, a scientific roadmap for recovery of the Mexican gray wolf will finally be reality,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The recovery plan should trigger new releases of captive-bred wolves into the wild and establish new Mexican wolf populations in the Grand Canyon and southern Rocky Mountain ecosystems.”

The Service developed a document it labeled a “recovery plan” for the Mexican wolf in 1982—but the Service itself admits that this document was incomplete, intended for only short-term application, and “did not contain objective and measurable recovery criteria for delisting as required by [the Endangered Species Act].” Most importantly, the 34-year-old document did not provide the necessary science-based guidance to move the Mexican gray wolf toward recovery. Without a recovery plan in place, the Service’s Mexican gray wolf conservation efforts have been hobbled by insufficient releases of captive wolves into the wild population, excessive removals of wolves from the wild, and arbitrary geographic restrictions on wolf occupancy of promising recovery habitat. The Service in 2010 admitted that the wild Mexican gray wolf population “is not thriving” and remains “at risk of failure,” and further admitted that “failure to develop an up-to-date recovery plan results in inadequate guidance for the reintroduction and recovery effort.”

“We are racing extinction on the Mexican gray wolf,” said Eva Sargent, senior Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “The best available science, not political pressure, should lead the recovery planning for the Mexican gray wolf. We need more wolves and less politics.”

The plaintiffs joining today’s settlement agreement include two environmental education organizations that operate captive-breeding facilities that have supported recovery efforts by providing Mexican gray wolves for release into the wild. Despite their efforts, Mexican gray wolf survival continues to be threatened by the lack of a recovery plan to ensure that wolf releases are sufficient to establish a viable population.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “And for these iconic and imperiled wolves, failure means extinction. This settlement represents a necessary and long overdue step toward recovering America’s most endangered gray wolf and preventing an irrevocable loss from happening on our watch.”

“Education is a key component to the recovery of a species, especially for an animal that has been historically misunderstood and misrepresented. Equally important is an active, up-to-date recovery plan for the species in the wild,” said Virginia Busch, executive director of the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Mo. “The genetic variability that organizations like the Endangered Wolf Center hold with the Mexican wolf population is hugely valuable for releases and cross-fostering opportunities in the wild. We are pleased to hear that the Service will be taking an active role in developing a recovery plan in a timely manner.”

Wyoming: USFW to Gun Down Dell Creek Pack By Air

25 miles southeast of Jackson Wyoming, the USFW Service have started to aerial hunt the Dell Creek wolf pack of 16. So far, 5 wolves from the pack have been gunned down by aerial sharpshooters. The wolves have been accused of 9 livestock depredations on newborn and yearling calves. In Wyoming, the grey wolf is protected under Endangered Species Act (as of September 2014), managed by the USFW Service and cannot be hunted in the state on ground.
As of 2014, the wolf population has been at least 195 wolves in at least 34 packs existing outside Yellowstone National Park.
Mike Jimenez, USFW Service Northern Rockies wolf coordinator said:

“There’s been nine, possibly 10 livestock depredations by that pack. There’s been a couple that have been newborns, but most of them have been large 400- to 500-pound calves from last year. When packs do that and they do that over and over again, we’ll probably remove that pack.
I won’t sugarcoat it or anything. We’ll remove that entire pack.”

“Surplus Killing” by Wolves

SURPLUS defined as something that remains above what is used or needed; an amount, quantity, etc. greater than needed. An excess amount.

When prey are vulnerable and abundant, wolves, like other carnivores, kill often and may not completely consume the carcasses, a phenomenon known as “surplus killing” (Kruuk 1972) or “excessive killing” (Carbyn 1983b).
L. David Mech;Luigi Boitani. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (p. 144). Kindle Edition.

Wolves, as a fact, do not kill for sport; unlike people. Wolves hunt ungulates for food and rarely kill more prey than they can quickly eat. Wolves also partake in caching food, especially in winter. When wolves kill in “surplus” it understood that they are doing so in response to an abnormal situation where prey are unusually easy to take. Whereas normally prey are a challenge and danger to catch, about an 18 to 28 percent success rate. If left alone, the carcasses of the kill also could be a cache that the wolves return to at a later time.

The rate at which wolves kill prey has been measured many times and, as is to be expected, is highly variable. Because both prey size and pack size must influence kill rate, it is useful to express kill rate as biomass per wolf per day. The range runs from 0.5 to 24.8 kg/wolf/day (table 5.5).
L. David Mech;Luigi Boitani. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (p. 142). Kindle Edition.

Based on study and data over many years, wolf biologists have determined that although greatly varied, the kill rate for wolves show (in general) that they only kill enough to sustain themselves. “Surplus” may be the wrong term to use in general. It may also be a somewhat accurate but unjustified term to use in instances where people are the cause and create the conditions where excessive killing of prey by wolves would be more than inevitable.

In March, wolves killed 19 elk on feedlot grounds near Jackson, Wyoming. The online media and news outlets immediately put all the blame on wolves. The real culprits in this unusual devastation are disease; a bacteria called Fusobacterium Necrophorum (hoof rot), brucellosis pasteurella, Chronic Wasting Disease  and scabies among others that thrive in the unsanitary conditions on elk feedlots where elk are crowded to feed in their urine and feces. The elk are weakened (and sometimes killed) by disease making them prime targets for any predator.

In addition to the cost in tax payer dollars, the feedlots cause great mortality to the elk whereas free roaming elk are much healthier and can exercise more of their natural defenses against predators. As is the case with “spacing” where ungulates stay away from wolf denning areas as well as stay in wolf territory borders. Both of which increase search and travel time for the wolves: an advantage for elk. Disrupting the natural predator-prey order of things by essentially setting up a buffet of concentrated vulnerable prey on an elk feedlot, what would one expect? What human wouldn’t take more than their fill at an all you can eat buffet on the Vegas strip?

OR-4 and His Pack Gunned Down by Oregon Fish and Wildlife

On March 31, 2016, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife gunned down by helicopter Wolf OR-4, his pregnant female mate and two offspring which made up the Imnaha Pack of Wallowa County. There are thought to be 110 wolves currently inhabiting territory in Oregon, the Imnaha Pack among the most publicized and well known.

OR-4 was initially collared on February 12, 2010 and was collared three more times before his death. ODFW kept close track of OR-4 due to his size and breeding and to maintain data to manage social and livestock concerns. Initially weighed at 115 pounds OR-4 was considered the largest wolf in Oregon.

Considered old for a wild wolf OR-7 was approximately 10 years old. The life span of wild wolves greatly vary due to any number of influences that effect mortality, but the average is 5-8 years. OR-4’s “elderly” status earned him respect for his resilience and tenacity.

OR-4’s mate was spotted with a limp and bad leg. The breeding pair of a wolf pack usually lead the hunts for prey with the offspring to either help or keep at a learning distance.

It is thought, due to old age and possible deposition by a younger male, that OR-4 and his pack attacked and killed livestock five times in March.

“Oliel”,Wild Israeli Wolf Rehabilitated and Released

01-wolf-rescue

An Israeli wolf given the name “Oliel” had the good fortune of being found by compassionate samaritans after being struck by a car. The wild wolf had sustained a fractured leg and was taken to a vet by his rescuers. After surgery and a long rehab Oliel was released back into the Israeli countryside.

SEE PHOTOS OF OLIEL’S RECOVERY AND RELEASE

In ISRAEL, the Arabian wolf inhabits small areas in the countryside and fenced off landmine fields. Adapted for the desert, the Arabian or Israeli wolf is smaller than their northern gray wolf counterparts, weighing an average of 40 lbs. and stands approximately 25 inches tall at the shoulder.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority manages the wolf population and provides various degrees of legal protection as wolves are hunted, poached and culled. There are three wolf management zones in Israel; southern Golan Heights where ranchers can kill wolves for a bounty, further north where wolves have can only be killed  with a permit and in the national parks where they are protected but also poached. However, poisoning wolves in Israel is illegal.

The trophic cascades in Israel that wolves serve as the apex predator to include gazelles and wild boar that they hunt, the interspecific competition with jackals, foxes and hyenas to the already sparse oak woodlands. The eradication of wolves in Israel would have drastic consequences on the ecosystem.

USFWS; Rockies Wolf Numbers are Stable

In a Press Release on April 1, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced in cooperation with Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Wyoming Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Tribe, National Park Service, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Wind River Tribes, Colville Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Utah Department of Natural Resources and USDA Wildlife Services, that the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) wolf population “continues to be robust, stable and self-sustaining.”

Per USFWS management, the minimum target numbers for the NRM areas are 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves in each state of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Population Estimates:
Idaho; 786 wolves in 108 packs (33 breeding pairs)
Montana; 536 wolves in 126 packs (32 breeding pairs)
Wyoming; 382 wolves in 48 packs (30 breeding pairs)

In addition:
Oregon; 110 wolves in 16 packs (11 breeding pairs)
Washington; 90 wolves in 18 packs (eight breeding pairs)

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